Coveduck - Coveyduck Coveyduc, Families


  Harbour Grace 

Conception Bay North

 Conception Bay South

Harbour Grace

Harbour Grace

(inc. 1945; pop. 1981, 2,988). Located on the western side of Conception Bay, Harbour Grace is entered between Old Sow Point to the north and Feather Point to the south. Feather Point is the termination of a low range of hills and is nearly connected to a prominent landmark, the Haypook, a slate rock 11 m (35 ft) in elevation. The harbour extends 7.2 km (4.5 mi) in a southwesterly direction, with hills on either side rising to an elevation of about 152 m (500 ft). Harbour Grace Islands are situated just northeast of Feather Point; the group consists of Harbour Grace Islands Eastern Rock, White Rock, Ragged Rocks, Long Harry Rock and Salvage Rock. About 2.4 km (1.5 mi) inside its entrance the channel is divided by a bar; the channel across this bar has a least depth of 6.7 m (22 ft), while between the channel and the southeast side of the harbour is a bank of boulders. The town of Harbour Grace is situated on the northwest shore of the harbour in the vicinity of Point of Beach; _Riverhead_7290 qv is situated at the bottom of the harbour and Harbor Grace South qv is located on the harbour's south shore.

According to W.B. Hamilton (1978, p. 16) Harbour Grace is "probably a transfer name from Havre de Grace, the name used for Le Havre, France, when it was founded in 1517." E.R. Seary (1971, p. 223) gives a list of names as they have appeared on maps and in texts throughout the town's history. These include: Harbor de Grace (John Guy, 1612); Harborgrace (the Blathwayt map, c. 1630-1640); Carolinopole (Hayman, 1630, in D.W. Prowse: 1895, p. 137); harbour grace (Robinson's map, 1669); Haver de Grace (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1677); Havre de Grace (Abbe Baudoin, 1697), and Harbour Grace (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1681). W.A. Munn (1933, p. 14) states the community was named by "fishermen from the English Channel, who knew well Le Havre de Grace, the sea port town of Paris at the mouth of the River Seine."

Fishermen from the Channel Islands qv had connections with Newfoundland from an early date; tradition has it that they were driven to the shores of the Island while on their way to Iceland sometime before Cabot's voyage of discovery in 1497. Channel Islanders were known to be fishing in Newfoundland waters in the early Sixteenth Century; when Capt. John Rut arrived at St. John's in August 1527 he found "eleven sail of Normans (Jerseymen)" (Munn: 1936, p. 27), and by 1550 Harbour Grace was a thriving fishing community of Channel Islanders, the antecedents of the modern-day Martins, Paynes and Browns. The first houses were built near the fishing grounds, which extended from Carbonear Island qv in the north to Feather Point in the south, and fishing rooms were built inside Point of Beach. According to Munn (1934a, p. 10), "there is a well known tradition that there is a large rock . . . with a large ring bolt, where the Jerseymen tied their boats, they had their initials or marks carved on it. This Jersey Rock has not been seen for the past eighty years, but must be under where the Post Office now stands .... "

Although there is no record of settlement prior to 1618, John Guy qv, governor of the Cupids qv colony, writing in his diary in 1612 was obviously familiar with the harbour. He wrote on October 7, 1612: "This night by sailing and rowing we came to Haure de Grace as far in as the Pirate's Fort . . . where we remained until the 1 7th of October.

"In the meantime . . . did bring the Bank-ship ashore, and landed fifteen tons of salt upon the highest part of the ground thereabouts, putting it up in a round heap and burning of it to preserve it. Two anchors and two old junks we left upon the beach" (Munn: 1934c, p. 6). The Pirate's Fort, says Munn, was built in the vicinity overlooking the channel, commanding the entrance to the harbour. The fortifications were established by the famous English pirate Peter Easton qv, who wreaked considerable damage in eastern Newfoundland, plundering fishing stations, stealing provisions and munitions and inducing men to join his fleet. Nor was Easton the only such threat. Sir Richard Whitbourne qv, quoted in D.W. Prowse (1895, p. 103), notes that Sir Henry Mainwaring qv, having arrived in Newfoundland on June 4, 1614, took 10,000 fish from a French ship at Harbour Grace, and that "some of the company of many ships did run away unto them."

