Celebrating with a bang!

Derek Montague
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Happy Valley-Goose Bay man planning to launch fireworks with cannon on Canada Day

Bruce Haynes holds up an image of what his cannon will, hopefully, look like when it is completed.

Come July 1, the people of Labrador will celebrate Canada Day in a variety of ways. There will be community events, barbecues, parties and, of course, firework displays.

But one Happy Valley-Goose Bay man, Bruce Haynes, owner of Northern Lights Ltd., is taking his Canada Day festivities to a new level.

The military history enthusiast is constructing a five-and-a-half-foot cannon to launch his fireworks on July 1.

“I’ve always wanted one,” said Haynes. “My buddy, who sells fireworks said it would be good to get it for July 1. Then I figured we could set off fireworks (from my property) … I’ve got steel in the cannon strong enough to shoot mortars.”

“I got blueprints for everything. I go online, I go to the different museums and try to find different drawings.”

Even though there’s work still left to do, by mid-June Haynes had the barrel of the cannon nearly complete. He still, however, needed to make wheels and some other parts at that time. Some of the materials he’s using include steel pipe, wood, plastic, fibreglass, epoxy and cement.

Haynes is doing everything the hard way. Every part of the cannon is being made from raw material, rather then purchasing different parts and assembling them. If you suggest that he bought the cannon barrel from somewhere, he will quickly correct you.

“What do you mean where’d I get it? I built it from scratch,” said Haynes proudly.

Haynes is modelling his cannon based on a navy type that was used in the 1700s. According to Haynes, these kinds on cannons can be found on Signal Hill in St John’s.

When he’s not running his store, Haynes spends countless hours in his personal workshop. He has made model trains, model ships and, like the cannon, many replicas of military artillery.

“I get on this kick, see. I got so many projects, I don’t get bored. If I get bored with that (cannon) I’ll go at something else,” said Haynes.

“I might spend a couple hours online just looking at cannons, old museum pieces and all this. I always wanted one, but you can’t get them … it’ll cost you between $5,000 and $30,000 and up.”

Hayne’s Russian wife, Liliya, doesn’t mind having a cannon in the house. She is actually quite impressed with the things her husband is able to create.

“I love it. My husband has hands of gold,” exclaimed Liliya. “He can fix anything around the house.”

Military history runs through Haynes’ veins. Many members of his family served in uniform. He even has Second World War artifacts in a military museum attached to his store.

In fact, his mother and father met in New York on New Year’s Eve during the Second World War. His family moved to Newfoundland in 1956 and then to Goose Bay in 1966.

“All my family’s been in the military, down to my grandfather and my father. And I’ve watched all these history movies,” said Haynes on why he’s interested in military artifacts and history.

“And I like to see how stuff works. When I was a kid, I liked to take clocks apart and see how they worked. And I’m really into model trains.”

Even after the cannon is finished, there is still work to be done. Since there aren’t too many experts on launching fireworks through a 1700s style cannon, Haynes will have to safely test it at some point.

“ On Canada Day, we’ll fire off as much (fireworks) as we can afford,” said Haynes.

“We got to find a proper place to test it out. It’s a work in progress.”

Haynes will also have to figure out if one is even allowed to shoot fireworks off in a cannon, based on municipal bylaws. But he will leave that issue with his friend, who is a fireworks expert.

“You can’t just fire off fireworks. I’ll leave that to (my friend), he knows what and where and how you do that stuff.”


Organizations: Northern Lights

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Goose Bay, Happy Valley Eve

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