Clarence Burry

Clarence A Burry
Birth: 15 Oct 1922 – Newell’s Island, Bonavista Bay, Bay, NL
Death: 10 October 1997
Mother: Gertrude Mae Burton, 1897-1993
Father: Peter Sydney Burry 1896-1950

Clarence was born October 15,1922 on Newell’s Island. His parents were Peter Burry And May Burton. Clarence was married to Edna Carter, the daughter of Captain Gus Carter and Mary Hunt. On Newell’s Island, there was a little shop owned by the Hunts.Years before, there was also a pub there run by Mrs Green. She sold rum and liquors. Because there was no church on Newell’s Island, people went by boat to Greenspond to attend. In December of 1928, the family moved to Ship Island. He went to school at the Parish Hall. In Grade 1, Miss Sharpe was the teacher. She was strict but everyone loved her. Later, they moved to the new school. It was beautiful. It had two rooms. All the schools, Anglican, United Church, and Salvation Army, had a Christmas concert. Plays, singing and recitations were performed. Clarence finished Grade 11 in 1939. With the outbreak of World War II, Clarence signed up with the Royal Air Force. He spent the war years as a pilot with the Allied Forces. After the war, he returned to Newfoundland and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Memorial College on Parade Street in St. John’s. He taught school at various places around Newfoundland.

In 1994 Clarence Burry was interviewed for The Greenspond Letter. The Greenspond Letter April 1994

Interview Recordings

Interviewer; When did you move to Greenspond?
Clarence Burry; We moved over to Greenspond, over to Ship Island really, in December of 1928, When Newell’s Island was settled, there were five families who went there and apparently they divided the Island, There were five families: Burry, Carter, Cooze, Hunt, and Durham. There was Oliver Durham and Benjamin Durham. These were the five families that were there when we were there. Captain Peter Carter, you see, the sealing captain, he was born over there.

Interviewer; Did you go to school on Newell’s Island?
Clarence Burry: When I was little boy I went to school from Newell’s Island. There was a school on Newell’s Island but it was closed down by my time. The school that was there had been a store. The Board bought the store from Oliver Durham, The Board fixed it up, I had an aunt, father’s sister. Aunt Millie Hounsell, who taught on Newell’s Island. The school was closed when I started to go to school.

Interviewer: Were there stores on Newell’s Island?
Clarence Burry: There was a little shop. I can remember as a little boy the Hunts had a little store there. And at one time, my mother told me, but I can’t remember this, it-was before my time, there was a pub over there as well. This was a regular pub, the same as in England. I don’t know who she was but they referred to her as Mrs, Green, Grandmother Green. But she ran the pub, I don’t know where she came from but she ran the pub there, selling rum and other liquors.

Interviewer: Did you have a church there?
Clarence Burry: There was no church on Newell’s Island. We would go over to Greenspond to church. There was a cemetery there. I started school in the spring in 1928 when L was five years old. We used to come over to the Parish Hall in Greenspond. We’d go to Ship Island in an old skiff, a rowboat, Uncle Mark Burry used to own the boat. The government paid him. I don’t know how much. He’d row us over to the back of Ship Island. We’d get off and walk over Ship Island and where the drawbridge is now there was another ferry there. That was a ferry on a cable. It pulled us across. We’d get off and go up Church Hill, past the Anglican Church to the Parish Hall on top of the hill. That was where we went to school. Mildred, my sister, and Bill, my brother, and Uncle Asher Burry’s sons Clifford and Joe: that’s who went over to school.

