15 July 2009

Fantasy Island; Flags of Our Fathers version

A cabinet minister whose doesn’t know his historical arse from his current events elbow.

And now a bunch of guys who put up a flag to remind us, supposedly, of where we came from, of our past. That’s how one of the guys behind a giant pink, white and green flag described the project for CBC Radio’s Chris O’Neill-Yates.

Seems some yahoo unscrewed the flag base and demolished the thing a month or so after the boys put it back. Apparently it’s been vandalised every year since it was stuck up there a few years ago.

Ah yes, a glorious reminder of our past.

Our past as the pre-Confederation Newfoundland, it would seem:

As mentioned in my last post, we’re putting up the Republic of Newfoundland flag on the South Side hills, and everyone is invited to join in on the hike.

Those familiar with what actually happened will no doubt be scratching their heads and rightly so. Just stop before you cut through the skin.

The Republic of Newfoundland is fiction.

Never existed.

Never happened.

The “republic” is entirely the invention of a local guy looking to make a buck on a few tee-shirts. And he’s made it too what with the popularity of the shirts among the latter-day corner boys.

The flag – in all its pink, white and green gloriousness – belonged to a St. John’s crowd but over its whole history it never gained widespread popularity through what became the Dominion of Newfoundland.

It was certainly never adopted as the official flag of the country.

In other words, at the very best, the flag is a townie artefact but as the flag of a republic? You can’t be the flag of something that never existed anyways.

The crowd who demolished the flag are very likely not a bunch of historians on a rampage.

They are most likely just another bunch of locals who like to destroy what others have made, even if – in this case – what the flag represents is entirely a figment of someone’s imagination masquerading as reality.

Oh well.

If the boys with the flag are raising some money to fly their flag again, maybe they can get in touch with Paul Oram.

He seems like the poster child for their project.

Update November 21, 2009: New title to deconflict with another post. Both were originally titled "Fantasy Island"



Jerry Bannister said...


For a recent historical analysis of the tricolour, see Carolyn Lambert, "Emblem of our country: The Red, White, and Green Tricolour," _Newfoundland and Labrador Studies_ 23, 1 (2008).

The article is available online to subscribers: http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/NFLDS

Jerry Bannister

Edward G. Hollett said...

Thanks Jerry.

While a subscription to JNLS would be preferable for everyone, those that don't have it can find the Lambert article here.

Edward G. Hollett said...

In the event people go skimming through the BP archives, I should noted have noted, Jerry, that some of the earlier stuff I wrote about the flag and the natives society was way off base judging from Lambert's research.

At the end of the article, she makes reference to the pitcher plant brand, but there is a small piece of PWG mythology she missed that is also relevant.

Before the pitcher plant, the government polled on the adoption of the PWG as the new provincial flag.

The poll apparently rejected the idea and if memory serves the Premier was quoted in the Indy as saying he was surprised by that. The poll results have never been released, to the best of my knowledge.

This does point, though, to the continued belief in the PWG story and in the use of it by politicians and others for their own purposes.

If that poll result had come out differently, the flag would have been adopted as the new brand, thereby completing the PWG story.

As a general question, if anybody has an answer, has anyone ever taken a scholarly look at the coat of arms and the 1904 flag design.

When it comes to symbols of what embodies Newfoundland, the 1904 badge seems to take the cake. As I understand it, the badge was created since there appeared to be no official grant of arms for Newfoundland.

The coat of arms currently used appeared in 1927 (if memory serves) and had originally been granted to David Kirke.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

I think it's more than a little disingenuous to say I claimed we all put up the flag to remind us of where we came from.

That was my personal take on it, and I never claimed to represent the views of the other people involved. (And while we're reporting on the facts, would it have been that hard to recall my name from the interview or, failing that, fish it out of the blog?)

As I said in the interview, I thought it was a nice tradition and one worth preserving. People can take whatever they want from seeing that flag up on the hill, and I'm sure many people do. Or did, as it were.

The pundits love to remind us of the fact that there was no republic and as such no Republic of Newfoundland flag. Fine. We're just describing an icon in its current transmogrified state. The Republic of Newfoundland flag is simply what the pink, white and green has come to be known as.

I realize being pedantic is something of an honoured pass time for some, but if you're trying to take the wind out of our sails (or our flag for that matter), you must know you're too late. Another bunch of vandals already beat you to it.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Disingenuous would be speaking about the project, apparently on behalf of the people behind it, making a statement about the purpose and then trying to claim you were just a bystander and that your views did not represent the views of anyone but yourself.

