On July 2, 1914, a 12-member civic board appointed by the colonial government replaced the elected municipal government, which had been created under authority of the 1902 Municipal Act. This change resulted from the recommendations in February, 1914, of a local reform association, the Citizens'Committee. This Committee had been formed in December, 1913, to examine the town's existing municipal arrangements and to make suggestions for its improvement. Consequently, the municipal election, which was scheduled to be held in June, 1914, was postponed for one year and the Municipal Board was appointed to govern St. John's without remuneration and prepare a new municipal act based on its administrative experience. This draft act would first be submitted to the people in a plebiscite; if the popular verdict were favourable, it would then be presented to the legislature during the 1915 session. The chairman of the Board was St. John's merchant William Gilbert Gosling who, along with the Board of Trade, had been a prime mover in the formation of the Citizens' Committee. (1)
On July 2 Board members elected Gosling as their Chairman. This was a
critical choice, because it was Gosling's leadership that enabled the
Board both to govern St. John's and to draft a new municipal act. The most
pressing problem facing Gosling and his fellow Commissioners on taking
office was financial; but here their ability to act was circumscribed by
the estimates drawn up by the outgoing Council. Accordingly, the Board
concentrated its efforts to improve the town's financial picture on
reduced expenditure and the introduction of a more rigid system for the
collection of tax arrears.
With regard to arrears, which stood at $98,706.28 at the end of 1913,
the Board decided that after August 1, 1914, legal proceedings would be
taken against taxpayers who were behind in their payments, especially
those whose bills had been outstanding for several years and who could
afford to pay. (2) To improve the tax collection system, the Board
abandoned the practice whereby collectors made irregular, unannounced
visits to neighbourhoods; henceforth collectors would inform taxpayers of
intended calls. If a taxpayer refused to pay after several such visits,
the collector could give him notice to pay within 10 days or face legal
proceedings. (3) The Board had some success with these changes but the
outbreak of war in Europe in August, 22, 1914, adversely affected its
efforts. The temporary disruption of trade caused by the war, which
automatically involved Newfoundland as a member of the British Empire, and
the consequent financial difficulties in St. John's, led the Municipal
Board to relieve the pressure on its tax evaders. The result was that,
during 1914, the amount owing in arrears actually grew by $2,240.06, to a
total of $100,946.34. Nevertheless, the 1914 increase was the lowestin 10
years. (4) Because of its success in reducing expenditure, the Board had
an overall surplus for 1914 of $7,554.72. (5)
Gosling also reorganized the town's administrative structure, giving
Department heads greater financial and administrative powers than before.
These included the responsibility for the hiring of casual labourers, an
authority which in the past had all too often been exercised by the Mayor
and Council for patronage purposes. Past interference by municipal
politicians had been most pronounced in the Roads and Sewers Department,
where men had been frequently hired by Council simply to relieve
unemployment. During the winter of 1914-1915 the Board let go all
labourers except the small number needed to maintain local roads. The
Board also removed from its payroll about 20 aged labourers who, in the
absence of a municipal pension scheme, had been kept on the paysheets at a
reduced rate. Each of these men was now given a pension out of general
revenue at a much lower rate than his previous salary.
Another administrative change made by the Board was the creation of a
Stock Department to coordinate the purchase of all departmental supplies.
The previous system, under which individual departments made their own
orders, had led to duplication and unnecessary expenditure. Economical
measures were also applied to the Sanitary Department, the most expensive
of all the civic divisions. The night-soil service was especially
expensive; in the summer 17 sanitary carts and 34 men were required to
cart the night-soil to the outskirts of the town, where it was deposited
for use by farmers. (6) Gosling effected savings here by constructing
catch-basins or "hoppers" throughout the town for the use of the residents
who did not have water closets. The waste water deposited in these ran off
through the connecting water system, while the nightsoil was either
strained into the sewers by municipal employees or collected by the
sanitary carts. (7) In this manner the number of sanitary carts was
reduced to five by the end of 1915. (8) To prevent the development of a
night-soil service in areas where new building was taking place, the
Municipal Board refused to grant building permits until water and sewer
mains were installed. (9)
Not surprisingly, the inadequacy of the water system for fire
protection, which had been one of the great concerns of the Board of Trade
and the late Citizens' Committee, was also a major issue facing the
Municipal Board. The changes made by the Municipal Council since 1904 had
improved the means for bringing water from Windsor Lake to the town. What
now worried the Municipal Board and citizens generally was the
distribution of that water within the mains of St. John's. (10) In its
investigation of the water system in January, 1914, the Citizens'
Committee had found that many of the water pipes were corroded with rust,
a circumstance, they believed, which had contributed to the recent
destruction by fire of the Cochrane Street Methodist Church." (11) One
section of a four inch main pipe taken from Cochrane Street was put on
display by the Committee to show that the rust had reduced the passage way
of water through the pipe to half its size. (12)
The rust problem, the Committee believed, accounted for the fact that,
in order to fight a fire in one part of St. John's, water still had to be
turned off in other areas. If a fire broke out simultaneously at both ends
of the town, Board Chairman Gosling later noted, St. John's stood in
danger of being again destroyed as was the case with the fire in 1892. In
Gosling's view, rusty pipes had combined with additional demand on the
water service from house construction to create a new crisis of fire
protection. (13) With this in mind, in September, 1914, he approached
leading American authorities on municipal government asking them to
recommend a competent engineer to examine the St. John's water system.
