May 22

Well folks I had a question about who had animals (I was actually thinking about pets) and the guys picked up on this topic like wildfire. It mushroomed and went from rats to pigs to piggeries and so forth. Actually my idea was to try and get a photo in of my cat. One that I used to play with and dress up like a doll. I would waltz down the street with him in a carriage and this was the photo to prove it.

 

 

Funny but I don't remember pets in old Gander, just wild animals. I remember shooting rats with a .22 Cooey that a fellow had down at the old burner.  We did that with airguns too.   Several times we saw bears in the same area.

I do remember one occasion on the AirForce side when a beaver ended up way off track in the field just south of the line of garages on Roosevelt. I was told that it got stoned to death  by some kids and that some man came along and took it for the pelt. I was also told that the kids didn't do really it though, that was a cover-up by the chap who wanted the beaver pelt.

And of course who can forget the frog pond on the upper part of Burner road, just a bit south of the radar station.  Those frogs were big. Had we known better we could have started a frog-leg business and become rich and famous!

RG Pelley, Class of 1962

Faye, I wonder if anyone remembers the infamous dog catcher in Gander. When we lived on Pinedo Rd., the dog catcher (don't remember his name) lived behind us on Edinburgh Ave. We had a small dog (a fox terrier) that we tied up with a chain behind the house. A couple of time he disappeared  and we would get a notice that he got loose and was picked up by th dog catcher and he could be retrieved for a fee at the pound at Gander Lake. We couldn't figure how he was getting loose. Dad figured that the dog catcher would send his kid over to let the dog loose then he would pick him up when he wandered away. I wonder if anyone else experienced that phenomena in Gander. Would you call that creating job security (or income)

Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961.

My memory is pretty poor, but I do recall that while walking home from school, on Foss Avenue,  we would cut across the railroad tracks and then take a short cut path through the woods to the Army side.   The piggery was located approximately where we would cross the railroad tracks.

- Eric Smith, Class of 1956

Hi Eric and all:

I know that route well. That site near the railway track going to the Army side was not Joey's piggery.  Joey's piggery was on the RAF side. It was a great place to dig worms - big juicy worms.  The site near the railway track towards the Army Side I don't think was a piggery.  It was something else. I remember it but can't remember exactly what it was.

-  Bill Noel, Class of 1958

Don't know much about it and I was told to stay away from it with admonitions like "Don't you go up there and then come home tracking that dirt on your boots!".

Bob Pelley, Class of 1962

 

Geez, it is difficult to get people talking sometimes. What do I have to do to get some animal stories here, Bob (McKinnon). I’m not complaining, but….

Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959 

Tell you what. We have to go out to Canadian Tire in a few minutes and maybe go for a coffee. When I get back I'll compose a piggery story. I have the poop on this believe me.

- Bob Mckinnon, 
		St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

OK, sooo…. Here's what I remember about the piggery in Gander. On the Canadian side, if you went down Foss Avenue to the end and crossed the railroad tracks you would be on a gravel road which took you to Tulk's piggery. You had to hold your nose because the aroma was not pleasant. For some bizarre reason us kids had a fascination for that piggery. I believe they did everything there except make pork chops and the folks there would explain anything we asked about.

We often went to watch the process.

One area in the building contained the pigs, fully grown right down to piglets. There was one hugh sow there called Aunt Jemima that they used for breeding (lucky girl). The other ones were destined for the dinner table. For feeding they would make up a huge pot of stew comprised of scraps from everywhere and let it flow into a trough where the pigs would have a feast.

When I was the newspaper boy I used to go to the mess hall ( on the Canadian side),  that they had for single transient workers, to sell papers. All the scraps from the plates were scrapped off into a container for Tulk's piggery.

When the pigs were slaughtered (I won't get into the details), they moved them on hooks to a large vat of boiling water where they were immersed momentarily and this made it easier to remove the short hair on the carcass, and then the pig was cleaned and prepared for shipment to the butcher. I don't remember them doing any meat cutting at Tulk's. Someone may correct me on that.