In 1615 Capt. John Mason qv began his six-year term as governor of Guy's colony; he "carried on the fish business in Cupids and Harbour Grace prosperously" (Prowse, p. 104), surveyed part of the coast, and vigorously defended the rights of settlers, receiving in 1620 a commission to suppress piracy. Mason was succeeded by Robert Hayman qv, who also governed the offshoot colony at Harbour Grace which they called Bristol's Hope qv. Hayman wrote to Charles I a proposal: "To build a citie where I have placed your Carolinopole [Harbour Grace] and to privilege that Towne with that fishing. Your Majesty might likewise make it a Mart or free market for {B}fish; has two Harbours three miles apart and would grow populous rich and strong" (Prowse, p. 137). {B}(In 1625 the House of Commons passed a bill for "liberty of fishing"; it was thrown out, however, by the House of Lords, and the question of the free fishery led to much antagonism between the King and Parliament.) Hayman remained at the new colony until 1628. His residence was built in Harbour Grace; his splendid garden was noted

for its roses, described in poems as Hayman's roses (Munn: 1934c, p. 6).

The fishery and the community continued to prosper. As in other centres with much summer activity, Harbour Grace had a small proportion of winter inhabitants who cared for properties, and by 1675 when Commodore Sir John Berry qv conducted his census (recorded in C.O. 1: 35) the year-round English population totalled thirty-six. Six of these were planters: Thomas Player, Joan Hibbs (widow), Thomas Horton, Lewis Guy, Emelin Garland and Arthur Batten. They employed twenty servants and owned a total of seven boats, three stages and ninety-five head of cattle. The summer population c. 1677 is estimated by C.G. Head (1976, p. 7) to have fluctuated between 330 and 550 people.

By the late Seventeenth Century the French, who had founded their capital in Newfoundland at Placentia in 1662, were at war with England. In 1696 Pierre *le Moyne d'Iberville qv was commanded to destroy the English settlements in Newfoundland. In November his forces took St. John's, including Fort William qv; from there they marched on the fishing communities of Conception Bay. Abbe Jean Baudoin, a Recollet priest travelling with d'Iberville, wrote in his diary (quoted in Prowse, p. 232): "On the 24th [of December, 1696] we set out for Carbonniere; Le Sr. de Montigny was sent with a detachment to take Musquito [later Bristol's Hope]. In passing from Harbour Grace to Carbonniere in boats we discovered that the inhabitants of this latter place had entrenched themselves on the Island, and they fired some cannon shots at us. There were about two hundred on the Island, having fled there from Harbour Grace, Musquito, and even St. John's." Carbonear Island was successfully defended. On the return trip, around January 10, 1697, Baudoin wrote: "A detatchment under Boisbriand was sent to burn Brigue, Port Grave, &c. Harbour Grace had fourteen houses, Carbonniere, twenty-two,--the best built in all Newfoundland. Some of the merchants were men of 100,000 worth of property." Statistics in his diary (Munn: 1935b, p. 16) show Harbour Grace at that time with 100 men, fourteen houses, fifteen shallops and 381000 kg (7,500 qtls) of fish. Total losses during the French raid amounted to the equivalent of $190,000.

During the early years of the Eighteenth Century the French made life for the English in Newfoundland very difficult. In 1705 an offensive under Daniel d'*Auger de Subercase qv failed to take Fort William in St. John's; the French, forced to leave St. John's, again raided the shores of Conception Bay from Holyrood to Harbour Grace, murdering and destroying as they went. Carbonear Island again held strong, but damages in Harbour Grace totalled 38,000. While the French were winning battles in the New World, they were losing the war at home, and peace was declared with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The treaty, however, secured for the French the right to a fishery on certain shores in Newfoundland, resulting in a continuous quarrel between the English and French throughout most of that century and the next. Capt. Josias Crowe qv in 1711 compiled a list of laws intended to improve life in Newfoundland. He or*** {~1~}prevent mischiefs by spyes of the enemy and others" (Prowse, p. 271), and further ordered that "Inhabitants, ffishermen and servants . . . repair to winter quarters allotted them by Ist of October, and be under command of several governors for better security against the enemy . . . "; residents of Conception Bay were instructed to winter upon "Carbinear Island, Little Bell Isle, and Harbergrass Island."