I don't recall during the interview that you made that disclaimer but I am willing to be corrected on that point based on a transcript.

Your name didn't get mentioned in the post since the comments were on the subject not the person making them.

Your version now in this comment is not what you said on air. In itself, that's almost as interesting as what you did say this morning.

What I discussed here is far from trivial. It is part of an unfortunate aspect of public discussion that some people apparently do not give a toss about what actually occurred and in some instances - not necessarily yours - use that invention/mythology as the basis for making some political argument.

While there was no republic nor was there a republican flag, there was a Dominion with a rich and detailed history most of which has been lost to popular memory and discussion.

You may find it pedantic - trivial - to note that our history is much richer, deeper and more compelling than the fantasy which has some popular currency.

The real act of vandalism that demolished the flagpole and took the flag is something I decry. As I tried to describe it, that is merely the act of people who have no purpose other than to destroy.

That's why I distinguished vandalism from something else, namely challenging myth, fantasy, misunderstanding and fabrication and proposing something in its place.

If you consider that to be vandalism, then that is entirely your issue.

If it takes the wind out of your sails, then that's your problem.

WJM said...

I realize being pedantic is something of an honoured pass time for some

Someone has to do it.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

I see. You misrepresent the facts of what I said, I correct you on those facts, and suddenly these corrections in conjunction with the additional comments I go on to make are to be viewed as my "version" of what I said on the air.

Then you go on to tell me this "version", is in fact not the version I gave on the radio. No kidding - I never said it was. I corrected you on your mistakes, then went on to give an entirely new set of comments based on your post.

All this after already conceding that in the face of a transcript you could stand to be corrected.

I'm trying to understand how you could even conceive that my comments were meant to be a version of what I said on the air. Perhaps you got a little caught up over this sentence: "As I said in the interview, I thought it was a nice tradition and one worth preserving."

I know it's a novel concept, but as far as what I said in the interview is concerned, the information relating to that is, as the sentence itself has already indicated, contained in that sentence.

Everything after that, in the new sentences that follow, are new thoughts not related to "what I said in the interview."

It seems that (after having twice done this in one day) you have a habit of interpreting the things people say out of context and misrepresenting them to serve your own purposes. Seems like just the sort of thing you purport to be against, oddly enough.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy, you aren't really making any headway by saying one thing on air, criticising me for commenting on it, then saying another thing here and then engaging in the entirely pedantic exercise of distinguishing between the two sets of comments and blaming me for what is clearly your own effort to shift positions.

I stand by the comments in the post as they were based on what you said on air.

Your initial comment intended perhaps to "correct" the record.

As it turns out, you didn't correct me on anything.

In fact, by your most recent comments you acknowledge that you said two potentially very different things in two different places at different times:

"Then you go on to tell me this 'version', is in fact not the version I gave on the radio. No kidding - I never said it was."

Well, if I must take a lump for anything, it would be for believing that your comments on air were anything other than something you would disown when challenged.

What you an engaging in here is a fairly common tactic of those who get taken to task for what they said: they accuse someone else of misrepresenting them or of having a "habit" of doing things like twisting words.

The approach invariably fails when, as in this instance, there is a record of your comments that will show I haven't misrepresented what you said at all.

Of course, it also isn't lost on readers that you have avoided altogether the core point: namely the promotion of mythology over what actually happened.

How come you are avoiding that point?

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

I haven't avoided the point. I've conceded to the fact that there was no republic and I've asserted the notion that the flag now stands as a transmogrified icon.

I've never tried to shift positions. I have not faltered from what I said on the air, and am perfectly willing to admit that within that there were historical inaccuracies.

I'll admit it's hard to stick to the point, though, when someone keeps making a habit of misquoting me.

You keep referencing things I said in the interview as though you have the transcript right there in front of you and not some ill-recalled, bad tempered interpretation. You've misquoted me, misrepresented my statements, and then as I defend myself you go on to make even grander accusations about things I haven't said, only this time the transcript is right here in front of us.

I've got no problem going under the microscope, but you've contaminated the sample so badly that your findings are bound to have errors.

And yet your comfort with that seems all too natural.

I've conceded to your point about there having been no republic - I did so long ago. Your only point now seems to be a bent on rearranging my own words, some of which you've even admitted to the possibility of not remembering correctly.

And my name was said plenty of times in that interview, enough that the common courtesy of naming the person you're quoting in your blog post should have been easily observed. Whether that's a comment on your poor memory or poor regard for common courtesy, I can't really say.

Edward G. Hollett said...


I can safely say that after three of your interventions I am no more clear on your point now than I was at the beginning.

