Adam Chapter Fifteen

Kingwell By Kingwell, 16th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2-l6uf_j/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Fictional Narrative

Adam follows with interest the political debate over the future of the country but does not neglect his studies or his commitment to Mona.

Bitter Political Debate

The political debate over the future of the country which heated up again in the fall of 1947 continued into the early days of 1948 and beyond. The political apathy so evident in 1946 was replaced by the enthusiastic involvement, thanks to radio, of an electorate that had become much better informed about the options available – and particularly about confederation, and what joining Canada might offer.
Adam was delighted that so many of his countrymen had finally begun to sit up and take an interest in the affairs of their homeland, but he sensed that the rivalry between the two largest factions was also about to divide the people and pit neighbor against neighbor.
The financial and economic reports prepared by the Finance Committee, which was chaired by Peter Cashin had been presented to the convention in late October and early November. Both of these were highly optimistic documents, and could be considered the manifesto of those wanting to return the island to nationhood. Then Smallwood led the debate on the Ottawa delegation’s report and the draft terms for union with Canada, which lasted from 20 November until 16 January, 1948. The debate that followed was the climax of the Convention, long and emotional, ending at 5.30 am on 28 January. The motion to include Confederation with Canada as one of the choices to be voted on in the referendum was defeated by 29 votes to 16, and two days later the Convention dissolved.
The anti-confederate victory was short-lived however. Almost immediately, thousands of telegrams from all over Newfoundland, began pouring into office of JR Smallwood, leader of the group advocating confederation with Canada, demanding that the electorate be given that option . In early March the British government announced that confederation would be placed on the ballot after all, and the people themselves, rather than the members of the convention, would have the final say in the matter.

Adam Makes A Decision

Adam couldn’t help but feel that Major Cashin’s claim that the British government was trying to off load Newfoundland unto the Dominion of Canada probably had some merit. Although it was the depression that brought the government to its knees in 1933, responsible government had never worked well in the small island dominion. The majority of people had remained very poor and many lived a hand to mouth existence. The war years had brought some prosperity to the island as it had in Canada and the US, but such prosperity could not be expected to continue.
The date for the referendum was set for June 3, 1948 and the choices would be
1: Commission of Government for a period of 5 years.
2: Confederation with Canada. :
3: Responsible Government as it existed in 1933.
The British Government had also warned that the island should not expect any financial help from the mother country, if it chose to go it on its own as an independent nation. As Adam listened to this news, he realized that the battle for the hearts and minds of Newfoundlanders had only just begun.

Even as he followed what was happening in the political arena, Adam was keenly aware of his responsibilities at home. That his grades were not suffering was shown by the frequent tests that Mrs. Walsh gave, and under his tutorship, Mona was also doing better than expected. He had considered applying to admission to Memorial College in September, but decided instead to remain at home for one more year. He would fish with his father and Simon, for an entire season instead of just July and august, as he’d done while attending school. He would also be there to tutor Mona in what would hopefully be her last year of high school.

Mona's Mother Makes Her Transition

Mona’s mother, whose health had gradually deteriorated over the winter months, died on April 30. For Mona, who in the last few weeks had cared for her mother as she would a child, the ordeal was especially devastating at the beginning. Later, the thought of her mother now free of the constant pain that she had endured so stoically, lifted her spirits. Her mother’s mind had been clear and she had talked often with Mona about her upcoming death, at first a little fearfully but later with complete acceptance. Towards the end, she appeared to look forward to seeing her own parents again, as well as her two children who had both died in their early teens. She told Mona too that she had lost all fear of death, but felt as someone who was going home.
It was several days after the funeral before Mona felt up to studying again, but she was soon back to her books with renewed vigor. Her mother had shared her daughter’s vision of a career in nursing and now Mona felt that she was doing it for both of them. With but three weeks before exams a neighbor kindly agreed to look after Mona’s father and brothers for the week that she would be in Petersview.

Religion Enters The Debate - But Cooler Heads Prevail.

The last two months before the referendum were filled with passionate speeches by those on both sides of the debate. Even the churches had gotten in on the wrangling. It all started when Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche made it clear that he was opposed to any union with Canada and expected all Roman Catholics to vote for a return to responsible government.
This outraged the Protestants who fought back through an organization that united almost all non-Catholics on the island – The Loyal Orange Lodge, which had a branch in most Protestant communities. F. Gordon Bradley, former chair of the convention, and a strong supporter of union with Canada was himself a former Grand Master of The Loyal Orange Lodge of Newfoundland. With his approval and signature, a letter was drafted and sent to all branches calling upon Orangemen to stop, what they called, “the attempt by Catholics to take over the country”. The whole thing could have caused much sectarian violence, had not cooler heads prevailed. Now that voting day had arrived, Adam for the first time in his life, found it difficult to concentrate on his studies.
It had already been established that since there were three options, in order to have an outright win, one side must receive more than fifty percent of the total votes cast. Otherwise there would be a run off plebiscite between the two sides with the highest number of votes. Adam and all members of his family, plus neighbours who had no radio, gathered at his father’s house that night, to await the first results.