By 1715 the community was well established and the economy beginning to diversify, with shipbuilding growing in importance (Munn: 1935c, p. 11): "Hundreds of 'Western Boats' as they were called, were fitted out from Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Brigus and intervening settlements, prosecuting the early spring Western fishery at Cape St. Mary's before the fish struck in at Conception Bay. All these craft were built locally, and it is said were eagerly sought after by the Flench at St. Pierre, who had a very flimsy fleet for the Bank fishery, but stringent laws were passed to prevent the sale of these craft to the Frenchmen. This industry of ship building meant valuable employment for the men during the winter .... " The Garland plantation, inherited by George Garland qv from his father, was a growing concern, and there were forty other mercantile establishments. Garland and William Pynn qv shared responsibilities as Justices of the Peace in Conception Bay, from Bay de Verde to Cape St. Francis; in 1749 Garland wrote to Governor Sir George Rodney qv on behalf of the merchants who, because of a bad fishing season, wished to reduce their servants' wages. Rodney replied (Prowse, p. 291): "I can by no means approve it, as both law and equity declare the labourer to be worthy of his hire .... I have only one question to ask namely: had the season been good, in proportion as it has proved bad, would the merchants or boat keepers have raised the men's wages?"

By the middle of the Century important English firms were building up businesses in Harbour Grace. Around 1750 the Webber family of Boston set up business in the community and made strenuous efforts to encourage a whale hunt in Conception Bay; at the same time the firm of Coughlan and Hooper, already carrying on business in Harbour Grace, were among the first to establish sealing stations in Labrador. The Conception Bay fishery was reckoned by Lt. Griffith Williams in 1765, (Prowse, pp. 296-297) to be equal to one quarter of the whole of the Newfoundland fishery. Harbour Grace accounted for approximately twenty-five per cent of that portion.

The {B}Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence both took their toll on Harbour Grace. In June 1762 the {B}French under Comte d' Haussonville (Joseph Louis-Bernard de *Cleron d'Haussonville, Comte d'Haussonville qv) captured Harbour Grace; the inhabitants again removed themselves to Carbonear Island but found that its fortifications had badly deteriorated. The island was captured without a fight, to be recaptured

four months later by the English forces under Baron Alexander Colville. He later wrote (Prowse, p. 415): "Mr. Garland and Mr. Davis . . . having acquainted me that a number of men in their neighbourhood were willing to serve in the squadron during the present exigency, I sent the armed schooner for them, and she returned with fifty men, which [sic] I have distributed among the ships. And the same gentlemen [requested] . . . that the schooner might be stationed in Conception Bay, for their protection and defence, which request I complied with."

The downfall of France in America was a strong reinforcement of British prestige; hard on the heels of victory, however, came the American Revolution. Newfoundland's trade with New England was cut off, and the fishery was plagued by American privateers. In 1780 the privateers made several attempts on Harbour Grace and Carbonear, but none was successful; the resident officers and soldiers of the British military centre established in Harbour Grace in 1770 and the local volunteer companies were largely responsible for the successful defence of the town. In August 1780 Governor Edwards wrote that five privateers had been captured, "but they are in force around the coast" (Prowse, p. 350). The restriction of trade with New England caused an increasing involvement in trade by small ships built in both Conception and Trinity Bays; this in turn led to an increase in shipbuilding. According to H.A. Innis (1954, p. 298) the number of boats built in the two bays increased from eighteen in 1787 to thirty-four by 1788. The privateers, however, caused much hardship to the fishing industry; a Harbour Grace missionary reported in 1777 that shipping had been cut by half, and in 1779 that "Not one vessel in ten hath arrived this year, by means of Privateers" (Head, p. 98). The end of the war, though it brought a rapid increase in total activity, saw a decrease in landings in the inshore fishery. Three bad fishing years and the entire failure of the fishery in 1790, left the people of Harbour Grace in "the highest pitch of stress ever known in Conception Bay" (Head, p. 206). At the end of the Eighteenth Century the "principal merchants and inhabitants" numbered forty-three (Munn: 1935c, p. 27).

