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The Killdevil Lodge Experience in Gros Morne National Park


Flanker Press Limited

St. John’s


To Archbishop Robert L. and Mrs. Betty Seaborn, who brought their experience and love of church camping to Newfoundland and Labrador and planted the same in what has become known as Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre in the Lomond area of Bonne Bay.

To Reverend Canon David M. A. Pearce, who always thrived in the use of his many gifts in ministry to young people in particular and as the first executive director of Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre, 1994–1997.

To the hundreds of volunteers who gave so much, willingly and selflessly, to get Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre up and running and to keep it on track with its special ministry to people of all ages, children and young people in particular.



Preface and Rationale for Church Youth Camps

Chapter 1

The Seaborns and the Founding of

Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre

Chapter 2

Church Camps at Killdevil

Beginning with Girls’ Camp, 1959

Chapter 3

Killdevil Boys’ Camp, 1959, and

The 1987 Boy Scouts Jamboree

Chapter 4

Youth Camp Programs, 1960 Onwards

Chapter 5

Killdevil Site Development Over Sixty Years

Chapter 6

Personal Recollections

Chapter 7

Killdevil, Property of Gros Morne National Park

and the Cordial Relationship Between the Two

Chapter 8

Paid Staff: Cooks, Caretakers, and Executive Directors

Chapter 9

Stories of First-hand Experiences at Church Camps

Chapter 10

Favourite Hymns and Songs




For those of us who have been touched by Killdevil, there is usually one defining memory which sums up the attachment we have to this wonderful place. For some it is spiritual as we remember raising a joyous sound to God, even if it was sometimes off-key, or we remember sitting alone in the silence of the chapel, so sure that we were in the presence of God as we were of our own existence.

For others it was the camaraderie, either as campers or as staff, a camaraderie that often led to new friends, even to that one special friend so dear to our hearts. Still others remember it as their first time away from home, the nervousness and pang of homesickness swallowed up quickly by the boisterous antics of fellow campers and the warm welcome of the staff. Or maybe it was the food and music, one as important to the body as the other was to the spirit.

So many stories, so many memories, so many people. Too many for one book. And yet it is to Archbishop Payne’s credit that, by bringing so much of this material together, he has captured the very essence of Killdevil.

For some of you it will be a walk down memory lane. For others it will be an introduction to an unknown but very special place.

May Killdevil continue for years to come so that others will experience the same peace, joy, and happiness which we fortunate ones have been blessed to know.

Llewellyn Hounsell

Chairperson, Killdevil Camp Committee


Preface and Rationale for

Church Youth Camps

In 2019 we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre, situated in the scenic Bonne Bay area of Lomond, in Gros Morne National Park. The two-fold purpose of this book is to tell how the site was acquired and developed, and to share the memorable first-hand experiences of campers, staff, and others who have spent time at Killdevil.

I wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to send me a story of their camp experiences, so I posted the request on the websites of all three Newfoundland and Labrador dioceses and suggested that all the parishes therein might spread the word in their Sunday bulletins. I didn’t promise to use everything that came in but such as was important to the purpose of the book. I made it clear, too, that I would have the right to edit stories where necessary. Thirty-six people sent me precious vignettes and stories of their church camping experiences. No two stories were alike, but naturally there were a lot of similarities in them. To use all thirty-six stories would be a book in itself. In the interest of space and the purpose of the book, I had some tough decisions to make. In the acknowledgements section of the book I have listed with deep, deep gratitude all thirty-six names of the people who sent me stories. I have used some stories and parts of other stories, where I felt they fitted into the main part of the book, and some other stories which paid tribute to certain volunteers who gave many years of service directing camps and to making Killdevil what it is today.

Killdevil started with a focus on church camps for children and young people but almost immediately expanded into a camp and conference centre. The only paid staff in the early years were the cooks and the caretakers. Everything else was done by volunteers. The individual camps there are still run by volunteers. The operations were governed by several committees: the Trustee Committee, the Operations Committee, the Women’s Camp Committee, the Boys’ Camp Committee, and several smaller committees appointed to do one specific piece of work at a certain time.

