The Newfoundland Tsunami of November 18, 1929: An Examination of the Twenty-eight Deaths of the "South Coast Disaster" -

The Newfoundland Tsunami of November 18, 1929: An Examination of the Twenty-eight Deaths of the "South Coast Disaster"

Alan Ruffman
Geomarine Associates Ltd, P.O. Box 41, Station M, Halifax, Nova Soctia, B3J 2L4 Ph. (902) 477-5415
Violet Hann1
Apt. 104 2191 West 39th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6M 1T7, Ph. (604) 267-9259


1 THE "GRAND BANKS" EARTHQUAKE occurred at 1702 (Newfoundland Standard Time [NST]) on Monday, November 18, 1929. It was centred eighteen kilometres beneath the Laurentian Continental Slope, 265 kilometres south of Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, in 2,000 metres of water. The event had a surface wave magnitude of Ms = 7.22 and it was felt as far afield as New York City and Montreal; there is even a serendipitous felt-report in Bermuda.3 Onshore the damage from the earthquake's shaking was restricted to some slumping and minor building damage in Cape Breton Island; Newfoundland, despite its proximity to the epicentre, experienced no physical damage, other than broken crockery shaken off shelves, because most structures were of wood-frame construction built on solid substrates.

2 On the ocean floor offshore, part of the Laurentian Slope was shaken loose and began an underwater landslide that went on for hours, and flowed at least 1,100 kilometres out onto the floor of the 5,000-metre-deep Sohm Abyssal Plain. It was 23 years before scientists recognized the landslide and its great importance as a dominant ocean process.4 The 1929 "turbidity currents" moved at speeds of 50 to 70 knots (93-130 km/s) and cut twelve trans-Atlantic telegraph cables in about 28 places. Repairs involved every available cable ship in the Atlantic and continued until August 1930.5 About 200 cubic kilometres of material was removed over an area of 20,000 square kilometres6 of the continental slope and rise. This material was redistributed over an area of 150,000 square kilometres7 out on the abyssal plain; this is an area one-and-one-half times larger than the island of Newfoundland.

(Left) Index map of Atlantic Canada with the 200, 1000, and 2000 m bathymetric contours shown offshore. The epicentre of the November 18, 1929, earthquake is shown at the mouth of the Laurentian Channel located in about 2000 m of water. The flow from the turbidity currents formed from the underwater landslides shaken loose by the earthquake continued for well over 20 hours and travelled from the epicentre out to 5000 m in the southeast corner of the map and continued the same distance again for a total of 1100 km well out onto the Sohm Abyssal Plain.

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3 The submarine slump spawned a tsunami (often, but incorrectly, referred to as a "tidal wave") that travelled at about 600 kilometres per hour in the deep ocean water south and eastward from the epicentre; it was seen on tide gauges as far afield as Charleston, South Carolina, the Azores, and the west coast of Portugal; it did minor damage in Bermuda, and was seen on the east coast of Martinique in the eastern Caribbean.8 The tsunami travelled at an average speed of 105 kilometres per hour over the shallower water on the continental shelf north and westward. The full force of the tsunami struck the south coast of Newfoundland at about 1930 to 2000 NST after dark on November 18. Contrary to popular scientific belief the tsunami did not arrive during a storm; it was a dead calm moonlit night. Luckily most persons were still awake and up and about, which facilitated their escape. The first indication of the tsunami was a significant withdrawal of the sea. People reported seeing the ocean floor in places where it had never been seen before. Three main pulses swept in. At the heads of the long narrow bays on the Burin Peninsula, the tsunami arrived as foaming, breaking waves near the top of a rising "spring" tide. Over a period of five to ten minutes sea levels rose three to seven metres above normal, lifting houses off their shores, tearing loose moored vessels, and destroying virtually all shore property, wharves, and fish stores. Twenty-five persons lost their lives that night; three died later. The tsunami refracted counterclockwise around the Avalon Peninsula, and slightly affected northeast Newfoundland in the vicinity of Bonavista and Port Union in the early hours of November 19, six to seven hours after it devastated the south-facing harbours of the Burin Peninsula.9 It arrived in eastern Nova Scotia at about 2000 (Atlantic Standard Time) and did minor damage in the Sydney Harbour area, Canso, River Inhabitants, Louisbourg, and Chedabucto Bay; in Halifax Harbour the tsunami was seen in Duncan's Cove, it flowed over the gates of the dry dock for about five minutes, and it was recorded on the tide gauge.10 The tsunami was not physically observed south of Lunenburg. A winter storm was moving up the eastern seaboard and had moved into Nova Scotia by early evening. Its waves masked the tsunami's effects for much of southwest Nova Scotia and along the New England coast.

A collage of six of Father James Anthony Miller's eleven photographs taken on November 19, which appeared in The New York Times on December 8, 1929. His photos never appeared in any of the local newspapers in that they were not yet equipped to reproduce photographs. Father Miller was the Catholic parish priest at Burin. (Ruffman collection.)

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One of Dr. Harris Munden Mosdell's two photographs of the debris-filled Eastern Cove Pond behind the beach at Lord's Cove. The tsunami's two, or three, largest waves rose over the beach bar and lifted the houses close to the pond's edge and swept them out to sea, including the Rennie two-storey home seen in the left centre distance between the two fishing stores lifted off the beach. The Rennie home was left grounded in the pond. When the men of the cove paddled out to the house after the tsunami was gone, Sarah Rennie and her three children were found drowned in the kitchen while Margaret survived in her bed on the second floor. (Photographer Dr. H.M. Mosdell; W.M. Chisholm collection.)

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4 A major storm surge accompanied a winter storm as it arrived in Newfoundland on Tuesday, November 19, just after daybreak.11 This high storm surge, combined with a "spring" high tide at about 0930 NST, has caused some confusion, in that people remember the very high apparent tide as an effect of the "tidal wave" that caused "the South Coast Disaster." In fact, the tsunami was long gone from the vicinity of the island of Newfoundland by 0230-0300 NST on November 19. It is also popularly believed by many older residents that the collapse of the fisheries in the early 1930s and the loss of the eel grass was a direct result of the "tidal wave"; this observation appears to be unfounded.

5 Only four large-magnitude earthquakes are known to have affected the eastern seaboard of North America in historical time. These are the November 18, 1755, event of estimated moment magnitude Mw 6.5-7.0 offshore Cape Ann near Boston, Massachusetts; the August 31, 1886, Charleston, South Carolina, earthquake of estimated Mw 7.0; the November 18, 1929, event of Ms 7.2 in what is now known as the Laurentian Slope Seismic Source Zone; and a November 20, 1933, offshore event of Ms 7.3 in northern Baffin Bay. Thus the probable return rate of a 1929-like event south of Newfoundland is of considerable interest to scientists, and to engneers at the National Research Council of Canada responsible for the National Building Code. The new National Building Code for 2005-2009 has continued to reflect a cautious approach to the Laurentian Slope Seismic Source Zone, and to seismic zones under Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick, and in the Charlevoix region of Québec.12


6 While gathering oral history on scientific questions in 1989, Alan Ruffman realized that the official list of those lost in the tsunami was incomplete, and contained various inaccuracies. Indeed, no accurate official list of the victims has ever been produced by any branch of the Newfoundland government, before or after 1949, and it was this deficiency that the first author set out to correct.

7 It was also clear that in order to fully understand the effect of the tsunami in Taylor's Bay, where it appeared to reach its maximum vertical height, it was necessary to better understand the family connections in what was in 1929 a small, tightly knit community of sixteen or seventeen houses. At this point Violet Hann was introduced to the project through her family in Lamaline, and the process of documenting those lost in the 1929 tsunami has continued intermittently ever since.

8 There have been over 90 contacts with different persons in five provinces of Canada and in three countries. Original records have been checked in seven St. John's archival locations and in about ten southern Newfoundland parishes. Letters of enquiry to newspapers located information in some cases, but not in others. For example, it has proved impossible, in spite of using letters to the local newspapers and the local telephone listings, to obtain information about the Traverse family of Oderin Island; Louisa Allen (née Traverse) remains a lesser known victim.