At the turn of the Century the major business firms were Thorne, Hooper & Co.; Hugh W. Danson, of Bristol and Harbour Grace, with branches at Holyrood and Bay de Verde; John Clements, who died in 1800, leaving his extensive properties to be sold, the proceeds to be shared equally among his four daughters; Journeaux, whose extensive properties came under the control of his son-in-law, Dr. John Mayne; Nicholas Payne; Thomas Thistle, and Jewer (alt. Jure, Gore, Juer), whose property was subdivided and sold by James Bailey, who had married one of the Jewer daughters. Businessmen from Bristol who established mercantile firms in Harbour Grace included J.C. Nuttall, Joshia Parkins, J. Trapnell, James Lewis, Richard Palmer, John Webb, James Guppy and Peter Rogerson. Irishmen conducting business were W. and D. Mullowney, Denis McGrath and Thomas Foley. The area between Point of Beach and Ship's Head was known as Ships Rooms, "held under Imperial authority for the benefit of all" (Munn: 1936c, p. 17). Around 1800 the British M.P. for Poole, George {~2~}according to Regular (p. 10), Harbour Grace sent 1,860 men to the annual seal hunt in sixty-five vessels. Ridley's sent 629 men in twenty-two vessels; Punton and Munn were a close second with 613 men in twenty-one vessels; Thorne, Hooper and Company, with nine sealing vessels, employed 265 men, and Peter Brown's four vessels carried 129 men. Daniel Green, William Parsons, William Gordon, Patrick Devereaux, Thomas Godden, Moore and Murphy's, Thomas Cooper, Arthur Thomey, {B}and G. and H. Gordon each sent one vessel; their crews ranged in size from sixteen to thirty-five men.

By 1857 Harbour Grace had a population of 5,095. In {B}that year the town had sixty-two sealing vessels with a total capacity of 7,246 {B}tons; their 1,941 {B}men killed 75,055 {B}seals which produced 267 433 L (70,656 {B}gal) of seal oil. The fishermen produced 4 477 665 kg (88,060 {B}qtl) of cod, 3,139 {B}barrels of herring and ten tierces of salmon. In that year, too, a fire broke out in Foley's Public House; six of the thirty occupants were killed. In 1858 the town suffered a disastrous fire; "Tousaint's fire" (Munn: 1937b, p. 25) {B}broke out on April 12, levelling "all houses on Water Street from the corner of LeMarchant Road to Victoria Street. Punton and Munn's large establishment went up in smoke. There was no delay in rebuilding." Munn continues: "The barques 'Rothesay' and 'Queen' {~3~}{B}were hurried off to New Castle, New Brunswick, for loads of timber and lumber. In July the barque 'Hankinson,' with 800 tons of brick, arrived from Liverpool. It {B}was a busy time for carpenters and brick-layers. Gideon Beebee, a contractor from New Brunswick, practically rebuilt Water Street after this fire. George Crosbie came with him as plasterer." James and John Hutchings, wellknown carpenters of the day, supervised the house-building. At the end of 1857 the town had forty-eight merchant establishments.

The 1860s {B}were disastrous for the entire Island. The cod and herring fisheries failed and the seal hunt suffered a decline. Fishermen were destitute, living on government hand-outs of corn meal and molasses, and unable to pay their debts; consequently the merchants were also in dire financial straits. Munn (1938, p. 13) {B}elaborates: "For some reasons, never explained, the salt water around our Country became hostile to fish life. The old fishermen still tell us the water was perfectly clear, and you could see objects on the bottom in twenty fathoms of water. The nets moored in the water would become filthy with slime. The codfish could not live in it, and the spawning or reproduction must have been brought to a stand still. The fishermen reported a failure in the catch in all directions, both on the Newfoundland shore and Labrador .... This became acute in 1862, {B}and got worse and worse during the next five years."

The Harbour Grace merchants, troubled though they were, tried to fight the disastrous fishing seasons. The Conception Bay fishing fleet, reduced from 212 sailing vessels in 1833 to eighty-five by 1861, {B}produced lower catches; in 1863 Ridley began to pursue the winter cod fishery from Rose Blanche, and Punton and Munn and other merchants began to invest in the newly introduced steamships. By 1870, {B}however, both Ridley, and Punton and Munn had gone bankrupt, and the Rutherford oper***

{~4~}{~5~}within a week of the disaster.

