Kitty Power: an Unsung Hero of Preserving Newfoundland History

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Kitty Power started with Newfoundland’s Traveling Library in 1940. The delivery service used teachers and clergymen as points of contact and would distribute books across the province via rail, boat and truck, even to the most isolated communities. She would tirelessly pack the hard covered books in what she described as “little wooden coffins” and send them off for months at a time. The ominous packaging was fitting as many books were lost, burned due to smallpox or eaten by mice, and it was Kitty Power’s job to keep an accurate log of the Traveling Library’s inventory.

In the 1960s, Mrs. Power became the reference librarian of the Gosling Library and was even tasked with cataloguing Joey Smallwood’s personal library. She took charge of the Arts & Culture Centre Newfoundland Collection in the 1970s, and then helmed the Newfoundland Historical Society’s office and archive from the basement of the Colonial building in the 1980s. At the age of 70, Mrs. Power became a whiz with a Tandy 1000 computer and helped integrate the new piece of tech into the Historical Society office where she used it for correspondence, cataloguing and producing newsletters.

Catherine “Kitty” Power turned 100 in 2018 and to say she is an unsung hero of preserving Newfoundland & Labrador history is an understatement. To mark the centennial celebration, the CBC ran a piece on her milestone birthday entitled “In the key of life: Kitty Power still tickles the ivories at 100” where they were treated to Mrs. Power’s original passion: the piano.

We found these photos taken by Roger Burrows in an archived issue of Decks Awash, Vol. 17, No. 01 – January/Febuary 1988.

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