9 In 1929 the Burin Peninsula was still a quarter of a century away from a road connection to St. John's. Indeed, few of the communities along the south coast of the peninsula were linked by more than a cart or walking track. Aroad connected Grand Bank, Marystown, and Burin, more or less along the present route of Highways 213, 222, and 221. The main mode of communication between the coastal villages was by boat, and a single-line local telegraph wire tied the settlements together. Some communities had local phones, but there was no long-distance service. The area was connected to the outside world by local fishing boats, regular coastal ferries, the rare wireless radios on a few of the vessels that might visit, and a single strand of telegraph wire that ran north 150 kilometres over the upland barrens to St. John's.

SS Daisy at the wharf in St John's (Ruffman collection, date and photographer unknown.)

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10 A storm during the weekend of November 16-17, 1929, had broken this tenuous strand of telegraph wire somewhere north of the settled area on the southern coast of the peninsula.13 When the tsunami arrived, the local telegraph connections between several south coast communities were broken as well. The telegraph station at St. Lawrence ended up floating in the harbour, and that in Lord's Cove was destroyed. Most bridges along the coastal track were floated off or were badly damaged in places like Taylor's Bay, on the Salmonier River between Lamaline and Point au Gaul, and north of Burin on the road to Marystown. None of the vessels in port, such as the revenue cutter SS Daisy at Burin, the coastal ferry SS Argyle which arrived in the area on its regular outward (westward) run from Argentia on the evening of Monday, November 18, and the SS Fernfield which arrived in Burin late on the same day, had operable wireless radios. The SS Daisy had a wireless but, unfortunately, as an unknown writer bemoaned in a letter dated December 6, no one on board knew how to operate it.14 The affected part of the Burin Peninsula was on its own for two and a half days after the tsunami arrived, and small communities were further isolated by the destruction or removal of most, if not all, of their boats.

11 News of damage in places nearer to St. John's arrived more quickly. On the afternoon of November 19, newspapers there reported an apparent earthquake-induced tsunami at Long Harbour in Placentia Bay and damage at Placentia. The Evening Telegram's headline read:15 Yesterday's Earthquake TremorsDisturbances Felt OverWhole IslandTidal wave Causes Considerable Damage atLong Harbour - Shocks Scatter Mercuryat Cape RaceTIDAL WAVE AT LONG HR. A report from Long Hr. Placentia Bay, states that the shocks were felt at six o'clock and again at 10 p.m. Following the disturbance a tidal wave rushed in completely carrying away 76 feet of roadway and causing considerable damage to fishing rooms and stagesSUBMARINE LINES IN PLACENTIAGUT SMASHEDThe Anglo Telegraph Co., had a message this morning from Mr. Verran of Placentia, reporting that all the submarine lines crossing the gut had been smashed.

12 Similarly, The Daily News printed an article headlined "[SS] Nerissa Felt Quake But No Tidal Wave."16

13 There had been no recent experience with earthquakes in Newfoundland17 and none with local tsunamigenic earthquakes. No one suspected the magnitude of the "tidal wave" or its tragic consequences in the south-facing bays and harbours of the Burin Peninsula. In certain harbours, the vagaries of the local coastline geometry that gave a harbour its shelter and safety from storms often served to focus and to constrain the tremendous energy in the tsunami's pulses. In an attempt to lose energy, the tsunami's waves tore up the sea floor, built in amplitude, and often became a breaking wave — then surged forward up onto the land, rising up under the buildings on the shore, flakes, and dwellings, "like a river returning." It was this rise of two to seven metres that took out so much of the shore property and cost the 28 lives.

14 In the cold light of Tuesday morning, November 19, all attention was turned to the location and recovery of bodies, to caring for the injured and homeless, to the salvage of desperately needed supplies, boats, or floating houses, and to dealing with a winter storm that arrived later in the morning of that desperate day. It seems that no one thought of, or had the power to consider, ordering one of the vessels available in Burin, or in several other ports, to proceed directly to Argentia or to the French island of Saint-Pierre, where telegraph or rail connections could have sounded the alarm by noon. Instead, the devastated area struggled on its own through Tuesday, and again all day Wednesday. It was not until the SS Portia, with Captain Wesley B. Kean in charge and with an operating wireless radio on board, arrived in Burin early on the morning of Thursday, November 21, that the following message got out to St. John's via Cape Race:18 EARTHQUAKECALAMTY ONSOUTH COASTMESSAGE TO PRIME MINISTERS.S. "PORTIA" via Cape RacePrime Minister, St John's.Burin experienced very severe earth tremors 5.05 p.m. eighteenth followed at7.35 p.m. by an immense 15 foot tidal wave which swept away everything along water-front. Sixteen dwelling houses with nine lives [lost] mostly women and children. Four bodies recovered. All communications by wire cut off. Report is that 18 lives have been lost at Lord's Cove and Lamaline. S.S. "Daisy" rendering every assistance. St. Lawrence also swept; no lives lost. Destruction property terrible and many people left destitute and homeless. Doing all possible to relieve suffering. "Daisy" now at Lamaline. Writing particulars.MAGISTRATE HOLLETT.

(Left) Index map of the Burin Peninsula area affected by the November 18, 1929, tsunami. Deaths occurred in six communities: Allan's Island, Point au Gaul, Taylor's Bay, Lord's Cove, Kelly's Cove, and Port au Bras.

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(a) When the first messages got out — November 21

15 The first reports in the St. John's newspapers of the afternoon of Thursday, November 21, gave nine lives lost in the Burin area and stated that "18 lives have been lost at Lord's Cove and Lamaline" (above). The Burin telegraph operator, Cox, sent longer dispatches to G.J. Veitch, the Superintendent of Postal Telegraphs, which briefly gave the family names of those lost in the Burin area under the headline "Victims of Disaster": "at Kelly's Cove ... Mrs. Vincent Kelly and her daughter ... At Port au Bras ... Mrs. Thos. Fudge and three children ... Mrs. Capt. Sam. Bennett and her brother Henry Dibbon ... and Mrs. William Allan ... bodies not yet recovered"19 (Table 1a).

16 By the next day, Cox had sent another message to Veitch, which appeared under the headline "26 Persons Swept Away: Burin, 10 p.m., Nov. 21 — furthering my previous report:", which added the death toll from the western end of the disaster area;20 "Thomas Lockyer, of Allans Island ... ; Point au Gaul ... with eight lives, namely, T.J. Hipditch, Thomas Hipditch, H.P. Hipditch, E.H. Hipditch, Thomas Hillier (oil inspector), Irene Hillier, Mrs. Eliza Walsh, Miss M.A. Walsh; Taylor's Bay ... four lives lost, namely, Mrs. Robert Bonnell, Bartholomew Bonnell, and two children; and Lord's Cove ... four lives lost, namely, Mrs. P. Rennie and three children" (Table 1a). Lower in the same article a message from C.C. Pitman and John Foote, both Justices of the Peace, dated November 21 from Lamaline under the headline "Known Dead Total Twenty-Seven and Property Loss is Enormous"; introduced the names "Mrs. Henry Hillier and four grandchildren, ... Mary Ann Walsh, aged spinster, and Elizabeth Walsh, widow" for Point au Gaul, and gave, "At Taylor's Bay, Mrs. Robert Bonnell and her children were drowned; also two children of Bertram Bonnell. A child of George Piercy has since died of injuries" (implying at least six were lost at Taylor's Bay). Pitman and Foote also corrected "Thomas" Lockyer to "James"; "At Allan's Island, James Lockyer, aged 81, was crushed by the sea and died in a few hours" (Table 1a).

