Natural Resources

Avalanches

Date: Jan 20, 1891

Location: Ireland's Bight (Ireland's Eye), Hare Bay

Easting: 586300

Northing: 56887

Latitude: 55¡ 46' 00" N

Longitude: 51¡ 21' 00" W

Fatalities: 3

Injuries: 2

Source: Royal Gazette, March 31 1891

The Royal Gazatte reported the following story:-

Shocking Catastrophe
Three persons killed

Mr Joseph Moore, of St. Anthony, writing to his father in St. John's gives particulars of a terrible accident which happened at Ireland's Eye, Hare Bay on the 20th January. On that date, he says "an avalanche of snow swept down from a high cliff and buried under its enormous weight, the house of Levi Andrews, distant about 60 or 70 feet from the foot of the cliff. Nine persons were in the house at the time of the accident Ð five on the loft and four in the kitchen. Mrs Andrews was going out in the porch at the time, and six days after her lifeless body was found under fourteen feet of snow. The head was smashed in and her neck and arms broken. The eldest daughter was found lying across the stove rigid in death, and the stove was smashed in atoms. Five days after being rescued, one of the sons died from his injuries. At the time of the terrible affair, George Reid was upon the loft fixing a trap, and at the time of present writing is unable to lift his arms to his head, but he is getting better. One of the girls rescued had one of her legs broken, and suffered considerable pain. It was an awful site to behold the disfigured bodies and the house broken up like so much tinder wood. I was up all one day shoveling snow, there were forty others at the same work. The three bodies were laid out together on a board and were buried on the 28th. It was one of the saddest spectacles ever witnessed in this vicinity and threw a gloom over the community. There was never as much snow as there is this winter but very little frost."

Notes based on genealogical data online at http://ngb.chebucto.orgopens new window opens new window

The best known community of Ireland's Eye lies in Bonavista Bay. The community described here is in fact that of Ireland's Bight (variously known as Ireland Bight, Ireland's Bite, and Ireland's Eye). The community lay on the northern side of Hare Bay on the Northern Peninsula, and was abandoned during resettlement in the 1960s. Levi Andrews married Susanna Canning in 1865 (it appears his previous wife Elizabeth died in childbirth in 1863). We know of the birth of Charlotte Andrews in 1867, James in 1870, and William in 1872. It's thus likely that Charlotte was killed in the 1891 avalanche. Levi Andrews died in 1892, aged 57, a year and four days after his wife was killed. William is the head of household in the only Andrews family living in Ireland Bight in 1898, and died in 1915. Thus the likely fatalities in the 1891 avalanche were Susanna Andrews, James Andrews, and Charlotte Andrews, unless there were children of Levi and susanna that were not recorded in the registry of births.

The community of Ireland's Bight lay at the mouth of Ireland's Brook in northern Hare Bay. Maps from 1970 show the remnants of the re-settled community with 12 buildings on steep ground northwest of the brook. Most of the community lies under modest slopes but a single building at the western extremity is overhung by steep cliffs, rising to 75 m. This is the most probable site of the Andrews house. Snow would build up in the lee of such cliffs in northern to northwesterly winds, making it vulnerable to avalanche.

 
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