Not long ago I began an endeavor to look into my family genealogy, I didn’t know what I would expect to find, and I certainly didn’t expect to have Canadian cousins who were highly active individuals.
It began when I came into contact with another cousin of mine, who also happened to live in Massachusetts. Using this tree, I began to research on the names as best I could.
The first mention I can find of William Trimm was from a publication called Decks Awash, Volume 20 No. 4, September – October 1991 on page 45, titled “History: New Chelsea”:
First known as Seal Cove, New Chelsea was settled by fisherman from the Devon and Dorset fleets… William Trimm from Poole (England) married Elizabeth Harris and bought the Philips Estate for 140 pounds starting in 1810.
With Elizabeth Harris, they had William Trimm, Jr, Thomas Trimm, Elizabeth (Trimm) Bailey, Ann Trimm, John Trimm, William Cardway Trimm, John Harris Trimm and Robert Trimm.
Thier son, William Trimm, Jr. would marry Eunice Harris and have: Evangeline (Trimm) Bradley, Sarah Jane (Trimm) Adey, Jonathan “Jack” Trimm, Rebecca Ann (Trimm) Stephens, John Absalom Trimm, Elizabeth Ann “Bessie” (Trimm) Earle – who is my great-great grandmother – Caroline Trimm, Ida Trimm, and Mabel Trimm. All would be born in Seal Cove.
Evangeline Trimm was born on February 16th, 1863 in Seal Cove, Newfoundland. She would marry Noah Norman “Jack” Bradley, a cabinet maker and businessman born in Musgrove Harbour, Newfoundland to a family of boatbuilders and fishermen, in 1886.
In 1878, Noah, with his brothers, Adam and Len, built the Orange Hall at Musgrove Harbour.
In 1881, he began a five-year apprenticeship with the Newfoundland Furniture and Molding Company at its factory on Forest Road, St. John’s. By 1890, he was working as a cabinetmaker for Richard Goff in a manufacturing shop in the Goff house on Prescott Street. From 1898 until his death, Bradley operated his own furniture-making business from his residence on Victoria Street. (Source)
On March 21st, 1888, they had their first son: Frederick Gordan Bradley, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After completing his grade school education at the Methodist College in St. John’s in 1906, he spent three years as principal of the Methodist School in Bonavista.
In 1909, he returned to St. John’s where he read law before enrolling in Dalhousie University. He graduated with a bachelor of laws degree in 1914, and returned to St. John’s where he practised with Sir Alfred Morine before establishing his own practice in 1922. (Source) He would marry Ethel Louise Roper, the daughter of John J. Roper, Esq., the Stipendry Magistrate at Bonavista, Newfoundland, and Anne Constance Snelgrove, who was born on to the Snelgroves of Catalina, a well to do outport merchant family.
John Roper also had a brother, Joseph Roper, who was a watchmaker at St. John’s, Newfoundland, who installed the clock on the St. John’s Courthouse.
Ethel Roper also had a brother, Private Frederick Charles Roper, who was killed in Gallipoli on November 27th, 1915. He was born in 1894 in Bonavista, Newfoundland. He was the first person from Newfoundland to die in World War I, and the first from Newfoundland to enroll into the service. He is buried at Azmak Cemetary (Sulva) in Gallipoli, Cannakale, Turkey.
An excerpt from St. John’s Daily in 1916:
Private Frederick Charles Roper was one of the youngest of the Empire’s defenders. He was a signaler, and belonged to Company E. Son of John ROPER, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, Bonavista, and nephew of Mr. Joseph ROPER of this city. He belonged to the Methodist Guards Brigade.
The Town of Bonavista website has some information regarding the place where my cousins lived, The Mockebeggar Plantation:
The earliest owner of the Mockbeggar Property that has been identified was Joseph White of Poole (1685-1771). He carried a diversified business related to codfishing, salmon, and seal fisheries, ship building, and trading between Newfoundland, Ireland, New England and the West Indies.
On his death, the plantation was passed to his nephew Samuel White but it is probable that it was used by the important Trinity firm of Jeffrey and Street, which took over most of Joseph White’s Newfoundland properties.