There weren’t many families left then, In 1928 there was us. There was Uncle Asher Burry, Uncle Job Burry, Uncle Zacharius Burry and Uncle Mark Burry, That was the only families left. Uncle Walt Cooze and his family was still there. They had a big house. Mark and Sally Burry had a big house with bay windows. Aunt Sally had a garden, a vegetable garden and a flower garden. They had willow trees which were brought across from England and some of the flowers she had were the pink stone crop, soldiers and sailors, monkshood, and sweet Williams. The fences in the vegetable gardens in the fall of the year were used to grow their hops, not for beer but hops for bread. They made barm. They planted the hops by the side of the fence. The fence served as a trellis. When the hops flowered and ripened, the old ladies would gather it in their aprons. They would put it on a piece of paper and let it dry out. When hops dries out it looks just like cornflakes. Then they would take the hops and steep it. There was no yeast then, you see, and the hops served as yeast. The dried hops would be steeped in a pot on the stove, Then you put it in a bottle and you would scrape off a potato, and add a little bit of sugar, and then put the hops in, put the stopper on and it would start to ferment. Then they’d take that when they want to make barm and put it in a bowl and add flour and mix it. This would rise then just like yeast. There were several places in Greenspond that grew hops. Owen Hawkins told me three years ago that there is still hops growing over in Oram’s Cove. That’s over on back of the island where the Orams used to live. There is no one there now. That’s where Edna’s people, the Hunts, are from. Old Thomas Hunt, the ancestor of Skipper Bill Hunt and Noah Hunt and their crowd. They settled way over on back of Greenspond Island. They were great salmon fishermen. There is a cove over there called Tommy Hunt’s Cove. They had the hops growing over there and they are still there now. There were two houses there belonging to the Orams. They had their root cellars, too, and all the rest. Interviewer: Did your father go fishing? Clarence Burry: My father fished. He was a carpenter as well, Like most of them. Some years, if the fish failed, they’d go to New York. Father went to New York twice. I can remember the last time he was there, we were living on Newell’s Island. I was a little boy of four years old. The fish failed and they just took their tools, hitched a ride on one of the schooners to St. John’s and then worl<ed their passage to New York on one of the passenger boats that used to go from St. John’s to Halifax and to New York. The Rosalind and the Sylvia were two that went to New York. They went there for one purpose: to make money. There was no such thing as working eight hour days. They’d work as long as there was daylight hours. Father did carpenter work. The last time he was there Edna’s father. Captain Gus Carter, was with him.

There was six or seven of them who went to New York. Uncle Mark Burry, he had two or three sons who went up there as well but they stayed. He had one son, Malcolm, who ended up in Milwaulkee. They did well there. The last trip my father made was in about 1925 or 26, And I do remember they’d always be sending down parcels, parcels of clothing and one thing or another and money, And someone came over from Greenspond this day with this box, a cardboard box, and opened it up and in it was this little tricycle for me. My Uncle Harry put it together. There was a little bit of gravel road… we put miles on that one, I guarantee you, Clifford Burry and me. Clifford Burry is the father of the lady on TV, Lynn Burry, Clifford and I were good buddies.

We moved over to Ship Island in December of 1928, We lived near where Sam Carter is today, Uncle Harry had it afterwards, That house was owned by Ben Carter, he was an old ex-navy man. But he went in to St. John’s so grandfather bought the house from him. And the house on Newell’s Island, over a period of three or four years, my father took it down and built it up down the harbour, It took a lot of time because they were away all the time, fishing, the seal fishery, one thing and another, So he took the house down and built it down the harbour. That’s the one that George, my brother and Trixie lived in. It was a two-storey one when my father built it. It was a peaked one when it was on Newell’s Island. But when my father put it up he made it a flat roof. Over the years George cut it down, made it into a bungalow.

I went to school at the old Parish Hall. That was the one with the Town Clock. The clock was put in by Darius Blandford, the old sealing captain. When they took the Parish Hall down, they put the clock in the church, St. Stephen’s Church. I went to school up there. There were two rooms. There was a top flat and lower flat. And I went to school there with a Miss Sharpe, the teacher there. I taught with her later in Corner Brook. She died a few years ago. She was strict but everyone loved her. She was a marvellous teacher. There was one time she had sixty pupils in her class. Sixty from primmer to grade four. When you got to grade five, grade five to eleven then was taken over by another teacher in the other room. And that’s just the Anglicans. A little further up the road was the United Church. Mr. Crummey was there then, the principal. There were different teachers there over the years. There was a Miss Halfyard, and Olive Harding from Greenspond. Further up the harbour was the Salvation Army school. That’s where Jean White has her house now. Bob and Jean White changed the school into a house. There were a lot of houses on Ship Island. Where Graham White is now. Uncle Sam Hoskins lived there. And right across the road from him was another house. There was Uncle Sam Hoskins, Martin Burton, Skipper Ned Carter, Bob Carter, Uncle ‘Son’ Carter, that’s Walt Carter’s grandfather. Captain Frank Green, Pearce Burry who came over from Newell’s Island, Freddie Green, Stanley Mullett. Going down around, there was Uncle Neddie Peclcford, and Stevie Peckford. The house that Sam Carter lives in now that was Hector Carter’s house. Going down around the other way there was the Hunts, Uncle Henry Hunt, that’s Edna’s family. And Uncle Noah Hunt, that’s Mary and Tom’s family. Coming up the hill, there was Skipper Walt Carter. The fisheries minister, that was his uncle. He had a schooner, On the other side was Allen Carter’s place. We were great friends. And Reg Carter. He was my friend. He was killed in the air force, in the war, Coming up on the other side, there was another house, Joe Carter. He moved to New York afterwards. Aunt Rachel and Joe Carter. There was another family, Jim Carter, Johnny Carter, and coming down over the hill, there was a Wheeler, Skipper Ed Wheeler. And then there was us. There was Jim, Roy and George Carter. Now George Carter was the artist. He’s in Toronto, He’s getting up in years now. He must be in his eighties. I remember one summer he went to work in Grand Falls with the Goodyear Stores. One summer he came out to Greenspond. It was a beautiful fine day in August. And the sky was full of those nice white billowy clouds. And when I came down over the hill he was out on the bridge with his easel. He had a painting that was finished. It was a painting of a schooner that Captain Peter Carter had, called, I think, the Harriet, a three-masted schooner. That was all done but he wanted the clouds. So he was there sketching the clouds, big fluffy clouds, I can remember looking at it. He was a great artist.

