Nov 17, 2010

I was wondering about the dismantling of St. Joseph’s School after receiving the pictures below from Robert Pelley. After posting the query it drew the following responses…thanks everyone for sharing knowledge on this topic…

St. Joesph's before

St. Joesph's after

St. Joseph's Academy closed in June 1995 and all students in Gander attended one school system. (This was a year or two before the Denominational school system was abolished in the province.) The building was considered surplus, because of declining enrollments in previous years.  The new setup had students K- Gr. 5 at Gander Academy, Gr 6 -7 at Gander Middle School (originally Gander Collegiate), Gr 8-9 at St. Paul's Intermediate and High School Students Levels 1 2 3  at Gander Collegiate. This system lasted for about three years when Gander Middle School closed. Grade 7 students attended St. Paul's and Grade 6 students returned to Gander Academy.

After its closure in 1995 St. Joseph's was used for storage of School Board property and equipment but was vandalized. It was considered a potential fire hazard and the Town of Gander ordered its demolition which occurred in 2002-2003.  The property was later sold to a developer and a sub division has been established on the site.


I attended St.Joseph's and was part of the first graduating class from St. Paul's High in 1962. In 1964 I began teaching at St. Joseph's and remained there until it closed in 1995. I then had two wonderful years at Gander Middle School until retiring in 1997.

Bill Kelly, SP Class of 1962


I hear it was leaking pretty bad and was  also not being used after the school board consolidation and so there was no need as there were newer schools.

I suspect the was also liability issues but basically it wasn’t needed by the new school district or the parish

Thomas Philpott, SP, Class of 1967


My only conclusion to the downfall of the Catholic School System in Gander, was another WISE decision  by our ELECTED Government....And I guess there just wasn't enough people who cared enough to oppose it....Sad isn't it.....The schools  didn't really have to be one denomination but two perfectly great constructed buildings could have been used to accommodate the overflow of the other schools....Your site only shows St. Joseph's , St. Paul's was right next to it and that too was destroyed. 

Eileen Keiley Stack, SJ Class of 1956


It was nice to see everyone at the Reunion (Gander 2010) and to see that in the slide show that they had running they had a picture of the Solidaire's orchestra. There were some people there that knew that Dad was the man in the black tuxedo. I have several memories of growing up with a father who played in a band every weekend. We all helped pick out the music from his library of over 500 songs and put them in order for each instrument that was playing for a particular dance. I even got to sing at my Graduation dance with the orchestra--I sang the song "Sweetheart Tree".  I was in the Graduating Class of St. Paul's High of 1966.

Anne Goff Andrews, SP Class of 1966


But wait…Bob Pelley is getting nostalgic on sound of the Newfie Bullet that used to pass thru town…this is sure to make you want to go back in time…


When I was growing up in Gander, we spent many summer days at the paternal grandfather's place in Shoal Harbour. Down at the bottom of the yard was the railway track. Every single train that went across Newfoundland had to use that particular route.  

I loved the sound of the train whistle as it came up the valley of the Shoal Harbour River through the trees toward the house. The clickety-clack of the wheels was the lullaby that helped me sleep at night.  But what I liked best was late in the evening when the passenger trains went slowly by.  We could see the people in their chairs or in the dining car as they prepared for the next stop. This same light from the windows reflected on the ground and seemed to jump and dive as the shadow of the train moved along, following the folds in the ground.

We often took the train in those days, mostly because there was no road to speak of.  We often took the "Bonavista Branch" to go to Elliston. The most scenic place along that route was the "Trinity Loop".  This where the grade was so steep that the track went in a circle and passed under its own overpass to lessen the slope. The Branch train in most cases followed the shoreline and was often only a mere few feet from the edge of the water.

The smell of the kelp and the salt, combined with the sulphur from the coal burning locomotive, was a sensory delight, all set to music by the clack and squeals of the wheels.

By looking out the 1/2 window in the door between the wagons, we could often see the locomotive as it following tracks. The air rushing by sent us back the sound of the bell, the whistle and the steam as the engine always seemed to be in one of two states. Sometimes it groaned like a weightlifter trying get some traction; sometimes it just sang merrily along when it finally got up to speed.

As I looked out the wagon-door window, I always got a kick out of watching the trees, trying to figure out the geometry of it all. The train had a constant speed but the closest trees seemed to go by faster than the trees further away. No kid wonders about that these days - not because they are smarter, just that they are not allowed to stuck their head out the window of the door any more. Pity.

Locomotive 593 that often went past the house in Shoal Harbour

Bob Pelley, GA Class of 1962



Here is a guess on the mystery photo posed last column on the topic of train memorabilia.



My stepbrother, Fred Warren from Moncton NB and longtime CN employee tells me:

‘Those spoons were for sugar. They had special sugar bowls with tops and those spoons.’

Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of 1959


That’s it for this time folks.  Hold onto your hats. For Next visit we already have some hot stories cooking about famous people spotted (or met) while travelling thru Gander. Send your stories or clips to me on this or any other topic to (Faye Raynard, GA Class of 1959)  here at

Thanks all for your contributions and welcome to the newcomers who have jumped aboard here.