Avondale history project has been an eye opener for researcher

By Alexandra Brothers, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / August 4, 2023 Edition

The Town of Avondale has partnered up with Heritage NL to document the town’s history in a way that will be seen by many.

Heritage NL and the Town of Avondale are compiling a list of names of everyone who was associated with Avondale Railway Station, the oldest remaining train station in Newfoundland. They are looking for the names of those who worked in or out of the station such as station agents, telegraphers, or section foremen, and even those who may have lived in the station at one point.

The names will be featured on an exterior sign that will commemorate the station’s history. More than serving as a comprehensive record of the station’s employees, the sign will showcase the personal stories of those who were a part of the town’s rich history.

The search process for the names is diverse. “We are going through old newspapers and old directories like the Newfoundland Directory and (…) the McAlpine Directory Company,” said Emlyn Tuck, building research assistant at Avondale Railway Station. But the search has also extended to more non-traditional means. Tuck explained the Heritage NL team has turned to social media to widen the search net.

“We’ve been getting a lot (of responses) from our (online) survey,” said Tuck. The team has also received many comments on Facebook and Twitter contributing to the list. Over 50 names have been submitted in the short time since the search went online. It’s a great start, said Tuck, “but we’re hoping for more.”

The railway station team has also been receiving a lot of interest from the public on its various social media platforms. “I’ve been seeing a lot of likes and shares,” said Tuck. The social media presence also serves to foster curiosity as the Heritage NL team is able to respond to questions about the Railway Station that people post in the comments.

Tuck described her experience working with the historic railway station as eye opening. “I didn’t really have any idea about this railway station beforehand,” she said. “But then doing all this research has really opened my eyes to this railway station but also the railway system overall in Newfoundland.”

That’s what makes projects like the Avondale Railway Station’s signboards so significant according to Tuck. “It gets (the province’s history) out to more people to share and learn,” she said.

The Avondale Railway Station plans to erect a sign commemorating the people who worked at the Railway Station years ago. Photo by Dale Jarvis

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