Coombs Day

Don’t know how these people would fit into my family tree, but I found this interesting nevertheless: a gloomy Newfoundland expression:

“On February 3, 1868, a vicious blizzard lashed the Avalon Peninsula killing more than 30 people. In Upper Island Cove a man named John Coombs and his two teenaged children, Mary and Richard, were frozen to death. John Coombs had gone into the woods to cut wood when he was overcome. In separate incidents the younger Coombs and two other residents of the town perished in the storm. Thereafter throughout the Avalon Peninsula the accepted expression for a bad storm was a “Coombs’ Day.” “Looks like we’re going to have a Coombs’ Day tomorrow” or “That was a real Coombs’ Day,” were commonly heard for generations after. The idiom lasted until the early 1920s.”

From Les Harding’s Exploring the Avalon. (Exploring Newfoundland Series. St. John’s: Breakwater Books, 1998. page 90.)

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5 thoughts on “Coombs Day

  1. I just read where my ancestor Joseph Drover of Upper Island Cove died in the Coombs Day disaster and his date of death is listed as the same as what you have mentioned: Feb 3, 1868. I didn’t know what this disaster was and I looked it up and found your blog. Thank you for posting this. I also have Coombs ancestors from UIC so they may have been involved too. Very sad.

  2. I know a lot about Coombs Day…My great great grandfather was the John coombs who died in the blizzard of Feb 3 1868…maybe we can chat sometime

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