Letter to the Editor

E. Rowe

Hello Emily,

Thank you for your work as Editor of Anglican Life and for your initiative in bringing to the light the financial status of what was formerly known as The Newfoundland Churchman.

My first visit to the Anglican Cathedral was 1941 or 1942 when I travelled to St. John’s with my father who was selling his annual catch of Cod to Baine Johnston & Co. His first responsibility was to pay his crew of the James and Martha their share of the voyage and his line of credit issued in the spring by his supplier. If there was any money left over, he bought food for his family and materials needed to repair or make new traps for the next fishing season.

One Sunday morning, he took me by my hand, and we walked across Water Street to Church Hill, entered the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and sat in a pew near the font, probably about ten feet from the back door. I stared in awe at the lights hanging from archways that supported a steep gable roof, the canopy over the pulpit, the stained-glass windows, the rows of seats and the giant tower reaching upward into the unknown.

When I finished my visual “tour”, my attention was drawn to our immediate surroundings, the rail on the back of each pew, brackets for holding hymn and prayer books and kneelers stretching the whole length of the seat. This was interesting as, when I knelt on the stools I could just see over the rail, the preacher in the pulpit, and the activities throughout the church.

I immediately turned my attention to the rail that covered the top of our pew. I saw it was made of mahogany, oval shaped, approximately 2 inches in diameter, glossy and solid. When my cursory examination was finished, I decided to test the density of this product by biting into the wood. This action did not cause me any immediate harm, but it left a row of teeth marks that, eventually, caught the attention of my father. My punishment? On Monday morning, I had to quote for him and the crew, the text of the sermon preached by the Priest on that Sunday morning. Forty years later when I was serving as a Volunteer Assistant to the Priest of the Cathedral, and standing at the altar, I recalled the rashness of my youth and hastened to the scene of my crime.

I can now testify to the durability of the imprint embedded in the mahogany rail, and of my teeth! Indeed, except for the two teeth that I lost in a battle with a cake of hard (fisherman’s) bread, my teeth are standing strong and travel with me whenever and wherever I go either by sea, by land or by air.


Oliver Toope

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