The Terra Nova Pulp Mill Mystery

How Did all these Pictures from Glovertown End up in the Grand Falls Mill?

A few years ago a collection of pictures were posted on a Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Facebook Group. At first glance they appeared to be pictures depicting construction of the Grand Falls pulp and paper mill. I thought the pictures were a bit fishy. Fishy for a few reasons. Firstly the area depicted didn’t look like Grand Falls, Secondly one of the photos had the date July 1921 written on it and thirdly a few of the pictures depicted a large concrete tower the likes of which were never found on the Exploits. It turns out this same concrete tower still exists and the pictures did depict construction of a mill, the mill was just near Glovertown.

This picture was key to identifying where and when this collection of pictures was taken. The only mill under constuction in Newfoundland in 1921 was at Angle Brook near Glovertown. Most of this building is still standing.
This picture was key to identifying where and when this collection of pictures was taken. The only mill under constuction in Newfoundland in 1921 was at Angle Brook near Glovertown. Most of this building is still standing.

I seem to recall that the pictures had come from the mill and that there was some connection to Sir Vincent Jones, like the pictures may have been found in his desk or something of that nature. But why would they have been there?

You see in 1920 a Norwegian backed Company; the Terra Nova Sulfite Company set itself up and gained the rights to build a Pulp Mill at Angle Brook on the Terra Nova River, which is near Glovertown. This would have been the fifth pulp mill built on the island (yes you read right). The Angle Brook Mill was to draw its timber supply from the Terra Nova River Watershed. It seems that one of the catalysts behind this was Captain Carl Storm. Storm had an association with the AND Co and had handled shipping operations out of Botwood with the firm of Park and Storm.

Wood being driven on the Terra Nova River.
Possibly a log drive on the Terra Nova River. This picture was with those of construction at Angle Brook. The Logs could be pulp wood or saw logs. There was a sawmill at Angle Brook used to produce lumber for construction.

So the Terra Nova Sulfite Company set about building the mill. When the bottom fell out of the Norwegian currency the Krone, the project was put in jeopardy because most of the investors in the project were Norwegian. The part of the story can get very complicated, so I will leave it at that. So construction was halted and the future of the mill fell int uncertainty.

Houses and shipping facilities had been completed before the Terra Nova Sulfide Company went under.
Houses and shipping facilities had been completed before the Terra Nova Sulfide Company went under.

Meanwhile the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was looking at expanding its operations. AND bought the mill and associated timber and water rights for one hundred and fifty thousand pounds (150, 000) which was roughly $675,000 American dollars at the time, quite the deal seeing the operation had been financed for two million dollars. Two sources I have consulted have conflicting stories of what happened next. One source (Price) says that they bought the shell of the mill and abandoned the project. Another source states that they ran a test batch of 1300 cords of wood through the facility (which means they completed it) only to find that the “facilities were too small and inadequate”(http://www.hiddennewfoundland.ca/glovertown-mill). After looking at the pictures in question I am more inclined to believe the latter, though I may be wrong. I am more inclined to believe that there was machinery installed in the mill because some of the grinders were noted to have been taken from the mill at Angle Brook and brought to Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls in later years during an expansion.

The acquisition of the Terra Nova properties was finalized around 1923. But the AND Co seems to have bought the property through  another company called the Alexander Bay Pulp and Paper Company. This company existed much the same as the Bishop’s Falls Pulp and Paper Company in that it’s directors were all senior staff of the AND Co.

Glovertown mills cons machinery
The interior of the Terra Nova Sulfite Company Mill at Angle Brook. It Looks like machinery is being installed in this picture.At lease some machinery was installed in the mill because some of it was taken to Grand Falls and installed in the mill there some years later. machinery is also mentioned in the deal selling the property.  (GFWHS)

Whatever happened AND Co was faced with a choice with what to do with its new properties. They could continue operations at Angle Brook and export or ship the pulp to Grand Falls or they could exploit the timber resources and expand operations at Grand Falls. Ultimately operations would be expanded at Grand Falls.

The tower of the Angle Brook Mill helped identify the old pictures. The shell of th emill is still standing over 90 years later. Photo was taken from an excellent website www.hiddennewfoundland.com
The tower of the Angle Brook Mill helped identify the old pictures. The shell of th emill is still standing over 90 years later. Photo was taken from an excellent website http://www.hiddennewfoundland.ca. The author of which has some really good pictures and material on a couple of other abandoned pulp mills. (http://www.hiddennewfoundland.ca/glovertown-mill)
Glovertown mill tower best
Compare to the above picture.