Here is a list of all owners of the plantation in the following years:
Samuel Rolles (nephew of Samuel White) – inherited in 1797
George Garland (1753-1825) – inherited in 1802
James Saint (1806-1873) – bought from Garland in 1851
Jabez Saint (1833-1903) – inherited in 1873
Baine, Johnston and Company of St. John’s – due to bankruptcy of Jabez Saint in 1880
Anne Snelgrove of Catalina – bought from Baine, Johnston and Co. in 1898
Ethel Louise Roper (1890-1971) – inherited in 1935
John and Gord Jr. Bradley – inherited in 1971
Provincial Government – donated in 1980
Jabez Saint inherited the Mockbeggar Property from his father when his brother (James Jr.) showed no interest in the business. It was during this time when the house that presently stands there was built, probably in the year 1873. Seven years later, Saint was forced into bankruptcy but continued to live there until his death despite the fact that the plantation’s ownership changed hands twice.
In 1935, the house became the sole property of Ethel Louise Roper after her mother, Anne Snelgrove’s death. She moved into the house in 1939 with her husband F. Gordon Bradley (1888-1966) whom she had married in 1923. Her sons inherited the property after her death in 1971 but soon donated it to the Provincial Government in 1980. Today, the house and property have become a provincial historic site.
There were additional outbuildings onsite:
…a cabinet-maker’s shop, a barter shop, a cod liver oil factory and the property’s oldest structure, an architecturally impressive fish store built in the 1700s – affectionately known as the “big store.”
In 1925, F. Gordon Bradley joined the Masons, and around the same time he joined the Loyal Orange Association.
In 1924, F. Gordon Bradley decided to run for office, would win, and have a very extensive career in politics. The details of his service are as follows. From 1924 until 1934 he served in the House of Assmebly from Newfoundland and Labrador:
- From the constituentcy of Port Grave, served from 1924 until 1928 as a Conservative (1924 to 1926) and Independent (1926 to 1928)
- From the constitucny of Trinity valley, served from 1928 until 1932 as a Liberal
- From the constituency of Humber Valley, served from 1932 until 1934 as a Liberal
- From 1924 until 1926, he was Minister Without Portfolio
- From 1929 until 1932, he was Solicitor General
- From 1932 until 1934, he was Leader of the Opposition in the cabinet of Sir Richard Squires
F. Gordon Bradley and Roland Sparks were the only government members to be reelected. The conservative party now called the United Newfoundland Party, formally the Liberal-Conservative Party which was formally the Liberal-Labour-Progressive Party, took power. Apparently it was not a good time to be associated with anything Liberal.
Bradley became the leader of the tiny opposition party in what was to be the last National Government of the Dominion of Newfoundland.
The new government under Prime Minister F.C. Alderdice found itself in the same position as the old Squires government. The country was virtually bankrupt and in the face of a world wide economic depression there was not much it could do. Unemployment and poverty were rampant. The government could only reduce spending and cut services. This didn’t go over very well at all. Social unrest was growing and riots were starting to break out again. The government decided it’s only option was a partial default on the national debt as Bradley had proposed to his old boss, Sir Richard Squires. The threat was enough. Canada and England stepped in to help out Newfoundland with its debt payments, but there was a catch. A royal commission would examine the political and financial situation in Newfoundland and make recommendations. The members of the commission would be appointed by Canada and England as well as Newfoundland. It would come to be known as the Amulree Commission and for the Dominion of Newfoundland it was the beginning of the end.
During this troubling time Bradley found himself thrust to the forefront of Newfoundland politics as a lone voice speaking out for the working man. The Merchant and professional elite in St. John’s suffered minor discomfort while hunger and destitution ravaged the outports. Infant mortality increased, nutritional diseases such as rickets and scurvy were common. The gap between rich and poor broadened.
He criticized the Alderdice Government for playing politics to defeat the Squires Government rather than supporting it in the face of an international crisis that was the Great Depression. He accused them of fermenting riots and misleading the people. He spoke of “the insane incompetence” of the fish exporters.
