This page is from a heritage partnered project. It was written in 1998 by students from Stephenville Integrated High School and edited by their teachers. It has not been vetted by the heritage website's academic editor.
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 and Labrador 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 and Labrador, 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 locals 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 and Labradorians previously had little, if any, opportunity to enjoy.
The entertainment scene 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 was an event that took place every second summer in the town of Stephenville. The day of celebration was significant in that it brought the past and the present together.
Harmon Field Day evolved over the years to become The Friendly Invasion, an annual summer festival that remembers the friendship that was forged between the local people and the American military personnel from 1941 to 1966.