(b) When the Burin deputation to St. John's arrived — November 22

17 Late on Thursday night, November 21, the SS Daisy left Burin with a three-person deputation which was to confer with the government in St. John's. It consisted of the Hon. G.A. Bartlett, a noted Burin merchant, Father James Anthony Miller, parish priest of the Burin Roman Catholic parish, and Captain W.H. Hollett. The Daisy arrived at Argentia on Friday morning to meet the 9:30 a.m. train, and the deputation was in St. John's by the early afternoon. That evening the deputation met with the Prime Minister, Sir Richard A. Squires, and the Executive Council.

Tsunami victim Fannie Kelly (sitting) beside her home in Kelly's Cove. She died carrying her daughter Dorothy. Their bodies were never found. (Ruffman collection, date and photographer unknown.)

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18 The next day the newspapers printed the report of the Inspector of Revenue Service, J.H. Dee, to the Collector of Customs, which he had finished compiling as the Daisy crossed Placentia Bay to Argentia.21 The Daisy, under the command of Captain F. Whelan, had found it impossible to land at Lamaline on the Wednesday and at St. Lawrence early on the Thursday since there were no suitable surviving wharves, a lack of daylight, and insufficient calm weather, "but landed at Point au Gaul [later in the morning of November 21] and got report over the telephone" (Table 1b). The same article contained two messages, which had arrived via the Daisy, from the Burin Stipendiary Magistrate Malcolm Hollett, dated November 20 and 21, and addressed to the Prime Minister. These slightly amplified the information in Dee's report (Table 1b).

(c) When the Meigle returned to Argentia — November 27

19 One of the Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs) on the Meigle relief team produced his own list of the dead prior to the submission of the team's final report. Having completed its six-day relief voyage, the Meigle left Burin early on Wednesday, November 27, so as to put its government relief team on the morning train in Argentia and back in St. John's on the same afternoon. The newspapers the next day carried the latest death toll as a report by the Hon. Dr. Harris Munden Mosdell, Chairman of the Board of Health, to the Hon. Dr. Arthur Barnes, Colonial Secretary (the date was erroneously identified by Mosdell as "On Board Relief Ship Meigle, Placentia Bay, November 25th" — not November 27).22

20 In the section of his report entitled "Loss of Life," Mosdell, the MHA for Burin West, noted: "The loss of life through the tidal wave totals twenty-seven. Twenty-five deaths were due directly to the upheaval. Two other deaths occurred subsequently and were due to shock and exposure." Mrs. Vincent Kelly's daughter was named for the first time; Mosdell named the Hipditch children's father for the first time; and he corrected the Allen's [sic] Island loss to James Lockyer (Table 1c). No further lists of those lost in the 1929 "tidal wave" have been published in a Newfoundland newspaper since those of November 28, 1929.


21 When word of the disaster finally reached St. John's via the wireless message from the SS Portia on the morning of November 21, and even before the three-person deputation arrived, the colonial government began to act quickly and decisively. The Hon. H.B. Clyde Lake et al. later stated in their official report thatThe first advice as to earthquake shock and subsequent tidal wave was received by the Prime Minister, Sir Richard Squires, shortly before noon on Thursday, November 21st, 1929. He immediately telephoned Mr. H.B. Clyde Lake, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, to hold his Department ready for immediate action and during lunch hour directed the Deputy Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Mr. W[illiam] P[atterson] Rogerson, to get in touch with the Railway Authorities for the commissioning of the S.S. "Meigle" as a relief ship.23

(Left) Hillier family photo in front of the family home in Point au Gaul ~1928. Tsunami victim Elizabeth Hillier, grandmother to the three Hepditch children who were lost, is on the right. Her two sons are behind with her husband Henry in front proudly wearing his Temperance League sash. (Reta Kearley collection.)

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22 In a tremendous effort, the SS Meigle, a Newfoundland Railway coastal vessel, and its cargo of government officials, medical personnel, and relief supplies was away from the wharf in St. John's at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, November 21, less than twelve hours after the news of the disaster reached St. John's. The skipper was its regular captain, Albert Burgess, and the complement included the Railway's Marine Superintendent, Captain Martin Gilbert Dalton,24 and five MHAs. Dalton's role was to liaise with the government party, leaving Captain Burgess and his crew free to navigate the vessel.

23 The Meigle arrived in Burin at 3:30 p.m. the next afternoon. Those on board gave medical assistance and distributed relief supplies during a very busy itinerary: Burin (November 22), Point au Gaul (23), Taylor's Bay (23), Lawn (23), Lord's Cove (24), Lamaline (24), Saint-Pierre to purchase supplies (24, evening), Lawn (25, storm), and St. Lawrence (26), returning to Burin on November 26. The relief team also compiled injury and initial loss reports, which were included in its November 28 report to the Prime Minister.25

24 Magistrate Hollett submitted a report for the area between Corbin and Rock Harbour.26 The Daisy had been sent to Lamaline, St. Lawrence, and Point au Gaul on November 20-21, and Inspector Dee had compiled a similar report for the area from Lamaline to St. Lawrence, which he submitted to Hollett on his return.27 Both men noted the lives lost in their respective areas. Table 2 is a compiled transcript of the relevant portions of these two reports.

25 The Meigle left Burin very early on the morning of Wednesday, November 27, to connect with the 9:30 a.m. train at Argentia. The relief team arrived back in St. John's by 1:00 p.m. The official report on the "Voyage of Relief Ship Meigle"28 was submitted to Prime Minister Squires on Thursday, November 28, 1929, just under a week after the vessel first left St. John's. The report contained, among other documents, a "Southwest Coast Disaster Summary," followed by a "List of Lives Lost In Earthquake Disaster."29 This list (full transcript in Table 3) is based on the partial compilations of Hollett and Dee (Table 2) with some minor revisions. "Dibbin" has been corrected to "Dibbon" in Port au Bras, Mrs. P. Rennie's three children are named in Lord's Cove, Mr. Bartholomew [sic] Bonnell has been removed from the list, leaving only his two unnamed children in Taylor's Bay, "T.J. Hipditch" is corrected to "Mrs. Henry Hillier" and "Irence" Hillier is changed to "Irene" in Point au Gaul, and finally "Thomas" Lockyer is corrected to "James" on Allen's [sic] Island.

26 The November 28 list in Table 3 is as close as one can come to an "official" list of those lost in the November 18 tsunami, or what has come to be known as the "South Coast Disaster." It appears that at no time afterwards was the list revised, despite a year-long relief effort. Indeed, the final report (May 13, 1931) of the South Coast Disaster Committee (originally referred to as the South Coast Disaster Fund [or Relief] Committee), chaired by R.F. Horwood, did not even contain a list of those lost.30


(a) Community Loss Tables

27 Tables 4 to 9 record our best efforts to fully identify the 1929 tsunami victims from the communities of Port au Bras, Kelly's Cove (on the north end of Burin Island east of the community of Burin), Lord's Cove, Taylor's Bay, Point au Gaul, and Allan's Island (opposite Lamaline), respectively. The tables list full names, maiden names where relevant, names of spouses and/or parents, date and place of birth and baptism, denomination, age on November 18, 1929, whether the body was recovered, and place and date of burial.

28 These compilations do not change the number of deaths recorded at the time of the tsunami or immediately following the November 18 event. Twenty-seven is still the correct number. In that sense we agree with the Lake et al. list as found in the SS Meigle report of November 28, 1929. However, we have gone well beyond this list, replicated in Table 3, by identifying the unnamed Bonnell child, by defining the full names of most of the victims, especially in the cases of several of the children, by giving married women their own names rather than those of their husbands, by correcting at least eight ages, by providing seven ages where none were originally given, and by correcting the spellings of names.

(b) Addition of a Delayed Death in Taylor's Bay

29 However, we have added one death, that of Amelia Alice Bonnell of Taylor's Bay, who died on March 8, 1933, at age .7.8 years. She had lost her mother Bridget Susannah Bonnell (née Hillier) and her younger sister Mary Gertrude on the night of the tsunami, and we believe that she succumbed to tsunami-related injuries in the spring of 1933.

