Jim Jones wants to make sure Battle Harbour’s rich history is not forgotten.
For the past two years, the Mary’s Harbour man has been collecting old photos of Battle Harbour from private collections, magazines, journals and other sources and sharing them through his Facebook page: Battle Harbour History.
In doing so Jones, who is a retired sea captain, is hoping to share parts of Battle Harbour’s history for the very first time.
“What I’m doing is trying to work on photos that people got stashed in their attic or their basement and trying to get those photos out; ones that were never seen before,” he told The Northern Pen.
Jones seeks out former residents and other people he knows with connections to the Labrador coast village. He’ll explain to them what he’s doing and see if they’re interested in sharing the photos.
He’ll have copies printed and sometimes he’ll be handed negatives which he’ll then have developed.
This has been one of his primary sources of photos.
Sometimes, Jones says, people may not be aware what photos they have in their possession.
He recalls how his cousin, living in St. John’s, found an envelope in an old book, containing a dozen or more negatives.
After having them developed, he still couldn’t identify the people or the setting of the photos.
After Jones had a look, he knew exactly what they were.
“Back in the 1940s, the nurse here in Mary’s Harbour contacted the government and said there was a food shortage here on the coast,” he explained. “So, they did fly in a bit of food on a plane, but then they sent an ice-breaker out from St. John’s, — The Sorel — and she came north as far as Cape St. Charles (three miles south of Battle Harbour) and that’s where they offloaded the supplies. That’s what those photographs showed.”
It’s an example of the types of stories told, and the history revealed, through these photographs.
Jones, himself, has a deeply personal connection to Battle Harbour. He grew up on the island and his family’s matrilineal line can be traced back to the village in the early 1800s.
He loves to dig deeper into the history of the place.
“Once you gets involved in it, you wants to keep on digging more and more,” he said. “It’s almost like the branches of the tree: you get into one thing but then it branches off into something else.”
While he’s deeply familiar with Battle Harbour’s history, Jones is still learning things about it while searching and gathering information for these photos.
For instance, he now knows more about the Grenfell Mission in Battle Harbour.
“I knew there was a hospital in Battle Harbour but that was pretty much the extent of it,” he said.
He’s been exploring copies of the Among the Deep Sea Fishers archives at Memorial University and has purchased copies of the magazine through eBay.
Jones has learned a great deal through these archives as they include day-to-day journals of the Grenfell Mission’s operations in communities including, among others, St. Anthony, Cartwright, and, of course, Battle Harbour.
Jones also has the August, 1910, edition of National Geographic in his possession. He says the magazine contains several photos associated with the Dr. Grenfell Mission.
He hopes to share them out as well.
Jones’ collection can be viewed at www.facebook.com/BattleHarbourHistory
He updates it every few days.
Anyone who has pictures of Battle Harbour to share, can reach Jones by email at email@example.com or by phone at 709-921-6249.