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Change Islands

 (inc. 1951; pop. 1976, 535). Change Islands is a group of islands including two large islands, connected by a causeway, and several smaller ones located in Notre Dame Bay between Twillingate and Fogo. The incorporated community of Change Islands is located along the narrow tickle separating the two main islands.

Until 1783 Change Islands was part of the French Shore and unpopulated but with the beginning of the English Labrador fishery in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century and the setting up of establishments by the Bristol and Poole merchants, Change Islands began to be settled. It remained relatively sparsely populated until the mid-Nineteenth Century. In 1845 the population was 316, ninety-six of whom were fishermen. Five acres of land were cultivated and potatoes were grown. By 1884 the population had increased to 934. Many of the fishermen from Change Islands went to the Labrador fishery and in 1874 Change Islands was one of the focal points of the winter seal hunt prosecuted by landsmen.

In 1867, so the story goes, Joseph Edmund Elliott, while sitting in St. James Church at Change Islands listening to a sermon on the miraculous draught of fishes, conceived the idea for a cod trap. This Newfoundland cod trap, not to be confused with the one invented in 1865 by Capt. W. H . Whiteley qv, is, with some modifications, still used by Newfoundland fisherman.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century Change Islands was a prosperous settlement of over 1,000 people. In 1909 the first annual meeting of the Supreme Council of Coaker's *Fisherman's Protective Union qv was held at Change Islands. After the depression of the 1930s, however, the settlement declined and during the 1950s, although Change Islands gained some new citizens from resettlement, over 100 people left in search of better education for their children and better employment opportunities. In 1965 the causeway was built and motor vehicles arrived for the first time on Change Islands. In 1980 the majority of the population fished from longliners and small boats, and lobster and seal were caught as well. The local fish plant was run by B.C. Packers, who were brought in by the Provincial Government, (who owned the plant) in 1972 in response to the local improvement action committee's request. The plant was built in the 1950s and run by a co-op, but it failed after a few years. In 1980 the plant did not have the capacity to freeze fish but stored them packed in ice until they could be shipped out to Harbour Breton.

A ferry service running between Change Islands and Cobb's Arm replaced the CN Coastal Boat Service from Lewisporte in 1967. During the winter, when the ferry is not able to operate regularly, Gander Aviation provides air service to Change Islands.

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Page Created  15 August 2001