Haystack was a community located on the northeast side of Long Island, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Settled in the early 1800s, it remained a very vibrant community for many years. During the 1940s people began to leave, and this exodus accelerated during the early 1950s. By the fall of 1956 there were just two families left. One of them moved away in September, 1957. For the next twelve years there was just one man living year-round in Haystack - Frank Drake. Although he floated his house to nearby Arnold's Cove in November, 1969, he still continued to live in Haystack for several months each year until recently.
It has been more than forty years since most of us left Haystack, but memories of people who were born there are still quite vivid. During the period July 31-August 3, 1997 the former residents of Haystack, their descendants and friends held a reunion there.
On March 17, 2002, Frank Drake, the honourary chairman of our 1997
Reunion Committee, and the last resident of Haystack, passed away. For a
tribute to him and pictures of his burial in Haystack, click
here. He will be sadly missed.
For a link to a video Clayton Halfyard took of Frank in Haystack, August, 1986: click here .
On September 29, 1995, David Gilbert, Oakley Johnson, and Clayton Halfyard met to discuss the possibility of organizing a Haystack Reunion. Most nearby communities in Placentia Bay had already had successful reunions (several in the case of Merasheen), and many people had suggested that it was time Haystack had one too --- while there are still a few of us around who were born there!
It was decided to get the ball rolling by contacting as many former residents as possible to guage interest in the project. The response was very encouraging, and at two public meetings in Come-by-Chance held during the fall of 1995 a Haystack Reunion Committee was formed:
Other original committee members included Clifford Allen, Stewart Allen, Wilbur Allen, Berkley Best, Juanita Best, Clyde Burt, Stephen Gregory, Myrtle Gregory, Elsie Johnson, Clyde Ryan, Shirley Ryan, Delilah Snook, Alma Stacey..
We went on to have a very successful reunion July 31-August 3, 1997. Pictures of it may be viewed here . Eight years later most of the committee members are still with us:
Other Committee members include
Clifford Allen, Stewart Allen, Wilbur Allen, Berkley Best, Juanita
Lena Brazil, Nina Dalton, Elsie Johnson, Clyde Ryan,
Shirley Ryan, Delilah Snook, Charlotte Squires, Alma
Our commemorative booklet, Haystack Reflections , published for the 1997 reunion, is still available. Its very attractive cover is a painting by Mr. Frank Shea of an old photograph of Haystack.
The booklet includes a brief history of Haystack, profiles of some of the residents (e.g. Nurse Coffin and the midwife Mrs. Burt), personal memories of several residents, information on the churches and schools, and many old pictures, some of which can be viewed on this page. We are very grateful for the response to our request for information and pictures. We think that you will find the booklet informative and interesting, and even entertaining - a rare chance to preserve some of our Haystack heritage.
The selling price is $15. We printed 700 copies, most of which have been sold. However, we still have a few copies remaining, and you may obtain one by sending a cheque for $15 made out to `The Haystack Reunion Committee' to Clayton Halfyard, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, CANADA, A1C 5S7 or to our committee address given below.
Copies of most of the 150 pictures contained in the booklet may be obtained from the Maritime History Archives at Memorial University. For more information on exact sources of the family history information contained in the booklet, you may see Clayton Halfyard.
People began gathering in Haystack on Thursday and Friday, setting up tents and the committee getting our facilities ready. The formal part of the reunion began with a ceremony at our Reunion Centre Friday evening. This included the official opening of our building, highlights of the recent fundraising concert, and flag raising by Mr. Freeman Gilbert, the oldest person from Haystack attending the reunion. This was followed by a meet-and-greet session, with refreshments and drinks.
At lunchtime Saturday our committee and friends served soup and sandwiches, and at 2:00 p.m. we had the cutting of the Haystack cake by Hazel Coffin Chibroski, who with her family had travelled all the way from Great Falls, Montana to be with us. During the afternoon we had guided walks around the community. On Saturday night there was a dance, with music supplied by the band `Lone Rider'.
The last formal event of the reunion was a church service at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, conducted by Rev. Lloyd Collett from nearby harbour Buffett.
For the information of ticket holders, here are the winners of the various draws. The winner of the Haystack quilt was Jordan Spracklin of Brigus, NL, the winner of the Cristmas wreath was Linda Hepditch of Southern Harbour, and the winner of the Christmas tree skirt was Shirley Ryan of Come-by-Chance, NL. Also, the winner of the draw for the night at the Kilmory Resort, offered by the Johnsons to passengers who travelled to Haystack on the Eastern Point, was Bernice Humphries of Valleyfield, NL.
Here are some
pictures of the 2003 Haystack Reunion.
enlarge them, click on the small images.
At our August 24th, 1997 meeting the committee decided to embark on a new project. Both cemeteries had been cleared for the reunion, and it was possible to move around freely again. Since there were dozens of graves with no marker of any kind, we felt that a nice lasting mark of our 1997 reunion would be the placement in each of the cemeteries of a plaque containing the names of all of the people we know who are buried there. Also, because the old fencing around both cemeteries had fallen down many years ago, we decided to erect new chain-link fencing.Both the fencing and monument construction have been completed. Also, all of the fallen headstones are now standing again, most of them reset in their original stone bases. The plaque on the monument in the Anglican Cemetery contains 99 names of people known to be buried in there, and the one in the United Church Cemetery has 43 names. The burial list for the plaque inscriptions took many months to compile. Since church records were very incomplete, and nearly 80 years of Anglican records were destroyed in a fire at the Harbour Buffett rectory in 1913, we had to use many sources - family Bibles, memorial cards, newspaper records, and information from the Division of Vital Statistics, Department of Government Services and Lands. All of the cemetery reconstruction project was financed through money left over from the reunion, as well as donations and funds from the continued sale of our booklets and other reunion memorabilia. Here are pictures of the two monuments, built (all free labour) by the Allen brothers (Clifford, Stewart, and Wilbur):
Many of you will be interested in seeing who was living at Haystack in
years past. For that purpose, we are making available several sources of
such information: Lovell's 1871 Directory ,
McAlpine's 1894 Directory ,
McAlpine's 1898 Directory ,
McAlpine's 1904 Directory ,
the 1921 Census
Part 2 ,
the Methodist Subscribers' list 1828-1854,
the Newfoundland Church Society 1850-1874,
the Haystack Methodist Circuit List
and more information to appear soon.
The new Haystack Photograph
Collection website is now available for viewing. A joint project of
the Memorial University Maritime History Archive and the Canadian Archival
Information Network, it consists of about 200 photographs collected while
we were working on Haystack Reflections. Many of the photos
appeared in our booklet, but there are many new ones there also. The staff
at the Maritime History Archive have done an excellent job of constructing
this website, and we think you will enjoy viewing it.
For more pictures of Haystack and other communities on Long Island, visit the home page of the Isthmus Ministry Project (Anglican Church). In August 2000 the Parish of Arnold's Cove sponsored a trip around Long Island and took Frank Drake along as a special guest. It was his last trip to Haystack.
Our latest newsletter is being mailed out in early June, 2005, and you may view a copy of it here . Since it is in PDF format, you will first have to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader: .
For further information about the Haystack Reunion, please write to
(You are visitor number since October 14, 1997.)
Last Modified: April 2, 2004