All the waste and manure was carted in a wheelbarrow out to the side of the building to a large dumping area. When they hosed down the pigs and the cement floor inside it also ran off into a drainage system to the dump area. Hence the wonderful aroma that was constantly in the air.

When we moved to the new townsite I believe that the piggery moved outside town to a location off  the Trans Canada highway going towards Twin Ponds. Isn't it strange that I would remember this stuff.

Bob Mckinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

Isn't it ironic that most of the old Gander (the wonderful houses, apartments, churches, halls, schools, movie places, etc. were torn down? And another irony that the pig place (or remnants thereof) are still standing? What's that all about. Ode to a pig!!!?

Faye Lewis Raynard

It was originally called "Joey Smallwood's piggery" because it was started by him. Back in the 40s, Joey  and Micheal Harrington wrote the scripts for the Barrelman radio program.  But in 1943, Group Captain David Anderson, Commanding Officer of the Royal Air Force Transport Command station at Gander Airport, came to Smallwood looking for advice on running a pig farm.

“He had decided that it was a shameful waste of the King’s money to be throwing away all the good waste food from the mess halls in Gander...instead of producing pork with it.

“Smallwood went to Gander to look at the situation and was persuaded to move there to run the operation. “I was astonished to learn, and he appeared to be sincerely surprised at my astonishment, that I was to stay full time in Gander to run the piggery venture. This would mean my giving up my Barrelman program and living in Gander without income. Andy was determined about it, so I had to give in.”

(says Joey)

(This info comes from the Memorial University Archives.

See: http://www.library.mun.ca/qeii/cns/archives/barrelman.pdf

also see http://www.ganderourtown.ca/LargePiggery70603.html

     Bob Pelley, Class of 1962.

webster note; also read  the item Joey's Piggery  @ In on The Gander

 

Yup, that's it Robert. Back in the 1950's it was at the end of Foss Ave., across the track, and straight down a dirt road. That tower at the end is where they had a hook/pulley system to lift the pigs up and immerse them in hot water to remove the hair and then process the carcasses. Just back from that was an area where they mixed a large pot of feed ( a sort of waste food stew). The rest of the enclosure held pigs.

I remember the floor was concrete though. In the area beyond the tower where it drops off was where all the waste was dumped. It probably still stinks there.

In picture #3, the clear area going away from the piggery is where the road went out and met perpendicular with the dirt road that came in from Foss Ave. If you went straight ahead on that dirt road there were some other buildings that I believe held chickens. This operation was operated by Arthur Tulk. But because some folks mentioned a piggery on the American side, I wonder if there were two piggeries in Gander at that time.

Bob Mckinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

But wait a minute….OK folks, I was just looking at this writeup from the site Robert (Pelley) directed us to, and it looks like there were possibly two piggeries. It depends what they mean by "Gander International Airport". Is it the new one or the old one? If it is the current airport then Joey's piggery would have been on what we considered in the 1950's to be the American side. But never the less, Arthur Tulk had a piggery beyond Foss Ave. (Canadian Side) in the 1950's. I remember visiting that place.

Joey's piggery was started in the 1940's whereas most of us remember the 1950's. Check out the following writeup. Also Carol has posted an article on In on the Gander about Joey's piggery but it doesn't really give a location. Bob Mckinnon.

"07/07/06 - Royal Airforce Piggery in Gander

Nestled in the woods near Gander International Airport are the ruins of a one time pig farm that has a historical interest. Photos taken June 3, 2007 (View Photos) show the site of the Piggery with the main reference points being the foundation of the main building and the still standing remains of the smoke house.
During the WWII the local Royal Airforce Commander realized that the large amount of waste food available could be used to operate a pig farm. He convinced Joseph Smallwood at the time a pig farmer on Kenmount Road in St John's to run the operation. Joey Smallwood moved to Gander and while on RAF business in Montreal first learned of Britain's plans for the colony of Newfoundland's future. He decided to pursue an active part in the changes and was elected for the district containing Gander. Due to the British Government's rule that you must be a resident of the district you represent Joey's move to Gander can be seen as an opportune step in his becoming a Father of Confederation and the first Premier of the Province of Newfoundland."

