One of the early residents of Safe Harbour was a fine gentleman by the name of Wilfred Osmond. He was born on Gooseberry Islands to George and Sophie Osmond on Sept. 14, 1899. When Wilfred was a few months old, his father George passed away. When he was five, he moved with his mother, his brothers and a sister to Safe Harbour. His mother, Sophie married Ben Knee who had two children from his first marriage. They then had two children together.
Times were tough, financially, so when Wilfred was thirteen he went to work in the fishery. He spent the next twenty years of his life on the water. He first fished with his stepfather, and then on different schooners. In the winters he would work in the logging industry.In 1919, when he was twenty, he married a girl from Safe Harbour, Flora Hounsell, who was born June 10,1899. They raised a family in Safe Harbour. For most of the year Wilfred was away from home either fishing or logging, leaving his wife to look after the children at home. Before he went away in the fall he gathered up enough firewood to last his family for the winter. In the spring his wife would put in a garden to grow a few vegetables. This was a way of life for most families in those days.
They had three sons and three daughters. Two sons died at an early age. In the late thirties Wilfred got a job at the paper mill in Comer Brook and eventually moved his family there. He worked at the paper mill until his retirement in 1964, at the age of 65. Wilfred and Flora had many years of retirement together. Flora passed away on Dec. 29, 1982. After that Wilfred decided to live with his oldest daughter, Daisy, for a few years and then with his second oldest daughter, Neta. His daughter, Sophie passed away in 1995. In 1998, he moved into a senior’s center. He was still pretty smart for his age even after he turned 102 years old. In 2001 his daughter, Daisy, passed away. His son Charlie lives in Grand Falls-Windsor and his daughter, Neta lives in Comer Brook. In early 2002 he had to move into a nursing home. He passed away a few months later on Sept 22, 2002 at the fine age of 103 years and 8 days. Even to the last few days of his life he was still pretty alert and aware of what was going around him.
He was a fine person. I am very proud to have been related to him. He was a hardworking Newfoundlander who lived through some hard times like a lot of newfoundlanders in his time. I always enjoyed the stories he told me from time to time about his life. One story come to mind was the one about his fishing spot. It was in Safe Harbour at a pond called Pudding Bag Pond. In 1999 I visited Safe Harbour and took some pictures. One of the pictures I took was of that pond. When I returned to Comer Brook, I went to visit him and show him the pictures of Safe Harbour and one of them was of his fishing spot. He really liked the pictures When I showed him the picture of the pond, his face lit right up and he had a glee in his eye and a tear running down his cheek. I will never forget that moment. It was very heartwarming for me.
I miss those times we had together. At his funeral, an elderly lady told me that her husband worked with Wilfred for a long time at the mill and always admired his character. He always said that if anybody found anything wrong with Wilfred Osmond, there was something wrong with them. He was admired and loved by a lot of people. He was a gentleman’s gentleman.
Written by Gene Colbourne, Wilfred’s grandson. He lives in Corner Brook.
More information on Wilf is available from the Newfoundland Grand Banks site here.