History - Reidville Beginning
At the end of World War I and for the next decade (1920-1930's) the Newfoundland economy struggled. With a downturn in the fishing, and the pulp and paper industries government was faced with the challenge of stimulating economic growth.
...On February 16, 1934 the Commission of Government was sworn in, ending responsible government, and beginning a new chapter in Newfoundland's constitutional history. The Commission consisted of seven persons appointed by the British government. No elections took place, and no legislature was convened, for the next 15 years..................
The Commission's efforts to create industries to supplement the fishery were on the whole disappointing. One of the most interesting of these was the Land Settlement Scheme. A number of farming communities were formed - Markland was the first - to give work both to the urban unemployed and to impoverished fishing families.
Melvin Baker explained
In its first years the Commission attempted an ambitious land settlement scheme emphasizing agricultural development as an alternative to the Island's reliance on the fishery. This scheme was the creation of Thomas Lodge, a strong-willed Commissioner, who imposed his idea of "social reorganization" on a reluctant Commission, which accepted the scheme because it had no other definite plan of economic action available.Although Lodge had established by 1938 11 settlements involving 340 families, the scheme proved to have only limited success because of the harsh climate and use of inexperienced farmers. Among the settlements established were Markland, Haricort, Brown's Arm, Midland, Cormack and Lourdes.
In When I Was Young: History of the Humber Valley Reidville, page 70 the authors state
"The Commission Government had the land blocked up in fifty acre lots. These lots could be obtained on a five year lease for $5.00 each. If they could clear at least one quarter of the lot during this period, settlers would receive a grant giving them title to the land."
After the "land settlement scheme" was established William Thomas, Herbert, Douglas and later Alexander (Sandy) took out fifty acre lots which encompassed much of the land midway between the two ravines - Trout Brook and The Gulch. William Thomas's land was directly across the Humber River from his eldest son, Steadman. Sandy's block bordered his fathers to the East along the River while Herbert's bordered the West boundary along the River. Douglas's acreage bordered Herbert's to the West as well. Each of these families worked the land to their own benefits. They cut the forest and used logs to saw lumber for personal use - to build homes, sheds, barns and any other structures needed. Pulp wood was sold to the International Pulp and Paper Company and the cleared land cultivated to grow crops for personal use.
Like other woodsmen in the area, the Reids used whatever means were available to carry out their daily tasks. This usually meant cutting wood with a Buck Saw and trimming it with an axe. At first the Reid families cut the wood and cleared land on their personal lots. Later they received contracts to cut pulp wood on land around the region where the paper company owned the timber rights. The work was very strenuous with the back breaking chore of cutting the trees with a Buck Saw. The pulp wood or logs would then have to be transferred to a waterway, brook, stream or the river to be floated down to Corner Brook. The cutter was responsible for landing the wood into the river. During the 1930s he did this with dog team and sled, horse and sled, or by a sled hauled by hand. The entire Humber River watershed was eventually opened up to logging with the development of the Tramway to Aides Lake and White River. The pulp wood was floated and sacked all along the river system until it reached Deer Lake. There it was towed in a boom the length of the lake and again floated down river to Humber Mouth where it was again towed in a boom to the Mill. See Loggers: 1930-1939 of the Photo Gallery for more pictures of this process.
The first world war had ended but the conscription crisis weakened the National (Responsible) Government of Newfoundland and caused its collapse in May 1919. This brought on a period of political instability which was not to end until 1934. By 1929 the world was in the middle of the Great Depression. The impact of the depression on the Newfoundland economy was devastating. Melvin Baker 1994 explains:
"Between 1928 and 1933 fish prices fell by 48 per cent and newsprint prices by 35 per cent. The value of total exports fell by 27 per cent over the same period, imports by 44 per cent. Government revenues, still largely derived from custom duties, declined by 11 per cent, though there were increasing demands for relief payments, occasioned by fisheries failures in 1930, 1931, and 1932. The cost of debt servicing was becoming unbearable."
By the winter of 1932-33 a quarter of the population was on government relief. There is little doubt that the state of the economy influenced William Thomas Reid's decision to pull up stakes in Neddy (Neddie's) Harbour and move to the Humber Valley region. Fishing was poor, but there was some promise of providing for his family inland. At the time Steadman (William's eldesty son) had cleared land and was able to grow much of their staple foods. Hunting in the region was very good and there were still workers required by the paper company. However, the following excerpt from CHAPTER VII.--PROSPECTS FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE, paragraph 420. illustrates the plight of the loggers in the region at the time.
