McAlpine Directories

The McAlpine Directories were a series of registries that listed civic and business addresses of individuals residing in the Atlantic provinces (referred to as the maritime provinces in the inaugural directory). Widely available to residents of St. John’s, the directories were commonly used to locate particular business or household provisions, to send correspondence, and for many other purposes.

The first McAlpine Directory was issued in 1870-71, published by David McAlpine of Halifax; The Center for Newfoundland Studies at MUN has the document available to view in its entirety here. The sections specific to Newfoundland are here. For a note on the earlier Hutchinson’s Newfoundland Directory for 1864-65, see bottom of page.

The documents are searchable, so it’s easy to locate particular streets or surnames (‘search this object’ in menu at left). This allows access to a wealth of data; not just who lived in our home through the last 15 decades, but also can provide information on past socioeconomic profiles of particular streets and neighbourhoods.

Example of listing from 1870-71 McAlpine Directory for Newfoundland

Of course, this information wouldn’t be useful without knowledge of streets and neighbourhoods that existed at the time; Newfoundland GenWeb has a list of former street or property names, and their current counterparts. The list was generated through information outlined in Paul O’Neill’s book, The Oldest City The Story of St. John’s Newfoundland.

Our street name hasn’t changed since the city’s founding, but the residents of our house have changed hands many times. Here’s a list of the names, occupations, and address number of the residents of our street in 1870-71:

Edward Flynn, labourer, civic address #1
Thomas Flynn, labourer, 1
John Lundergan, labourer, 1
Water Company’s Store, 1
George Forward, Sailmaker, 8
John Forward, Sailmaker, 8
George Hutton, groceries and provisions, 9
Robert Hutton, clerk, 9
Thomas Waymouth, shoemaker, 10
Charles Ryan, planter, 15
Malcolm McDaggart, engineer, 16
James Walsh, 17
Thomas Walsh, fisherman, 17
Charles Ghent, Cooper, 20
Edward Power, labourer, 26
Margaret Delany, dressmaker, 27
Mary Ann Delany, wid, 27
Patrick Dillon, ship carpenter, 28
Charles Williams, salesman, 28
James Wallace, fisherman, 29
John Carter, cooper, 30
Rbert Graham, shoemaker, 34
James Dobbin, shoemaker, 34
Michael Purcell, mariner 40
George Anthony, Tallyman, 42
Lawrence Murphy, fisherman, 50
John Ryan, fisherman, 52
Michael Ryan, fisherman, 52
Pierce Ryan, fisherman, 52
Thomas Ryan, fisherman, 52
John Cummins, fisherman 54
Peter Dillon, tinsmith, 54
John St. John, carpenter, 56
Thomas St. John, joiner, 56
James Mullowny, cooper, 58
Beckford bros, fisher and mariner, 59
James Dunn, fisherman, 60
Thomas Hand, fisherman, 61
Elias Grishey, labourer, 63
John Malone, fisherman, 65
Michael Malone, labourer, 65
Daniel Shea, mariner, 66
Jeremiah Dunn, labourer, 66
william Dunn, labourer, 66
Nathaniel Bradbury, labourer, 68
William Heany, Fisherman, 68
Edward Scott, mariner, 69
John Smith, labourer, 71
Israel Squires, shoemaker, 73
George Lilly, carpenter, 75
Albert Wiltshire, blacksmith, 77
Ishmael Wiltshire, carpenter, 77
John Wiltshire, fisherman, 77
John Ready, labourer, 79
Charles Brine, gardener, 80
Thomas Kennedy fisherman, 81
John Cahill, schoolteacher, 85
Robert Dunn, fisherman, 88
James Kennedy, fisherman, 89
Andrew Evi, fisherman, 90
Michael Dickson, labourer, 91
John Skiffen, fisherman, 92
Patrick Walsh, printer, 94
John Walsh, shoemaker, 94
Michael Walsh, mariner, 94
Nicholas Walsh, Fisherman, 94
Patrick Walsh, printer, 94
Daniel Curtain, fisherman, 95
John Griffin, fisherman, 95
John Murphy, fisherman, 95
Patrick Roach, labourer, 97
Anastasia Durney, widow, 99
James Rahill, printer, 99
Michael Mulcahy, porter, 101
Nicholas White, servant man, 103