(l4) On the basis of the advice thus received, he secured the services of
Francis F. Longley of the New York engineering firm of Hazen and Whipple.
Longley's report to the Municipal Board, dated October 30, 1914, called
for the expenditure of approximately $168,000 to increase the pressure in
the water mains and to eliminate the great domestic waste of water.
Nothing that the averge daily water waste for St. John's should be 40% of
the total amount of water drawn from Windsor Lake (the town's water
supply), Longley discovered that the actual rate of waste was 80%, of
which all but 5% occurred in houses and buildings with faulty
installations. The essence of Longley's report was a proposal for the
reorganization of the two water distribution districts which Council had
established after 1904. The new main which had been built from Windsor
Lake to the Higher Levels (the LeMarchant and Freshwater Road area) would
in future serve only the suburbs north of Harvey Road and the area around
Freshwater Road; the growing areas in the western end of St. John's, as
well as the congested heart of the town, were to be serviced by the main
from Windsor Lake to Water Street and by a new 20-inch main to be built
from the Lake to the east end. The new main would enter St. John's at
Rawlins Cross and then run down Kings Road to Duckworth Street before
connecting up with George's Pond, located on Signal Hill. The latter,
supplied with water from Windsor Lake, would become a reservoir ensuring
adequate water pressure in the pipes servicing three-quarters of the
town's population. Through these changes St. John's would always have
sufficient water for both domestic consumption and fire protection.
Longley's other recommendations centered on the removal of rusty pipes
and ways to stop the wastage of water by householders. (16)
The Municipal Board accepted Longley's suggestions and on January 12,
1915, approached the People's Party Government of Premier Edward Morris
for funds to implement them, the work to be done over a three-year period.
(17) Having received government approval, (18) the Board was able to
complete the construction of the new main and the fixing of various leaks
in 1916; other less extensive changes were completed at Windsor Lake in
Having spent their first five months in office dealing with the town's
services, the Municipal Commissioners, on December 1, 1914, turned their
attention to the procedure for the drafting of a new municipal act. This
matter, it was now agreed, would be discussed at a series of special
Tuesday evening meetings. (20) Considerable progress was made at these
meetings but a draft bill, or Charter as it came to be called, was not yet
ready when the legislature convened in April, 1915. Nevertheless, on April
12, 1915, the Commission presented to the government a general outline of
the principles it believed the Charter should embody. (21) Subsequently,
the Morris Government secured legislation to extend the life of the Board
until June 30, 1916, with a new Municipal Council to be elected to take
office the following day. (22)
The additional time afforded the Municipal Board by the legislature
in 1915 enabled the Commissioners to formulate the comprehensive Charter
that Gosling had envisaged when he had first assumed office in 1914. What
Gosling wanted was a strong local government having sufficient revenue and
authority both to carry out improvements and to better manage its own
affairs. Believing that "nine-tenths of municipal government is
administrative, and one-tenth only legislative," Gosling sought a Charter
combining "efficient administration" with "electoral responsibility." To
free Council from the burden of administrative work, the Charter he and
his colleagues designed, which was presented to the government on March
28, 1916, proposed greater responsibility for the permanent officials -
the Secretary-Treasurer, Solicitor, Engineer, Sanitary Supervisor, and
Medical Health Officer. "In other words," Gosling had written earlier,
"the Council will make rules and regulations, and the officials will
enforce them. The Council will allocate funds and the officials will
superintend the expenditure. The Council will impose taxes, and the
officials will collect them."