You accuse me of misquoting you or misrepresenting you. I believe I have done no such thing. In fact, I can rely for support on your own authority at the start of your very first comment on that point.

It was only later that you shifted from the flag being a reminder of "where we came from" and, as I paraphrased it, of our past to the flag (presumably) being "a nice tradition and one worth preserving."

In the original post, I noted that the "tradition" (whether republican or the PWg generally) is essentially invented, as in fake. Those are not the exact words I used but the point should be unmistakeable.

I will go a considerable step farther by bringing back my series of posts over time on the tendency in this province for people to rely on fantasy, myth and fabrication of various degrees in lieu of something which is far more compelling and far more intriguing.

Relying on fantasy is not necessarily a bad thing; we all have our own personal myths.

However, when these myths are taken as reality or are substituted for reality, difficulty ensues.

We have seen this repeatedly in our society over the past seven or eight years where the government has taken public positions justified on the basis of myth. The example I linked to in the post was a cabinet minister who is evidently totally confused about events of just the past 20 years. it all adds up to the same thing.

Myths are fine and entertaining but they are no basis for policy.

By the same token, if we in this province are to understand our history, our culture and our society, we cannot do so based on fantasy. If we wish to understand where we need to go or we want to go, then we must do so based on a clear-eyed view. That cannot come from fiction.

That is way beyond anything you said or that I wrote in this post but the "tradition" to which you referred is essentially typical of that reliance on myth.

That's why your comments prompted the post.

As a last point and to repeat myself, I did not mention you by name. I did so deliberately because the issue was the key thing not who actually made the remarks. It is not a matter of common courtesy as you suggest to name you as the one who uttered the comments.

My purpose was to use the wider comments to illustrate a larger point and to tie them, even implicitly, for people who read my writing regularly to other ideas.

Had I referred to you by name you might well have accused me of attacking you personally. Had I named you, people might well have attributed comments to you that you did not actually make. Both of those outcomes would have been wrong, albeit for different reasons. The first would be wrong because I didn't do that and second wrong because you didn't do that.

Through it all, though I remain as mystified by your harping about not having your name in print in this case as I do about the intensity of your reaction.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

Check it out, the first thing I ever wrote here:

"I think it's more than a little disingenuous to say I claimed we all put up the flag to remind us of where we came from.

That was my personal take on it, and I never claimed to represent the views of the other people involved."

Clearly, I was taking umbrage at the fact that you claimed I said I was speaking for the group, when I did no such thing and made that clear when I gave my statement in the interview about my belief that the flag reminds us of where we came from.

Never did I deny that I made that statement, as you can see in the second paragraph in the quote above - "that was my personal take on it." What part about any of that is unclear?

And I've never argued with any of the history lessons you've been spouting on about here today. I don't care to.

How many more times do I have to remind you I've already conceded to you on the matter of the flag's history before you'll stop pretending there's an argument still going on in that regard?

The argument I began here was on the subject of your misquoting me on saying my personal reasons for putting up the flag were the reasons why everyone involved did it. They're not, and I never said any such thing to suggest as much.

Now allow me to quote you:

"It was only later that you shifted from the flag being a reminder of "where we came from" and, as I paraphrased it, of our past to the flag (presumably) being "a nice tradition and one worth preserving.""

Honestly, are you just making this stuff up for a laugh? I never tried to "shift positions." Those are both things I said in the interview. I never claimed one statement was replacing the other. They're just both things I said.

It's like you're looking for reasons to argue that don't exist.

If you want to stand by your notion that when I spoke about my reasons for raising the flag, I was doing so on behalf of the group, then that's all there is to it. You're happy to carry on with a misrepresentation of the truth, and I'm happy to carry on knowing that's how you like to roll.

D'Arcy Butler said...


I've been following this stream, and I'd like to take it in a different direction. Ed, who should get to decide what is and is not valid tradition? You wrote "what the flag represents is entirely a figment of someone’s imagination masquerading as reality" suggesting that it was made up by a guy to sell a few t-shirts.

The reality is that the flag itself has been around for a long time. Sure, it was largely only popular in St. John's, and never really garnered much attention on the rest of the island, but it does have a long history, and is currently a part of a variety of municipalities including the St. John's Fire Department's crest. And I do remember my grandfather, who was a staunch loyalist, longtime Liberal who believed joining Canada was the best thing for NL, giving me a column he had written arguing for the adoption of the PWG instead of Pratt's monstrosity (which even Pratt admits was pretty bad, an example of flag by committee). And he was a lifelong resident of Bay St. George area, on the westcoast. It had more relevance then to the population then the silly thing we have right now at the time of adoption.

