||While enjoying our hospitality, cast your thoughts into Botwood harbour's rich history.
Prior to 1750, aboriginal Indians (Mi'kmaw and Beothuk) remained near the harbour in summer, living off the rich fish stocks of Peter's River, Northern Brook and the mighty Exploits River.
Early explorers established fishing stations and frontier outposts, with the resident Beothuck Indians retreating inland. By 1775, John Peyton dominated the harbour and spread terror among the Beothuk. The uneasy co-existence ended in 1818 with the capture and subsequent death of Demasduit
(Mary March) on January 8, 1820. The site of her death can be viewed from the Dockside Restaurant.
By 1860, the rumble of steam engines announced the development of the Exploits River Lumber and Pulp Company, the largest sawmill in the Dominion of Newfoundland. For 30 years or more the heart of Botwoodville beat to the rhythm of saw blades.
In 1905, by an act of the Newfoundland Legislature, the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was established, giving birth to Central Newfoundland's pulp and paper industry.
Prosperity and plenty of work drew people from all over the island and ships from around the world. Shipping and railway became main dockside activities with the first load of paper which sailed May 19, 1910 on the S.S. Kastalia.
In 1919, the Sordello was a common sight in the harbour. Built in Botwood for the A.N.D. Company, this three-masted vessel appears to have been the largest schooner built in Newfoundland. She freighted pressed sulphite, pulp and coal around Newfoundland and Europe. She was dismantled and sold in 1935.
The first load of ore concentrates from the American Smelting and Refining Company in Buchans was loaded aboard the S.S. Kiruna. She sailed on December 1, 1928 and was soon struck by an autumn gale. Her cargo shifted, forcing her into a 45-degree list. The coastal steamer S.S.
Kyle escorted her back to port where she was beached in Peter's Arm and offloaded.
In 1935 the United States and British Governments chose Botwood as a landing base for their transatlantic flying boats. On July 5, 1937 the first transatlantic experimental commercial flight, the Pan-American Clipper III, landed at Botwood from New York via Shediac, New Brunswick. The next day the Clipper III left Botwood for Foynes, Ireland en route to London, England.
At the beginning of World War II the only air passenger service to and from Europe was provided via Botwood by flying boats. Such notables as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Lord
Mountbatten and Bob Hope have rested at Botwood during overseas
On September 3, 1939 the people of Botwood were the first on this side of the Atlantic to capture an enemy vessel during World War II. The German freighter M.S. Christoph V. Doornum - in port to load ore concentrates - was seized by the Newfoundland Constabulary
as a prize of war. The captain and crew were taken to St. John's and from there to maximum detention. The ship was taken to Halifax, renamed and sailed under the British flag.
July 14, 1940 the Geraldine Mary, one of the A.N.D. Company's most prominent ships, left Botwood for London with 6110 tons of newsprint and 46 crew members under the command of Captain G.M. Sime. Fifteen days later, her
back broken by a German torpedo, she sank off the cost of Ireland. Three lives were lost but Captain Sime survived, only to die less than a year later on another company ship, the Rothmere, which sank May 20, 1941 between Greenland and Iceland.
Pictures of the ships mentioned above are proudly displayed in our dining room, and all are welcome to come view a portion of Botwood's important history.
For more information on the history of Botwood, a book titled "Botwood - History of a Seaport"
is available at the Town Hall or the Botwood Heritage Museum. This information can also be viewed on the town's website, http://www.town.botwood.nl.ca