The Roots of the Hantís Harbour Willow Tree
A common practice in the early 1800s was for ships from Bonavista, Conception and Trinity Bays to load provisions at St. Johnís for various merchants in these bays. In December 1835 a sloop named the Fanny, owned by the Kelsonís of Trinity, arrived in Catalina to discharge freight however, the weather was very unfavorable at the time and one of the passengers Mr. Bayley, objected to proceeding further by water and left the sloop to walk overland to Trinity. The wind later died down and it was decided to set sail for home. After a short time at sea, weather conditions again worsened with a blinding snowstorm, freezing temperatures and gale force winds resulting in the vessel being blown off course.
The Fanny ended up going ashore at Capelin Cove, Hantís Harbour at a place referred to as the Arches with the loss of all seven people on board: Skipper Ben Breddy, owner William Kelson Jr. and crewmen: John Hayter, Jonathan Miller, John Sheppard, John Stevenson and James Swyers.
In memory of those that were lost Mr. Kelsonís wife, Elizabeth, arranged for a willow tree slip to be sent from Trinity to be planted on the graves. This willow tree still stands today in the Old Methodist cemetery, see accompanying pictures, in memory of those that lost their lives that day.
The Willow Tree Heritage Society of Hantís Harbour have chosen their name because of this willow tree that was planted in 1837 and it was because of their efforts that in 1994 a grant was obtained to restore the cemetery and it has become the Willow Tree Heritage Site.
To commemorate the loss of the Fanny the Heritage Society had Gordon Rogers write a script titled, ĎThe Wreck of the Fannyí and the group along with members of the community re-enacted the tragedy that happened that day in 1835 in their community.
For more information on the Willow Tree Heritage Society please contact them at the following address:
PO Box 202
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