The Island's economy was soon rescued by Canadian

*financial institutions qv. Within a year of the disaster the Bank of Nova Scotia had established a branch in Harbour Grace, the first outside St. John's. The town, which had reached its period of greatest prosperity in the 1860s, continued to decline, however. The opening of the iron mines on Bell Island qv saw many men forsake the fishery for work as miners; according to W.J. Browne (1935b, p. 15), approximately 200 men left the town to work in the mines for an average salary of $50 a month. By 1923 Bell Island had supplanted Harbour Grace as the second largest centre in Newfoundland; the Census for 1921 showed a population of 2,661, down from 5,184 in 1901. Regular (p. 21) notes that in 1907 the major firms were R.D. McRae and Sons, who pursued the Labrador fishery with a small fleet of schooners and also engaged in general trade; W.A. Munn, still operating a cod-liver oil plant; C. & E. Godden, general dealers; Murray and Crawford, manufacturing seal oil; and A. Rutherford, coal suppliers, who brought coal from North Sydney in their own ships. During the second decade of the 1900s ship-building was extensive, and during the winter months ships were refitted and repaired at the dry dock, which had been constructed in 1912 by the Boston engineering firm of D.D. Crandall. Coastal boats, whalers and fishing vessels were also repaired at the marine slip, built originally in 1864.

By 1935 the population had dropped to 2,215. In that year Browne wrote: "Today, the waterfront is almost deserted, and her factories lie dormant, and the offices . . . are empty and dusty. There are of course, grocers and stores selling dry goods and hardware, but the great import and export trades have vanished. During the war [World War 1] a Norwegian firm established a shipyard here which was subsequently abandoned; the premises have now been taken over by Crosbie & Co. for the curing of fish brought in by their new trawler Imperator." (These premises were converted in 1953 to accommodate Gold Sail Leather, a subsidiary of Koch Shoes; the manufacture of leather goods there continued for four years, with a series of labour disputes, until De***

cember 1957 when the plant was destroyed by fire.)

The fishery did not improve during the 1930s and 1940s. Then, in 1945, the town suffered another disastrous fire which wiped out the majority of its business firms, and for nearly twenty years it struggled to make a strong comeback. In 1948 S.W. Moores opened a freezing plant under the name Northeastern Fisheries Ltd. as part of a concentrated effort to establish a presence in the United States fish markets; the effort failed and by 1956 the fishing industry was faced with an over-supply. By the 1960s, however, demand for frozen fish products picked up again, and the Birdseye Company of England bought fifty-one per cent of Northeastern Fisheries Ltd. Four new stern trawlers were purchased as part of a planned twenty-trawler fleet, but in 1968 the Harbour Grace plant, like many others on the Island, was closed by its non-resident owners.

In 1973 the only major employer in Harbour Grace was Ocean Harvesters Ltd., which was formed in 1969 to purchase the Birdseye plant from the Newfoundland Government, who had purchased it earlier from the Birdseye firm. In 1973 the Harbour Grace Area Development Association, formed in 1972, prepared a series of briefs dealing with the town's economic and social potential (ET: Apr. 4, 1973, p. 3). It suggested development of harbour facilities, educational facilities and serviced land, plus the establishment of small industries such as vegetable and broiler farming, canning and home crafts.

Throughout its four centuries of history Harbour Grace had many small, profitable industries, including boot and shoe makers, blacksmiths, cabinet-makers, sailmakers, coopers and tinsmiths. The majority were closely connected with the fishery; some, like the sailmakers, disappeared when steam and gasoline-powered craft were introduced, while others declined with the fishery on which they were so dependent. After the 1970s several secondary industries were developed or revitalized, although others, like a primary fish-landing and distribution centre, planned in 1978 with 6,000 potential jobs, failed. By the end of 1982, when the population was 2,961 (DA: Nov.-Dec. 1982, p. 5), Ocean Harvesters Corporation Limited, with 2,000 workers in four plants around the Island, was a major employer in Harbour Grace. C.D. Garland and Son continued the build*** {~6~}{~7~}Patrick Whelan. "The exact year of his arrival is not known," says Howley (p. 183), "but he was here in 1794 . . . he was a Franciscan or Friar Minor, and was stationed in the Mission of Harbour Grace." Whelan was known as a zealous worker who annually made two visitations of his parish. In September 1799, while on visitation, Whelan drowned off Grate's Cove when the boat in which he was a passenger capsized in a storm. All passengers and crew died, and Whelan's was the only body recovered; it was taken back to Harbour Grace and, says Howley, laid to rest in the old Catholic graveyard. There is no record of a church in the town at that time.