The results of the Amulree Commission came down in October 1933. Britain would assume the Newfoundland debt but the country would have to give up self government and be governed by a Commission appointed by the British Government. Bradley was mortified that after 100 years the people of Newfoundland would lose their right to self determination. They would lose the right to vote.
Bradley fought as best he could with limited resources to save Responsible Government. He argued that the people of Newfoundland should be consulted before their constitution was rescinded. He asked for an amendment that would give Newfoundland representation in the British Parliament. He was the last voice to speak out for a free and democratic Newfoundland.
When the Alderdice Government voted to accept Commission of Government, Bradley walked out of the house of assembly and the sovereign nation of Newfoundland ceased to be.
Commission of Government began in early 1934 and Bradley found himself a politician in a country with no need for politicians. He was given some work by the Commission investigating and writing a report on the deplorable working conditions of woods workers. The finished report was critical of industry and government. It described the working conditions as almost inhuman. The Commission took great care in filing the document away and ignoring it.
On Memorial Day, July 1st, 1935 Bradley took up the post of chief magistrate in Bonavista. In Bonavista things were going from bad to worse. The harbour had deteriorated making it unsafe for shipping. The fishing industry was in a desperate state with poor markets and low prices. Other employment opportunities were limited. Immigration controls prevented people from leaving the country to find seasonal work on the mainland. Crop failures and a shortage of fire wood aggravated the situation. Bradley set to work to try to improve conditions.
In 1935 Bradley started Bonavista Mutual Traders, a business that dealt in retail sales and fish exporting. The cod liver oil plant was built at the Mockbeggar Plantation as a side operation.
Bradley developed numerous proposals for rural development in the Bonavista area but the government was not responsive. In 1936 the Commission transferred him to Grand Falls in central Newfoundland.
Bradley found that his work in Grand Falls was not challenging. His distaste for the Commission of Government grew and he felt betrayed by them. In the fall of 1939 he resigned and moved back to Bonavista. (Source, pages 37 to 43)
Besides running his business he had many interest. He was active in the local fraternal organizations. He spent time with his hobbies reading, music, woodworking, driving, fishing and photography. He even directed some amateur plays.
Bradley had found that he did not fit in with the upper class in St. john’s having come from working class roots. In Bonavista this brilliant, highly educated and sophisticated gentleman was just as isolated.
Soon Bradleys thoughts turned again to politics. He found a voice in the Fishermans Advocate. Founded in the early 1900’s, the Advocate was the newspaper of Sir William Ford Coaker’s, Fisherman’s Protective Union. The presses were located in nearby Port Union. Charles Granger was the editor. Through the paper he launched scathing attacks on the Commission of Government and the commissioners themselves. Some of the titles he used to describe them were,
“Our imported Caesars” and “the Lords of the Manor of Newfoundland.” He said that Newfoundland was being held a prisoner by the unbridled capitalism of British Imperialism and the Commissioners were the bailiffs. He began to write articles on the virtues of confederation with Canada. World War II was coming to an end and soon he would have a chance to bring his ideas to life.
Ironically the War, which had caused so much death and destruction, had brought a level of prosperity to Newfoundland. The Colony found itself with improved infrastructure and a budgetary surplus for the Government. The British government felt it was time for Newfoundland to stand on its own two feet again. With the 450th anniversary of its discovery by John Cabot coming in 1947 it seemed the time was right.
In December 1945 the British Government called for a National Convention. It was to be a reeducation in democracy for the people of Newfoundland after having been deprived of it for 15 years. It would examine the condition of Newfoundland and, though a return to Responsible Government had been promised in 1933, it would also consider “alternate” forms of government. It had a hidden agenda. The governments of both Great Britain and Canada desired that Newfoundland would become the tenth province of Canada.
At first Bradley was apprehensive about reentering politics. His eventual decision to seek a seat in the National Convention may have had something to do with being contacted by an old acquaintance, Joseph R. Smallwood.