Under this arrangement, the mayor and councillors would have enlarged
legislative powers to govern the town and be more independent of the
legislature. Council would still have to submit a financial statement each
year but for the approval of the Governor-in-Council not of the
legislature. Also included in the 398 sections of the proposed Charter
(24) was a provision whereby females who owned property within the town
and paid water and sewerage rates would be allowed to vote. Males over the
age of 21 years would be similarly enfranchised if they paid Council a two
dollar poll tax even if they paid no other direct municipal tax. The
system of taxation itself was to be changed with a "City Tax" replacing
the existing water and sewerage rates, which divided all property owners
into categories of their property tenure, that is land or building owned,
leased or simply occupied. This new City Tax, which had been recommended
by the 1914 Citizens' Committee, would be paid by the owners of all houses
and buildings in the town. It would continue to be based on the rental
value of the property, which in turn was to be determined by a percentage
computation on the cost of construction of the building. The new Tax would
be paid by the landlord rather than the tenant, if a property was held
under a building lease. The Charter provided for the transfer to Council
of the revenue the colony was now receiving from St. John's residents who
owned dogs, drove motor cars, and/or used telephones. The Charter also
proposed that in all future ground leases the leaseholder should have the right to purchase the
freehold by paying the landlord the equivalent of 20 years rent on the
With regard to the composition of the Council itself, the Charter
proposed that the old system of a mayor and six councillors elected at
large be retained, but with one important change. This was that
three seats on Council become vacant every two years. To get this system
started the proposal was that the seats of the councillors who stood
fourth, fifth and sixth in the first election under the Charter became
vacant after two years while the mayor would sit for four years; those of
their better placed colleagues would then become vacant two years later.
By this system, Gosling hoped to always have on Council men with some
experience in municipal government. (25)
Other notable sections of the 1916 Charter proposed the establishment
of a Municipal Arrears Commission and a Town Planning Commission. The
former evidently would consist of the Secretary-Treasurer and two other
persons and would be empowered to take legal proceedings against tax delinquents. For their efforts the
Commissioners would receive a commission of a set percentage on the total
amount of arrears collected. The Charter also proposed a more efficient
collection of municipal taxation, which would be placed under the
supervision of the Secretary-Treasurer. Under the proposed new
arrangement, an incentive would be given to residents to pay their taxes
on time. Those who did so would be entitled to a 10% discount on the
amount paid; tax delinquents would be subject to interest on the amount
owing after six months for as long as the taxes remained unpaid. The Town
Planning Commission was to serve as an advisory body to the Council and to
make recommendations as to the opening of new streets, the laying out of
building lots, the reserving of land for firebreaks, parks, and
playgrounds, and the overall expansion of St. John's. The Charter also
allowed for Council to have authority to build, let, or sell houses, to
make loans to Building Societies, which would erect homes for workingmen,
and to establish a pension fund for its employees. (26)
Because of the great amount of detail involved in the Charter, Premier
Morris decided to refer it to a Joint Select Committee of the legislature,
which included the St. John's MHAs. (27) Morris also decided to convene a
public meeting to give citizens an opportunity to examine the Charter
before it received legislative approval. Out of this April 6, 1916
meeting, which was attended by more than 1500 people, came a Citizens'
Committee of 30 members to examine the Charter and report on it to the
Select Committee of the legislature. Those appointed to the Committee
included representatives of the town's wholesale and retail merchant
community, professions, and unions. Unlike the Citizens' Committee
which Gosling had organized in late 1913, the 1916 Committee did not
include any of the major Water Street merchants, who continued to work
through Gosling, one of their own. (28)
At its first meeting, held on April 12, the new Citizens' Committee
decided to ask the legislature to postpone action on the Charter
until 1917 to give it time to study the proposed legislation thoroughly.