View from St. Andrew's Anglican Cemetery in Port au Bras in 1989. The stone in the foreground is that of Mary Ann, or "Minie Sam," Bennett whose body was found by a young boy running across floating tsunami debris filling the harbour in the distance. When he slipped and fell he found himself clutching Mrs. Bennett's hair, according to local knowledge. (Ruffman collection.)

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30 Amelia Alice's aunt, Mrs. Dinah Ford (née Bonnell) of Waterloo, Ontario, has no doubt that her niece died of the effects of the tsunami. She always had a pain in her head after the tsunami, and apparently was always sickly following the event. Mrs. Ford stated in an interview in 1993 that Amelia Alice died of "sand on the brain," and that sand came down out of her nose on death, presumably draining out of sinuses where it had lodged for over three years. Normally a coroner draws a line at one year after an accident or other traumatic event, and by this measure the young girl, who was £4.5 years old at the time of the tsunami, would not be formally classed as a tsunami death.

31 Few autopsies were performed in rural Newfoundland in the 1920s and 1930s, given a lack of outport doctors, and medical evidence concerning deaths is often lacking. A NONIA nurse31 provided most of the medical care in the Burin area. The second author knows from her own family's experience in Lamaline that in 1929-1933, when it came to medical care or to a coroner's interest in a death, St. John's "was a world away from the bottom of the Burin Peninsula." It would be desirable to have more detailed and proximate medical evidence about this child's death, but we are convinced by the testimony of the child's aunt that Amelia Alice Bonnell did indeed suffer a lingering death caused by the trauma and her injuries resulting from the devastation of Taylor's Bay by the tsunami. Thus we put the 1929 tsunami death toll at 28.

(c) Elimination of a Nova Scotia Death

32 For a number of years the senior author believed that there was a twenty-ninth victim.32 This was John MacLeod, employed in November 1929 as a night security guard in a sawmill owned by R. Dunphy of Point Tupper, Nova Scotia. The sawmill and the guard's shed were on a barge anchored in Lower River Inhabitants in Richmond County, Cape Breton Island. The barge broke loose as the tsunami ran north up the river, and was smashed into the underside of the new railroad bridge some distance upstream. The barge's topsides were crushed and destroyed. The Halifax Herald of Monday, December 16, 1929 (p. 3) reported that MacLeod, a "middle aged man," was missing, and that "interested parties are making inquiries in the vicinity in the hope that something definite will be found out within the next few days." The matter never reappeared in the Nova Scotia newspapers. It was eventually established by the first author that MacLeod was at a local home sharing a meal when the tsunami destroyed his place of work, and he was removed from the list of the 1929 tsunami victims.33

Memory card for Elizabeth Hillier of Point au Gaul. (R. Kearley collection.)

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(a) Gravestones and Wooden Markers

33 Six of the tsunami victims'bodies were never recovered: Richard Henry Dibben (of John), age 60.5 and Anna Eliza Dibbon Fudge (Hannah), age 7.2, both of Port au Bras; Frances Elizabeth Kelly (Fannie), age 42.2 and her daughter Dorothy Jane Kelly, age 10.0, of Kelly's Cove; and Mary Gertrude Bonnell, age 1.1 and her cousin John Lewis Bonnell, age 3.1, both of Taylor's Bay, were not recovered and have no onshore marker in a local cemetery. The five recovered Port au Bras victims were buried in the local St. Andrew's Anglican Cemetery, but four of these burials appear to be unmarked, and that of Mary Ann Bennett is mismarked on the gravestone as November "19", 1929 (see photo, p. 113). The burial of Gertrude Fudge, whose body was not found until the next spring, seems not to have been recorded in the St. Andrew's church records. The four Rennie family victims from Lord's Cove have wooden markers in the St. Elizabeth's Catholic Cemetery in Lord's Cove. The four recovered bodies of Taylor's Bay victims are all buried in St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Cemetery in Lamaline, with markers.

34 Two of the eight Point au Gaul victims and James Lockyer of Allan's Island were buried in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery on Allan's Island. We have not been able to locate grave markers for the two Point au Gaul victims buried here (Mary Elizabeth Walsh and her sister-in-law Mary Ann Walsh).34 The other six victims from Point au Gaul were buried in St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Cemetery in Lamaline, and most had markers in 1994-1995. However, several of them are only wooden crosses and subject, in the short term, to loss or toppling over.

(b) Post-tsunami Writing and Memory

35 Initially the November 18, 1929, earthquake and tsunami attracted only brief scientific interest. In these early reports the tsunami and its effect in Newfoundland got short shrift and deaths were seldom addressed.35 It was not until the 1952 scientific realization that turbidity currents had been caused, which then progressively ripped up and broke the sea-floor telegraph cables, that the 1929 events received renewed attention. Marine geological research at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and at Dalhousie University in the 1980-2000 period has concentrated on the turbidity current process and the deposits laid down in the deep ocean — i.e., the offshore signature of the earthquake.36 In the mid-1980s scientific attention turned to locating the onshore signature of the tsunami.37 One of the best examples of a tsunami-laid sand deposit is found at the head of Taylor's Bay.38

36 For the first 60 years after the tsunami, little attention was paid to the social or economic effects of the 1929 tsunami. Little oral history or folklore associated with the onshore effects of the tsunami were collected. Even today the "scientific" aspects of the event draw more research attention than those associated with its effects on the residents and the economy of the area.

Cross marking the graves of the three Hepditch children and their grandmother Elizabeth Hillier as found in February 1995. (Ruffman collection.)

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37 Margaret Duley, a Newfoundland writer of the mid-twentieth century, wrote a novel based on the event in 1941;39 this contained no attempt to document the deaths from the 1929 event. The only Canadian government report on the "Grand Banks" Earthquake came in 1948 just before the Dominion of Newfoundland confederated with Canada to become the tenth province. W.W. Doxsee gave no list of those lost and did nothing more than report a "summary given in the Saint [sic] John's Free Press in the issue of November 26, 1929."40 Gerald Jones writing on "The South Coast Disaster" in the mid-1970s used the list compiled by the Meigle relief expedition41 as have most other modern writers or journalists.

38 One of the first uses of the oral history of the tsunami on the Burin Peninsula came with the work of the senior author on the Burin Peninsula in a report for Columbia University.42 A major case study of the tsunami in St. Lawrence harbour conducted oral history interviews and contained an early version of our reassessment of the human losses in the tsunami as an appendix.43

39 Writers in the current century, especially with the renewed interest in tsunamis as a natural marine hazard that came with the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean Tsunami, have continued to use the 1929 Meigle information (as in Table 3). Recent publications have not rectified these errors. Garry Cranford's Tidal Wave, A List of Victims and Survivors — Newfoundland, 1929 in fact has no list of the tsunami victims at all.44 Maura Hanrahan's Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster 45 cites and transcribes some of the documentation, but she too does not list the victims.

40 The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador cannot supply, if requested, an official list of those lost in the 1929 "tidal wave." The memory of those who were lost has faded away in the halls of government. But this is not so in the memories and in the folk and family lore of many Newfoundlanders, especially of the residents of the Burin Peninsula. Our final Table 10 gives what we think is the best list of those lost; Tables 4 to 9 attempt to fit each person into their community. We hope that our seven final tables will serve as at least a printed memorial to each victim of Canada's most tragic known historic earthquake and tsunami, the November 18, 1929, "South Coast Disaster" on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland.

Thomas Hillier died on his 44th birthday trying to secure his boat pulled up on the beach in Point au Gaul. (Ruffman collection.)

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Table 1. Record of Death Toll As First Reported in the St John's, Newfoundland, Newpapers

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Table 2. Death Toll as reported in Transcripts of Excerpts of the Reports of Malcom Hollett, Stipendiary Magistrate, Burin, and of J.H.Dee, Inspector of Revenue Service, who were on board the ss Daisy sent to Lamaline, November 20 and St . Lawrence, then Point au Gaul, on the morning of November 21

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James Lockyer headstone in St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery on Allan’s Island. (Ruffman collection.)