Smallwood was a journalist and union organizer who Bradley had known since the Responsible Government years. Smallwood shared Bradley’s desire to see Newfoundland become the tenth province. They formed a partnership where Bradley would be the strategist and Smallwood would be a propagandist, the voice of the movement. It was decided that Bradley would not come forward as a confederate immediately. He would play the part of an impartial observer until the time was right. Smallwood with his skills as a public speaker would use the convention to gain support for their cause. (Source, pages 47, 49, 66 and 68)
The National Convention opened on September 11th, 1946. Members of the Convention were elected from the various political districts around the island and Labrador. Delegates were for the most part former politicians and community leaders. It was held in the Colonial building where Bradley had stood 15 years ago defending Responsible Government. This time he had something else in mind. Bradley was appointed to the steering committee and on November 16th he became the chairman of the Convention. He replaced Judge Cyril Fox who had tragically passed away. (Source, page 70)
On April 25 1947, Bradley led a delegation from the National Convention to London. The purpose of the trip was to clarify the future relationship between Great Britain and Newfoundland under the various possible forms of government. The delegation got a very cool reception from British officials. Britain wanted Newfoundland to be part of Canada and would do nothing to discourage that possibility. The delegation never met with Britain’s Prime Minister but an unconfirmed story tells how one of the delegates, Mr. Crosbie, saw Bradley’s galoshes outside of his office late one night.
The Delegation learned that basically Newfoundland would be on her own unless she retained Commission of Government.
On June 19 1947 Bradley led the delegation to Ottawa. Smallwood accompanied him. It was the intention of Confederates to stay in Canada as long as possible in order to obtain Terms of Union should Newfoundland join Canada. It would also give allies back home in Newfoundland a chance to promote confederation to the Newfoundland people. (Source, pages 72 and 74)
It was an altogether different story from what it had been in London. They were greeted warmly. As soon as they arrived they were met personally by Louis St. Laurent who would chair the talks with Newfoundland. (Source, page 80)
After lengthy negotiations the delegation was able to obtain the draft Terms of Union for confederation with Canada. This was a coup for the Confederates. They now had something concrete to offer the Newfoundland voters. Bradley had done an outstanding job. Prime Minister Mackenzie King and the other Canadian ministers were impressed with the way he had handled the delegations with skill and dignity. (Source, page 82)
Back at home the supporters of Responsible Government in the National Convention were outraged. They had by now seen through Bradley’s strategy and were planning to demand his resignation. Bradley did not give them that chance. When a member rose to make a motion of no confidence, Bradley cut him off, made a dramatic resignation speech and walked out of the chamber.
The National Convention was now being broadcast by radio. Newfoundlanders listened intently as the debates grew hot and heavy. Emotions flared inside the Colonial Building and around kitchen tables. Bradley took up a seat as regular member of the convention where he could openly show his support for confederation. It was time for Smallwood to show his value. He did so with a zeal to match anything his opponents could muster.
In the end the convention decided that in a referendum to follow, the people of Newfoundland would decide between Commission of Government or a return to Responsible Government. The Confederates were outnumbered two to one. Despite the best efforts of Bradley and Smallwood, Confederation with Canada would not be on the ballot.
Undeterred, Bradley took to the airwaves and asked listeners to send in telegraphs of protest asking for confederation to be placed on the referendum ballot. He gathered 44,000 signatures. The Commonwealth Relations Office made the decision to add Confederation to the ballot. On February 21 the Confederation association was formed with Bradley as the President. (Source, page 84, 88, and 90)
The referendum was set for June 3, 1948. The ballot would offer three choices, Commission of Government for five more years, Confederation with Canada or Responsible Government as it existed in 1933.
The anti-confederates formed the Responsible Government League. They published a newspaper called The Independent to spread their messaage. Their campaign appealed to national pride. They warned of lost independence and high taxation. They had the support of the business community, and the Catholic Church. The city of St. John’s was their main base of support.
The confederates found most of their support in outport Newfoundland. They published a newspaper called the Confederate. The campaign was not so much based on a love of Canada as it was an attempt to break the power of the St. John’s merchants. They promised prosperity in a union with Canada and warned of a return to poverty under Responsible Government.