(29) The Committee's approach was shared by the Joint Select Committee,
which subsequently received permission from the legislature to sit out of
session and report back on the Charter in 1917. (30) With regard to the
municipal election scheduled to be held in June, 1916, the legislature
accepted the Committee's recommendation that the voters' list be prepared
according to the terms of the 1902 Municipal Act. The Council to be
elected on this basis would hold office for two years, while the Charter
was under discussion. The legislation also called for the holding of a
plebiscite in September, 1916, to ask the same taxpayers eligible to vote
in the June election whether they were in favour of the adoption of a ward
system for the selection of councillors in future elections. (31)
In 1917 the Citizens' Committee put forward a number of suggestions. It
wanted the proposal for biennial Council elections dropped and full
Council elections held every four years. The Citizens' Committee also came
out in favour of a paid Council; to have an unpaid Council, as the Charter
suggested, would be to leave power in the hands of the wealthier members
of society since they could afford to run. Committee members also believed
that under a paid system residents could demand better service from
Council. The Committee also opposed Gosling's suggestion that certain
civic officials be appointed for life; rather all officials should be
appointed at the pleasure of Council and be accountable to it and the
electorate for their actions. Concerning the taxation sections of the
Charter, the Citizens' Committee wanted the proposal that a building be
assessed on its appraised construction cost struck and the principle of
assessment according to rental value in the market place restored. Again,
it objected to the proposal that the Governor-in-Council and not the
legislature approve any tax increase. (32)
Gosling became a candidate for mayor in the 1916 campaign while six of
his fellow Municipal Commissioners ran on one slate for Council. These
were Charles P. Ayre, F.W. Bradshaw, and Francis MacNamara, all merchants;
James J. McGrath, the President of the Longshoremen's Protective Union;
Isaac C. Morris, a sailmaker; and J.W. Withers, the King's Printer.
Gosling and his associates appealed to voters to maintain continuity in
municipal government by emphasizing their resolution in having the Charter
passed by the legislature. (33)
Gosling's rival for mayor was W.A. O'D. Kelly, a vice-chairman of the
new Citizens' Committee and a dealer in building supplies. (34) The focus
of Kelly's attack on Gosling and the Municipal Board was his criticism of
the reorganization of the sanitary system and the institution of the
hopper service, which he claimed was "contrary to all rules of health and
civilization." Kelly did not offer any specific remedy, but attempted to
link the outbreak of communicable diseases in the community to existing
sanitary practice. (35) With this approach Kelly polled 1,780 votes on
election day, June 29, to Gosling's 2,244. Gosling's total was the largest
ever polled by a mayoralty candidate, (36) but his margin of victory was
not nearly as impressive and of his fellow Commissioners only Ayre and
Morris were elected. The other successful candidates for Council were
James S. Tait, a medical doctor; Henry J. Brownrigg, a commission
merchant; James J. Mullaly, a former municipal councillor and a more
independent spirited Commissioner; and Nicholas J. Vinnicombe, a licensed
hotel owner. (37)
In the plebiscite that followed on September 26 the turnout was very
low, those in favour of election at large carrying the day by 464 to 283.
(38) The ward system, which had existed in the 1890's had the support of
Premier Morris and the Citizens' Committee; (39) but it was strongly
opposed by Gosling. In response to claims that St. John's could best be
served by ward councillors, who knew the needs of their neighbourhoods and
were always available to answer the complaints of their constituents, (40)
Gosling argued that Councillors had to put the interest of the whole town
before the interests of any of its parts. This, ward councillors could not
be expected to do. When he had first taken the position of Chairman,
Gosling said, he had found himself "pestered with requests for small local
attentions." "If I had succumbed to persuasion," he continued, "I would
not have had time to think of anything else." The practice "of making
personal appeals to Council for favours" was a "bad inheritance from the
ward system"; "the smaller the electoral district," Gosling believed, "the
more powerful becomes the temptation." By contrast, the principle embodied
in the Charter was that St. John's "as a whole must be first considered
against purely local or individual interests. " (41)
On July 10, 1917, the Joint Select Committee reported that because of
the demands which had been made on its members by the war effort, it had
not been able to devise a bill based on the Charter and the changes
proposed to it by the Citizens' Committee. (42) In the circumstances, the
Select Committee suggested a further postponement of consideration of the
Charter, noting that three of the St. John's seats in the Assembly had
become vacant. Two of these vacancies had been caused by the deaths of
John Dwyer and Michael Kennedy in January, 1917; the third was the result
of the appointment of the Liberal leader, James Kent, to the Supreme Court
in 1916. (43) The decision of the Assembly and the Legislative Council was
to extend the life of its Select Committee and to empower it once more to
sit out of session. (44)
Disappointed by these developments, Mayor Gosling asked the Morris
Government in July, 1917, to pass certain sections upon which the Council,
the Citizens' Committee, and the Select Joint Committee were in agreement.
(45) The most significant change was the imposition of the City Tax to
replace the water and sewerage rates Council collected. Since this did not
involve any change in the existing appraisal procedure, the government
readily agreed. Under the City Tax thus legislated, the owner of any house
or building, which on July 1, 1917, was occupied by a tenant on a lease
agreement, would be entitled to add two-thirds of the City Tax imposed on
him to the rent he charged his tenant for the remainder of the tenancy.