Further, regardless of why it regained popularity, for many people it has become a symbol of pride, representing a feeling that does not exist in other symbols. That's the thing about cultures and traditions, they are in a constant state of flux. Certainly we must be honest about our past but that means always reinterpreting the past based on new evidence and theory as well as reinterpreting it for the current generation.

But that also means traditions will also grow and change over time. Every tradition we have has to be based on something that is completely manufactured the first time it happens. Over time it becomes a part of the social fabric, being reinterpreted by the people of that time. For most people how it all started is inconsequential, if it means something to them, they will continue with it, if not it will wilt and die, relegated to the history books.

And that's the great thing about living where we do, we can have a whole lot of symbols that mean many things to many people. Attacking someone for their beliefs is shallow, and reeks of elitism, suggesting that certain symbols are valid and while others are not.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy Butler:

Let me start the response by asking if you've read the Lambert article Jerry Bannister referred to?

People can ascribe all sorts of meanings to all sorts of things.

In this instance we are talking about people (a relatively small few overall) who very likely have accepted the flag as a symbol of something based not on their own direct experience of it or of the events associated with it but on a received account which, as we known, is false in many of its elements.

This is not merely a matter of a story which has morphed over time in the retelling, although some aspects of it fall into that category. Some aspects of the story comprise what people heard and repeated, but which turned out to be false.

Other aspects appear to have been quite deliberately foisted on it by elites for various political purposes.

In that sense it is ironic that you try and make this into some sort of populist discussion when you suggest I am being elitist when I criticise something (a legend) that was essentially pushed along by elites.

The only thing concrete about the PWG is that the flag existed. After that, all is plastic.

Beyond that, however, every tradition is not invented. Every tradition is not rooted in fantasy or, as in this case fabrication.

This is true in a local context. Someone decided to have a memorial day on July 1. In that respect an academic may argue that this is "invented" but the trigger event is all too real.

On the other hand, some people would argue that gravel pit camping is now an accepted tradition in our province. The activity is real if the belief that it is a traditional activity dating back more than 40 years is mistaken.

Ultimately though, there is precious little difference in the false claim of tradition for everything and anything and the belief that the cod moratorium started in the 1980s and then we all started mining or that we never had denominational education in this province.

The problem comes from the belief that everything is transient, maleable or subject to manipulation when it clearly is not or ought not to be.

If we adopt the view that everything is plastic and that therefore manipulation is acceptable, we run the risk of eroding the very basis on which society functions in every aspect.

As a last point, I note two things:

1. "Attacking someone for their beliefs is shallow,". It did not take long for the accusations of an ad hominem argument to surface.

2. I attack the false belief not the individual who holds it. There is a huge difference between the two.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy Fitzpatrick:

Yes, Darcy that is the opening and as I noted earlier, you took umbrage not with what I said you said but that I had then assumed you spoke on behalf of others or that your comments were anything but your own.

Silly me for assuming that someone doing interview on a group project was saying things that actually didn't represent the group in any way shape or form.

I don't recall any disclaimer so I drew the logical conclusion that your views generally and perhaps specifically reflected those of your associates.

Of course, it was only after that that you accused me of misquoting you.

But now I am even more confused since the major source of your problem seems to come from the rather simple point that you were speaking only for yourself.

Okay. Fair enough.

As I said, I simply took it for granted that, in the absence of a disclaimer of any kind, that you were representative (i.e. typical) of the group if not an official spokesperson for it.

So if that is really all that was bothering you, I can now only scratch my head even further bewilderment as to why you have invested so much energy in arguing about such a minor and straightforward issue.

Did one of friends call you to complain? Frankly, I have no idea what the bother and froth is really all about.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

You confuse a need for clarification with froth. How vain.

What made this simple task so unusually difficult was your continuing tendency to rearrange the nature of my statements, stacking one misrepresentation on top of the next, in order to feed some fantasy argument of yours that was never taking place.

Keep scratching your head, Edward. It might do you some good.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Froth, as in the product of foam and metaphorical spittle, Darcy.

Froth as in worked up into a lather which prompted you to lash out rather than simply state your point.

Now we discover was all apparently for clarification.


If that's all it was why have you been insisting on slagging me off from the outset?

Personalising everything (either in assuming personal attacks or mounting them yourself) certainly hasn't made it any easier to get a handle on what the heck you've been on about.

Jerry Bannister said...

Ouch. And here I was thinking that academic politics was nasty.

One substantive issue here seems to be the difference between heritage and history.