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Table 3. The Nominal "Official" List of Those Lost: Transcript of the Death List from the Report Prepared on the Voyage of the Relief Ship Meigle

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Table 4. List of the Seven Lives Lost at Port au Bras, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 5. List of the Two Lives at Kelly's Cove on Burin Island, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 6. List of the Four Lives Lost at Lord's Cove, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 7. List of the Five (in fact Six) Lives Lost at Taylor's Bay, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 8. List of the Eight Lives Lost at Point au Gaul, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 9. List of the One Life Lost at Allan's Island in the Lamaline Area, November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Table 10. Final Summary List of Those Lost in the November 18, 1929, Tsunami

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Sarah Rennie’s and her three children Rita, Patrick and Bernard’s simple gravemarkers in St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Cemetery overlooking Lord’s Cove. Margaret was placed with relatives after the tsunami and did not know where her mother’s grave was until the Lord’s Cove Homecoming celebration in 1992 when “Aunt Sis” Hodge, an elder of the community, took her to the grave. (Ruffman collection.)

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We would like to recognize the persons below for their individual contribution. If no province, or state, is indicated, the person lives in a community on the island of Newfoundland: Thane Anderson, retired from the Geological Survey of Canada, of Nepean, Ontario; Garfield Bonnell (now deceased) and his wife Gladys of Taylor's Bay; Jennifer Bragg of the Maritime History Archive of Memorial University of Newfoundland, who found Captain Albert Burgess's full name where others had failed; Ron Caplan, Editor of the former Cape Breton's Magazine, Wreck Cove, Nova Scotia, for having spurred the senior author into lifting this manuscript out of a long-ignored file and getting on with it; Gordon Cheeseman of Burin; Clyde Cheeseman (now deceased) and Elizabeth Clarke, both of Port au Bras; Linda Christiansen-Ruffman of Ferguson's Cove, Nova Scotia; Dan Conlin, Curator of Marine History, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Rev. Lochleigh Fiander, Fortune; Agatha Fitzpatrick, Susan and Martin Fitzpatrick, all of Lord's Cove; Rev. Berdina Ford, Rector, Anglican Parish of Burin, Burin; Dinah Ford, Waterloo, Ontario; Evelyn Grondin, formerly of the Burin Heritage House, Burin; Randy Harnett of Clarenville; Brian T. Hill of Mount Pearl, for searching out Violet Hann when the senior author had lost track of her in a long space between drafts; Beatrice Alice Hillier (née Woodland) of Lamaline, mother of author Violet Hann; Launcelot Hillier, now deceased on January 30, 2005, who recalled the spelling of his sister Reenie Hillier's first name; Vanessa Hillier, Lamaline, niece of the second author, who rephotographed grave markers in Lamaline's St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Cemetery in 2005; Wayne Hollett of Burin; Reta A. Kearley of Fortune, a post-tsunami sibling to the Hepditch children lost in Point au Gaul; Noella Walsh King, Lord's Cove; Julia Mathieson, Archivist, Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland; [A]Dolph McCarthy, Brampton, Ontario; Erik Nielsen, once of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Rev. Jim Pollard, Fortune; Wendy Power, Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's; Joan Ritcey, Centre for Newfoundland Studies, QE II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland, who found Captain Dalton's full name; Margaret Mary Saint (née Rennie), Fox Cove; Melanie Tucker, Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Rooms, St. John's; Martitia P. Tuttle, Georgetown, Maine; Sheila Walsh, Torbay; and LesA. Winsor, Mount Pearl, along with many librarians and archivists, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is these persons who are the community and corporate memory of our society, and it is these and others who we may have inadvertently forgotten over the twelve-year exercise, that we do thank for having given so freely of their time and information. While we have valiantly tried to avoid errors, there certainly are still gaps and there may be some misinterpretations and errors. These are ours entirely. We will be pleased to receive corrections or new data — especially concerning Louisa Allen (née Traverse) of Oderin Island. Finally, Wendy Findley, and before her, Gerry Hickman, laboured over the word processor as various drafts and numerous corrections were generated over about a fifteen-year period. We thank Jennifer Milne of the GIS Centre at Dalhousie University's Killam Memorial Library for help in generating the maps used. We also thank an unnamed reviewer for her/his encouraging comments.The senior author was able to piggyback his oral history research in the field on the Burin Peninsula over seven visits on the shoulders of several scientific projects. These included the Geological Survey of Canada, Geophysics Division in 1986-87, the Canadian Hydrographic Service in 1988-89, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission along with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, the University of Maryland's Department of Geology and Dr. Martitia P. Tuttle, M. Tuttle & Associates, Georgetown, Maine from 1993 to 2003, the Geological Survey of Canada, Terrain Sciences Division in 1995, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 1994 and 1995, what was then called Emergency Preparedness Canada in 1995-96, Vassar College and Kent State University Departments of Geography and Geology respectively in 2002 and throughout Geomarine Associates Ltd. of Halifax.


1 With the help of many residents and former residents of the affected communities.

2 In seismology of the early twentieth century Carl F. Richter developed an open-ended scale of magnitude "ML" which measured the largest amplitude of the seismic vibration, or ground movement, regardless of the period. One problem with his scale was that it tended to saturate for large earthquakes, and another was that it was designed for the California geology and the attenuation with distance of only one area of the world. Seismologists moved to find another measure of magnitude, and for a time settled on the surface wave magnitude "MS" since all but the deeper earthquakes produce surface waves. Instrumentally recorded earthquakes can easily have the surface wave amplitudes extracted usually at the longer periods of seismic vibrations of about 20 seconds. Corrections can be made for global attenuation relations to make surface wave magnitudes, MS, more or less independent of local geological structure. The MS magnitude measures a specific part of the earthquake's waveform and is generally felt to be more reliable for the largest events than Richter's original ML scale. In recent years the moment magnitude, or "MW" scale, has been developed by seismologists to include a broader range of earthquakes and all areas of the globe. All magnitude scales are open ended, meaning they can accommodate the smallest through to the largest events, and they are logarithmic, not linear. Thus each integral increase in magnitude denotes a ten-fold increase in the amplitude of the seismic wave (i.e., in the violence of the shaking) and about a 32-fold increase in the release of the seismic energy. MW can now be calculated almost automatically from parameters read by modern digitally recording seismometers. As a result, whenever an earthquake occurs, the worldwide seismological network produces an epicentre location and a magnitude within about five minutes (personal communication, Allison L. Bent, May 10, 2006, Natural Earthquake Hazards Program, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON). If readers google "IRIS" for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, then click on the logo, a coloured world map pops up with "today's" earthquakes blinking along with yesterday's, the last two weeks', and the last five years' seismic events colour coded and showing their magnitude. For older instrumentally recorded earthquakes where such digital data are not available, one can make painstaking measurements on the analogue recordings and can recover quite reasonable estimates of the surface wave magnitude of an historic earthquake. In the case of the November 18, 1929, event, the Geological Survey of Canada has examined seismic records worldwide for this earthquake to check the surface wave magnitude Ms; Bent, Allison L. 1995. A Complex Double Couple Source Mechanism for the Ms 7.2 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 85, No. 4, pp. 1003-1020; Dewey, James W. and David W. Gordon. 1984. Map Showing Recomputed Hypocenters of Earthquakes in the Eastern and Central United States and Adjacent Canada, 1925-1980. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Field Studies, Map MF-1699, approximate scale 1:2,500,000, accompanying pamphlet, 39 pp. Dewey and Gordon give to as 2032:00.2 seconds Universal Time (UT), or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), or 1702:00.2 seconds NST, with a geographic position of the epicentre of44.691EN, 56.006EW, or 44E41'27.6"N, 56E00'21.6"W.

3 Ruffman, Alan. 1994. The November 18, 1929 ‘ Tidal Wave': Canada's Most Tragic Earthquake [Abstract]. Atlantic Geology, Vol. 30, No. 2, July, pp. 157-158.

