Articles & Events

Mushrow Recognized For Artifact Recovery
This article by Claudine J. Neil was published by The Gulf News

Henceforth the astrolabe recovered by Port Aux Basques resident Mushrow in Nov. 1981 shall be known as the Astrolabe. Provincial tourism minister Jim Walsh came to town last week to set that record straight.

These magical words ended a 12 year battle of bureaucracy between the local scuba-diver and the provincial government. Although he made no apologies for the Department of Tourism, Mr. Walsh noted it sometimes reflects the individual in charge.

Mr. Mushrow made no secret of the personal conflict that had brewed between him and tourism's long time deputy minister William Frost. Despite his many attempts to resolve the matter with the provincial government the minister's assistant always seemed to get in the way of a resolution.

When Mr. Walsh assumed responsibility for the tourism and culture portfolio nearly 14 months ago his goal was to address some of the problem areas. He admitted the Mushrow conflict had been one of the issues pushed on the back-burner. The minister said a decade-plus was too long to allow the controversy to continue. Although there was still some political opposition to his decision to recognize Mr. Mushrow, he noted it was a judgement call. "This one instrument is probably the most significant find in our province," the tourism minister began. "It ties directly to our maritime history

He explained the purpose of the astrolabe. adding that recognition should be given to the individual who had made the find on behalf of the province. "So l've come here today to set the record straight." he said. After he officially gave the astrolabe Mr. Mushrow 's name he presented the diver with one of the three plaques that have been sculpted. A second was presented to the town and the third will travel with the artifact when it is on loan. While the artifact will he traveling to several European countries including Bristol, England for its 1996 Festival of the Sea, Mr. Walsh insisted the instrument's official home is Port aux Basques.

Unsolved Mystery
Mr. Mushrow extended his thanks to the tourism minister for the courage to put the controversy to rest. He also issued a special thanks to his wife Joan for her determination. understanding and dependability.

The Gulf News was praised for its role in keeping the issue on the table. Other appreciative thoughts were extended to LaPoile MHA Bill Ramsay, mayor Don Hann, Roland Maugher, and the Port aux Basques town council. As he stood before invited guests Mr. Mushrow criticized the Provincial Artifacts Act. "The cruel and unjust Artifacts Act which does not work encourages people to take artifacts out of the country." he said. adding, "It should be revised." He also suggested the Gulf Museum be upgraded to the level of a provincial museum and the astrolabe be made its centrepiece. "If you want to see the Cabot Tower you have to go to St. John's." Mr. Mushrow said. "They don't bring it off Channel Head every summer.He listed several other attractions and noted their locations as well.

In making his point about exactly where the astrolabe should be Mr. Mushrow concluded, "If you want to see the Mushrow Astrolabe you're welcome to come to Port aux Basques."

Although it has been rumoured the diver has a second artifact he did not reveal it during last week's presentation ceremony. Mr. Mushrow tossed in a teaser for the public, however, and left it to them read between the lines. "The story of the astrolabe is like a book with two chapters," he said "Chapter one is now closed and chapter two which began some three years ago can now continue." "Like chapter one," he explained, "chapter two has concerns that will have to be addressed before it can proceed any further. These concerns have been made known to government, the town council and the general public." He expressed hopes that chapter two can be closed in time for the town's 50th anniversary celebrations during Come Home Year '95. "It's a golden opportunity for everyone." Mr. Mushrow said. In concluding his presentation he dropped a final plea to everyone, "Don't let chapter two become an unsolved mystery."