David Lowenthal is one of the best writers on this topic, and his "Fabricating Heritage," from _History and Memory_ is available online, in case anyone is interested: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/journals/history/ham10-1.html

Jerry Bannister

Edward G. Hollett said...

Thanks for another great contribution, Jerry.

I'll send you a striped shirt and a whistle for Christmas.

Jerry Bannister said...


There is more interesting political/historical debate happening on blogs like Bond Papers than anywhere else these days.

A lot has changed since the Newfoundland Historical Society sponsored the symposium on Newfoundland nationalism back in 2003, which now seems like a lifetime ago.


Anonymous said...

Ed come up on da hill i will give you something to blog about

Edward G. Hollett said...

Telling someone in Newfoundland to come up on the hill is like telling someone in the Sahara to come out to the desert or someone on the ocean to come out to where it's wet.

Anonymous said...

Steve Kent said when mayor 2005 of the city of mt Pearl flew the pwg
"This is not about being anti-Canadian," said Kent. "This is about being pro-Newfoundland and Labrador. This flag that we've raised is a symbol of our historic struggle as a people."
Many other institutions in the province followed suit, some of them choosing instead to raise the pink, green and white pre-Confederation Newfoundland flag.

I think Mr. Hollett is still a bit upset about being canned from the Independent. Sorry ole boy you had to go.
Maybe your historic struggle would be best suited flying a large white sheet.
I think it is time Mr. Hollett started doing something pro Newfoundland & Labrador and stop jumping on every typo and slight oversight by public people who put their elected neck on the line.
Further more if Sir Robert Bond was alive today he would most likely Ring your neck for the abuse and miss use of his good name.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Oh dear, some anonymous person quotes no less an authority than Steve Kent on the meaning of the PWG.

We should all be suitably persuaded of something.

Of what we should be persuaded is not clear but it is something.

Among the many problems with your comment, anonymous person, is this: "...the pink, green and white pre-Confederation Newfoundland flag."

It is not the "Newfoundland flag".

It never was the "Newfoundland flag."

That was one of my points.

The historic struggle to which Mr. Kent refers was evidently the struggle some people have with reality.

Thank you for clearing that up.

Anonymous said...

You love the attention, the punch drag and roll of words. Like you were a boxer in a ring. Bang, swap, poof, wing...ding aling…. Ooooo the ringing in my ears the hits to your blog rolls on
What do you stand for Mr. Hollett let your readers know in a blog. So we can rally around you oh wise one...So we can stand at your feet of virtue and worship you’re ever wondering miss at interpolation & Antidisestablishmentarianism. God it must be lonely at the top of your hill. But we can all see your White flag from here. Withering in the summer sun getting dirtier and lagobias as the days go by. Wither wither wither woooooooopie.
Do you have permission to use "Sir Robert Bonds" persona....

Edward G. Hollett said...

So rather than just keep playing silly bugger, Anonymous 1514, why don't you share with us all what you think of the PWG and why it is so important to you.

Strike a blow for being positive.

D'Arcy Butler said...

Hi Ed,

as I previously mentioned, my grandfather wrote about the PWG and what he loved about it. He was a noted local historian on the west coast, and was interviewed by numerous organizations and academics looking for history of the island. I offer this, cause I am certain you will question his credentials, as you seem to favour only those who have a few initials after their name when it comes to the validity of "history".

anyhow, here are his reasons:
Compiled by Temple Butler, Black Bank, Newfoundland, (date unknown).

The following provides background information in relation to the original Newfoundland Flag:

1. Pink represents the Tudor Rose of England, White from the Cross of St. Andrew of Scotland and Green from the Shamrock of Ireland. (The three founding races of Newfoundland).
2. Is the oldest flag in Canada other than the Fleur de Lys
3. Flag contains the Union Jack, representing Her Majesty the Queen, along with Provincial Shield, the oldest provincial coat of arms in Canada (1636).
4. The only flag in the world that contains the colour of pink.
5. The colours were adapted by the Mutual Society (1845) of which Richard Barnes the father of compulsory education in Newfoundland was President.
6. Flown at Government House during the Boyle and Murray administration at the turn of the century
7. Flown for the Prince of Wales during his visit in 1860 by the government committee of the day on all government buildings.
8. Flown from the block house atop Signal Hill and shown on 19th century flag charts as the flag of Newfoundland.
9. In June 1896 the newly formed Police force and Fire departments adapted it as their official banner.
10. Captain Bob Bartlett on the discovery voyage to the North Pole planted the Pink, White and Green there in 1909
11. Used on the cover of the sheet music for his Ode to Newfoundland when first published by Sir Cavendish Boyle (Governor)
12. Used by Newfoundland's greatest Prime Minister, Sir Robert Bond during his election campaign
13. Used in England as a background for 1911 Coronation Stamp issue
14. Chosen in 1975 by the Franklin Mint for an issue of silver ingots depicting the most historic banner of North America.
15. Dr. Whitney Smith, world leading authority on flags in a book published in 1976 by the World Flag Research Centre called the Pink, White and Green one of the most unique flags of North America.
16. Only flag that has the distinction of having been designed in Newfoundland.
17. Selected by a committee representing the Newfoundland Historic Society - the Newfoundland Historic Trust and the Newfoundland Folks Art Council.
18. Recommended to the Provincial Government as being the most distinctive by a majority if the Newfoundland Youth Parliament.
19. Selected by the Memorial University student body in their newspaper the "Muse" as the most suitable and distinctive Provincial Flag.
20. In Conclusion this Pink, White and Green with Shield and Jack is distinctively Newfoundland in the it represents all facets of our history and tradition.

As you can see, while it may never have been officially adopted, it does in fact have a long and storied history.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1514, would like to say "come up on da hill I will give you something to blog about" you thought I wanted to giva ya a good ole shit knocking...well it's not Danny Williams talking to the Andy Wells.
I was honestly inviting you to take part in a positive grass roots movement. I extend my hand, join us. People of all ages walk to that site now and visit the pole and see another perspective of this great city. Why do the go there because of the flag… when they get there every body is always happy from their trip .
The flag pole crafted by Coady's metal works the same people who constructed the first flagstaffs erected on signal hill in 1865. The top portion of the pole is the recycled flagstaff from the legions memorial at Mount Pleasant cemetery. A continued tribute to all who fall in acts of bravery for peace on this land.
You would do a great justice if you wrote a few kind words about that flag. And you to my son will be a man if you climb that hill with willing souls and bear the weight of the staff, raising it for everybody’s glory. It’s better than going to war and well everybody sleeps easy from kind efforts, hard work and a love for this great land.
Please don’t bash my words as they come from the heart and join us my brother.
Do good, be good, and stand to the faith that brought you here.

D'Arcy Butler said...

You can follow this link to a great page with discussion about the old PWG.



Edward G. Hollett said...

Well 1514, the invitation is obviously so heartfelt and the whole thing is wonderful that you cannot be bothered to identify yourself.

As for the hill comment, I didn't take it any other way than as the joke it seemed to be.

Saying "come up on the hill" to someone in Newfoundland is like saying out there on that ice floe to someone from the Arctic.

Edward G. Hollett said...

D'arcy Butler:

You have done a wonderful job of reciting of something but there appears to be some considerable confusion as to which flag you are referring to, as well as some completely fanciful ideas.

Your grandfather may well have accepted them but that doesn't mean they are anything other than articles of his faith. That's fine as far as that goes.

Jerry Bannister made reference to an article earlier by Lambert. I gave a link to it afterward.

I think you'd find it worthwhile. The issue is not only that it wasn't officially adopted but that much of the supposed history of the flag is, in fact, fiction. It never happened.

D'Arcy Butler said...


i have read and reread the article you linked, and there is actually nothing in it that is contradictory with the reasons compiled by may grandfather. Some of it would have been first hand knowledge in fact, as his father-in-law, my great-grandfather was on Bartlett's voyage to the North Pole.

While I am by no means denying that there is not a lot of myth attached to the flag, some of which is based on pure fantasy, there does exist a very rich history attached to the flag as well.

Anonymous said...

1514 says meet me face to face on the hill when we raise the flag and my indenty will be that of a brother. no computers or internet required. All who have climbed the hill know me. climb da hill ole boy, join us brother...

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy Butler:

I am having a hard time reconciling lambert's research with your contention that there is "actually nothing in it that is contradictory with the reasons compiled by may grandfather."

Let's run through the 16 you listed:

1. What the colours stand for: Invented in 1902 by Bishop Howley. There's no evidence tha's what they represented when the flag was created. Give it another decade or so and the pink bit of the flag could have ben said to represent the suffragettes and women getting the vote.

2. The oldest flag in Canada other than the fleur de lys. Since the PWG derives from the Star of the Sea flag of 1870/71, that would be pretty hard to accomplish. Nova Scotia's provincial flag beats it by two or three years even if we granted that the flag of a Roman catholic benevolent organization is comparable to a provincial flag.

Undoubtedly there's some flag-o-phile out there who can give a far better account of this.

