We started off our visit by watching a video which provided some context to the story of the cable station. The cable that was laid in Heart’s Content was not the first attempt to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic - the first attempt was in 1858 and there were four more unsuccessful attempts before they made it all the way across the Atlantic and the cable functioned for more than a month. The 1865 attempt actually made it most of the way across before losing the cable in the ocean, so after The Great Eastern laid the functional cable, it went back and picked up the lost cable which was subsequently successfully hooked into the system at Heart’s Content.
Before the transatlantic cable was successfully landed in Heart’s Content, it was a small community of 90 people. But the cable brought with it 300 European workers and a different way of life. Eventually locals got jobs at the station, but initially it was only foreigners. They also hired local women to work there in the late 1800s, which was fairly progressive at the time, but women had to quit their job when they got married. By the time the station closed in 1965, we noticed that there were no female workers in the photographs of employees.
After watching the video, we had a chance to explore the old cable station, which contained many artifacts and some information panels. It was fascinating to walk around the station to see where the employees socialized and worked. If you walk to the back of the building and go up the stairs, you can explore the old set up of the facility and all of the equipment is still in place.
After our trip to Heart's Content, we continued on driving through Carbonear and Harbour Grace. After a bit of iPad searching, we realized that Sheila NaGeira, the somewhat legendary Irish princess/noblewoman that ended up in Carbonear after being rescued by English privateer/pirate, Peter Easton, is thought to be an O’Connor. There’s a lot more to the story but that’s all we could fit in one run-on sentence...
After we got over the prospect of potentially being related, we drove on to Harbour Grace and saw the place where Amelia Earhart took off on her transatlantic flight. As we discovered over the weekend, Newfoundland is a good starting/ending place for most transatlantic things.