(46) However, Gosling disliked the piecemeal approach of the government
and in 1918 pressed again for the enactment of the whole Charter. (47)
He failed once more this time because of a great crisis in colonial
politics. Re-elected in 1913, the Morris Government was required by law to
hold a general election by the autumn of 1917. During the 1917 session,
however, because of the war, an Extension Act had been passed prolonging
the life of the existing Assembly by one year. The price Morris paid for
this Act was the establishment of an all-party National Government to
include representatives of his People's Party, the Liberal Party, and the
Union Party, which had great strength among the fishermen in the
northeastern area of the island and had first elected members to the House
in 1913. Under this arrangement, Morris resigned the premiership in
December, 1917, retiring to England where he was elevated to the House of
Lords. (48) His successor was Liberal leader William Lloyd, whose National
Government postponed any action on the Charter during the 1918 session,
claiming that it was not yet ready to move on the matter. The new
government did, however, pass legislation extending the life of the
Municipal Council from June 30, 1918, to December 31, 1919. (49)
On May 9, 1919, Gosling and his colleagues on Council agreed to remain
in office only if the government would pass the Charter at the 1919
session. The government accepted this condition, (50) but its attempts to
pass the Charter fell victim to the turbulent politics of the 1919
session. In 1918 Lloyd had obtained a further extension in the life of the
existing House but on May 20, 1919, the People's Party, which had a
majority in the Assembly, carried a motion of nonconfidence in the
leadership of the National Government. Lloyd was succeeded as premier by
People's Party leader Michael Cashin, the MHA for Ferryland. (51) The
Liberal Party led by Richard Squires subsequently won the general election
which was held on November 3, 1919. Before its 1919 defeat in the House,
the Lloyd Government passed legislation extending the life of the St.
John's Council from December 31, 1919, to June 30, 1920, on the
understanding with Council that the Charter would finally be dealt with in
As might be expected, the long delay over the Charter created serious
financial problems for the municipality. Gosling based his estimates each
year on the taxation proposals contained in the Charter and their promise
of improved municipal revenue. Each year he was disappointed. Nor did the
imposition of the City Tax in 1917 greatly improve matters. If this reform
had been accompanied by a change over to an appraisal based on the cost of
construction of the property, it would have given Council an additional
$15,000 per annum; but this was not done. Moreover, Council was unable to
persuade the government to transfer the other taxeson dog owners, car
owners and telephone users it considered rightfully its own. Arrears also
continued to be a problem. The result of all this was that Council's
deficit grew from $8,270.51 at the end of 1916 to $21,270.16 at the end of
1918. (53) Through strict economy and better revenue collection - the City
Tax helped matters by replacing the burden of payment on the landlord
rather than the tenant Council turned this deficit into a credit of
$865.74 for 1919 but in the absence of a broadened revenue base its
financial future was clearly bleak. (54) On the other hand, Council was
able in this period to maintain its interest payments the the government
on its funded debt and to the Royal Bank on loans taken for improvements
to the water and sewerage systems. Council's total indebtedness at the end
of 1920 stood at $1,817,090.91, an increase of $276,110.41 over the 1914
figure of $1,540,980.50. (55) With his disappointment over the reception
of the Charter by the legislature, Gosling became more cynical and
disillusioned in his comments, yet he continued the battle with unabating
energy. In his Annual Report for 1919, the sixth such Report he had
printed in the press to make people more aware of Council's activities,
Gosling lashed out at the lack of civic spirit in the town's residents:
"The majority of citizens are supremely indifferent, and a large proportion are only interested in endeavouring to obtain some personal advantage at the City's expense to avoid paying their share of the City's expenses as long as possible or altogether, and to disregard the By-laws with impunity. When the people of the City are so little interested it cannot be expected that the Municipal Council, or Civic Officials will remain enthusiastic, or that the Government of the Colony will pay any attention to the representations of the Council as to the City's needs."
Gosling's patience with both the government and the public was clearly at
an end, but he was willing to remain in office to secure some resolution
from the legislature of the Charter issue. (56)
On January 30, 1920, he wrote Premier Squires asking for an immediate
decision on the matter. (57) Squires' reply was not encouraging; the new
Executive Council, he wrote, would have little time to study the bill
before the legislature opened and the Charter would not therefore be
brought forward as a government measure. (58) Gosling's reply on March 5
pointed out that the bill embodying the Charter was not originally meant
to be a government measure; moreover, the members of the Executive Council
could familiarize themselves with the Charter's provisions when the bill
was read in the House. The task was "by no means such a stupendous one as
you may think," he wrote to Squires. All that needed to be done was for
the legislature "to take it up, amend it, pass it, or reject it." (59)
Squires now gave way on the issue, arranging for an informal commitee
consisting of Gosling, two government representatives, and the four St.
