The receipts are faded and fragile but they tell the story of a young couple making payments on their house. They were in their twenties expecting their first child. Initially they lived with his parents, then paid $350.00 for the house on West Avenue in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. The year was 1926 for this couple but the story has been repeated millions of times in the almost ninety years since; young people starting their lives together, buying their first home.
Ernest Smith and Bessie Earle were born within days of each other in 1901 in different parts of Newfoundland. They married in 1925 in Corner Brook. Their first child, Frederick, was born in the fall of 1926. It would be three years before their second child was born. Meanwhile Ern worked at the paper mill in Corner Brook. He was born in Dildo, and raised there and in Old Shop, Trinity Bay. Ern moved to Corner Brook when the construction of the paper mill started and he quickly got a job. The future looked bright for the young couple.
Bessie was born in Twillingate. She survived diphtheria, but lost her mother at an early age. Bessie went into service, working as a maid for other families when she was a teenager. She eventually moved to Corner Brook where she met her future husband.
They paid $20.00 a month on the loan for the house. It was a one story bungalow initially. Later they re-mortgaged the house and built another story for their growing family; between 1926 and 1945, they had seven children. The payments increased to $54.00 a month on a $1000.00 mortgage.
It is incredible to see their signatures so many years after their deaths. Little did the young couple know the day they signed the paper that many years later, several generations of their family would look at their signatures and wonder about the two people behind the distinctive signatures.
Long after Bessie and Ern died, the house was torn down and the land became part of the Coleman's Supermarket parking lot. The place of their hopes and dreams was long gone and forgotten. Until now.
*Thanks to Jeff for the picture.