In 1806 Rev. Thomas Yore (alt. Ewer) qv took charge of the Harbour Grace Mission. During his tenure a wooden chapel, with a tower approximately 30 m (100 ft) high was constructed. By 1830 the Mission had become a parish. In that year Bishop Fleming set out for Ireland to recruit missionaries for Newfoundland. Of the six who arrived in 1831, Rev. Charles Dalton was assigned to Harbour Grace, taking over when Yore died in 1833. The old wooden chapel was torn down, and according to Munn (1937b, p. 22), in 1844 excavation was under way for the construction of a new Roman Catholic Cathedral. P.J. Connolly (1946, p. 19) says the corner-stone was laid by Bishop Mullock in 1852. Four years later, as construction continued, the Diocese of Harbour Grace was constituted with Dr. John Dalton qv, Charles Dalton's nephew, as its first Bishop. He died in 1869 and construction continued under his successor, Bishop Henry Carfagnini qv, who under Dalton had been responsible for the architecture of the new cathedral, which was modelled after St. Peter's in Rome. Stone was brought from Kelly's Island, granite from Scotland, marble from Italy, brick from Hamburg and timber from the United States. In 1880 Carfagnini was transferred to Italy and was succeeded at Harbour Grace by Bishop Ronald MacDonald

church was in its twenty-sixth year of construction. According to Connolly (p. 20) the *Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception qv was completed only a few years before it was destroyed by fire on September 2, 1889. Entirely paid for, it was valued at $350,000 but it carried no insurance.

A new cathedral, built in the Gothic style, was begun immediately and was consecrated in 1892. That church was still in use in 1983. Bishop John March succeeded MacDonald in 1906 and Bishop J.M. O'Neil succeeded March in 1940. In 1953 the church at Grand Falls was elevated to the status of Co-cathedral, and the Harbour Grace-Grand Falls Diocese was formed. Three years later the Bishop's Seat was moved to Grand Falls. The Parish of the Immaculate Conception in 1983 served the people of Harbour Grace, Spaniard's Bay, Riverhead and Island Cove.

Whereas Roman Catholicism began to flourish openly only after the Emancipation of 1829 started, but a heavy gale of wind reduced it to rubble, causing a loss of 200 in labour and materials; yet another was started, and finished at a cost of 3,870. This wooden structure was described as "a very commodious building, having spire and minarets and not less than 10 windows on each side" (ET: Aug. 8,1964). The Evening Telegram quotes Harbour Grace historian Thomas Ford qv: "Both these churches were under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and in all probability were also Garrison Churches. This possibility is enhanced by the fact that two Masonic Lodges functioned here between the years 1785 and 1832. This fact alone would suggest that these were regimental lodges and moved with the regiment. These regiments would undoubtedly have chaplains, and as the Mission of Harbour Grace extended from Grates Cove to possibly Harbour Main, the Mission Priest could not spend much time at Harbour Grace and consequently the chaplain would officiate in his absence. The Royal Coat of Arms which adorns the front of the west gallery of the present church would also help to establish this fact, as only one other church we know of in Newfoundland--St. Thomas', St. John's, the Old Garrison Church--has similar insignia. It is just possible, then, that in addition to having the distinction of being the oldest stone church, St. Paul's is the oldest Garrison Church." The wooden church built in 1817 was destroyed by the fire of 1832. The corner-stone for St.

Paul's, the oldest stone church in Newfoundland, was laid by Governor Henry Prescott on July 28,1835; the church opened for services on July 9, 1837 and, according to H.M. Mosdell (1974, p. 55), was consecrated by Bishop Aubrey Spencer qv on July 4, 1840. In 1972 the church underwent extensive renovations to its interior and tower. St Paul's houses many old documents, artifacts and photographs, many dating from the earliest days of the parish. The parish in Harbour Grace was served by many clergymen who are remembered for their contributions to Newfoundland history; they include Rev. Laurence Coughlan (1766?-1773), Rev. James Balfour (1773-1792), Rev. G.C. Jenner (1795-1799), Rev. Lewis A. Anspach (1802-1812) and Rev. F.H. Carrington (1813-1818) qqv.