Due to the isolation of much of the island, it would they knew, take at least two days for all votes to be received and counted. The early reports were from the St. John’s area and showed strong support for responsible government, but as results began trickling in from the outports the following day, it showed that there was a solid backing for union with Canada as well. When all votes had been tallied, Responsible Government had 44.5 %, Confederation with Canada 41.1 % and Commission of Government just 14.3 %. There would be a second referendum in just seven weeks, on July 22. This time, Commission Of Government would not be on the ballot.

Good-bye To Childhood.

With just under three weeks before the CHE exams, Adam put all political news on hold and threw himself into cramming for his finals and giving any extra time he had to helping Mona. Mrs. Walsh felt very positive about Mona’s chances for passing grade ten, even though she’d had so little time in school. As Adam collected his books and left school on the final day of classes, he knew it was the end of a chapter in his life. He felt proud of what he had accomplished and for a moment he wondered if he had made the right choice in deciding to wait a year before going to college. He wondered too, how he would feel the following September when the children of Little Valley returned to school. He quickly reminded himself that he would need the extra money that next year’s catch would hopefully bring and of the fact that Mona would be counting on him to tutor her again.
The week in Petersview passed quickly. Sue and Stan Moores spoke of it being the last time that Adam would be writing exams in Petersview, and of how they had enjoyed having him stay at their house for exam week, during the past three years. Baxter and Adam were both thinking the same way and of how the past week was in a sense, a good-bye to their childhood days together. The last night, they lay awake until after 4 AM reminiscing and even admitting that they were a little scared of adulthood with no parents to make everything right when they messed up. Baxter was leaving for St. John’s the following week where he would take a six week teacher training course, returning to the coast at the end of the summer to teach in the one room school at Square Harbour.
The following week, Adam was back in the fishing boat with his father and Simon and once more his thoughts returned to the politics that everyone was talking about. As decision day drew ever closer Adam sensed a change among the adults in the community that he had never expected. Although little was said, it was clear that some of them intended to vote for Confederation with Canada, despite the church’s oblivious disapproval. He had even heard some murmurings about the Archbishop’s letter warning Catholic’s of the evils that a union with Canada would bring. For Adam, it was another sign that change was coming regardless of the outcome of the impending referendum.
TO BE CONTINUED - See Chapter Sixteen
Read from the beginning - See Chapter One

Tags

Bitter Debate, Canada, Confederation With Canada, Death, Kingwell, Loyal Orange Lodge, Merchant Class, Newfoundland And Labrador, Roman Catholic Church

Meet the author

author avatar Kingwell
I am 75 years old and retired.I like writing short stories, poetry as well other articles of interest.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
16th Mar 2015 (#)

A very thought-provoking story. Very well written. =)

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you CoffeeQueen. Blessings.

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author avatar Retired
16th Mar 2015 (#)

Great chapter with lots of depth

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you Jessica.

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author avatar Retired
16th Mar 2015 (#)

The debate, reminds me of my childhood, my mom used to say, I don't argue about religion or politics. I really enjoy the character of Adam, it is enjoyable to read.

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you for your comments. Blessings.

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author avatar Utah Jay
16th Mar 2015 (#)

I get very involved in our local politics, my wife and I just a few days ago got invited to attend a session up at the state legislature at the capitol building, so you know I am enjoying the politics...Good stuff.

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author avatar Kingwell
16th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you Utah, I too enjoy politics. Thank you for commenting. Blessings.

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author avatar Carol Roach
17th Mar 2015 (#)

interesting history I don't know much about Newfoundland and Labrador

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author avatar Kingwell
17th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you Carol for commenting. I have written a lot about the history of this island which is the most easterly part of North America. Labrador is part of the province but is not an island. Blessings.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
25th Mar 2015 (#)

You are bringing the drama as if it is unfolding right before us with emotions to go with it. Great story telling, thanks Kingwell - siva

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author avatar Kingwell
25th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you Siva. Blessings.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
7th Apr 2015 (#)

Kingwell, excellent chapter as always. I felt sorry when Mona's mom died but I must say excellent writing on your part. Adam is growing up to be a fine young man.

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author avatar Kingwell
7th Apr 2015 (#)

Thank you Nancy. Blessings.

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