I have read practically all the recorded minutes of the various committee meetings. There is no complete list of names of the hundreds of volunteers. I know the peril of mentioning some names and not others, but some people’s names inevitably come up because of their association with a particular project or event and in connection with the stories they gave me. The book is not a biography of anyone but a simple account of the development of the site and the church’s ministry to campers and others in our years of growth and development. To all committee members and volunteers, without the contributions you so willingly, eagerly, and ably made, Killdevil would never have become what it is today. Our love and gratitude to you all.

Another source of information for this book is my personal involvement in Killdevil, which began after 1970 when I became the rector of the Parish of St. Anthony. From 1978 to 1997, during my time as Diocesan Bishop of Western Newfoundland, the operation of Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre was high on my list of priorities and gave me further information to draw on. I take full responsibility for the content of this book.

One could very well ask, “What is the rationale for church youth camps? Why would the church invest so much by way of dollars, time, and hard work into establishing church-run camps for children and young people?”

Children come to Holy Baptism in the church so that they may grow in God’s grace and be trained in the household of faith. This is a shared responsibility of parents, godparents, and the full membership of the church. To get a better sense of this responsibility, we have only to read through a part of the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer and the Baptismal Liturgy in the Book of Alternative Services. We all promise to fulfill our responsibilities by God’s help.

We teach not simply by word but by deed and example. From birth all the way through, teaching is continuous in the life of home and family. The church has done much over the years to share in the growth and development of Christian living, for children and people of all ages. Some of the church’s work in this area would come under the name of Sunday Schools, Children’s Time in the context of weekly worship, youth groups, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Anglican Young People’s Association, altar servers, junior choirs, and acts of service or ministry to others.

Church-run summer camps are just another way in which we try to carry out our responsibilities to help children and young people grow in God’s grace and be trained in the household of faith. At camp, the worship services in chapel, the prayers at the flagstaff, and the religious instruction (Quest) all help in the formation of a living faith and the cultivation of Christian values. All the programs which might be thought of as geared to campers’ physical health alone are all part of spiritual growth and development. You can’t separate one from the other.

The exposure of being one with fifty, sixty, or 100 other children is phenomenal. They learn to get along with one another, make lifelong friendships, and accept and respect one another. Doing the daily chores helps create a team spirit, and they learn that work doesn’t have to be drudgery but can be fun, too, as they all do a fair share.

Other programs, like sports, swimming, hiking, and arts and crafts, all help the physical and spiritual growth. In all the programs of camp life, children discover more and more their God-given gifts and talents and how they can use them for the benefit of themselves and others. It happens again and again that a child who had no opportunity to learn how to swim before coming to camp learned to swim and took home several Red Cross badges. In all the sports activities, children learn teamwork, fair play, and how to live by the rules. They learn more and more that it is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that matters.

Having seen the great benefits of church camps in the physical and spiritual growth and well-being of children and young people, I know that it is all very worthwhile.

Stewart Payne

Chapter 1

The Seaborns and the founding of

Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre

The story of Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre begins when Bishop Robert Seaborn (later Archbishop Robert Seaborn) and Mrs. Betty Seaborn, both of whom had grown up in Toronto, and their family came to Corner Brook in 1958. Bishop Robert Seaborn had come to be the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Newfoundland and Labrador. Part of the mandate given to him from our diocesan bishop, Bishop John A. Meaden, living in St. John’s, was to concentrate on youth ministry in Central and Western Newfoundland and Labrador. Bishop Seaborn and Betty had had extensive experience in youth work, especially in the area of church camps for children and young people.

Betty’s aunt Mary Susanna Edgar started the first Anglican Church Camp for girls in Canada in 1922 on Lake Bernard, Sundridge, Ontario. At the age of seven in 1922, Betty attended that camp and went to Glen Bernard Camp for part of each summer thereafter into her late teens, first as a camper and then as a camp counsellor.

During and after high school, Betty trained as a games mistress, equivalent to a physical education teacher today, and taught in that role in England when Robert was attending Oxford University. During the late 1940s and 1950s, when Robert was dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Quebec City, they both attended the Quebec Diocesan Camp, Quebec Lodge, Betty as a camp director and Robert as padre. In the Summer of 1957, while living in Vancouver, BC, Betty directed a camp at Camp Artaban, a British Columbia Anglican Church Camp. It is of great interest to note that the beautiful, much-loved camp hymn “God Who Touchest Earth with Beauty” was composed by Betty’s aunt, Mary S. Edgar.