3. The flags includes the Union Flag and the shield from the coat of arms. Wow. The PWG isn't anything but three coloured bars. We must be talking about two completely different flags.

4. Mutual Society (1845) Lambert pretty much does in the appearance of pink any time before 1870.

5. The series of instances where it does appear are certainly real although that doesn't necessarily make it any more of a flag of provincial significance any greater than a number of others.

6. Neither the PWG nor the variation described by your grandfather was or is the only flag ever designed in Newfoundland.

That's another one of those great, but meaningless claims.

We could go into a long recitation of Lambert but basically she puts paid to most of the stories of the PWG flag and documents its appearance and occurances fairly well.

Some of the points made in that list (such as the selection by Whitney Smith speak more to the quality of his research than anything else.

No one said the flag didn't have a history, Darcy. it just doesn't have the history many people ascribe to it.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...


An mp3 of the interview, uploaded by CBC.

The only time I spoke for a group was when I spoke for Signal, which excludes the folks from the former Independent who were mentioned as being a part of this raising, and that was just in saying we wanted to continue the tradition of raising the flag.

The rest of my statements about why and what it meant were all clearly from me.

I guess the parts where I said "personally" and "for me" were what really tripped you up, hey?

You may claim you didn't recall it going down that way, but if you can't be sure that you have the facts straight, you've no business reporting on them as if they are the facts in your blog.

Add to that a disregard for naming your source coupled with the overall insulting tone of your post and you've got yourself some pretty shady online journalism.

It's recklessness like this that gives online journalists (and if you're a blogger who reports on what you find then you fall into this camp) a bad name.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy Fitzpatrick:

CBC describes you as the editor of Signal. The Signal post to which I linked had no byline or other attribution that I can see.

On that basis, you wind up wearing responsibility for its gross inaccuracy whether you wrote it or have left it uncorrected as editor.

As I have stated my intention at the start was not to take issue with you directly but rather with the general issue of factual inaccuracy and historical myth.

The PWG is a classic example. I used the comments on CBC and on Signal about it - not you personally - to illustrate the persistence of mistaken belief in the PWG and what it is purported to represent.

I can safely say I have no reason what is driving your series of comments here.

What I can say is that you have been quick to attack me and more recently Geoff Meeker for our editorial standards.

I suggest before you start lecturing others on ethics or factual accuracy you sort out your own act first.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

I didn't "attack" Geoff Meeker for his editorial standards, and I doubt he sees it that way.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Characterise it as you will, you accused him of the same failings as the safari writer he was criticising.

NLK9 with 2 Tails said...

I'm gonna start my own movement to replace that foolish goddam Chris Pratt abomination of a flag that presently flies for NL. The PWG is at the top and bottom of my short, short, short list of possible replacements.

Ed Hollett said...

Pratt's work is considerably less foolish than trying to foist the flag of the Star of the Sea society on the province by pretending it is something else.

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

Far be for it for someone engaged in criticism to be criticized themselves.

I called into question the merit of some of Meeker's criticisms in light of the fact that he seemed to be falling into the same trap as the subject of his criticisms. That being reporting opinion and assumption as fact.

Familiar territory for you, so I can see how you might take offense.

Anything else I've been involved in from around the world wide web that you'd like to bring into this?

As for your most recent paper-thin defense for getting your facts wrong in the first place, you claim the post from Signal you referenced had no attribution when it clearly does. The post is attributed to "elsam" which stands for Elsa Morena. You don't need to know the Signal convention of using the first name and first initial of the last as the name used for contributors to see that this post is clearly not mine. Darcy Fitzpatrick. The guy who is named several times in the interview.

But I'm not even sure why you're bringing that up since it's beside the point, which is that what you originally said and what I originally called out as disingenuous was the claim that in the CBC interview I spoke for everyone involved in raising the flag when I said the flag reminds us of where we came from.

The mp3 clearly shows that I was only speaking on behalf of myself. But without the benefit of that proof at the time, you felt compelled to respond to my claim of your being disingenuous with this little gem:

"Disingenuous would be speaking about the project, apparently on behalf of the people behind it, making a statement about the purpose and then trying to claim you were just a bystander and that your views did not represent the views of anyone but yourself."

Yeah, if only I hadn't made it very clear in the interview that I was in fact only speaking on my behalf when I shared my views about what the flag meant.

You heard what you wanted to hear, reported what you wanted to report, and took no responsibility when confronted with it.

I was quite prepared to concede to your superior knowledge of the origins of the pink white and green. I, like countless others, have it wrong it would seem. You got me, I admit it. I admitted it.

