Blowing Up Candy Mountain

Blowing up Candy Rock.

One of the greatest adventures I was ever on as a little boy was when my brother, cousin and most likely Cory Lingard took me “all around.” I was only four or five, so all around was the vague description of taking a little kid somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. To be fair the oldest of the group was no more than 11. This big adventure entailed going back behind the house on St. Catherine Street, out of my local woods and down into the wilds that existed beyond the Arts and Culture Center and GFA Elementary.

If it were named as a region, it would be the Greater Candy Rock-Crawley’s Pond area. Back then it was a far different place than it is today. For one there were two or three routes you could take. One took yo down the field next to the primary school, which was still very much a meadow at the time, the area having been cleared for the school only thirteen years previous. The first landmark down this trail was a big boulder, an erratic, or something that was bulldozed in place by all the construction that had gone on over the years. Just past this there was and still is a stream. I don’t know if the stream ever had a name, I guess it was a tributary of Crawley’s Pond. At the stream you could go left, which would take you to Crawley’s Pond, which at the time was alledgedly full of frogs, or mutants. At the time it was semi recognizable as a pond too, though I have doubts that very much could live in it.

If you went in straight passed the big rock and the stream there was a meadow and a stand of young trembling aspen, at certain times of the year a plant grows there that looks like a sort of wild cotton. Back then there were the better parts of at least two cars in there. There were also two places where the ground had clearly been dug out. For most of my life I have been convinced it was somehow linked to the Beothuk, I even went as far as asking Don Locke about it, he said he was familiar but it wasn’t linked to the Beothuk; but they were surely there at some point. I am sure of this because if you know your way around you can work your way out to a rocky outcrop that presents a magnificent view of the Exploits River. Here my brother and my cousin Andy had built a camp. Somehow, they had cleared out an area and had somehow stuck the tops of the trees together to form a sort of makeshift roof.

If you go right from this area there were trails that took you past a collection of boulders which to me seemed like A: where a bear would live, or B: a Beothuk burial site like at the museum nearby. As you get closer to the Arts and Culture Center you found yourself on this massive formation of (correct me if I am wrong) granite. It might not be granite, but it seems to be a huge formation of some sort of igneous rock, unlike most of the red sandstone that predominates the area. To us this was called Candy Mountain, or Candy Rock. I believe at times it might have been called rock Candy Mountain. And of course it had always been there, though I remember being surprised to hear it referenced when our class went to watch John Thompson’s play The Price of Paper. There is no doubt the early pioneers of the town knew about it, well it was impossible for them not to. The Gardeners in their first log cabin in 1905 were in the shadow of it. From that rocky outcrop in 1905-1909 one could look out and see shacktown, the first company store, and the entire operation take shape. I have also seen a picture of Mayson Beeton and family on a early trip to the Grand Falls, in it they are in a field with that same cotton like plant mentioned above.

Then they blew it up.

Drills at working blowing up Candy Mountain Fall 1988 (Grand Falls Advertiser)

In about 1964 the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company sold both the Catholic and GFA school boards a couple of huge swaths of land to use for their schools and other related purposes. Actually, most of the schools were already on these blocks. GFA’s block basically went from around GFA High, part of St. Catherine Street, right down around Centennial Field. The Provincial Government ended up with a big chunk out of this, and naturally not wanting to buy anymore land this is where in the late 1980s it was decided to build a new court house. Into a massive formation of solid granite. It took a lot of blasting. Even today you can go down there and put your hands in some of the holes that were drilled for the explosives. It is a wonder that the Arts and Culture Center was not vaporized, these guys must have been good! When the dust and smoke cleared about half of Candy Rock was no gone. In its place was a sometime in 1989 was a new court house.

Candy Rock and the parking lot of the Law Courts. Most of this area was part of Candy Rock before 1988. (Google)
Another part of Candy Rock, when I was a kid it actually did seem like a mountain. (Google)

I spent a lot of time up around that area as I got older. I could probably walk the remaining parts of Candy Rock with my eyes closed, though I suspect that it might be grown in quite a bit now. The big empty field by the primary school is now chocked with alders, and the road that once went between GFA Primary and Elementary is scarcely wide enough for a bicycle. Candy Rock isn’t really much to look at now, now that I’m older it doesn’t look nearly as high.

One comment

  1. Good read Bryan. Grew up in these parts aswell. Crawley’s bog did in fact have frog’s in it. We used to cath them as children. I remember bringing home a bunch of tad poles in a bucket from there.

    Scott Arklie


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