Conception Bay Newfoundland
(inc. 1966; pop. 1991, 786). The community of South River is located at the head of Bay de Grave, between Clarke's Beach and Cupids. The river from which the community takes its name flows through a broad valley into a large harbour pond south of Clarke's Beach, known as Southern Gut. The incorporated community of South River includes the areas known as The Gut, Salmon Cove (northeast of the River) and Springfield (which is inland, along the river valley). To the northeast of Salmon Cove, at the entrance to Cupids harbour, lies the tiny abandoned community of Caplin Cove.
South River was known to the early settlers at Cupids, where John Guy qv established a colony in 1612. The mouth of the River is believed to have been the site of a mill established by Guy, while the colonists may also have attempted to establish a farm some distance upriver. Although the Cupids colony was short-lived, fishermen from fishing villages on the Port de Grave Peninsula became well acquainted with Southern Gut and the River as a winter route into the interior for woods work. By the mid-1700s Port de Grave fishermen had gardens and winter-houses in the area, and settlement soon followed. The earliest family names of Southern Gut and Salmon Cove (Andrews, Bussey, Hussey, Morgan, Mugford and Richards) have earlier associations with Bareneed, Port de Grave or Ship Cove. Lands towards the ``bottom'' of Southern Gut (including Springfield and much of what was in 1994 considered to be a part of the community of Makinsons qv) were probably cleared by winter logging and later settled as farmland. Many family names of Springfield, including Byrne, Hearn, Mabin and Walsh, are Irish in origin. There were 232 people living at Southern Gut by 1836. Salmon Cove and Southern Gut had a combined population of 520 in 1857. Of these, 27 had been born in Ireland, probably including settlers at Springfield (which does not appear in the Census separately until 1869, with a population of 95). At Salmon Cove and Southern Gut the Church of England was the predominant religion.
By 1901 South River and environs had a population of approximately 700 people, with most fishermen being involved in the Labrador fishery, particularly in the Domino Run-Spotted Island area. However, with the decline of the Labrador fishery in the 1920s and 1930s South River's population declined, and upon incorporation there were only 421 people. Farming and the fishery continued to be major local sources of employment, but as roads were improved many South River residents commuted to work in larger centres as far away as Carbonear and St. John's. A growth in local services has also contributed to the number of commuters who have settled at South River from the 1980s.
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