You've so far managed to avoid admitting your mistake and have thrown every flimsy excuse out there my way to try and deny a mistake on your part ever occurred.

What you wrote originally, erroneously, was this:

"And now a bunch of guys who put up a flag to remind us, supposedly, of where we came from, of our past. That’s how one of the guys behind a giant pink, white and green flag described the project for CBC Radio’s Chris O’Neill-Yates."

If that had started out as "And now a guy named Darcy Fitzpatrick who put up a flag to remind us, supposedly, of where we came from, of our past..."

You would have been entirely correct.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Darcy, if there was a prize for persistence you would surely win it hands down.

If there was a prize for seizing on the tiniest scraps and then weilding them like a club you would have that as well.

Your criticism of Meeker seized on a relatively minor and ultimately insignificant points which, on the face of it, appeared to be used merely as the pretext for making the argument in the first place.

As Meeker put it:

"You are right - I didn't know that Laurin had moved on. It isn't my job to know that... but does his departure bolster the status of AIC? Does it change my point? Nope."

in the other one, you only bolstered Meeker's point about the shoddiness of the travel writer's own research.

Then there is your bit about attribtions on the Signal post. Here's what I said, in case you missed in your fury:

"The Signal post to which I linked had no byline or other attribution that I can see."

That I can see.

I didn't see it, buried as it was way down at the bottom among assorted other tags.

That doesn't matterm, as I noted.

Since you seem intent on being identified and becoming the focus of the discussion, I have obliged. As editor, there was a glaring error of fact which you allowed to carry forward. I see that it remains unaltered and while you may have issued a correction, I did not notice it. If it's there, and I missed it, bully for you.

If you kaven't found the time to issue a correction, perhaps you could take some of your considerable energy and publish such a correction in the interests of ensuring your readers are accurately informed on what is a fairly major miss-statement of fact by your blog.

As I said: clean up your act before you start accusing others.

I heard what I heard. I commented - not reported (there is a huge difference) - on what I heard and what I read.

I have thrown no excuses since I have no need to throw excuses at you or anyone else.

I've listened to the interview again. I have gone through it a few times. You were quite clearly speaking on behalf of the group about remoutning the flag. With the exception of that very small portion where you said what it meant for you personally, there is no such qualification of anything.

But in case the point is consistently going past your head - even though it is as large as a bus - you are not the object of anything here.

Aside from demonstrating that you have an expert grasp of the concept "tedium", you are really just reploughing the over-tilled patch of claims and accusations which either have no basis in anything but your own supposition or are so small as not to deflect from the central thrust of the post.

You have posted more often here than at Meeker's space but you wind up in roughly the same spot:

"Does it change my point? Nope."

Darcy Fitzpatrick said...

"Darcy, if there was a prize for persistence you would surely win it hands down."

What a flimsy comment. I could easily say the same for you. Heck, you've even gone so far as to criticize what I've commented on another person's blog regarding an unrelated subject.

But lets keep in mind, as you so pointedly remind us, this is not about me.

Edward G. Hollett said...

And there, ladies and gentlemen, it would seem we finally have the end of it.


NLK9 with 2 Tails said...

You guys might be done, but I'm not. First of all, to refute D'Arce B's point 10 above, Cap'n Bob didn't plant nothin' anywhere near the NP because Peary never let him get close enough; and there's a 1940 photo at the Bartlett web site with The Captain's ship flying The Stars and Bars, which is a great pity. What is not a pity however, regardless of the flag's origin or its status as an offically unadopted symbol, is that our nationalist hero, SRB hisself, rallied fishermen voters around the GW&P townie artefact. And Cav Boyle adopted it too, both as G-G and as laureate. If it was good enough for them, I dare say it's good enough for the likes of you and me; beats that cheap '80s Kenmount Road commercial artefact that's flies now, by a sailor's mile.

Edward G. Hollett said...

AAnd interestingly enough, Two Tails, when asked recently, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador overwhelmingly rejected the SOS flag in favour of the one you dislike so intensely.

That would seem to be far more persuasive than the fact a partiocular flag was used as an election prop a century ago.

NLK9 with 2 Tails said...

You should change the name of your humble e-scribbling endeavour to something else; maybe The I-Got-A-Danny-Fetish Papers. That way, you could justify having that SRB featurette relegated as far down as it is below the other marginal noise.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Danny fetish, Two Tails?

That would apparently be you. Where you got that out of anything here is beyond me.

What it seems we have here is yet another member of the fan club who, characteristically sees Danny everywhere and can't find the stones to sign their real name to a comment.