Bradley travelled around the island by train campaigning in the major centres. He used radio to bring his speeches into the homes of voters. It is doubtful, however, if the campaign would have been successful without the political dynamo that was J. R. Smallwood.
The first referendum was indecisive. Responsible Government received 69,400 votes, Confederation had 64,066 votes and Commission of Government had 22,311 votes. Because neither one had a clear majority another referendum was called. Commission of Government was dropped from the ballot because it had gotten the least number of votes.
In the second referendum Bradley found an ally in the Loyal Orange Lodge. It was noticed that in the first referendum that almost all districts with predominately Catholic populations had voted for Responsible Government. For the first time in Newfoundland’s history the Catholic lay orders had voted. The Grand Master of the Orange Lodge circulated a letter that basically encouraged Orangemen to vote for confederation. Almost over night stanch anti-confederates switched sides.
The Confederates won the second referendum by a narrow margin of just 4.6%. The country had been divided along sectarian, economic and geographic lines. The campaign had been nasty and the wounds would take years to heal. Perhaps they are still not completely healed. (Source, pages 92 to 104)
On December 11th 1948 Bradley signed the Terms of Union between Canada and the province of Newfoundland.
On March 31, 1949, at one minute before midnight, Newfoundland became the tenth province of Canada. The next day Bradley was sworn in as Secretary of State and became Newfoundland’s first representative in the federal cabinet. It had been assumed that he would become Premier but he decided instead to work in federal politics in Ottawa. Smallwood would become Premier. At the formal ceremonies he said in his speech “We are all Canadians now”. (Source, pages 106 and 108)
Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent would appoint Bradley as Secretary of State of Canada, making him the first federal cabinet minister from Newfoundland. Bradley’s tenure would last from March 31st, 1949 until June 11th, 1953.
The fact that Newfoundland was part of Canada was literally carved in stone when her coat of arms was carved into a frieze on Parliament. There it joined the coats of arms of her sister provinces. It is interesting to note that there was a space left in the frieze for just such a occasion. (Source, page 110)
The first federal election in Newfoundland was held on June 11th 1949. Bradley ran for the Liberal Party in the riding of Bonavista-Twillingate. Campaigning in Newfoundland had a different character than in other parts of Canada. Roads were few and far between. Bradley would campaign by boat to reach the isolated communities of his district. He chose the motor vessel Edmond Humby. It was modified to accommodate him and his campaign workers and fitted with loud speakers.
He called on his friend Charlie Granger, the former editor of the Fishermen’s Advocate, to be his campaign manager. In the early summer of 1949 they, and the four man crew of the Edmond Humby, set out across Bonavista Bay.
Having a well known politician like Bradley show up in a small isolated community was a big event. Everyone would show up to greet him and hear what he had to say.
At almost every community an important visitor would meet an armed welcoming committee. The men would turn out with their big sealing guns and fire off a salute. The big old muzzle loaders would make a sound that could be heard for miles. It could be intimidating for someone not used to it.
In smaller communities, where the Humby could not dock, people would pile into their motor boats and go out to meet her.
After safely navigating the rocks and shoals of a political campaign, as will as those of the coast of Newfoundland, Bradley was elected to the Federal Government with a healthy majority. (Source, pages 115 to 130) He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons representing the riding of Bonavista—Twillingate in the 1949 federal election. In 1953, he would be appointed on the advice of Louis St. Laurent to the Canadian Senate representing the senatorial division of Bonavista-Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador, serving from June 12th, 1953 until March 30th, 1966, when he died at 78 years old.
Bradleys total years of service is 6121 days, or 16 years, 9 months, and 4 days. He served on:
- Standing Joint Committee on Printing
And in the Senate:
- Standing Committee on Transportation and Communications
- Standing Committee on External Relations
- Standing Committee on Divorce
In the city of Mount Pearl, Bradley Place is named after him:
(Glendale, 120m, E6)
Bradley Place was named after Frederick Gordon Bradley who was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the son of Norman Bradley and Evangeline Trimm. He was educated at Methodist College in St. John’s and went on to spend three years as the principal of the Methodist School at Bonavista. He returned to St. John’s and then on to Dalhousie to study law. In 1924 Bradley was elected to the House of Assembly and remained for a number of years before returning to his private law practice. In 1946 he returned to politics and played a very prominent role in the in the negotiations for the terms of union between Newfoundland and Canada in 1949.