If the lot of the employees in the (Corner Brook) Mill is at present a hard one, that of the woodsman is well-nigh desperate. The reduction of the output of the Mill has naturally been reflected in a reduction of the amount of timber required. Cutting has, therefore, been curtailed, and in one district, where no less than 50,000 cords were cut in 1931, no cutting took place in 1932. Numbers of men have, therefore, been unable to obtain employment while, in the case of those who have been unfortunate enough to do so, reductions in the rates offered have been such as to deprive them of all hope of earning a livelihood for themselves and their families. The average price paid per cord last season was $1.00-$1.30, as compared with $1.20-$1.50 in 1931 and $2.50 in normal times. The average cut per man was 1.3 cords a day. Each man, out of his earnings, was required to pay 66 cents a day for board and was subject to other incidental expenses. The margin thus left to him at the end of many weeks' hard work was insignificant: indeed, he was fortunate if he was able, as the Newfoundlander say, to "break even." As a result of these unfortunate experiences, the contiguous town of Deer Lake, which has grown up as a lumber centre, has been reduced to a state bordering on pauperism. Many families have been compelled to seek public relief and the remainder are in serious straits. (MUN, 1996-2000).
Neddy's Harbour to Lomond in boat.
On March 4, 1988 Louise Janes interviewed Sandy and Florence Reid of Reidville as part of the research for the HVDA. Throughout the remainder of this document you will find links to snippets of that interview.
Alexander (Sandy), who was thirteen years old at the time recalls, "We drove a cow through the country from Lomond to Nicholsville, got the boat at Nicholsville and came up the river to Stead's place. This took two days, so we had to stay in woods camps along the way".(Humber Valley Development Association, 1989 p. 68).
It was August, 1932 when Steadman Reid travelled to Lomond to pick up his father, William Thomas Reid (1874-1947), his mother Mary Ann, (nee Major) and some of their children; William (Willie), Alexander (Sandy), Henry, Fronie, and Lorne. William Thomas loaded their household belongings and their animals aboard a boat at Neddy (Neddie's) Harbour and steamed up the Arm to Lomond. The eldest children were either married and or working in the northern communities and remained there for the time. Douglas Phillip(1935 Census DW 27).married Alice Watts and moved to Bear Cove (in the Rocky Harbour area) to fish for Cod fish and Lobster. Mathilda Jane (1935 Census Col 1 Dwelling 4) married Norman Reid and lived throughout their lives in Neddy (Neddie's) Harbour. Charlotte(1935 Census Col 1 Dwelling 2) married Elias Major, lived temporarily in Neddie's Harbour and later moved to Norris Point where they remained throughout their lives. Herbert (Herb) (1935 Census Col 1 Dwelling 3) married Elsie Hiscock and remained in Neddy (Neddie's) Harbour for another two years.
Walk from Lomond to the Humber River.
The Interviews are Courtesy: Humber Valley Development Association, P.O. Box 989, Deer Lake, NL, Canada, A0K 2E0. Copyright 1989. Heritage Committee.
Sandy explained why his father, William Thomas, moved his family to Reidville.
The family lived with Steadman for the first winter and in the spring of 1933, William Thomas moved his family across the river, cleared land and built a log cabin on the bank of the Humber River between the two ravines - Trout Brook and The Gulch. Reidville had its beginnings. William Thomas completed his cabin during the summer and fall of 1933 and spent the next couple of years there. In 1935 Herbert moved his family from Neddie's Harbour to Reidville. He built a log cabin on land west of his father, William Thomas. Shortly after settling at Reidville it was realized that a school was needed for the area. William Thomas built a new home farther from the river and just under the large hill that climbed northward above his cabin. In 1936 he donated the first cabin for schooling children of the surrounding settlements. They came to school from Cache Rapids, Junction Brook, Janes Field, and Reidville. According to Mamie Hounsell the first teacher was Mr. Morgan. She remembers the enjoyment felt by the children when Mr Morgan would take them out on the field to play ball. Around the same time, (1936-7), Phillip Douglas arrived in Reidville from Bear Cove, Bonne Bay and built his first cabin on the hillside west of Herbert's overlooking the Humber River. Later Doug and Alice built their permanent home at the same location but just a couple hundred feet west of the cabin. Each family cleared land, sowed crops and cut and sold pulpwood to the mill in Corner Brook.
Each of the first three settlers in Reidville, William Thomas Reid and his two sons, Herbert and Douglas, built a temporary cabin upon arrival and later built a more permanent home in the same vicinity as the cabin. William built his first cabin in 1933 and moved into his permanent home by 1935. Herbert arrived in 1935, built his first cabin and later moved into his permanent home. Douglas arrived and built his first cabin 1936 or 1937, and later built a permanent home.