(originally published in the Newfoundland Quarterly (Summer/Fall 2001)
John Glover Stone was born in Catalina in 1876 and was the son of Thomas Stone of Catalina and Lenora Guy of Trinity. His father conducted a fishery supply business at Catalina which, following his father's's death in 1891 (1), he and his brother, Thomas, continued for several years. In the early 1900s, John spent several years in the United States; in New York City, for example, he was employed for a while with the Rapid Transit Company. (2) Returning to Catalina, he joined the local branch of the Fishermen's Protective Union (FPU), which William Coaker had organized at Catalina in April 1910. In the FPU's newspaper in December 1910, Coaker described Stone as one of "Catalina's most promising young men, is a loyal Unionist and is likely to be heard of in Union circles, in the future. In Mr. Stone, the Union has a young man of considerable experience and possessing no mean ability as a public speaker. Mr. Stone has traveled extensively having visited Australia, Japan, Mexico, and every State in America." (3) In 1913, the FPU would use Stone's organizational abilities to establish new union branches throughout Trinity Bay. (4)
In 1911, the FPU appointed him manager of the Fishermen's Union Trading Company's branch store at Catalina. As the number of Union stores increased along the north east coast, the Union Trading Company by 1913 had appointed him Inspector of all its branch stores. The union's newspaper in 1914 described Stone as being 'shrewd in his dealings with men without being cunning. Temperate in habits, he is a well developed man physically and ... ready to volunteer for King and Country.... Mr. Stone is a fine speaker having a clear voice with a rich tone." (5) With the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914, Stone considered enlisting in the Royal Navy (and had Coaker's permission to do so) if a sufficient number of volunteers had not joined up by February 1915.
Stone's prominence in union affairs was reflected in his selection as chairman of the Trinity district council of the FPU and his success in the 1913 general election as one of three Unionist MHAs for Trinity. The other two elected were William Lloyd and Archibald Targett and together they defeated a trio of People's Party candidates led by Richard Squires. On 17 July 1917, Prime Minister Edward Morris formed a wartime national government with the combined Liberal and Union opposition. Unionist members in Morris's new ministry included William Halfyard as minister of agriculture and mines and Coaker as a minister without portfolio. Stone was appointed minister of marine and fisheries but outside cabinet. Morris tendered his resignation as premier on 31 December 1917 to accept a peerage in the British House of Lords. Liberal leader William Lloyd became prime minister on 5 January 1918 with Coaker and Halfyard continuing as cabinet ministers. Stone continued to remain outside the cabinet as minister of marine and fisheries. He was also a member of the Civil Re-establishment Committee the government appointed on 25 June 1918 to look after the integration of veterans into civilian life.
Relations between Coaker and Stone were becoming increasingly strained. In January 1918 the press reported that Coaker was annoyed with Stone because the latter was claiming credit for a recent increase in the price of fish to fishermen. (6) Writing to former Liberal Premier Robert Bond on 10 May 1919, Daily News editor and Burin MHA John Currie observed that Stone had severed "his connection with the Coaker faction. I know there is a row on between him and Coaker." (7) When the National Government fell in the House of Assembly on 20 May 1919 on a non-confidence vote, Stone broke ranks with his fellow Unionists and supported People's Party leader Michael Cashin who had a majority in the house and formed a government on 22 May pending the holding of a general election later in the year. Stone continued as minister of marine and fisheries in the Cashin ministry. Justifying his move, Stone vigorously asserted that Coaker was responsible for the split with "his foolish ideas of trying to ride rough-shod over everybody, by his over-bearing ambition, his domineering and insulting methods and stupid attempts to order me around inside and outside the House regardless of my convictions." (8) Stone also claimed that Coaker was upset because Stone would not take part of the district's annual legislative grant for road work in Port Union or to make a road to the union store at Champneys. Stone also had also arranged for the terminus for the coastal passenger steamer in Trinity Bay to be changed back from Port Union to Clarenville to meet the transportation needs of a majority of people on the Bonavista Peninsula. (9) Stone resigned as chairman of the Trinity District Council of the FPU and three days later tendered his resignation as a member of the Catalina local council. He offered to appear before the council along with "Mr. Coaker or anyone else" to discuss his decision to join the Cashin government. (10) His decision to ally with Cashin was immediately met with a great outcry from unionists and Stone's offer was not taken up by the Catalina council. His defection from the Union Party made John (Judas) Stone a bitter foe of Coaker. In the general election held on 3 November 1919, "Traitor" Stone was defeated in the three-member district by a trio of Unionists led by FPU stalwart William Halfyard. A similar fate awaited him again in the 23 May 1923 election at the hands of Halfyard. Stone did not run in the 2 June 1924 general election.
After 1924, Stone was manager of a fish curing plant at Badger's Quay, Bonavista Bay owned by the Monroe Export Company. When Walter Monroe resigned as prime minister in August 1928 in favor of his cousin, Frederick Alderdice, Stone returned to politics as minister of marine and fisheries in Alderdice's cabinet. In the 29 October 1928 general election, Alderdice lost to a revived Liberal party led by Richard Squires. In the district of Trinity North, Stone went down to defeat once more to Halfyard and Stone returned to managing Monroe's fish curing plant at Badger's Quay. In the 11 June 1932 election, Alderdice's United Newfoundland Party easily defeated a politically discredited Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Richard Squires and Stone returned to the Assembly winning handily in Trinity North. He was once more appointed minister of marine and fisheries. Stone died suddenly on 16 January 1934 (11) while on his way to New York aboard the s.s. Belle Isle from Newfoundland. He was married to Theresa Mills of Hants Harbour, Trinity Bay.
1. See Burial records for St. Peter's Anglican Church for Catalina for 1891 at the Newfoundland Grand Banks web page, http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/NGB/Parish/trin-cat1b.html.
2. Daily News 17 January 1934, p. 3.
3. The Fishermen's Advocate 17 December 1910.
4. The Mail and Advocate 24 December 1914.
5. The Mail and Advocate 4, 24 December 1914.
6. Daily News 8 January 1918.
7. Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives, Memorial University, Coll-237, John S. Currie to Robert Bond 10 May 1919.
8. John Stone to the Daily News 21 June 1919.
9. John Stone in debate in the House of Assembly 27 May 1919 as quoted in the Evening Herald 28 May 1919.
10. Daily News 19 June 1919.
11. One newspaper account of Stone's death noted that he died "sometime Monday night or yesterday morning." The date on his headstone to be found in the Anglican cemetery at Catalina gives 16 January 1934. See http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Heritage/NGB/Cemetery/tb102.html