All regular Lectures are at the Marine Institute at Ridge Road.

Hampton Hall is through the main front door at the Marine Institute and to the left. All lectures start at 7:30 pm. Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

Lectures are held on the last Thursday of the months of September, October, November, January, February, March and April. Please contact the office for symposia venues.

Please check the NEXT SYMPOSIUM page on this site for symposia information.




Lectures are now at 7:30 pm

Jan 25

"Behind Barb Wire - Newfoundland POW's in the Great War"

An estimated 8 million men became prisoners during the Great War. Our presentation explores the international legal status of POWs under The Hague Conventions while focusing on the experiences of the 170 Newfoundland POWs, revealed through first-person narratives, family letters, photographs and post-war claims for pensions and reparations. Themes include “reprisal camps“; the diverse experiences of the officers and other ranks (ORs); cultural and linguistic isolation; near-starvation, inadequate medical care, and harsh labour conditions. POWs frequently suffered life-long physical disabilities and emotional trauma (“barbed wire disease“). By incorporating statistical analysis, mapping, and archival sources, hopefully this collaborative work and subsequent discussion will provide new insights into the Great War.


Jessie Chisholm Dan Duda

The Labrador Court of Civil Jurisdiction was a short-lived experiment in long-distance justice delivery. Each summer, from 1826 to 1833, the Court departed from St. John’s for the Labrador in an ice-reinforced vessel that cruised the Coast for two or three months, stopping at numerous coves and harbours from Blanc Sablon in the South to Rigolet in Esquimaux Bay (now Hamilton Inlet), and occasionally West to Kinnemish in Carter Basin and North West River. The Court’s activity in Esquimaux Bay played a significant role in the decision of the Privy Council in 1927, which set the boundary between Labrador and Canada. The Court’s Clerk, George Simms, a Justice of the Peace and merchant from Trepassey, kept a journal of these voyages, of which four, from 1830 to 1833, are known to have survived. This lecture is based on The Journals of George Simms, J.P., and the Records of the Labrador Court, 1826-1833, 2 vols., edited by Augustus G. Lilly and Christopher P. Curran, St. John’s: The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2017, which contains Simms’s Journals, the complete Court Records, and a selection of archival documents, all of which add to our knowledge of legal, commercial, and indigenous activity in Labrador. These materials, most of them published for the first time, are supplemented by an Introduction which traces the history of the delivery of justice on the Labrador Coast from 1809 to 1863. There are identifications for some 225 persons and places mentioned in the publication, extended biographical sketches of the Court’s Judge, Captain William Paterson, and Simms, and contemporary illustrations, showing people and places on the Coast and the politicians, administrators, and lawyers who were instrumental in setting up the Court.

video of lecture THE JOURNALS OF GEORGE SIMMS, J.P. Part 1
video of lecture THE JOURNALS OF GEORGE SIMMS, J.P. Part 2

Augustus G. Lilly, Q.C.
Mar 29 "Wordsworth's Nephew in Labrador 1853-1867"

In 1853 George Hutchinson left England to become an Anglican minister at Battle Harbour, Labrador. He was stationed there for 14 years, and came to love the place and people so much, it took his St. John's fiancée, Selina Hayward, four years to convince him to leave "his people."

In England, Hutchinson had come to expect certain privileges as the nephew of William Wordsworth, one of the country's most famous poets. Coastal Labradorians would not have been impressed, however, since most of them were illiterate. He had to earn their respect the hard way.

We have the Wordsworths to thank, however, for documenting so much of Hutchinson's early life. Marie Wadden has been able to piece together remarkable detail about his childhood, and education, from the diaries, letters, and poems of his aunts Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary and Sara Hutchinson. More valuable still are the 5 volumes of letters preserved at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere that George Hutchinson wrote home from Battle Harbour. Marie has recently finished typing up all 100,000 words of those letters, and will tell us what she's learned about Hutchinson, and his times.
Marie Wadden
Apr 26


“Ballycater and Other Frozen Water - Present Past in Current Folklore.”

