I grew up in Stephenville Crossing on Newfoundland’s west coast. The town is located near the “bottom” of Bay St. George. I learned some time ago, that one has to be careful when referring to the bottom of the bay. The “head of the bay” is the more common expression today and some people might assume that you are referring to “Davy Jones’ locker“. The town is built on a barachois, a bar of sediment deposited by Harrys River and shaped by the currents of the bay. A gut or opening in the sand bar is maintained by the outflow of the rivers inside the barachois and also allows the ocean tides to flow into and out of the inner bay on the tidal cycle.
With the arrival of the railway in the 1890s, the town assumed a new name, one that describes the town as the railway “crossing” for the nearby town of Stephenville.
As a kid growing up in the Stephenville Crossing of the 1950s, I remember a busy town with dusty roads (pre-pavement). There was at least one eastbound and one westbound passenger train per day, not to mention the freight trains that passed through town in the middle of the night. Freight was unloaded from the trains onto trucks and transported to the town of Stephenville and other towns on the Port au Port peninsular.
The Pulp wood was cut during the winter and placed on the ice of Harry’s River. As the river ice broke up in the spring, the pulp wood was transported down the river by the spring freshet.
The men used dories, booms and pitch poles to coral the pulp wood into a steel cable. As the crane lifted the load, the cable tightened and secured the wood in a bundle, which was in turn loaded onto flat railway cars for transport to the paper mill in Corner Brook.
For kids growing up in the Crossing in the 1950s, the Saturday Matinee was the most exciting time of the week. The kids congregated on the Main Street, in front of the Uptown Theatre. Some arrived with their stack of comics to trade, buy and/or sell.
The movies were not necessarily new. Hopalong Cassidy of 1940’s vintage was quite common. The movie was usually preceded by some newsreels and/or a chapter of a serial (known today as a series), a continuing story of usually 15 chapters, where each chapter ends with a cliffhanger.