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Memorial University of Newfoundland - Digital Archives Initiative

Bowater Oral History Collection

Bowater’s Newfoundland Paper Mills Ltd. owned and operated the pulp and paper mill in Corner Brook from 1938 until 1984. In 1980, Bowater financed a historical research project led by Dr. Lewis R. “Skip” Fischer (1946-2018) and Sister Georgina Quick, history instructors at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. Dr. Fischer, was a noted maritime historian and author, and was with Memorial University for forty years. Four students were hired to conduct interviews with local residents who had knowledge of the history of Corner Brook or the surrounding Bay of Islands.

Between May and August of 1980, students Peter Brake, Heather Jodrey, Jean Smith, and Mary Taylor recorded interviews with a total of 134 participants. The original cassette tapes are in the Ferriss Hodgett Library collection.

The participants’ dates of birth range from as early as 1885 up to the 1930s, and they mainly resided in Townsite, Corner Brook West, Corner Brook East, Humbermouth, Deer Lake, and the communities that would later become Curling. Many were retired pulp and paper mill workers, or had worked in related industries such as logging or surveying, while others were merchants, business owners, fishermen, healthcare providers, teachers, clergy, railway workers, or were employed in various other professions. Numerous participants had been involved in municipal and provincial politics, including city council members, mayors, and union presidents, who gave candid opinions on the social, economic and political issues of the period. Of the 134 participants, 42 were women, who shared their experiences of domestic life and employment in the first half of the twentieth century.

For information about this collection, please contact Head of Public Services, Crystal Rose, crose@grenfell.mun.ca.

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Memorial University - Grenfell Library

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