For over a century life proceeded at a moderate pace for the residents of the peaceful little village
of Stephenville. With the construction of Ernest Harmon Air Force Base by the Americans in
1941, however, the 500 original residents of the town were to experience tremendous cultural
influences. The impact of the influx of thousands of American servicemen and civilian workers
from other parts of Newfoundland was to be seen in all aspects of life.
Exposure to the American way of life impacted upon perceptions regarding standards of living.
New goods and products coming to the area, never before seen in Newfoundland, raised people's
expectations and desires. The construction and operation of the base offered many opportunities
for employment. Recreation facilities were constructed, service industries were established and
venues where Newfoundlanders and Americans could socialize were numerous.
The Americans took advantage of the pristine wilderness areas around Stephenville. Salmon
rivers, trout streams and hunting grounds for big and small game were everywhere. The bounty
of the North Atlantic was also at the doorstep with its then abundance of cod, lobster, mackerel,
halibut and shell fish. Numerous recreational facilities became available that Newfoundlanders
previously had little, if any, opportunity to enjoy.
The entertainment scene was also changed dramatically with the addition of first class facilities
to be enjoyed by both military and civilian personnel. Personalities such as Frank Sinatra and
Elvis Presley visited the base to perform for servicemen.
Harmon Field Day is an event that takes place every second summer in the town of Stephenville.
The day of celebration is significant in that it brings the past and the present together.