With Ethel Louise, Frederick Gordon Bradley had two sons: Gordon F. Bradley Jr. (or Gordon Bradley), and John R. Bradley.
Gordon Bradley was born sometime in 1930 in Bonavista, Newfoundland. An article from the local papar, The Packet, details his life:
Gordon Bradley of Bonavista passed away Dec 10 at the age of 78. With him he took an archive of facts and fables about his hometown and province, and behind left a trail of gifts that spread from one end of the Peninsula to the other.
Bradley’s contributions to the town of Bonavista are numerous to say the least.
He held the position of a local businessman throughout his working days. He began his career in the office of the Bonavista cold storage fish plant. He then opened up his own store, Mutual Traders, connected to the Garrick Theatre building. In his day he also owned The Chain-Locker Lounge.
In addition to his work, Bradley’s efforts as a volunteer didn’t leave him with a minute to spare.
After a request from Deputy Mayor Dr. John Heath in 1966, the Bonavista businessman agreed not only to take the fire chief’s position, but to recruit men for a fire brigade. Within a short time, 26 men had volunteered to become members of Bonavista’s first fire fighting team.
Bradley got his first taste of politics in 1973 when he became a councillor with the town of Bonavista. He was elected as mayor in 1974 and remained so until 1977. He returned as a councillor in 1981 and served as Deputy Mayor from 1985 to 1989.
According to current town clerk, David Hiscock, Bradley set his goals high as a member of the town council and when he set his mind to doing something he was going to get it done, if it was at all possible.
It was upon retirement that Bradley dug his hands deep into history.
His father, Gordon Bradley Sr., was a lawyer and the province’s first senator in Ottawa following Confederation. This was likely how Bradley’s interest in the history and politics of his town came to be.
In a letter to J.W. Pickersgill in
1966, Bradley’s father wrote, “I can, in fancy, see your eyebrows lifting as you realize whence this letter comes. To my knowledge it is the first letter I ever wrote you. And it is highly improbable that it would ever have been written by that my two boys (Gordon and John) appear to be more concerned over the preservation of old landmarks of this town of Bonavista than most of its denizens of today.”
The letter Bradley Sr. wrote to Pickersgill concerned the “old store” on the family property at Mockbeggar, wondering if Canada’s Historic Sites and Monuments Board might be interested in preserving the structure.
Bradley Jr. pushed hard for the designation of the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse as a Provincial Historic Site in the 1970s. And in the late 1970s he and his brother, John, donated the family property to the province, including the old store his father had written Pickersgill about, now known as the Mockbeggar Plantation Provincial Historic Site.
In 1983 Bradley became the founding member and president of the Bonavista Historical Society. Bradley also served as Chairperson of the Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation. A position which will be tough to fill.
Bradley was honoured by the Newfoundland Historical Society with the 2006 Heritage Award.
This award is given to a person, or persons, who have contributed significantly to the preservation and/or dissemination of the written record of the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.
To date, the society’s efforts had resulted in the exterior restoration of approximately 40 heritage properties.
One of the more recent projects for Bradley and the Bonavista Historic Society has been the restoration and redevelopment of the Garrick Theatre. A project which is slated to be finished in the New Year.
Aside from his heritage activism, Bradley was also widely known as Bonavista’s “local historian.” He built a large collection of old Bonavista area photographs and even rescued stained-glass front entrances that were a signature of Bonavista’s architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He had an arrangement with the operator at the municipal dump, who would let him know when someone was attempting to dispose of one. Bradley would then go to the dump to retrieve the glass and put it in storage.
