Fonds - Rev. Dr. Lester Burry fonds

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Title proper

Rev. Dr. Lester Burry fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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Fonds

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1931-1977; predominant 1933-1957 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

40 cm textual material, 5 medals and awards, 65 photos, 550 35mm slides, 45 lantern slides, 2 - 16 mm film reels, 6 sound recordings

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1898-1977)

Biographical history

Lester Leland Burry was born on July 12, 1898 at Safe Harbour, Bonavista Bay to Stephen and Marie (Bourne) Burry. He attended school at Safe Harbour and Greenspond. In 1923, he graduated from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick with a degree in Arts and Theology. He returned to Newfoundland and was ordained as a Methodist minister at Gower St. United Church on June 30, 1924.
Rev. Burry served in St. Anthony as his first pastoral charge, remaining for 4 years. While in St. Anthony he met and married on Sept 4 , 1928 a teacher - Amelia Marie Penney of St. Anthony. After their marriage the Burrys were transferred to the pastoral charge of Curling for one year and then to Little Bay Islands for a further three years. While in Little Bay Islands, Rev. Burry was asked to serve the Hamilton Inlet Mission in Labrador for a period of three years. Dr. Burry and his wife moved to Northwest River, the base for the mission, and remained there for 26 years. In 1931 the Hamilton Inlet Mission was one of the largest geographically in Canada, comprising the 100 mile Inlet area and extended along the coast for another 200 miles. In this setting, Dr. Burry had to deal with the vastness, the sparse, spread-out population and the weather. In summer, travel was by Mission Boat - the “Glad Tidings II” (which he designed) - and in winter by dog team and in the last 8 years of his work in Labrador by snowmachine. Extended pastoral visits took 7 weeks twice a year for Rev. Burry to reach all the members of his pastoral charge, and in between there were shorter visits to other communities not as far-flung.
Dr. Burry recognized the isolation of the trappers who often were dozens of miles away from their families for many months of the year. He built crystal radio sets and earphones for the trappers and obtained a surplus radio transmitter from the American air base. On Sunday evenings the trappers were able to hear the church broadcast. On Tuesday evenings the women could talk with their husbands and friends on the trap lines. One resident commented that this was the best thing that could happen to Labrador. This service was expanded to include fishing schooners, fishing communities on the coast, light house keepers, traders and clerks at Hudson Bay outposts, and Sunday School classes.
Rev. Burry represented Labrador at the Newfoundland National Convention 1946-48 and was one of seven delegates to the meetings which worked out the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada. He attended the official opening of the Churchill Falls Hydroelectric Development and saw the beginnings of iron ore mining in Labrador.
After the end of his mission work in Labrador (1957), the Burrys served the pastoral charge of Clark’s Beach for 2 years, then moved to St. John’s where Rev. Burry became chaplain to hospitals and institutions for the United Church for 4 years. He became Minister Emeritus of Cochrane St. United Church at this time, served on this church’s Board of Sessions, was chairman of St. John’s Presbytery of United Church of Canada (1958-59), and President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Conference of United Church of Canada (1959-60). Rev. Burry retired from active ministry in 1963.
In addition to his church work, Rev. Burry was involved in education, and was a strong advocate of interdenominational education. He was an avid gardener, photographer, amateur radio operator, and supporter of the John Howard Society (and served as its President for a time).
Rev Burry was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Theology from Pine Hill Theological College in 1950 and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in December, 1969. In 1975, the town of Happy Valley, Labrador named one of its streets “Burry Crescent” in honour of his contribution to Labrador.
Rev. Burry died on August 31, 1977 in St. John’s.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of materials pertaining to Dr. Burry's career as a clergyman in various pastoral charges in Newfoundland and principally Labrador. There are four series. Series 1, (1933-1969, predominant 1933-1959), comprises 660 still images, in photographic, 35 mm and lantern slide format, as well as two 16 mm film reels. Some of the 35 mm slides have been numbered and have accompanying title descriptions. Series 2 contains personal and church papers as well as correspondence and notes about his ministry (1921-1977, predominant 1933-1957). Series 3 consists of medals, awards and certificates ([192-]-1969). Series 4 comprises six sound recordings in audio cassette format, which includes voice overs for slide presentations, interviews of Rev. Burry and other material. The accompanying slides to the voice overs had not been indicated in the slide arrangement at the time of acquisition

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Arrangement

Much of the textual material has been arranged by Rev. Hector Swain when he was preparing a thesis for his Master of Divinity Degree (1979). Most of Rev. Burry’s papers have been numbered and indexed by Rev. Swain. Integrated in Rev. Burry’s papers is other material that Rev. Swain used in his thesis research. Some of the material indexed is missing. There are other miscellaneous papers which had not been arranged by Rev. Swain and these have now been placed into files based on their content.

The graphic images were Rev Burry’s “working papers”. His graphic images were a teaching tool. They were used for presentations and lectures. As a result of this approach, the order of the images necessarily changed day to day as his requirements for particular images in his collection changed . The order in which they have been described appear to be the way in which Rev. Burry had organized the material prior to their acquisition. The file titles come from Rev. Burry’s labels of some of his images.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Still images are available in digital format.

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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Material is described to the file level. Photocopies of all but the framed photographs available. Many of the lantern slides are labelled, a title description of 35 mm slides accompanies two of these files.
Rev Swain has provided an index of some of the textual material; this is located in Box 1.

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No further accruals expected.

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