The Travers/Kildare Capes History

Mary Travers (1783-1854)

(Related Articles: For other related articles view the Government Reform Era section of the Government and Politics Table of Contents.)

(From the Women’s History Walking Tour Booklet)

Mary Travers ran a tavern or hotel which was used in 1832 as a polling station for the election of members to the first Newfoundland House of Assembly. Between January and June, 1834, the House of Assembly held its first legislative session at the tavern/hotel. However, the Members neglected to pass an appropriation for rent, so an irate Mrs. Travers treated them like any other indigent roomers and ejected them from her premises. She also seized the Speaker’s chair and hat, the mace of the Sergeant-at-Arms, and desks, books and papers belonging to the House of Assembly.


Site of Mary Travers’ tavern

186-188 Duckworth Street, St. John’s, NL (across from the War Memorial) © 1998, Lisa LeDrew 

Mrs. Travers was summoned before the bar of the house and threatened with the most dire punishments unless she relented and released the furniture. She laughed at their threats and told them flatly, no rent, no furniture. The furniture and papers were eventually recovered by the government after a new order was passed by the legislature for payment of the rent. There is no record of Mrs. Travers receiving payment for her services. Mary Travers died in 1854 in Kildare, Prince Edward Island. 

The above is an article on her but the family has added a few things pertaining to her life in PEI.

Her husband, John Travers was a merchant marine and traded molasses and salted fish and disappeared at sea sometime prior to1832.  It was for this reason, she opened the tavern.  Once the situation with the British Crown was resolved, she and her 7 sons and daughters ended up in PEI with 3000 acres.   

The Yankee Gale was a major storm in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Prince Edward Island, that began on the night of October 3, 1851 and continued for two days. It is considered the worst marine disaster in the history of the island.[1] In addition to local ships, the storm wrecked much of the New England fishing fleet that was working in the waters, giving the gale its name. At least 74 ships were destroyed, and 150 crew were killed. On the morning of Oct 5, 1851, Mary’s son, John, beachcombed the beaches and found 9 dead sailors.  He found some sail cloth amongst the debris and he wrapped the bodies and dragged them up the cliffs and buried them in the family cemetery in an unmarked mass grave.  Mary insisted that a church be built alongside the cemetery. To this day, Christ Church has evening services in July and August and is open to everyone.   

The original 3000 acres has since been shrunk to 200 acres still owned by the Travers family.  The Laughing Lighthouse sits on that property.