One-hundred and forty two years ago, Mr. John Cahill, schoolteacher, resided in our house:

This is further evidence that our house is likely an older construction than we initially thought! Our street was dominated by fisherman and labourers, but also several carpenters and shoemakers. Note the many families living together, often sharing the same line of work.

Check out this great advertisement included in the 1870-71 Directory:

The 1894-97 Directory for Newfoundland can be found here. This guide is especially useful because the Great Fire of 1892 displaced many residents and businesses; this volume reflects some of the changed locations. Our street was largely spared in the Great Fire, partially evidenced through the unchanging civic addresses from the 1870 volume to this volume. Also, there are notes about afflicted businesses moving to our street directly after the fire.

The 1894-97 Directory lists a new occupant of our house: John Grace, a labourer. Oooh!

The 1898 Directory for Newfoundland is available here. John Grace is now “time keeper”

It’s interesting to see some of the other new and changing professions of residents on my street, 110 years ago:
Thomas Wilson, engineer, #8
James Culleton, baker, 12
Henry Moore, bicycle repairer, 14
Deni Coffee, pensioner of H.M. Service, 30
John Coffee, plumber, 30
Thomas Collingwood, accountant, 48
William Collingwood, storekeeper, 48
William Fitzgerald, storekeeper, 49
Michael Cahill, labourer, 50
Peter Cahill, wheelwright, 50
George Button, car man, 54
Daniel Curtin, clerk, 56
Mary Devereaux, widow, 81
John Geary, cooper, 95
Robert Duff, clerk, 107

The 1904-05 Directory for Newfoundland can be found here. Some interesting occupations of residents of our street include:
Philip Hanely painter, 5
Alexander Forward, Engineer, 6
John Donnelly, sea capitain, 14
Charles Gear, H.M.C., 24
Francis Knight, H.M.C., 26
John Martin sail maker, 28
Miss Mary Martin, clerk, 28
George Hennebury cooper, 30
Maurice Hallern, carpenter, 46
David Kinsella, miner and prospector , 50
Catherine Coffee, grocer, 52
Miss Annie English Prop. Terra Nova Hand Laundry (w/ ad), 75
Mr. Cahill, wheelwright, 77
John French, teacher, 81
William March, joiner, 83
John Grace, storekeeper City Works, 85
Joh Hillyard teacher, 107

Pretty cool: in 1904, John Grace was still living in our house: he had upgraded from his 1885 occupation as city time keeper, to storekeeper for City Works.

I love this ad for Terra Nova Hand Laundry, on our street:

The 1908-09 Directory for Newfoundland can be found here. It seems that Mr. John Grace is still the occupant of our house, but he’s now a Sanitary Department watchman!

Lastly, the 1915 city Directory for St. John’s is available here. John Grace is not listed in the directory, and two new residents appear to be living in our house:

Mr. Power:

…and Mr. Green:

Another great ad for a store on our street

If the McAlpine Directories help you to flesh out the story of your house, leave a comment!

*The earlier Hutchinson’s Newfoundland Directory for 1864-65 is available here. This directory is much more business oriented than the later McAlpine Directories, and far fewer individuals are counted in its survey. Nevertheless, it is a good resource for historic research.

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2 Comments

Filed under Newfoundland+Labrador, St. John's, We Love Local

2 responses to “McAlpine Directories

  1. Oooh, what fun! I think this was replaced in later years with the Polk’s City Directory, which ceased printing in 2000. We have issues from 1987 to 2000 at the law library here. There are more businesses listed, of course, and a lot more students living in the city’s houses!

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