This gave birth to the Terra Nova Logging Division, which was not based at Angle Brook but in the Village of Terra Nova in the interior. The Terra Nova River is located quite a distance from the Exploits and the only way that would could be shipped was by rail. This would determine one of the defining characteristics of this division and also lead to the AND Co becoming an even more important customer of the Newfoundland Railway.

For around 30 years tens of thousands of cords of pulpwood a year were shipped from Terra Nova to Grand Falls via the Newfoundland and later CN Railway. This particular picture depicts a train load of Bowater wood going from Glenwood to Corner Brook but the sling loading set up of the wood is the same.
For around 30 years tens of thousands of cords of pulpwood a year were shipped from Terra Nova to Grand Falls via the Newfoundland and later CN Railway. This particular picture depicts a train load of Bowater wood going from Glenwood to Corner Brook but the sling loading set up of the wood is the same.

Most of the wood cut in Terra Nova Division was driven or towed to the community of Terra Nova, where AND had a pulpwood loading plant. Here men would load the wood onto the rail cars for shipment. The most common method was to load the wood into slings made from cables that would wrap the wood into bundles. These bundles would be hoisted on the cars by a crane. The men loading the bundles would be standing in the water on pontoons. Loading the slings must have been some of the worst work in the woods. Not only was it hard work loading wood, the men were also damp or wet all day. Very unpleasant depending on the time of year.

The Town of Terra Nova is now a popular cabin and cottage area. It is an interesting little spot with some aspects that almost seemed ghostly to me. Some of the older houses still remain and because they were AND Company houses they look like they were plucked from Lincoln or Junction road. Some of the old buildings also remain including the old Gray Stores which used to supply loggers and a couple of old Company buildings, or at least I thought they were. These buildings are also in their original state with old windows and clapboard and surprisingly well maintained which leaves me to believe they must be owned and cared for after all these years.

Much like some of the buildings in Terra Nova the Angle Brook mill buildings are still standing. They are not much more than concrete shells, but they are a testament to how solid things were built way back when.

Satellite photo of the area today. The is located within the town of Glovertown.
Satellite photo of the area today. The mill is located within the town of Glovertown on the Terra Nova River. The mill buildings and remains of the dam can clearly be seen.

As for the pictures that started this mystery? In all likelihood they came over with the assets of the Terra Nova Sulfite Company when Anglo-Newfoundland bought them out around 1923. As mentioned before AND didn’t buy them out per-say a company called the Alexander Bay Pulp and Paper Company did. The Secretary of that company was none other than Vincent S. Jones.

-Bryan Marsh

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7 Comments

  1. FYI, “The Old Mill” as we call it is not NEAR Glovertown, it is smack-dab in the middle of Glovertown. The Terra Nova River flows past the Old Mill (aka The Plant) and empties into Alexander Bay, which is the body of water Glovertown surrounds. My grandfather, John Day from Old Shop Trinity Bay, worked for the AND Company and was part of the crew that relocated machinery from Glovertown to Grand Falls after the holdings were sold. Coincidentally, many years later, his daughter (my Mom) married a woodsman from Trinity Bonavista Bay (Dad) and moved to Glovertown to raise their family. Myself, my older brother and sisters, like every other mildly adventurous young person in Glovertown, Traytown, or Culls Harbour, spent many summer days and nights in the area around the Old Mill; swimming during the day, and up to badness no doubt during the nights. Another interesting angle to this story is how the structure went from the promise of prosperity, to the potential liability it currently is for the town.

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  2. As a child I spent every summer swimming at the Public Swimming Pool just a few hundred yards up-river from the AND Co. Ltd. Mill where pulpwood was unloaded into the Dam Pond from railway flatcars and dumped into the Exploits River.( 1945 to 1953)
    At first the wood was hand picked into the water from the flatcars, later it was bulldozed with tractors using extended wooden frames on their plough assembly.
    I do not remember any bundles with cable slings or cranes. Maybe they were used but I do have any recollection of that.
    Your article brought back many happy memories from my childhood.

    Thank You.

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  3. Are there any other pictures associated with this item. They would be quite valuable for the Glovertown Museum. Would appreciate any help.

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