Left to right: Betty Seaborn, Aunt Susanna Edgar, Allan “Tex” Seaborn, Bishop Robert Seaborn. Courtesy of Allan Seaborn.


Killdevil Lodge as it was when purchased by the Diocese of Newfoundland in 1959. Courtesy of Antony Berger.

Killdevil Lodge, alternate angle

With all their experience and love for church camping, Bishop Seaborn began immediately, upon settling into Corner Brook, to look for a suitable church campsite. Several sites were explored, but the Killdevil Lodge property in Lomond, Bonne Bay, became the favourite location.


Archbishop Robert Seaborn. Courtesy of Allan Seaborn.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, the communities of Stanleyville and Lomond in Bonne Bay were into the sawmill and lumber industry. The company involved in the lumber business was the St. Lawrence Pulp and Steamship Company, out of Chesterfield, England. The lodge, a beautiful, large house, was built in 1920 by the St. Lawrence Company as a residence for their manager, George Simpson. For some reason, unknown to the author, the name attached to the lodge was St. Techla. St. Techla was a saint of the early Christian Church and a reported follower of St. Paul the Apostle. The earliest record of her life comes from the ancient Apocryphal Literature called “Acts of Paul and Techla.” It is an intriguing story which demonstrates a woman in active ministry and shows a woman as an apostle.


Archbishop and Mrs. Robert Seaborn in later years.

Courtesy of Allan Seaborn.

Horses were used in the woods and lumber industry and were housed in a barn on the lodge site. It is likely that other animals, including hens, were housed in the barn. The level, upper field was used by Lomond folk as a garden.

For some time the Lomond woods operation was part of Bowater Newfoundland, operating out of Corner Brook. The lumber business fell on hard times, and in 1942, Bowater’s acquired the Lomond property from the owner, the St. Lawrence Company. In 1946, Ella Manuel purchased the lodge, then known as St. Techla, on the fourteen-acre site from Bowater’s and renamed it Killdevil Lodge. Here she operated a sports fishing venture in co-operation with the American sports fisherman Lee Wulff until 1958.

Lee Wulff had come to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1947 to explore the possibility of establishing a sports fishing enterprise. He bought land and established two fishing lodges and a number of cabins near Portland Creek Pond—between Portland Creek Pond and what was to become the Great Northern Peninsula highway. He used Portland Creek Pond as a base for his float plane and created a landing strip for larger, land-based planes nearby, bringing American fishermen and others to fish, for Atlantic salmon in particular. When the sports fishing venture ended, Lee Wulff and his business partner, Frank M. Frazee, sold the property to Great Lakes Carbon Corporation in 1954. In Turn, Great Lakes sold the property to Salar Corporation, whose parent company was Sperry Gyroscope Company in Delaware, USA. The Diocese of Newfoundland bought the Portland Creek property from Salar on March 20, 1963, for the sum of $54,908.13. I’m inclined to agree with the people in Portland Creek and Daniel’s Harbour area, who were of the opinion that getting children to Killdevil from isolated communities north of Portland Creek was so very difficult in those days, having to travel via the partially built road and by sea, and so the Diocese of Newfoundland was hoping to establish a church camping centre at Portland Creek. This never materialized, and the diocese sold the property to four local business partners in June of 1990 for the sum of $51,205. Some housekeeping items and other equipment from this property were handed on to Killdevil Camp and Conference Centre. My information regarding the Portland Creek property was gleaned from our diocesan archives and from folks in the area who knew and worked with Lee Wulff on that property.

Bishop Seaborn, with a view to starting negotiations toward the purchase of Killdevil Lodge, called meetings for January 12, 1959, at the parish hall in Corner Brook. The following men attended from the Central and Western regions of Newfoundland: Bishop R. L. Seaborn, Archdeacon Lewis Norman, the Rev. Warrick Wells, Sterling Randell, J. Lind, Magistrate J. White, Harold O. House, P. J. Tipping, Eric Skanes, Austin Purchase, R. L. Humber, M. G. Green, Fred Beauchamp, and Harold Meade. (M. G. Green, Fred Beauchamp, and Harold Meade didn’t make it to the first meeting that day.) Harold O.

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