John's opposition MHAs to make a report on the Charter to the Assembly.
With the Charter now seemingly about to be passed at the 1920 session,
Council in late June approached the government asking that the civic
election scheduled for July be postponed. To hold an election in July, the
Council argued, would deprive residents of the new voter qualifications in
the Charter. Instead, the election should be held later in 1920 with the
new Council taking over on January 1, 1921. In the meantime, the
municipality should be administered by a Board of Commissioners appointed
by the Governor-in-Council. The government accepted this proposal and
subsequently had legislation passed for this purpose. (61) On July 5
Gosling and former Councillors Ayre, Morris, Mullaly, and Vinnicombe were
appointed to the Commission. (62)
Unanimous approval of the Charter by the Assembly followed; but the
Legislative Council now posed a new roadblock. The Upper House objected
because the bill had gone through the Assembly in the last days of the
session and without any debate. It was an insult that the Assembly
expected like action from above. (63) As a result of this fracas Squires
enacted legislation further extending the life of the Board of
Commissioners to June 30, 1921. (64) Angered by the attitude of the
Legislative Council, the Municipal Commissioners met on July 13 to decide
what course of action they should take. Gosling, who had been elected
Chairman, (65) suggested a mass resignation on duly 31, 1920, if the
government had not persuaded the Legislative Council to cooperate. (66)
Later in July the Commissioners agreed to stay in office even though the
Legislative Council was still adamant. Their changed attitude was because
of the strong show of public support for the stand they had taken. They
now also had the assurance of Premier Squires that the Charter would be
reintroduced at the beginning of the 1921 session to allow the Legislative
Council sufficient time to debate it. (67)
During the session of the legislature in 1921, the Charter underwent
further revision. The most notable change was the Legislative Council's
removal of the section providing for biennial Council elections; in short
the Upper House did not accept the argument that Council always had to
have experienced members. The Upper Chamber also struck out the section of
the Charter, put there no doubt, at the insistence of the Citizens'
Committee, which gave the mayor and Council the right to divide St. John's
into wards for election purposes. The Legislative Council conceded the
right of the Municipal Council to need only the approval of the
Governor-in-Council for any indebtedness incurred beyond the amount
approved by the Governor-in-Council for its annual balanced budget.
Previous to this change, Council needed the approval of the legislature.
This change was made because Council, faced with less revenue than
expected, had been often unable to keep within the bounds of its own
estimates. The only alternative in these circumstances had been hasty
cutbacks, a circumstance it was now hoped could be avoided by the simple
procedure of having the Governor-in-Council approve further spending. The
1921 St. John's City Act retained the taxation system based on rental
market value of property and empowered Council to establish a Town
Planning Commission, a Municipal Arrears Commission, and a public library.
Council could also use its funds to provide or to assist in providing for
the medical care of the newlyborn and sick children. Finally, the Act
recognized the town of St. John's as a "city", whose inhabitants formed a
"body politic and corporate." This change from 'town' to 'city' reflected
Gosling's desire to stimulate greater civic pride. (68)
Since the election for a new Council was not to be held until December,
1921, another act was passed appointing a new Commissionto replace the one that went out of office on June 30, 1921. The
new Commission, whose term of life was to the end of 1921, did not assume
office until July 26, thereby leaving St. John's without and local
government for nearly a month. Gosling and Commissioner Ayre, however,
declined to accept reappointment to the Commission because their business
interests needed more of their time. (69) Isaac Morris replaced Gosling as
Chairman (70) and then ran for mayor in the election of December 15, 1921.
He was defeated 2,052 to 1,476 by the prominent St. John's merchant,
Tasker Cook. Out of a field of 25, four councillors were elected who had
had past experience: James T. Martin, Nicholas J. Vinnicombe, Samuel G.
Collier and Charles W. Ryan. The two new members were P.E. Outerbridge, a
partner in Gosling's Water Street firm and Reginald Dowden, a real estate
agent. (71) With their election and the coming into effect of the revised
Charter, St. John's entered a new era that extends to this day. As for
Gosling, ill-health, which in part was brought on by his hard work for the
Charter and the general welfare of the capital, forced his retirement to
Bermuda where he died on November 5, 1930.