Although Coughlan is credited with the introduction to Newfoundland of Methodism, he was in fact ordained in the Church of England and was a Church of England clergyman while expounding the Wesleyan philosophy. The first official Wesleyan preacher in Harbour Grace was John Stretton qv, a merchant who settled in Harbour Grace in 1771. The first Methodist church in Harbour Grace was a small chapel, built by Stretton at his own expense and opened on August 31, 1788. According to D.W. Johnson (n.d., p. 277), Harbour Grace became a separate circuit under Ninian Barr qv in 1817, and in 1820 steps were taken to erect a new church to replace Stretton's chapel. The new church was used for thirty years. Then, on February 7,1850, just after it had undergone extensive repairs, the church, known as the Harbour Grace Methodist Church, was destroyed by fire, and the faith and financial ability of the people were severely tested. Johnson (p. 277) quotes Dr. T.W. Smith: "At this critical moment, however, John Munn, Esq., a leading merchant, encouraged the hearts of his financially weaker neighbours, and the trustees entered into immediate arrangements for the erection of a larger church, of which the congregation took possession just a year from the date of their loss

This third church was destroyed by fire on February 7, 1.105. The amount of insurance exceeded liabilities by $2,000; that sum was the start of a building fund for a new church. The corner-stone was laid on July 28, and on January 28,1905 the new edifice, with seating for 550 people, was opened and dedicated by Rev. James Pincock qv. Renamed Harbour Grace United Church in 1925, when Newfoundland Methodists joined with their Canadian counterparts in forming the United Church of Canada, the 1905 structure continued to serve the Harbour Grace congregation in 1983.

Interest in the Free Presbytery is thought to date back to 1848 when, according to W.M. Moncreiff (1968, p. 64), Rev. Hugh MacLeod, a deputy of the Free Church {~1~}preached in the Methodist

chapel in Harbour Grace. In May 1 854 John M unn wrote to the Free Presbytery of Halifax stating that the Presbyterians of Harbour Grace had "resolved to form themselves into a congregation . . . under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery" (Moncreiff, p. 64). Within a year Alexander Ross qv, licensed to preach by the Free Presbytery of Halifax, was appointed to work in Harbour Grace, and on Sunday, May 20, 1855, the Free Kirk was opened. It had cost f800; this debt was liquidated by the end of the year, whereupon a manse was built at a cost of f700. Ross had been ordained on November 21,1855 and was made pastor of the Kirk. By 1857 the congregation numbered seventyfive; by 1869 it had more than doubled to 177.

The year 1875 marked the union of the four main branches of the Presbyterian Church; it also marked the formation of the first Presbytery in Newfoundland. In May 1883 Ross, the congregation's first pastor, resigned after twenty-eight years of service. He was succeeded by Rev. Richmond Logan, who resigned in 1886 to be replaced by Rev. W.J. Thompson. The Presbytery continued until Harbour Grace, like the rest of the Island, was hit by the Bank Crash of 1894. In January 1895 the incumbent, Rev. Ebenezer McNab, reported that his congregation was unable to guarantee his salary beyond March; he resigned in February. From 1895 to 1908 the Presbytery of Halifax supplied a number of ordained missionaries, none of whom remained in the town for a long period of time. It was during this period that the former Free Kirk became known as St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.

By 1915, of the five Presbyterian churches in Newfoundland, only that in St. John's had a minister. In 1925 the remaining eighteen families in the Harbour Grace congregation voted against union with the Methodists to form the United Church. At this point the Munn family withdrew its financial support. The manse, which had been leased for several years, was sold in 1926; two years later the church organ was "given for use in a nearby Roman Catholic Church" (Moncreiff, p. 86). In 1940 the church building was taken down and reassembled in Carbonear, where it was used as a school until 1961; it was then sold to Graham Oake and used as a grocery store until 1967 when it was demolished. The Desk Bible and the Communion Set of the Church were presented to the United Church at Coley's Point; the remaining documents and artifacts were kept at St. Andrews Presbyte***

rian Church in St. John's.

The Pentecostal Assemblies were late comers to Harbour Grace, establishing a church there in 1979. In 1981 a new Faith Pentecostal Church was built under the pastorship of Rev. Wallace White. Children of the Pentecostal faith attended schools of the Avalon North Integrated School Board.