Another obituary states:
Passed away suddenly on Wednesday, December 10, 2008, Gordon Bradley (retired Businessman) of Bonavista, age 78 years. Predeceased by his father F. Gordon Bradley, mother Ethel Louise (Roper) Bradley, brother John. Leaving to mourn his wife Marjorie (Way), son David (Paula), nephew and niece, John Bradley (Lisa) and Jennifer Bradley (Paul), sister-in-law Sylvia (Hunt) Bradley and many other relatives, friends and acquaintances.
With his wife, Marjorie Way, who passed away in 2011:
Passed away peacefully in the presence of family members at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, Marjorie Bradley of Bonavista. Predeceased by her husband Frederick Gordon Bradley (2008); parents, Joseph and Jessie Way; brothers: Gordon and Howard Way; and sister, Meta Hicks. Leaving to mourn son, David G. Bradley (Paula); sister, Madeline Hayward; brother, Lloyd Way (Barrie, Ontario); sister-in-law, Sylvia Bradley; life-long friend, Florence Etsell; and a large circle of nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends.
The history of the Garrick Theatre’s website indicates:
The Garrick Theatre in Bonavista opened to the public on Christmas Day, 1945. Built by 21 year-old John Bradley with the assistance of his father, F. Gordon Bradley, the Garrick has been a popular entertainment venue and social centre for generations of area residents. John had been showing films at the Anglican Parish Hall on Church Street since July, 1944 but, in this era of relative prosperity for the local economy, he soon realized there was enough potential to merit constructing a proper theatre.
Construction began in September, 1945 with a crew of some of Bonavista’s best known carpenters in that period: Jack Russell, Gus Russell, Max Russell, Ralph Hicks, Don Miles and Harry Etsell, with Cyril Miles as foreman. The building was completed in time for the Christmas Day afternoon opening which featured a double bill – Here Comes Kelly starring Eddie Quillan and Joan Warbury, and Dillinger with Lawrence Tierney, Ann Jeffreys and Edmund Lowe.
Named after David Garrick, an 18th century pioneer of English theatre – and thus sharing the name with several other theatres in English speaking countries, including the famous Garrick in London – this facility was built with a traditional stage and proscenium. The original intention had been to use the facility for both live performance and film. However the immense popularity of film, especially in the early years, left little room for other events.
John’s obituary states:
Passed away suddenly but peacefully at St. Clare’s Hospital on July 29, 2008, John R. Bradley, age 84 years, of Bonavista. Predeceased by his father and mother, F. Gordon Bradley and Ethel Louise (Roper) Bradley. Leaving to mourn his wife, Sylvia (Hunt) Bradley, son John (Lisa) of Cold Lake, Alberta, and daughter Jennifer (Paul) of Flatrock. Also survived by his brother Gordon (Marjorie) of Bonavista, and nephew David (Paula) of St. John’s, and a host of other relatives and friends made over a long life…. Interment to follow at the United Church (Lookout) Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in his memory to the SPCA, Clarenville or to the Garrick Theatre Capital Campaign, Bonavista. John built the Garrick in 1945 and operated it for more than 50 years. In 2003 he and his family donated the facility to the community, and it is currently undergoing an extensive redevelopment.
David Bradley is on the board for the the Heritage Canada Foundation:
David Bradley is an archivist at Memorial University’s Maritime History Archive. A former president of the Newfoundland Historical Society, he is also the founding and current chair of the Association of Heritage Industries, an umbrella group of provincial heritage organizations which lobbied for and helped to shape the province’s first cultural policy. David is also president of the Bonavista Historical Society and chair of its affiliate, the Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation, the organization responsible for an ongoing transformative and award-winning heritage conservation and redevelopment project in the Town.
He has also testified in front of the Fisheries and Oceans Committee.
I am still looking for more information regarding this inspiring and interesting part of my family tree. Any new information is welcome in discovering more about my cousins. This includes any information on the old English Planter, William Trimm, Sr., the Dorset and Devon fleets referred to in another article that went to Newfoundland, and anything pertaining to David Bradley, who I have yet to get in contact with.
Next in this series will be what I know about the branch of my family that moved back to England from Newfoundland: the Stephens, Allen and Trimm-Allen cousins.