4 Doxsee, W.W. 1948. The Grand Banks Earthquake of November 18, 1929. Publications of the Dominion Observatory, Canada Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, Ottawa, Ontario, Vol. 7, No. 7, pp. 323-335; Heezen, B.C. and M. Ewing. 1952. Turbidity Currents and Submarine Slumps, and the 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake. American Journal of Science, Vol. 250, No. 12, December, pp. 849-873; Heezen, B.C., D.B. Ericson and Maurice Ewing. 1954. Further Evidence for a Turbidity Current Following the 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake. Deep-Sea Research, Vol. 1, pp. 193-202; Heezen, B.C. and C.L. Drake. 1964. Grand Banks slump. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 221-225.

5 The cable breaks and their extensive repairs were documented in considerable detail by the Hydrographer from the Western Union Cable Company in an extensive internal unpublished report: de Smitt, V[ladimir]. P. 1932. Earthquakes in the North Atlantic Ocean as Related to Submarine Cables. Unpublished internal compilation, Western Union Telegraph Company, Office of General Plant Manager, New York City, New York, April, 47 numbered pp., 2 lead-in pages, 3 diagrams, 3 maps, 4 photographs of cable breaks all unpaged, mimeographed, 59 total pp. that was later published with greatly reduced detail and fewer maps, figures, and photographs; de Smitt, V[ladimir]. P. 1932. Earthquakes in the North Atlantic ocean as Related to Submarine Cables. U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., Thirteenth Annual Meeting, April 28-29, Washington, D.C., Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, Vol. 13, June, Section on Seismology, Symposium on the Application of Seismology to the Study of Ocean-Basins, pp. 103-109.V.P. de Smitt in his very rare, April 1932, unpublished report (one copy found by the senior author in early April 2006 after a year-long search) noted: "This is the first time in [the 63-year] history [of trans-Atlantic cables] that progressive destruction similar to this has been recorded by the consecutive breaks in telegraph cables" (p. 19). All the cable observations of de Smitt were consistent with an underwater landslide, or the dense slurry of a turbidity current, piling up against a cable, abrading it and stretching it to beyond the breaking point. Twenty-eight breaks could be firmly established with the time and location of the break obtained from the shore cable station that was still connected to the cable out to the break. Twelve initial breaks close to the epicentre occurred synchronously with the to of the earthquake (1702 NST; 2032 GMT, November 18, 1929). Sixteen other cable breaks occurred from 59 min up to 13 hr 17 min after the earthquake (at 0619 NST, November 19, 1929; Table "Cable Breaks," pp. 20-21). De Smitt calculated what he called the "Progression of Destruction" and what we now know is the speed of the turbidity currents, or of the slurry, that comprised the underwater landslides. They began moving at 93 and 130 km/hr in two locations and progressively slowed to the south and southeastward to an average speed of 88.5 km/hr by the time the turbidity current had reached 269 km from the epicentre, an average of 50.4 km/hr to reach a distance of 454 km and an average speed of 41.9 km/hr to reach a distance of 556 km. In the last two intervals, where the break times permit one to calculate the turbidity current's interval velocity, it was moving at 31.0 km/hr, then after 13 hr 17 min it was still moving across the ocean floor at23.9 km/hr (p. 23). One of the twelve broken cables was restored as soon as December 31, 1929, after 35 days of work by the cable ship J.W. Mackay, but in one case repairs went on until August 31, 1930, some 9.5 months after the earthquake and necessitated 109 days of work by the cable ship Cambria. Eight cable ships and about 855 days of cable ship repair time were required to restore service on all twelve cables.

6 Hughes Clarke, John Edward. 1988. The Geologic Record of the 1929 "Grand Banks" Earthquake and its Relevance to Deep-Sea Clastic Sedimentation. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 171 pp.

7 Hughes Clarke, John E., Alexander N. Shor, David J.W. Piper and Larry A. Mayer. 1990. Large-scale current-induced erosion and deposition in the path of the 1929 Grand Banks turbidity current. Sedimentology, Vol . 37, pp. 613-629.

8 Romer, [le] Chef du Service de Physique du Globe de la Martinique. 1932. Martinique Raz de Marée et Marées de Tempête à la Martinique du XVIIe Siècle à Nos Jours. Union Géodésique et Géophysique Internationale, Annales de la Commission pour l'Étude de Raz de Marée, Paris, France, No. 2, Section II, Documents scientifiques, Renseignements sur les evahissments du littoral par la mer, pp. 136-141.

9 The (St. John's) Evening Telegram, November 21, 1929, p. 6, reported that the tsunami arrived at 2:20 a.m. NST Tuesday, November 19, 1929. The (St. John's) Daily News, November 22, 1929, p. 5, reported exactly the same text as being the observation of Sir William Coaker, who had come to St. John's from his home on the Bonavista Peninsula.

10 Johnstone, J.H.L. 1930. The Acadian-Newfoundland Earthquake of November 18, 1929. Proceedings and Transactions of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science, Session of 1929-30, presented February 12, Vol. 17, Part 4, December, pp. 223-237.

11 Ruffman, Alan, Gavin Buchan, Andrew Smith, Keith Stoodley and Syd 0. Wigen. In Preparation. Study of North Atlantic Ocean Tsunamis: A Compilation of Eastern Canadian Historic Tsunamis, including the Monday, November 18, 1929 ‘ Grand Banks' event. Geomarine Associates Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia.

12 Ruffman, Alan. 1991. Notes on the Recurrence Rate of a November 18, 1929-like event in the Laurentian Slope (LSP) Seismic Source Zone or of similar shelf-edge/slope events off Eastern Canada. In John Adams, comp., Proceedings, Geological Survey of Canada Workshop on Eastern Seismicity Source Zones for the 1995 Seismic Hazard Maps. March 18-19, Ottawa, Ontario. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File No. 2437(1991), Part 2, pp. 371-396.

13 Evening Telegram, November 21, p. 6. Editorial entitled "The South Coast Disaster."

14 W.J.S. 1929. Letter in Evening Telegram, December 9, 1929, p. 13.

15 Evening Telegram, November 19, p. 6. More details on the Placentia disruption appeared in the Daily News, November 22, p. 6.

16 Daily News, November 20, p. 15.

17 Staveley, Michael, Sandra Kavanagh and Lourdes Meana. 1984. Historical Seismicity of Newfoundland. Contract Report to Canada Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Earth Physics Branch, Division of Seismicity and Geomagnetism, Ottawa, Ontario, March, 31 pp.; included in Earth Physics Branch 1985 Open File No. 85-22 in edited form. The most recent earthquake reported in Newfoundland prior to 1929 was a magnitude 4 event on March 18, 1884, felt mainly on the northern Avalon Peninsula.

18 Evening Telegram, November 21, p. 6.

19 Evening Telegram, November 21, p. 6. Message by Burin telegraph operator Cox dated early on Thursday, November 21.

20 Evening Telegram, November 22, p. 6. The updated 10 p.m. November 21 message from Burin operator Cox, followed by the November 21, Lamaline message from E.C. Pittman [sic = Cyrus Clement Pitman, a Justice of the Peace] and John Foote, also a J.P. The same summary appeared in The (St. John's) Free Press, November 26, p. 1. Cox's 10 p.m. November 21 message appeared even earlier in The Daily News, November 22, p. 3, as did the message of Pitman and Foote.

21 Evening Telegram, November 23, p. 6. Late November 21 report by Inspector J.H. Dee, followed by Stipendiary Magistrate Malcolm Hollett's two messages of November 20 and 21 addressed to the Prime Minister. See also Daily News, November 23, p. 3.

22 Evening Telegram, November 28, p. 6, prints H.M. Mosdell's report to the Hon. Dr. Arthur Barnes, Colonial Secretary, St. John's, from Argentia as the Meigle landed on the morning of November 27. Mosdell's Argentia report also appeared in The Daily News,November 28, p. 7. His report, which is not appended to the relief team's report to the Prime Minister on November 28, 1929, appears to have been provided directly to the press in Argentia at 9:30 a.m., November 27, or at 1:00 p.m. that afternoon when the train from Argentia reached St. John's.

