On the 18th day of November 1929, there was an earthquake/tidal wave, which rocked the coastal Newfoundland communities. The quake originated off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, resulting in tremors that were felt in all the Maritime Provinces. For those who experienced it, it will be a day not soon forgotten. When discussing the incident with Mrs. John White, she exclaimed: “I’ll never forget what I was doing that day. I was cleaning the stovepipe and the pipe started to shake. I taught it was the wind, but I went outside and there was neither draught. It was still.” The quake registered 7.2 on the Richter scale and traveled as far as eastern Quebec and the northern New England states.

The tidal wave, which followed, struck the southern end of the Burin Peninsula with tremendous force, claiming the lives of 27 local residents. Approximately $400,000 in damages was reported. Many homes were destroyed and valuable fishing equipment was lost.

On the West Coast of the province, subsequent tremors were felt but no severe damage was reported. Mr. John Doucette, a lifelong resident of Kippens, recalled that he was working on the pier at the Aguathuna limestone quarry, and the tremor was not felt there at all. The tremors were felt in Kippens, however, and to the many community members who experiences this episode, it was far more than an earth tremor. It was a test of faith. Some people believed that the world was ending. Cecilia King of Kippens describes her parents’ reaction when they encountered the tremors, and says:

I remember hearing my mother and father talk about it. I think it was somewhere around suppertime it happened. All of a sudden everything started shaking and my mother said she thought it was the end of the world . . . they all knelt down and started to pray . . . I don’t know how long it lasted, but after it stopped, mother said the ground was just like waves. This disaster has gone down in Newfoundland history as the “South Coast Disaster of 1929”, and despite its varying degrees of severity, it has left its mark on Newfoundland and her people.

Did you know? Martin and Jean Alexander, Gabriel and Bridget Bourgeois, Peter and Pearl Gabriel owned the first telephones in Kippens. The Co-op store also had a telephone, but it had its own line. At that time, every phone call had to be paid for (it coast ten cents to call Stephenville Crossing) and people who needed to use a phone would go to one of there three houses, place their call, and leave their money with the people who had the telephone.

Did you know?
Willie Simon owned the first automobile in Kippens.