GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord

Quebec Lower North Shore GenWeb

 

Le GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord est une composante du GenWeb du Québec et du Canada GenWeb.

The Lower North Shore GenWeb is part of the Quebec GenWeb and the Canada GenWeb Projects.


 

HARRINGTON HARBOUR STORM SIGNAL SYSTEM

  

In Harrington Harbour, as along the whole Coast, there was no forecasting of weather or impending storms in the early years of the 1900s. Many of the old people were very good at watching and predicting the coming weather from the changes in flora and fauna. For instance, gulls flying very high over head was said to be a sign of strong winds to come. In the fall of 1914, no forecast or predictions were made of the storm that would wreak havoc along the Coast. The following is a copy of a typed document that belonged to the late David Ransom, Sr., now in possession of Lloyd and Linda Ransom:

 

“Sad Disaster in Labrador”

 

Editor, “Presbyterian Witness”

 

Dear Sir;

In a letter from Dr. Hare who is working in Harrington Harbour, Labrador, in connection with the “International Grenfell Association”, dated November 24th 1914, but which only arrived last Friday, I received the following sad information.

 

On the eighteenth November a number of the men of Harrington rowed to the “Cape” which extended a short distance out from the shelter of the harbour. Their intention was to shoot birds, and if possible a seal or two. The day was fine when they set out, but without warning a wind swept down upon them from the northwest. It was blowing off the shore and before the men had time to regain shelter it had developed into a hurricane that blew at the rate of 84 miles an hour. It was a desperate row for all. Some of the boats were over an hour in covering the few hundred yards to safety. Three of the men never got back. One of them; Albert Ransom, was a leader in the work of our church. At different times head of the Endeavor Society, a member of the choir and one of the ablest fellows in the village, his loss well be bitterly felt. He leaves a wife and son. The other two were Enos Cox, who leaves a wife and four children, and an orphan boy James Herritt, and their loss as well will cast its deepest gloom over all. For in such a small village, where not only the ties of kinship, but of years of daily companionship, bind everyone together, the sadness though greatest for those immediately connected will make its deep impression upon all. Sad things are happening in other places today, but Labrador is bearing its load as well.

 

Will you kindly insert this notice in your paper that those interested in our northern mission and the people here may see it?

 

I am,

Yours Very Sincerely,

 

Harold A. Smith

Presbyterian College, Halifax, N.S.

 

In the year 1915, following this sad event, the “Storm Warning Signal” came to Harrington Harbour. In 35 Canadian ports and harbours along the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Coast, wind warnings were posted using wicker baskets - cones or drums hoisted up a mast or pole. [Click here / cliquez ici for picture of Harrington Storm Signal pole being erected around 1915 above Uncle George Ransom’s house; left to right: Hiram Ransom, unknown, unknown, George Ransom  (looking up the pole), unknown, Teddy Ransom (standing back-on); from the Bill and Lizzie Ransom collection] 

 

We assume that because Edith Ransom lost her husband in such a storm the year before, she was given the job of caring for the “Storm Warning Signal”. According to Bill Ransom, she did this job until her marriage to Esau Anderson in 1922. At that time, George and Dot Ransom took over the Storm Warning Signal. Edith continued with weather observations on Gull Cliff. A telephone cable was run under water from Harrington Island to Gull Cliff. Edith would do the weather observations twice daily from the weather station on Gull Cliff and then relay the report by telephone to the telegraph office at Mainland. The weather report was sent out by this route, first to W. E. A. Halifax and then to J. P. Toronto, from the Harrington Archipelago.

 

The following is an excerpt by Keith C. Heidorn, PhD, ACM, THE WEATHER DOCTOR, dated 01 October 1999 at:

 

Http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/almanac/arc_1999/alm99oct.htm; The Weather Doctor's Almanac and associated material ©2000, Spectrum Educational Enterprises.

 

At 35 Canadian ports and harbours along the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Coast, wind warnings were posted using wicker baskets, cones or drums hoisted up a mast or pole. The type of object indicating the approach of a storm and its expected strength, an improvement over the then-current American practice of only indicating that winds would be strong. Later, lanterns were also used to send the warnings by night. The wicker basket and signal drums reportedly flew until the 1950s when the last storm station was decommissioned.

 

On November 1, 1898, the first weather forecast on the West Coast appeared in the Victoria newspaper, the Daily Colonist. Marine weather warnings began the following March. When thirty-six hour forecasts for the expected wind conditions were received by the harbourmasters along the coast, the corresponding signal was raised.

 

The weather station at Harrington Harbour stood for many years and in those years some of the people who assumed the job of weather persons were: Edith Chevalier-Ransom, Sam and Maude Bobbitt and Jim and Burleigh Jones.


Date Entered on the Web: 26 December 2004

 

 

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