23 Lake, Hon. H.B.C[lyde]., Hon. Dr. Alexander Campbell, M.H.A., Hon. Dr. H.M. Mosdell, M.H.A., and Mr. P.T. Fudge, M.H.A., in charge. 1929. Voyage of Relief Ship Meigle, To Scene of Tidal Wave Disaster, Lamaline to Rock Harbour, Districts Burin East & West. Report submitted to Prime Minister Sir Richard A. Squires, November 28, 11 pp., plus seven appended reports and letters of 13 pp., unnumbered. Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL), MG 636, Box 1, Files 1 and 3. The four MHAs cited as the authors of the report are noted as "in charge" on p. 9. J.A. Winter, MHA for Burin East, who was also on board the Meigle, seems to have played a lesser role in the expedition. He authored no part of the above report and is noted in it only once as having left the vessel in Burin apparently in the mid-afternoon of November 21 when it first arrived. Lake, MHA for Fortune on the northwestern coast of the Burin Peninsula, always wrote his name as "H.B. Clyde Lake."

24 We thank Joan Ritcey, Head, Centre for Newfoundland Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's for turning up this information in Who's Who in and from Newfoundland 1930 (2nd ed., St. John's, R. Hibbs). Neither Captain Dalton's full name, nor his initials, were recorded in the November 28, 1929, report on the voyage of the Meigle. In Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster (St. John's: Flanker Press, 2004), Maura Hanrahan invented the name "Vince" for him. The Maritime History Archive of Memorial University found Captain Burgess's first name in the signing-on sheets of the Meigle's two voyages bracketing the November 21-27, 1929, relief mission to the Burin Peninsula.

25 See n. 23.

26 Hollett, Malcolm. 1929. REPORT By Magistrate Malcolm Hollett On Damages by Tidal Wave, between Lamaline and Rock Hr. In Lake et al., 1929, pp. [17]-[19]. A transcript of portions appears in Table 2.

27 Dee, Inspector J.H. 1929. Report. By Inspector J.H. Dee on Disaster of Night of 18th November, on the Coast from Lamaline to St. Lawrence, Inclusive. In Lake et al., 1929, pp.[20]-[21]. A transcript of portions appears in Table 2.

28 See n. 23.

29 List Of Lives Lost In Earthquake Disaster — Section from Rock Harbour to Lamaline. (covering entire area). In Lake et al., 1929, pp. [13]-[14]. An exact transcript appears in Table 3.

30 South Coast Disaster Committee. 1931. Report of the South Coast Disaster Committee. Chair R.F. Horwood, May 13 (St. John's, Manning and Rabbits, July, 68 pp.). The "South Coast Disaster Committee," chaired by Horwood, was separate from the "Earthquake Relief Committee" chaired by the Hon. H.B. Clyde Lake, M.H.A., which seemed to operate mainly in the urban area of St. John's.

31 A nurse recruited and supported by the Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association.

32 Ruffman, Alan, in association with Clyde Cheeseman, Gordon Cheeseman and Wayne Hollett and with the assistance of Reginald E. Janes and Jessie Drover. 1989. The November 18, 1929 Tsunami in the Community of Part au Bras, Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland [Abstract]. Annual Conference, Canadian Nautical Research Society, June 22-24, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1 p.

33 Ruffman, Alan. 1994. The 1929 Earthquake and the Search for John MacLeod. Cape Breton's Magazine, Wreck Cove, Nova Scotia, No. 67, Fall, pp. [56]-[58]; Ruffman, Alan. 2001. Potential for large-scale submarine slope failure and tsunami generation along the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast: Comment. Geology, Vol. 29, October, p. 967.

34 The authors could only find a grave marker for Mary Ann Walsh's brother, installed less than a year before her own death in the tsunami: "Erected by Mary Ann Walsh In Loving Memory of her brother Thomas Walsh who died at Nants Cove Dec 17, 1928, aged 78 years." Nants Cove is a small embayment about 1.5 km southwest from the head of Taylor's Bay about halfway along the shore towards Point au Gaul; it is spelled as "Nantes Cove" on the modern topographic map. We suspect that Mary Ann Walsh was buried in close proximity to her brother but have been unable to prove it in the St. Joseph's Catholic records.

35 Even V.P. de Smitt (n. 5) in his detailed April 1932 analysis of the cable losses makes no mention of human losses. His only comments as found on his p. 15 contain errors and are somewhat exaggerated, as were many of the press reports of the day: "It reached the shore at the time of high water some two hours after the earthquake. Even under these conditions it was serious only at the heads of narrow bays with converging walls located along the coast of Newfoundland and at a few isolated places in Cape Breton. It was reported that in some of the narrow inlets the wave piled up to such heights (50 feet) as to submerge and sweep away fishing villages, in places carrying away the land on which they stood."

36 Fruth, L.S. 1965. The 1929 Grand Banks turbidite and sediments of the Sohm abyssal plain. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis, Columbia University, New York, 258 pp.; Mayer, L.A., A.N. Shor, J.E. Hughes Clarke and D.J.W. Piper. 1988. Dense Biological Communities at 3850 metres on the Laurentian Fan and their relationship to the deposit of the 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake. Deep-Sea Research; Normark, W.R., D.J.W. Piper and D.A.V. Stow. 1983. Quaternary development of channels, levees, and lobes on middle Laurentian Fan. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Vol. 67, No. 9, pp. 1400-1409; Piper, David J.W. and William R. Normark. 1982. Effects of the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake on the continental slope off eastern Canada. In Current Research, Part B., Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 82-1B, pp. 147-151; Piper, D.J.W. and W.R. Normark. 1982. Acoustic interpretation of Quaternary sedimentation and erosion on the channelled upper Laurentian Fan, Atlantic margin of Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Vol. 19, pp. 1974-1984; Piper, D.J.W., D.A.V. Stow and W.R. Normark. 1984. The Laurentian Fan: Sohm Abyssal Plain. Geo-Marine Letters, Vol. 3, Nos. 2-4, pp. 141-146; Piper, D.J.W.,R. Sparkes, D.C. Mosher, A.N. Shor and J.A. Farre. 1984. Seabed instability near the epicentre of the 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File Report 1131; Piper, D.J.W., A.N. Shor, J.A. Farre, S. O'Connell and R. Jacobi. 1985. Sediment slides and turbidity currents on the Laurentian Fan: Sidescan sonar investigations near the epicentre of the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake. Geology, Vol. 13, pp. 538-541; Piper, D.J.W., J.A. Farre and A.N. Shor. 1985. Late Quaternary slumps and debris flows on the Scotian Slope. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 96, pp. 1508-1517; Piper, D.J.W. and A.E. Aksu. 1987. The source and origin of the 1929 Grand Banks turbidity current inferred from sediment budgets. Geo-Marine Letters, Vol. 7, pp. 177-182; Piper, David J.W., Alexander N. Shor and John E. Hughes Clarke. 1988. The 1929 "Grand Banks" earthquake; slump and turbidity current. In H.E. Clifton, ed., Sedimentological Consequences of Convulsive Geologic Events. Geological Society of America, Special Paper, No. 229, pp. 77-92; Stow, D[orrik]. A.V. 1981. Laurentian Fan: morphology, sediments, processes and growth pattern. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 375-393.

