Conception Bay Newfoundland
(inc. 1965; pop. 1991, 2038). Upper Island Cove is a fishing community situated in a rocky bight to the north of Spaniard's Bay. The cove consists of a sheltered beach south of Bryant's Cove qv, and is not a secure anchorage. Since the mid-nineteenth century the cove has been known as Upper Island Cove, to distinguish it from the Island Cove near Bay de Verde (Lower Island Cove qv).
Upper Island Cove
The cove was settled by Europeans at a relatively early date. John Young in 1780 claimed to be settled on land which had been in his family since 1690. John Crane had a similar claim extending from 1699, and Joseph Hussey in 1775 was living on land which had been in his family since 1710. Before 1800 the King, Drover, Pynn, Mercer, Hibbs, Smith, Bishop and Lilly families were all established in Upper Island Cove, while the Byrne, Dobbin, Lynch and Sharpe families were living at nearby Spoon Cove qv (a part of the municipality of Upper Island Cove since 1965). The inshore fishery had attracted most settlers, but some also farmed (keeping their livestock within characteristic stone fences). Most of the early settlers of Upper Island Cove belonged to the Church of England (with a sizeable Catholic minority) and construction of St. Peter's Church began in 1815. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was operating a school in the community in 1823. The Newfoundland School Society took over the school in 1839. A Roman Catholic school was opened in 1842.
The population was recorded at 552 in 1836, by which time Upper Island Cove was a major fishing centre. Most fishermen dealt with Harbour Grace firms, such as those of Thomas Ridley and Punton & Munn. Catches of cod and herring fell in the 1860s and this, along with a lack of useable shore space, prompted planters to move into the Labrador fishery in the following decade. Scores of men and boys left Upper Island Cove each year to go to the northern fishing grounds as floaters qv, while whole families went to the Labrador as stationers qv. Planters in 1871 (when the population stood at 970) included Esau Bishop, John Crane, Thomas Drover, Michael McLean, Archibald Mercer, William Parsons and William Sharp. At that time Joseph Byrne was the only full-time farmer.
Upper Island Cove planters and their crews were also involved in the bank fishery throughout the 1800s, and this effort intensified in the 1920s and 1930s as the Labrador fishery declined. Western boats from Upper Island Cove tended to concentrate on the waters off Ferryland. After falling to 799 in 1901, the population of the settlement grew to over 1000 in the 1940s. While both the Labrador and bank fisheries continued to decline, the construction boom of World War II provided new forms of employment. While the shore fishery continued into the early 1990s, an increasing number of people found jobs in the service industries of Conception Bay. In 1994 Upper Island Cove was served by St. Peter's School, a town hall, a fire department and a medical clinic
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