1935 August Gale

On August 24, The Daily News printed the following forecast for Newfoundland: “Moderate winds, cloudy, with occasional rain and probably some fog on southwest coast” (1935, p. 4). What materialized turned out to be the beginning of one of the worst storms that parts of the colony had seen in many years. What started as a south-east gale, switched suddenly to the south-west around midnight on August 24 (The Daily News, August 26, 1935, p. 1). The winds continued to pick up throughout the morning of August 25, and reached their strongest point in most places that afternoon (The Daily News, August 29, 1935, p. 3).

The north-east and south-east coasts were particularly hard hit. Although extensive damage was done, it was mostly of a relatively minor nature. For example, many affected communities encountered damages such those at St. Mary’s Bay (where 500 qtls. [a quintal is a unit for measuring fish that is equal to 112 pounds or approximately 51 kilograms (Story, Kirwin, and Widdowson 2004: 399)] of were codfish lost and stages, dories, stores and crops were damaged or destroyed) or at Bay de Verde (where there was an estimated $1000 in damages to fishing boats, gear, etc.) (The Western Star, September 4, 1935, p. 1). That there was not more damage to these communities is impressive, especially given the strength of the wind, which illustrated in one of the stories published by The Daily News: “a bungalow under construction…was lifted from its foundation and deposited some 6 or 8 feet from its original position. The concrete blocks which supported it were broken in three or four pieces” (August 26, 1935, p. 1).

The gale did the most damage to boats and vessels of all sizes, at sea and in port. Renews was one of the areas most affected by the storm, in which eleven boats broke from their moorings (The Daily News, August 29, 1935, p. 3). Most of these boats were saved, but several were destroyed. The gale prompted a discussion that the channel leading to the Riverhead of Renews should be dredged out as the Riverhead could provide complete shelter from stormy weather, but was inaccessible to larger vessels (The Daily News, August 29, 1935, p. 3).

Throughout Newfoundland, numerous ships were wrecked and entire crews were declared missing. The schooner Carrie Evelyn, for instance, was found at Fox Holes (between Torbay and Flatrock): “The vessel was beaten to matchwood against the sheer cliff, and pieces of the hull and a water barrel were found wedged in crevices 15 feet above sea level. There were no signs of any bodies. The schooner carried a crew of four” (The Western Star, September 4, 1935, p. 1). Numerous other vessels encountered similar fates when forced by the wind into rocks.

Due to the great volume of this type of damage, the S.S. Malakoff was sent out at around 6 p.m. on August 26 with P. T. Fudge, chief fishery officer, on board to search the coast between Trepassey, St. Mary’s and Placentia Bay for wreckage, survivors, and any property that might be saved (The Daily News, August 27, 1935, p. 3). The Malakoff turned out to be assistance to at least one schooner, the Lattie Dunford, which it re-floated at Trepassey on August 28 (The Daily News, August 30, 1935, p. 3). The Malakoff was one of many coastal steamers that were ordered by the government to help investigate wrecks (The Daily News, August 27, 1935, p. 4).

According to The Western Star, the storm was not only destructive to fishermen and their communities, but also to the fish themselves: thousands of lobsters and other fish were washed up along Newfoundland’s northwest coast during the storm (September 11, 1935, p. 3). Three hundred lobsters washed up at Bell Burn alone (The Western Star, September 11, 1935, p. 3). Not including the damages done to these lobsters and fish, it was estimated that 31 people were killed in the gale and that property damages amounted to approximately $45,500 (The Western Star, October 2, 1933, p.1).

References

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “31 Lives Lost $45,500 Damages In August Storm.” October 2, p. 1.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “Boats Damaged Badly in Wind Storm At Renews.” August 29, p. 3.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “First Report of Storm Damage From Labrador.” August 30, p. 3.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “Weather Forecast.” August 24, p. 4.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “Lives Lost and Schooners Wrecked.” August 27, p. 3.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “Much Damage Done Sunday’s Wind Storm.” August 26, p. 1.

The Daily News (St. John’s). 1935. “Storm Damage.” August 27, p. 4.

Story, George Morley, W. J. Kirwin, and John David Allison Widdowson. 2004. Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

The Western Star (Curling, Bay Islands, Newfoundland). 1935. “Storm Destructive To Fishes.” September 11, p. 3.

The Western Star (Curling, Bay Islands, Newfoundland). 1935. “Storm Takes Heavy Toll in Life and Shipping.” September 4, p. 1.

Tags:

Summer Storm Causes Great Destruction


Leave a Reply