Extra Research for Season 6 – Episode 6 – Lost at Sea

Early People

A significant archeological find in 1966 allowed Twillingate the ability to trace its area history back 3500 years to the Archaic Maritime Indians.  The Maritime Archaics name comes from the two words: “Archaic“, which refers to an the hunting and gathering way of life and “Maritime” for the important role that the sea and its resources played in the lives of Newfoundland and Labrador’s first people. There are two variations of the Maritime Archaic tradition called the Northern and Southern branches.  Twillingate Maritime Archaics would be considered one of the Northern branches and the earlier of the two peoples to arrive in the province.

Eventually the islands were occupied by small bands of Beothuk Indians along the coast.  European settlers encountered the Beothuks in the 1600s and took over their traditional fishing and hunting grounds.  When these summer fishermen and hunters left, the Beothuks would retrieve and incorporate into their lives the castoff tools and metal objects left behind.  The second last living Beothuk, Demasuit, or Mary March as she was called by her captors, was brought to live in Twillingate in 1819 where she died of tuberculosis.  Her husband died trying to stop her from being taken, and her newborn baby, probably left behind by her abductors, died several days after.  The last known surviving Beothuk, Shawnadithit, also died of tuberculosis in St. John’s in June 1829.

Harold “Harry” Oxford

Twillingate is one of the oldest seaports in Newfoundland.  Because of its geographical location, the area is known for its harsh and extreme weather conditions.  The town sits in the heart of Iceberg Alley and been proclaimed “the Iceberg Capital of the World”.

The Orange Order was founded in Ireland in 1795, during a period of Protestant-Catholic conflict and is headed by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which was established in 1798.  The Twillingate Orange Lodge was completed in 1907 and named for Alexandra of Denmark.  It has been used as the meeting house for the Orange Order, the Confederation debates of the 1940s, and housed patients during the hospital fire in 1943.  Today the hall is called the “Touton House” and is used for theatre and musical performances.

Harold “Harry” Oxford was born in 1919 to Bennett Oxford and Elsie May Brown in Twillingate, NF.  He had four siblings, including a set of twins.  Harry Oxford was lost overboard in a late November gale in 1940 eight miles off Cape Race aboard the sailing schooner Grace Beohner.  Harry and another crewmate were lashing cargo that had come lose on deck in the storm.  The crewmate was washed back onto the ship, but Harry was washed out to sea; his body was never found.  Unfortunately, no service records have been found for this ship.  The ship was built in 1919 in La Have, and was owned by H. W. Gillett, Twillingate NL.

— Joanne Schiavoni

Photo Credit: Demasduit (Shendoreth, Waunathoake, Mary March), Library and Archives Canada / acc. no. 1977-14-1  

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