The folklore of ice (and other near-frozen water) in Newfoundland and Labrador has been, and continues to be, an important part of contemporary images of the province. Likewise, ice folklore provides important identity markers for many residents. It is part of a constellation of seemingly "old stuff" and of a pool of cultural resources for creativity, identification and commerce. Words like ballycatter, copying, lolly, sish and silver thaw provide not just practical nuance to activity and survival in this climate, but also aesthetic pleasure and esoteric support within contemporary local culture. Philip Hiscock discuss these and other words, and the related phenomena in our annual George Story Lecture.
Dr. Philip Hiscock
Sep 27 “Home Stretch, Home Rule!”: Diaspora, Comparison, and Responses to the Irish Question in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Portland, Maine, 1880-1914"

Drawing upon research from his recently-published book, A Land of Dreams: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Irish in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Maine, 1880-1923, Dr. Mannion’s talk will focus on local responses to the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Irish Home Rule movement in Portland, Halifax, and, especially, St. John’s. By investigating Irish nationalism in the diaspora comparatively, we can gain clearer insight into the strength, depth, and variety of Irish identities overseas. The lecture will examine the Newfoundland Irish from a transnational perspective, highlighting the complex combination of local, regional, national, and international factors that affected understandings of “being Irish” here and in two other communities on the prow of northeastern North America. It will focus particularly on the complex relationship between “Irish,” “Catholic,” and “imperial” identities; on the incorporation of the Irish Question into local political debates; and on assessing Newfoundland’s unique place within the global Irish diaspora.
Dr. Patrick Mannion
Oct 25 Labrador Boundary Case Presentation

In March 1927, the Privy Council in London issued a decision that settled the dispute between Newfoundland and Canada over the boundary between Labrador and Quebec, bringing an end to over a hundred years of boundary movement and legal wrangling. Join us as members of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador recreate the arguments in this historic case and a Privy Council of their peers rule on the matter. Retired judge and legal historian, John Joy, will act as moderator and introduce the event, describing the background of the case; Michael Crosbie Q.C. will present the Newfoundland case; and Ian Kelly Q.C. the case for Canada. The Privy Council will be a group of law students, who will then provide their decision. Whatever the outcome, John Joy will provide a summary of the actual 1927 Privy Council decision. Audiences in St. John’s and Happy Valley-Goose Bay will then have the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.

Click player below to hear the lecture. Audio only available.

Hon. John Joy, Ian Kelly Q.C. Michael Crosbie Q.C.
Nov 29 The "Spanish Flu" in Newfoundland, 1918

In September 1918, the second wave of the global influenza pandemic reached the shores of Newfoundland. The pandemic, colloquially known as the Spanish Flu, became one of the deadliest outbreaks of infectious disease in history.

This panel presentation focuses on the history of the influenza pandemic on the Island of Newfoundland specifically and its impact on military personnel. Dr. Ean Parsons will present the medical basics of influenza and provide an overview of the origins of the 1918 pandemic and its spread through the military. Dr. Parsons will review the effects on Newfoundland military personnel both in Europe and in Newfoundland, using examples of individual stories. Professor Terry Bishop-Stirling will highlight the Spanish Flu on the Island, how communities large and small were affected by the Flu, and how the country's doctors and government responded to the crisis. And finally, Dr. Heidi Coombs will discuss the role of the Grenfell Mission’s King George V Seamen’s Institute as a temporary emergency hospital during the pandemic and the tragic fate of a local nursing aide volunteer, Ethel Dickinson.

Please note that the history of the Spanish Flu in Labrador will be the topic of our January 2019 lecture, which will be presented by Anne Budgell.

Click player below to hear the lecture. Audio only available.

Prof. Terry Bishop-Stirling, Dr. Ean Parsons, Dr. Heidi Coombs


Jan 31 Researching the Story of Spanish Flu in Labrador

The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 killed millions of people but nowhere on earth was the devastation greater than in Labrador. Seventy per cent of the Inuit in Okak and Hebron and twenty per cent of the residents of Sandwich Bay died. During the disaster, a few people kept journals; government records and newspaper accounts noted the occurrence of mass death in Labrador. In the years following, survivors were interviewed, especially by staff of Labrador’s oral history quarterly, Them Days. For her new book, We All Expected To Die: Spanish Influenza in Labrador, 1918-1919, Anne Budgell examined these information sources, and along with the story of hardship and suffering, found discrepancies, contradictions, and fabrications. In her lecture, she will discuss the challenges of reconstructing a story from a hundred years ago. The audience will also see the National Film Board documentary from 1985, The Last Days of Okak.


Anne Budgell