Bernard Vincent Andrews, 1913-1969, by John Andrews

Bernard Vincent Andrews known to friends and acquaintances as Bern or Bernie, was born in Port de Grave in 1913. His father, Harold Andrews, was the local merchant in Port de Grave and his mother Florence (Flora) was known for her musical talents and played in the Anglican Church in Bareneed for many years. Harold and Flora had two other children, a daughter Florence, who passed away at the age of 21 years from tuberculosis and a son Donald (Don), who spent a good portion of his life ‘down on the Labrador’, in the saltfish business. Don was well known for being a very philosophical and creative person and upon his death, at the age of 82 years in 1987 he held 17 patents for his inventions, most all of which were fishery related technology.
Bernie, grew up in a household that placed much importance on education. He took his Grade 10 in Port de Grave. His Grade 10 teacher was Eli Lear, also of Port de Grave, who, while teaching Grade 11, as well that year (1929-1930) was actually taking Grade 11 himself and as a result Eli wrote the same exams as his students and graduated with his Grade 11 class. Eli went on to study at the old Memorial College and spent the rest of his working life as a professor of Biology at Memorial.
In 1930 Bernie went to Bishop Feild College in St. John’s where he took Grade 11 and graduated with honours in 1931. The following year Bernie enrolled at the old Memorial College, in a general Arts program. In those days Memorial offered only two-year programs. After completing his second year at Memorial, he enrolled at Dalhousie University in Halifax, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honours two years later, in 1935. While at Memorial and Dalhousie Bernie was active in the debating clubs on campus and in 1934 won the Bennett Shield as the foremost debater at Dalhousie. While at Memorial and after his return to Newfoundland he was a prominent figure in the very popular St. John’s debating scene and was a very active participant in the Methodist College Literary Institut1e (MCLI) debates. An avid Newfoundland nationalist he spoke out often in favour of Responsible Government and was vehemently opposed to Newfoundland becoming a province of Canada.
Upon returning to Newfoundland from Dalhousie, Bernie was approached by the Commission of Government and asked if he would be willing to study law for six months under John B. MacEvoy. Bernie agreed and after six months of study under Mr.MacEvoy, he was appointed a Magistrate and posted in Greenspond. Bernie was then just twenty-one years old and the youngest person ever to be appointed a magistrate in the British Empire.
Shortly after his arrival in Greenspond in 1936, Bernie met and courted Barbara Mae Dominey (Mae), daughter of Edgar John Dominey (1872 -1937) and Annie Alice Dominey (1871-1935) of Greenspond. Bernie and Mae were married the following year.
Magistrate Andrews was stationed in Greenspond for five years and moved around to the neighbouring coastal communities in the passenger motorboat owned and operated by Charlie Downer of Greenspond, who became a close friend of the magistrate.
Bernie brought justice to that part of the North-East coast and was known to hold court in fishermen’s halls, school classrooms and even in stage-heads.
He was highly considered by all who knew him as a very fair, knowledgeable, understanding and compassionate person and a great story teller with a wonderful sense of humour. In later life he would recall his time spent on Greenspond Island as the happiest days of his life and brought with him from the time spent on Greenspond, a million wonderful stories and memories.
Bernie was very much the conversationalist and never missed an opportunity to expound on any topic that interested him. They had a rather rough trip one fall from Greenspond to Gambo with just he and Charlie Downer onboard. As usual Bernie did ninety-nine percent of the talking on the trip to Gambo. When they tied up in Gambo, Charlie turned to Bernie and said: “Magistrate you talked a puncheon full today, but if you culled it out, you wouldn’t get a piggin full of sense out of it”.
One of his favourite stories, which he told whenever the opportunity arose, went something like this. As a well-educated young man his political leanings were more socialist and anti-establishment, even though by some he may have been considered a part of the Establishment. In his position, he was often witness to the injustices perpetrated on the fishermen of the area … the merchant-fisherman relationship … and was often asked, as was his responsibility, to interpret and impose oft times rather unfair laws on those who he felt did not deserve to be punished. When he eventually resigned as magistrate, after six years on the bench, he claimed that it was because the laws were, in many cases unfair and were written by the wealthy to protect the wealthy and the Establishment and as a magistrate his job was to implement the laws that existed and he no longer felt that he could do this, with a clear conscience. When a fisherman would challenge his local merchant for an error in accounting or argue the unfair price of fish, etc., the merchant, to save face and keep the outspoken fisherman in line, would often find some minor law which the fisherman had violated (such as using too small a mesh, catching salmon out of season, catching and selling undersize lobster etc.) and turn him in to the magistrate.
 One warm summer Sunday afternoon in 1939, in Greenspond, the coastal boat arrived from Fogo and a small wooden crate was offloaded and delivered to Magistrate Andrews’ house. The young man who delivered the package advised the Magistrate that it was from a merchant in Fogo and as the telegraph office was closed on Sundays, a telegram would arrive the following day to explain the package. Magistrate Andrews opened the crate and found ten undersized lobsters and knew exactly what was going on. He immediately asked his wife, Mae, to “put on the pot”‘ and they boiled the lobsters and sat down and ate the works. The following day a telegram arrived stating “I have forwarded to you via MV Clyde, ten undersized lobsters, sold to me by fisherman John Doe. When you proceed with the prosecution, please be advised that I am available as a witness for the prosecution”. Magistrate Andrews swiftly sent back a telegram stating: “Cannot proceed with case as wife and I ate evidence for supper last night”.
After five years in Greenspond Magistrate Andrews was transferred to Springdale where he spent a year on the bench there. He had fond memories of Springdale as well and often related wonderful stories of his escapades there with his assistant, Roy Manuel of the Newfoundland Ranger Force. At the early age of twenty-eight, Bernie resigned as Magistrate, for reasons outlined earlier.
Bernie then moved to St. John’s where he took a position with Job Brothers Fisheries where he worked for five years. He resigned from Jobs and with his brother Don, formed a company which operated for five years and which was engaged in salt-fish drying and exporting. In 1952 Bernie accepted a position as Managing-Director of Arctic Fishery Products Ltd., a whaling company in South Dildo, Trinity Bay. In 1956 Bernie resigned from Arctic Fishery Products and established his own blueberry purchasing, processing and export business in South Dildo, Trinity Bay. He operated this business until he passed away suddenly, at the age of fifty-five, in August, 1969. Bernie and Mae had three children along the way; a daughter Elizabeth, born in Springdale, a nurse, who now resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: a son Harold (Hal), born in Twillingate, now deceased, who is known by many in Newfoundland from his eight years as host of the “Land and Sea” television program; and a son John, born in St. John’s, a businessman now living in Nova Scotia.
Bernie loved his country almost as much as he loved his family. He always believed that a person or a people, could do whatever they want and can become whatever they want to be, if they believe in themselves. He was devastated in 1949, when Newfoundland voted in favour of joining Canada. He was saddened to see that the people he so cherished, did not believe in themselves and their ability to govern then1selves. He grieved for the loss of his country (Newfoundland) until the day he passed suddenly away, in August 1969. His wife Mae, passed away in 1982.


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