Bob Mckinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

Joey Smallwood had the piggery and we used to go up there and get on top of the pig hut and jump up and down until the pigs ran out. Then ....get this.... we would try and jump on there backs for a quick ride around the pen as they came out. What could have been more fun than running around a pig pen on the back of a big sow. I mean don't kids do this all the time for amusement????? I know there are guys on the american side who remember this.

Angus Taylor, Class of 1962

 

Angus' comments brings up an interesting topic. Where was the Smallwood piggery located? I seem to remember a building just off the north end of Foss Avenue that was called "Joey's piggery", where the land was cleared for the first attempt at a town, but later became vegetable gardens for local residents. I have also read that Joey's piggery was located on the RAF Side of the airport where the first terminal was located.

Jim Butler, Class of 1959

 

Jim, the location is a bit of a blur to me but it was up on the American side around where the RCAF base is located. The veg garden (I remember doing time there!) was just down from the base to the right.

Angus Taylor, Class of 1962

Angus Taylor thinks it was on the American side, but I'm sure that, unless there was more than one of them, it was on the Canadian side. You crossed the tracks at the end of Foss Ave. A gravel road took you to a piggery operated by Arthur Tulk. Cal Warren and I used to go there to watch them process pigs. A perpendicular gravel road ran parallel to the train tracks up to where the gardens were (in the direction of the new Gander). Dad had a garden lot there. This was where they first attempted to start the town. At the back of this was the Gully where I told you we went fishing. 

-

Bob Mckinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

 

The only piggery I remember is the one on the Canadian(?) side. It was almost next door to our kindergarden school. We used to go there sometimes. The other thing I remember about it is when the wind changed direction.

    Norman Hounsell, Class of 1960

 

Are you talking about Tulk's piggery west of Gander? If so, Arthur Tulk and his sister went to our school, and Art was in the same class as me. Art drowned trying to save his sister when the railing of a bridge broke while they were leaning on it. I don't  know if his sister survived or not.

Dennis Pritchett, Class of 1962

 

I have checked the piggery business with an expert on the geography of Gander, namely my father, Calvin. There were in fact 2 piggeries in Gander.  The one called the "RCAF piggery"  was the deal operated by Arthur Tulk, located  across the railway tracks just north of the end of Fosse Avenue and just west of the diesel plant. Joey  had little or nothing to do with this one.

Joey's piggery, known as the "RAF piggery", was near Hangers 21-22  (which became the Terminal Bldg). Taking as a reference the y-junction of the road that went to Hanger 21 and the road to Deadman's Pond, Joey's piggery was about 400-600 feet along the road towards the pond. It was on the north side of the road, in the woods, up a short trail. Seepage of  creepy stuff into the water table and eventually to Deadman's Pond was obviously not a problem in those days!

There was no piggery on the Airforce side.  However there a site just as  good as a piggery for digging worms and could easily be confused with one. It was near the site of the MacNamara crusher, where there was a small wartime and slightly post-war residence area which had its own dump site. This was  a short ways off the south end of old runway  27-09. The worms there were as big a trout!

 Bob Pelley, Class of 1962.

 

When everybody moved to the new Town of Gander, the Tulk piggery moved out off the Transcanada going towards Twin Ponds. This is the piggery that Denny Pritchett was talking about.

- Bob Mckinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961

 

There you have it! The history of piggeries in Gander!

Well, I did start this by saying it was a bit of a blur in my memory and thanks for bringing it in focus. It must have been the Tulk piggery that I was referring to. Probably a stop off on our way to or from the Star theatre!

Angus Taylor, Class of 1962

 

Thanks guys, this has been a lot of fun!!

 

OK folks, is that about it on the piggeries in Gander? Are we straight on that. Just an aside, we think that Angus used to drop by after the movies with his date, but that cannot be confirmed. Just Kidding!!! Seriously, next time lets add to some of the Joey Smallwood stories that I have received form classmates over the last week. This should be another great topic. Why not share yours by emailing me at faye@villagereporter.com