Interviewer: So, you went to school at the Parish Hall?
Clarence Burry: I went there for a year or so and then the Board built a new school. It was right by St. Stephen’s Church. It was torn down later and someone built a house there. Llewellyn Granter up in Pond Head, he was a great carpenter and boat builder. He built this new two room Anglican school right by the Church. It was brand new, all brand new lumber. And while they were building that, they took us the pupils and we went down, right opposite Hutchings Store. There was the Orangemen, you know, the Young Britons, they had a building down there, so that’s where we went to school, that is the primary school. The high school, Mr. Batten’s class, they went into the Church of England Parish Hall, the CEAA, the Church of England Assistant Association. That was situated, you know where Tom and Francis Bragg’s is, well just the other side.

Interviewer: What year was that?
Clarence Burry: Well, I was in Grade 1 and Miss Sharpe was there as teacher. About 1929, I’d have to check it out. I started in Primmer. She promoted me and Eric White in the middle of the winter because we knew the Primmer. That’s Eric White who was married to Linda. When the teacher thought you were qualified, even in the middle of the winter, she promoted us. We moved on at our own pace. Then we moved into the new school. It was beautiful.

Interviewer; Did you have assembly when you went in first?
Clarence Burry; Oh yes. We had two rooms. There were hinged doors, folding doors, so you could swing them back. It was heated with coal, you know, a pot-bellied stove. And the boys, even in grade two, had to take your turn lighting the fire in the mornings. You’d tal<e up your kindling, your bundle of splits to start the fire. The ooal was in the school. When your turn came, you’d take a week, starting the fire. A turn. That word ‘turn’ is used for lots of things. When we bring water, two buckets of water, we say a turn. Go over and get a turn of water – two buclcets.
Interviewer: What time would you be in school?
Clarence Burry: Well, you’d have to light the fire, depending on the time of the year. Whoever was lighting the fire would be there. And someone would go up to Mr. Batten’s and get the key, the fellow in the upper room. And he’d open up and we’d go through to the other room. It was about half past eight, School didn’t start until nine thirty. You’d get a big roaring fire going by eight thirty and you’d have the place warmed up. And you were responsible then for getting the coal. It was kept underneath the school. We’d raise money from the Christmas concert to get coal. The government didn’t supply it.
Everyone had a Christmas concert, the United Church, Anglicans, Salvation Army, everyone had a concert. All different days. There were three separate schools, you know, and we got along well. We’d go to all the concerts. We had plays, recitations, singing. We would start all our concerts with the Ode to Newfoundland and close with the national anthem, God Save the King. There were well-educated people in Greenspond. The Hutchings, they had quite a lot of music. They went in here to Littledale. The Hutchings girls, Annie Lou and Edith, they came in here to take commercial courses for the business. Edith married a Reverend Joliffe Quinton. He came to Greenspond in 1939, just before Rev. Kirby who married Stella Carter, Rev. Quinton resigned. He married Edith Hutchings and then he helped run the business, Hutchings Store, during the war years.
Interviewer: Who were Edith and Annie Lou’s parents?
Clarence Burry: Philip Hutchings and Louisa. Annie Lou’s aunt, her father’s sister, Edith Hutchings, she was a missionary in China. She came back sometime in the late twenties or early thirties cause I can remember seeing her. She was getting up in years then.

Interviewer: So, did you go right up to grade eleven?
Clarence Burry; I got my grade eleven in ’39, There were two of us. Reg Carter and I. Just the two of us. Lots of boys when they got older, went to work on schooners. There was lots of work. Girls would quit when they got to grade eight or nine. I was the only one in the family to continue on to grade eleven.
With the outbreak of World War II, Clarence Burry signed up with the Royal Air Force. He spent the war years as a pilot with the Allied Forces and after the war, he returned home to Newfoundland, He attended Memorial College on Parade Street in St. John’s. He subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and taught school at various places around Newfoundland.


Get the latest information on Greenspond Historical Society news, projects, funding, volunteer opportunities, and more!