37 Ruffman, Alan and Martitia Tuttle. 1994. Preliminary Results of a Search for an On-shore Record of the 1929 Grand Banks Tsunami [Abstract]. Atlantic Geoscience Society, Annual Meeting and Colloquium, February 4-5, Amherst, Nova Scotia, published in Program with Abstracts and in Atlantic Geology, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 80-81; Ruffman, Alan and Martitia Tuttle. 1994. In Search of an On-land Record of the 1929 Grand Banks Tsunami [Abstract]. Geological Association of Canada, GAC-MAC Joint Annual Meeting, May 16-18, Waterloo, Ontario, Fluvial, Glacial and Marine Depositional Environments, published in Program with Abstracts, Vol. 19, p. A96; Ruffman, Alan, Martitia P. Tuttle and Thane W. Anderson. 1995. November 18, 1929 Tsunami-laid Sand and Pebble Deposits on the Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland [Abstract]. Atlantic Geoscience Society, Annual Meeting and Colloquium, February 3-4, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, published in Program with Abstracts and in Atlantic Geology, Vol. 31, No. 1, p. 58; Tuttle, Martitia P., Alan Ruffman, Thane Anderson and Hewitt Jeter. 2004. Distinguishing Tsunami from Storm Deposits in eastern North America: The 1929 Grand Banks Tsunami versus the 1991 Halloween Storm. Seismological Research Letters, Vol. 75, No. 1, January/February, cover photo, pp. 117-131. The last-mentioned journal featured a coloured cover showing the tsunami victim James Lockyer's gravestone in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery on Allan's Island.

38 Readers may see the onshore geological signature of the 1929 tsunami in Taylor's Bay by looking at the Dalhousie University Department of Earth Sciences website

39 Duley, Margaret [Iris]. 1941, reprinted 1977. Highway of Valour. Originally published by MacMillan Company, Toronto, Ontario and New York City, New York, 324 pp.; reprinted by Griffin Press Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, with added biographical note by Margot[I.] Duley Morrow (née Duley), October 11, 1976, 324 pp.

40 Doxsee's 1948 report (n. 4) spends little time on the tsunami. "Sweeping in from the Atlantic ... taking a toll of twenty-seven lives and causing enormous loss of property" (p. 325). Then by depending on a 1929 newspaper summary, Doxsee misses noting that two lives were lost in Kelly's Cove, so his summary in fact falls short of his quoted "toll of twenty-seven lives" by two persons (p. 326).

41 Jones, Gerald. 1975. The South Coast Disaster of 1929. The Newfoundland Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 3, January, pp. 35-40.

42 Ruffman, Alan. 1993. Reconnaissance Search on the South Coast of the Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland, for tsunami-laid sediments deposited by the "tidal wave" following the November 18, 1929 Laurentian Slope Earthquake, August 17-September 2, 1993. Geomarine Associates Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Project 90-19, Report for Seismology, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York, Contract No. NRC-04-92-088, as part of the study "Paleoseismicity and Defining Earthquake Hazard in Eastern North America" for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., September 26, 228 pp., revised May 8, 1994, 241 pp.

43 Ruffman, Alan. 1996. Tsunami Runup Mapping as an Emergency Preparedness Planning Tool: The 1929 tsunami in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland. Geomarine Associates Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Project 94-14, Report for Emergency Preparedness Canada, Office of the Senior Scientific Advisor, Ottawa, Ontario, Contract No. 94-D025, revised November 7, Volume 1 — Report, 144 pp.; Volume 2 — Appendices and Enclosures, 281 pp.; mounted on website research/resactivites/natHaz/en_tsunami/ 1994-D025_e.asp> for English.

44 Cranford, Garry. 2000. Tidal Wave: A List of Victims and Survivors — Newfoundland 1929. Flanker Press, St. John's, 264 pp. This volume is a verbatim transcript of the South Coast Disaster Committee's statutory declaration forms, now found in 24 boxes at PANL. These forms were often filled out by a Committee member on behalf of the claimant as many of the claimants were illiterate. As a result, quite a few of the names recorded on these forms are not correct. The published verbatim transcript can only repeat the errors in the names. The only victims identified are those cited in the notes of the Committee, sometimes found at the end of each family's detailed tabulation of their loss claim on the statutory declaration form. Such notes as these on the tsunami victims in this volume are lost in the massive transcription of the many loss claims; they are not gathered in one list and they are not indexed separately. Only about 24 references to separate tsunami victims can be found in the volume. Of these only about eight are given any sort of a name.

45 See n. 24. This author has certainly developed some of her stories around the actual victims, but she does not provide a listing of the victims in one place. The volume is not indexed, so offers no easy way to locate the relevant stories if one seeks a full list of the 1929 tsunami victims.

46 See n. 18.

47 See n. 19.

48 See n. 20.

49 See n. 21.

50 See n. 22.

51 See n. 23 and 26.

52 See n. 23 and 27.

53 See n. 23 and 29.

54 The baptisms of Richard Henry Dibben in 1869 and of Mary Ann Bennett in 1871 were performed by Rev'd William Rozier, that of Jessie Annah Fudge was by Rev'd A.S.H. Winsor, a Society for the Propagation of the Gospel missionary in 1883, that of Harriett Mary Fudge was by Rev'd A.T. Tulk in 1920, and that of her sister Anna Eliza Dibbon Fudge was performed by Rev'd (later Bishop) John Alfred Meaden in 1923. In Oderin the Anglican services were held in John D. Bailey's house; on holy days the Anglicans used the Sacred Heart Catholic Chapel. Rev'd A.S.H. Winsor's full name is found in the Aquaforte, Newfoundland, Birth Registry as Alfred Samuel Hill Winsor.

55 When George Dibbin married Anna Eliza on December 16, 1874, he signed with his own hand and signed his name as "Dibbin" rather than using the "X" of an illiterate as was common in the marriage register at the time. However, when their daughter, Jessie Annah, was baptized and entered into the baptismal register on October 18, 1883, Rev'd Winsor entered her name as "Dibbon." We therefore use the spelling "Dibbin" for the parents and "Dibbon" for the tsunami victim Jessie Annah Fudge (née Dibbon). On the other hand, the siblings Richard Henry and Mary Ann Dibben were clearly noted in the baptismal register as "Dibben," while he was noted in the burial register as "Dibbin" by Rev'd E.P. Hiscock (though his body was never found). Therefore we use the spelling Dibben for these two tsunami victims. Anna Eliza Dibbon Fudge was baptized as "Dibbon."

56 Louisa Allen poses a real puzzle as to her origins. We do know that she was previously married to a John Brushett of Step-a-side, who was probably a Methodist. The PANL Burin Methodist/United Church records show that John Brushett of Step-a-side died on May 28, 1905, at age 49. On March 30, 1909, Louisa Brushett married William Allen, age 59, of Port au Bras (Entry No. 875); he was actually age 60.5 by then. There is a May 12, 1880, record of a William Allen of Burin marrying Hannah Saunders in Port au Bras (Entry No. 470); thus William Allen too may have been widowed by 1909. The 1921 nominal census gives William Allan of Port au Bras as born in October 1848 and Louisa Allan as born in August 1847. The burial records of the Anglican Church in Burin spell Louisa's name Allan in 1929 and likewise on February 20, 1937, when William Allan, then of Step-a-side, Burin, was buried at age 89 (actually 88.4). William Allen's loss claim made shortly after the 1929 disaster indicated he was 81; it was filled out by another person and his name is written as Allen. Louisa's granddaughter Mrs. Elizabeth Clarke (née Brushett) of Port au Bras, who still wears Mrs. Allen's wedding ring from John Brushett, spells her grandmother's name Allen. We have used the spelling "Allen."

57 The Bonnell gravestone in the Lamaline Anglican cemetery lists the mother, Bridget Susannah Bonnell, correctly but it has her daughter with an incorrect age: "Amelia Alice Mar. 8, 1933 aged 8 months." The siblings, Alice and Cyrus, had been found alive after the tsunami "near the chimney which had foundered" and were all covered in debris. The surviving children of Robert and Bridget Bonnell were scattered among relatives after the tsunami; Alice with her maternal grandmother, Gilbert with a maternal aunt, and Cyrus with his paternal grandmother. The second author of this article, Violet Hann (née Hillier), is the grand-niece of the brothers Bertram (November 4, 1902-January 15, 1979) and Robert (February 18, 1895-July 29, 1965) Bonnell and of their sisters Martha Hillier (née Bonnell; January 19, 1897-September 23, 1979) and Dinah Ford (née Bonnell; November 3, 1912- ).

Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. ISSN: 1715-1430