February 4, 2007  

Here it is folks, more tales about ‘my first impression of Gander, Nfld.”


“I had lived with a couple in one of the outports as my mother had died when I was three months old and all the other kids had gone to Toronto.  Dad at first worked in Oshawa (accounting for some store) and later went to Gander as Manager for Goodyear Humber Stores on the Army side. However, I did not meet him until I was four. 

“I met him and he brought me by train to meet his new wife at a cottage  at Pritchett's Siding.  Great fishing there.  Dad lived at Gander though and so after the summer, we went to Gander with him. Sisters and brothers also although I think I was the first one to meet his new wife. 

“The other kids remembered Dad though and he had seen them in Toronto when he worked in Oshawa plus they were older.  Anyway, I remember Gander as having LOTS of lights and I liked that but it seemed a bit strange (kinda of like Sci Fi). 

“I guess where I had lived, they had lamps (oil or something) and things must have been a bit dark.  I loved the lights and everything seemed a bit strange.  That's about all I remember for my first impression of Gander. “

-          Elizabeth Bursey Lyons, Class of 1960


“My problem is: I was two years old and memory of my arrival on "the Gander" is somewhat faded. I'm sure Morley and Eric, being the older brothers, would have a much clearer picture of their first days there. I remember we lived in an old camp site near the airport called McNamara's which essentially was a tar paper shanty town where they had out door toilets (I think) and they brought water from Gander Lake (I think). I vaguely remember seeing someone carrying water with two buckets and a yoke....over his shoulders.....it's amazing what a young mind will remember.

“It was years later when I saw goats with yokes on to prevent them from sneaking through a fence.

“Anyway, as soon as it could be arranged, we moved into an apartment on the American side, then to the Army side and then to the Canadian side before we moved into our home on Edinbourgh Ave.

“It seems like such a long time ago.

“But it was such a good life and I loved it!!

-          Kevin Smith Class of 1963


NOTE: (Next time Kevin, your brother Eric has shared some great memories and photos—you’re going to love it).


 The  McNamara area (for people who don’t know where it was, it was near the end of  the runway closest to Gdr Lake at the time) was close to the area to be  taken over by BOAC in post-war Gander so maybe those shacks were one time part of the BOAC setup (though the BOAC area might have been a bit more to the  east, closer to the old cemetary.)  Funny they were all that far from the  “main part of town”.    But then again, Gander wasn’t really all that spread out, it  just seemed that way  to 4,5,6,7 year old kids with short  legs!

The McNamara crusher was set up there for road and airport work and the living quarters dwindled down  but there were people living there  at least up til 1956-57 I think.  When we still lived on the Air Force side until summer ‘58, that is where we would go to dig worms to go  fishing....so I guess those outhouses served a double purpose!

- Bob Pelley, Class of 1962


  “On September 25, 1955, the Mingo girls and parents arrived in Gander.  We travelled by boat from Sydney, NS with our budgie bird Toni, we had him trained to say "Toni go to Gander", and he said so all the way there. 

“We boarded the Newfie Bullet in Port aux Basque, stopped in Stephenville , Corner Brook, etc...and of course we all got out each time the train had to take on water, and new passengers.  Mom made sure we were in dresses, even hats, and gloves. Yep, even at my age, 15, did what I was told. 

“That was soon to be erased, somewhat. 

“Several of the Eastern Woodworkers employees were at the train station to greet us. Our house wasn't ready when we got there, so we stayed 3 days at the Jupiter (Hotel).  All I remember was we loved it.  

“Dad went to Goodyear's, and pointed to this, and this, and that, and that, beds for three bedrooms, living set, diningroom, kitchen stuff, and all that got delivered in fast time, we moved into our house.  I remember Mom emptying these very large round barrels that our things were shipped in from New Glasgow, NS.  Dad said he wasn't packing furniture too, so bought it all there. Mom did not pick out any of it. Who was in charge anyway? Need we ask.

“My first day of school at Hunt Memorial Academy. -  well, I remember I had walked into class, no doubt Mr Clarke had delivered me there, sat down in the back row, afraid to move a muscle, but the 'kids' were all talking, and walking around, and Mr. Parrot came into the class, I was really scared then, with everyone walking about, no one paying attention that the teacher just walked in, and Mr. Parrot said loudly, Winston (Stanley), take your seat!  I then got introduced. 

“Dad was told before we moved that he would really like living in Gander, it rarely snows, things are good.  Come Christmas, he had sent all the men home for 2 wks., most of them came to Gander from outports. Then he said it snowed, and it snowed and it snowed. All stores were closed, we could not get out of the driveway, he couldn't get any cigarettes, and no paper and the radio wouldn't work.  "why am I stuck here in Gander?" 

 “So dad called Mr. Ramsey (Fenton's father), asked him if he could operate the backhoe, (I am sure he said that is what it was), and he did, so Mr Ramsey got us out of our driveway, and did Carl Holletts, and a few of the neighbors, then Dad went to the Eastern Woodworkers eating place, found one of the workers, bought some cigs there, no newspapers, and went home and called New Glasgow, said send my piano to Gander, asap, we need some entertainment. 

“Then he went to Goodyear's again, and bought a stereo of the day.  From then on there were parties at our house that are hard not to remember. They were noisy!  Piano going into the wee hours, (Mom on piano, Dad on the accordian), and everyone sang off key. 

“We (the sisters) complained so much about the noise and no sleep, Dad built a door half way down the hall to cover up some of the noise.  I don't remember that it did. 

“ I also remember that being Joyce's younger sister, she would have to take me to all those parties held somewhere near HMA.  Sometimes it was at Pat, Helen and Jane Dempseys, we always loved going there.  Or something to do with the Anglican Church.  We most often walked from the new townsite into the old town.  Sometimes it was not easy getting permission from our parents to go.  And once Joyce and I started dating, well, cars were involved, so at some point, we didn't have depend on walking, or having Dad drive us.

“Then I got tons of babysitting jobs!  That is another story.

- Audrey Mingo Grantham, Class of 1958

“No, the cat didn't eat the bird, and we brought a cat with us too,  Forgot about that.


Next time, Eric Smith has an interesting recount of his family’s arrival in Gander. By the way,  Audrey brings up a good subject, “The Newfie Bullet”. Anyone got anything to share about that? Would love to hear them, or any pictures, send to faye@villagereporter.com

Thanks …