1. Melvin Baker, "The Establishment of Municipal Government in St. John's, Newfoundland, 1914," Urban History Review, vol. IX, no. 3 (February, 1981), 35-51.
2. Municipal Commission meeting, July 17, 1914, as reported in Daily News, July 18,1914; St.John's Municipal Council (St. J.M.C.) Minutes, July 31, August 21, October 2, 1914; and A.N. Gosling, William Gilbert Gosling: A Tribute (New York, n.d.), 69-70.
3. Gosling, William Gilbert Gosling 69-70; St. J.M.C. Minute, October 27, 1914; "Report of Municipal Board for Six Months, June 30th to December 31st, 1914," published in Daily News, February 16, 1915; and "Report of the Municipal Board for the year 1915," published in ibid., April 8, 1916.
4. "Report of Municipal Board for Six Months, June 30th to December 31st, 1914."
5. "Report of the Municipal Board for the year 1915."
6. "Report of Municipal Board for Six Months, June 30th to December 31st, 1914"; "Report of the Municipal Board for the year 1915"; and Gosling, William Gilbert Cosling, 70-1.
7. Gosling, William Gilbert Gosling, 71; Councillor J. Sinclair Tait to Daily News, September 25, 1916; and St. J.M.C. Minute, July 24, 1914, Report of the Sanitary Committee of the Sanitary Department.
8. "Report of the Municipal Board for the year 1915."
9. "Report of Municipal Board for Six Months, June 30th to December 31st, 1914"; and St.J.M.C. Letter Book J. L., Slatery to Joseph Soper and John Holly, September 28, 1914.
10. St. J. M.C. Letter Book, William Gosling to Edward Morris, January 29, 1915.
11. Daily News, January 19, 1914.
12. Ibid., January 24, 1914.
13. Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL), P8/B/ 11, Board of Trade Papers, 1914, Special File, "Report of the Executive Committee of the Citizens' Committee, February 12, 1914," 11-3; and St. J.M.C. Letter Book, William Gosling to Edward Morris, January 29, 1915.
14. St. J.M.C. Letter Book, J.L. Slattery to A. Prescott Folwell, Editor, Municipal Journal, September 7, 1914, and to the National Municipal League, September 8, 1914. The Commission also wrote the Engineering News, September 8, 1914. See St. J.M.C. Minute, September 22, 1914.
15. St. J.M.C. Minutes, September 18, 22, 1914.
16. Longley's report on the water supply was published in the Evening Telegram, November 11, 1914.
17. St. J.M.C. Minute, January 12, 1915.
18. PANL, GN 9/1, Minute of Executive Council, March 25, 1915.
19. "Report of the Municipal Board for the year 1915"; and "Report of the St. John's Municipal Council for the year ended Dec.31 st, 1919," published in Daily News, May 15, 1920.
20. St. J.M.C. Minute, December 1, 1914.
21. Gosling, William Gilbert Gosling, 64-7; and William Gosling to Colonial Secretary John Bennett, April 12, 1915, "Report of St. John's Municipal Board ," Journal of the House of Assembly, 1915, Appendix, 496-504.
22. Statutes of Newfoundland, 6 George V, Cap. 6.
23. PANL, P8/B/ 11, "Report of the Executive Committee of the Citizens' Committee, February 12, 1914," 15-6; and St. J.M.C. Minute, November 30, 1915.
24. There is apparently no copy of the Charter available.
25. The provisions of the Charter are based on the following sources: William Gosling to Colonial Secretary Bennett, April 12, 1915; "Report of the St.John's Municipal Board"; Daily News, April 7, 15, 1916; Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1916, 346-54; and PANL., GN2/22/B, Colonial Secretary's Office, "Report of Citizens' Committee on the Municipal Bill, April, 1917." See also PB/A/23, Warwick Smith Papers, "Minute Book, Citizens' Committee on Municipal Bill, 1916."
26. Ibid. The details of the Charter's provisions on the Municipal Arrears Commission and the Town Planning Commission are based on the relevant sections in the 1921 Municipal Act. See also St. J.M.C. Minutes, October 4, November 30, December 14,30, 1915, January 31, February 7, March 10, April 6, 1916.
27. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1916, 354.
28. Daily News, April 7, 1916. See also PANL, PB/A/123, "Minute Book, Citizens' Committee on Municipal Bill, 1916," April 6, 1916.
29. PANL, PB/A/23, "Minute Book, Citizens' Committee on Municipal Bill, 1916," April 12, 1916.
30. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1916, 506, 556-59, 580-81. See also St. J.M.C. Minute, April 28, 1916.
