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Bay de Verde

(inc. 1950; pop. 1976, 749). This fishing settlement is located on a promontory on the northern tip of the north side of Conception Bay, near Baccalieu Island qv. The town covers approximately 2.6 km2 (1 mi2) on a small neck of land and is exposed to the open sea. Although documentation of early settlement is inconclusive it is unlikely that Bay de Verde was originally settled for purposes other than fishing. The name originates from the French for Green Bay (which is how John Guy referred to it) although E.R. Seary (1971) notes additional names including Bay of Vardes, Bay of Arts, and Bay of Herbes. As late as 1839 J.B. Jukes (1842) had used the latter name to describe a ``wild desert place of bare, red, brick stone; like the coast of St. John's.''

D.W. Prowse (1895) reported that ``Bay of Ards'' was settled as early as 1662 by Isaac Dethick who had been expelled from Placentia by the French. In 1675 seven families and their servants, numbering close to 150 people, had erected eleven rooms and stages in the harbour. Attracted by an increasing fishery which yielded 1,700 quintals of fish in 1677 the community had expanded to produce 4,450 quintals by 1693. The best record of the period comes from the journal of Abbe Baudoin qv, dated February 2 to February 6, 1697. Baudoin, who travelled with *Le Moyne D'Iberville's qv raiders, noted that ``there were in this harbour fourteen settlers well established and ninety good men.'' D'Iberville appears not to have plundered the settlement or to have taken prisoners at the harbour because of their sheer numbers. He preferred, however, to leave a small armed garrison of ten men. According to Gerald Riggs (1968) the population of Bay de Verde had increased to thirty by 1708, and by 1738 seventeen ships were engaged in the fishery at that harbour. Another early family to settle at Bay de Verde were the Tavenors. According to H.F. Shortis (1910) Tavenor was a naval officer and surveyor on a British man-of-war who later worked on a Newfoundland map of 1745.

In 1729 Bay de Verde became one of the six judicial districts which were created by Governor Henry Osborne ``in order to protect life, liberty and property'' (G.O. Rothney: 1959). These districts were responsible for the erection of stocks and the administration of flogging for minor crimes. At the end of the Nineteenth Century the isolation experienced by many communities in Conception Bay was being rapidly alleviated by contact with such groups as the Newfoundland School Society, which established its first free school, under the direction of Samuel Codner, at Bay de Verde in 1823. By 1839 the first denominational school was started by John Lynch and William Pippy of the Church of England, and in 1843 Roman Catholic school master Morrissey began another. Religious denominations slowly obtained a foothold in the late 1830s when Father James Duffy began his ministry from Northern Bay Roman Catholic Parish. Church of England wardens James Morris and William Barter established their Bay de Verde parish in 1841 but it took another five years before the Reverend John Roberts was appointed to the Church of England mission of Grates Cove-Bay de Verde.

In spite of an excellent fishing record hardship was not unknown and in 1838 the Public Ledger reported that 162 people living from Grates Cove to Bay de Verde and Low Point were destitute as a result of the failure of the fishery in 1837 and the severity of the winter which had killed the 1838 potato crop Bay de Verde's geographical isolation was reduced in 1870 when the newly established Road Board began construction of a road which by 1872 ran a distance of 6.4 km (4 mi) to Red Head Cove, 11.3 km (7 mi) to Grates Cove and 13 km (8 mi) to Old Perlican. A railway branch-line from Carbonear was completed to Bay de Verde in 1915 but was phased out in 1931 after operating for only sixteen years.

Bay de Verde continued to rely on the cod fishery as its primary economic source, although the people had abandoned both the Bank fishery and the Labrador fishery by the early 1900s. From 1902 to 1915 Thomas Moore operated one of the first lobster canning ventures at the community. In 1911 the community had 762 residents and in that year the first Fishermen's Protective Union Store was started, but the venture failed as did an attempt to establish a co-operative in 1946. The most successful venture started at Bay de Verde was a fish plant and processing facility owned by Quinlan Brothers. The plant operated six of the twelve longliners fishing from the settlement in 1967 and has continued to process crab, salmon and turbot in addition to cod. By 1981 the Quinlan operation had expanded to four other communities around Newfoundland. In peak season that year the plant employed more than 300 people from Bay de Verde.

In 1950 Patrick Noonan became the first mayor of Bay de Verde' s community council, which was established in July to provide, among other things, a municipal water supply system.

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Page Created  15 August 2001