In the late 1980s, my wife was a patient at the Health Science Center in St John’s. A day or two after her surgery, the door to her room opened, and an old priest sauntered in. He asked, “Hutchings, Hutchings, Cow Head, Northern Peninsula?” I said, “Close. St. Paul’s Inlet, just next door.”
“I was hoping it might be,” he smiled. “I am Reverend Taylor. My first parish was Cow Head.”
“Yes,” I said, “ I remember you being mentioned many times over the years.”
“I had a wonderful ministry there,” he said. “Wonderful people. They treated me well. It was a challenging parish, as we had to walk in those days, or hitch a ride on a horse during winter, or a boat during summer.”
“For sure,” I said. “I remember as a boy when the first vehicle came to St. Paul’s. The road was constructed to Western Brook about three miles from St. Paul’s and they managed to get the truck across the brook and the man managed to drive it down around the sea shore. Once he got the truck to St. Paul’s, he had it made. An oil drilling
company had built a road through the community in as far as Gully Cove where they drilled an oil well.”
He nodded his head and smiled. “You remember uncle Norm Blake?”
“I sure do, and his wife, Aunt Mary.”
“I always stayed with them on my rounds to St. Paul’s. I remember a funny incident once:
I was on my way to Sally’s Cove, and walked into St Paul’s in the morning. I got there just before noon. I went to Uncle Norm’s and knocked on the door. Uncle Norm opened the door.”
“ Good morning, Father Taylor. Where you goin’ this cold mornin’?”
“I am on my way to Sally’s Cove.”
“Well, come on in and have dinner (lunch) with us, and I’ll harness the horse and take you up after dinner.”
“That would be great,” I said. So we had dinner, and afterwards Uncle Norm went out and harnessed the horse and hooked him up to the sleigh. When he was ready, he sat on the sleigh up front to drive the horse, and I jumped on the back, and we set off up across St. Paul’s Marsh. On the trail to Sally’s Cove, there were mostly marshes with a small droke of woods separating them. When we entered the woods where it was lund from the wind, so Uncle Norm slowed the horse to a walk. I would jump off and run behind the hose to warm up. Everything went well until we got to Duck Pond woods. Before I got back on the sleigh, the horse took off and left me behind. Uncle Norm did not look behind so he had no idea I wasn’t on the sleigh. On the other side of Gull Marsh, just before Sally’s Cove, Uncle Norm met Joe Jill walking from Sally’s Cove down to Broom Point. Uncle Norm stopped to have a chat, as was custom in those days.
“Good Morn, Joe,” said Uncle Norm. “Where are you going this cold day?”
“I am going down to Broom Point, Uncle Norm, to do a little work on my fishing shack, Where are you on your way to?”
“I am taking Father Taylor to Sally’s Cove.”
“Where is Father Taylor?” asked Joe.
Uncle Norm glanced around and said, “Oh my Lord, I have lost Father Taylor!” “He wheeled the horse around and came galloping back looking for me. I was walking casually along, following the trail. I knew he would be back once he discovered I wasn’t on the sleigh.
Maureen and I had a hearty laugh at the story, and admired a wonderful old priest I had heard mentioned admiringly during my years growing up in St. Paul’s Inlet.