31. Statutes of Newfoundland, 6 George V, Cap. 3.
32. PANL, GN2/22/B "Report of Citizens' Commitee on the Municipal Bill, April, 1917," 1-9.
33. Daily News, June 23, 26, 28, 29, 1916; and Evening Telegram, June 10, 17, 19, 1916.
34. Daily News, April 13, June 20, 1916.
35. Evening Telegram, June 26, 27. 28, 1916.
36. Daily News, July 3, 1916.
37. Ibid., July 6, 1916.
38. Ibid., September 28, 1916.
39. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1916, 57-58. The suggestion for the institution of a ward system came from the Citizens' Committee. See Daily News, April 13, 15, 1916.
40. Daily News, April 26, 1916; and "Yorick" to ibid., April 27, 1916.
41. William Gosling to ibid., April 24, 29, 1916.
42. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1917, 441.
43. PANI., GN2/22/B, "Report of Citizens' Committee on the Municipal Bill, April, 1917," 1-9.
44. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1917, 441.
45. St. J.M.C. Minutes, May 31, June 21, July 5, 1917; and Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1917, 450.
46. Ibid., 450-54, 477. See also Proceedings of the Newfoundland Legislative Council, 1917, 157; and Statutes of Newfoundland, 8 George V, Cap. 12.
47. St. J.M.C. Minutes, January 17, February 18, 21, 1918; and "Report of Municipal Council for the year 1917" published in Daily News, April 22, 1918.
48. For the politics of the 1918 session, see S.J.R. Noel, Politics in Newfoundland (Toronto, 1971), 123-25; and Ian McDonald, "W.F.Coaker and the Balance of Power Strategy: The Fishermen's Protective Union in Newfoundland Politics," in James Hiller and Peter Neary, eds., Newfoundland in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Essays in Interpretation (Toronto, 1980), 165-67.
49. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1918, 211 - 15; and Statutes of Newfoundland, 8-9 George V, Cap. 3.
50. St. J.M.C. Minutes, May 9, 1918, May 5, 1919; and William Gosling interview in Daily News, July 14, 1920.
51. Noel, Politics in Newfoundland, 126-29; and McDonald, "W.F. Coaker and the Balance of Power Strategy: The Fishermen's Protective Union in Newfoundland Politics," 166-67.
52. Statutes of Newfoundland, 9-10 George V, Cap. 9; and Proceedings of the Newfoundland Legislative Council, 1919, 138-40.
53. "Report of the St. John's Municipal Council for the year ended December 31st, 1916" published in Daily News, March 20, 1917; "Report of Municipal Council for the year 1917" published in ibid., April 22, 1918; and Report of the St. John's Municipal Council for the year ending December 31st, 1918" published in ibid., May 2, 1919. See also St. J.M.C. Minutes, April 26, July 5, 26, 1917.
54. "Report of the St. John's Municipal Council for the year ended Det. 31st, 1919."
55. Melvin Baker, "The Government of St. John's, Newfoundlland, 1800-1921 " (Ph.D. thesis, The University of Western Ontario, 1980), 397-98.
56. "Report of the St. John's Municipal Council for the year ended Dec.31st, 1919."
57. PANL, GN2/5, Special File of the Colonial Secretary's
Office, file 25-G, William Gosling to Prime Minister Squires, January 30, 1920.
58. PANL, GN8/2, Prime Minister Papers, folder 80, Prime Minister Squires to William Gosling, February 27, 1920.
59. Ibid., William Gosling to Squires, March 5, 1920.
60. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1920,
61. St. J. M.C. Minute, June 24, 1920.
62. PANL, GN9/1, Minute of Executive Council, July 5, 1920.
63. Proceedings of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, 1920, 954-56.
64. Statutes of Newfoundland, 11 George V, Cap. 9; and PANL, GN2/5, file 303-C, Deputy Colonial Secretary Mews to William Gosling, August 11, 1920.
65. St.J.M.C. Minute, July 8, 1920.
66. Ibid., July 13, 1920.
67. Ibid., July 24, 1920. See also Daily News, July 14, 23, 24,
26, 1920; and PANL, GN2/5, file 303-C, J.L. Slattery to Prime Minister Squires, July 14, 1920.
68. Proceedings of the Newfoundland Legislative Council, 1921,
51-76; and Statutes of Newfoundland, 12 George V, Cap. 13.
69. St. J.M.C. Minute, June 30, 1921.
70. Ibid., July 26, 1921.
71. Daily News, December 14, 15, 17, 1921.