EDUCATION. Education was one of the major benefits of the advent of churches in Harbour Grace. The Society for the Propagation of the *Gospel qv (S.P.G.) sent missionaries to Newfoundland as early as the first decade of the 1700s, and for over a century operated and maintained schools on the Island. Coughlan, the first S.P.G. missionary in Harbour Grace, was succeeded in 1772 by Balfour, who established a school; the master, William Lampen, was given a salary of fl5 a year. This school apparently operated sporadically until 1803. Munn (1936c, p. 19) notes that when Governor Gambier visited the community in 1802 he encouraged the starting of schools; Anspach (p. 41) states that, since children were employed at the fishery during weekdays, Sunday schools were considered "of most immediate utility"; he notes that such a school was established in 1803, while Munn states that a schoolhouse was erected in that year. Anspach elaborates that the new building was "on a larger and more commodious plan than the old one," and that it was funded through "the liberal assistance of the Government and the Society at home."

During the first half of the Nineteenth Century private schools were established in Harbour Grace. R.J. Connolly (1963, pp. 11-12) notes the establishment in 1827 of the Harbour Grace Seminary, a boys' school run by a Mr. Bray who, for thirty guineas a year instructed "young Gentlemen" in "the Minor Branches of Education, English, Grammar, Composition, Orthoephy lsic], Stenography, Geography, Globes, History, Book-Keeping by Double Entry, and the Elementary Mathematics; also Lectures on Belles Lettres, Theology, Logic, and Moral Sciences . . . "; for an extra four guineas Bray also taught French or Latin. Connolly (pp. 11-12) also notes that a Mrs. Chapman, with a schoolroom in the residence of a Mr. Garrett Condon, offered instruction in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Grammar, Geography, History, French and "Plain and Ornamental Needlework"; she also offered piano forte lessons twice a week {~2~}{~3~}Newfoundland, the College of Trades and Technology and the College of Fisheries, Navigation, Marine Engineering and Electronics in St. John's.

POLITICAL HISTORY. The political history of Harbour Grace is tumultuous. Prior to 1832 the Island had no elected form of government; order was maintained by fishing admirals and later magistrates appointed by naval governors. The two earliest such justices, William Pynn and George Garland qqv, were assisted in their duties by seven constables. A small wooden court-house built in 1672 was considered inadequate by 1783. A new structure was built in 1808, eighteen years before the Supreme Court of Newfoundland was established. In 1830

the corner-stone was laid for the stone court-house (still in use in 1983), built of stone from Kelly's Island. Many of the appointed magistrates were local clergymen such as Coughlan, Carrington and Anspach. However, Newfoundland was granted Representative Government in June 1832, and in November the citizens of Conception Bay exercised their franchise for the first time. The hustings were erected in Harbour Grace and five men were nominated: Charles Cozens of Brigus, Peter Brown of Harbour Grace, Robert Pack and James Power of Carbonear, and Robert Pinsent of Port de Grave. After four days of polling, Pack, Cozens, Brown and Power were declared elected. At that time there was no party structure, but soon after, the members aligned themselves as either Liberal or Conservative; Pack, Brown and Power aligned themselves with the Liberal Party, which represented the largely Irish and Roman Catholic working class, while Cozens joined the Conservatives, representing the largely Protestant mercantile class.

That election and the ensuing session were calm compared to the next election in 1836. The three Liberal members were again nominated, along with Anthony Godfrey; the two Conservative candidates were Robert Prowse and Thomas Ridley. On polling day, November 1, when the first Conservative supporters appeared at the polling booths a riot broke out. Ridley withdrew, order was restored, and voting continued. Prowse withdrew on the third day and the four Liberals were declared elected. The instigators were tried and those found guilty were given severe sentences. During the trials it was discovered that one of the election writs had been sent out without the official seal; the whole election was consequently declared void and a new one scheduled for May 1837. The four Liberals won the district; God***

frey died in 1840, however, making a by-election necessary. Violence again flared; several people were shot, homes were destroyed, and the polls closed. The election was voided, and the seat went empty until the election of 1842; that election and the three following (1848, 1852 and 1855) were relatively calm.

The turn-out for the 1859 election was low; violence was responsible. The poll book was stolen, one candidate resigned and two Liberals were declared elected despite the fact that one James Prendergast had fewer votes than Robert Walsh, who had resigned. Prendergast was removed and a by-election called; he ran against Thomas Higgins, who also resigned, leaving the seat again to the Liberal candidate. By the time the next election was held, in May 1861, there was such a fear of violence that the magistrates requested the Governor of the Colony to send a military detail to the town. When this request was refused the magistrates refused to allow voting to start. Despite the fears of further mayhem, a by-election was scheduled for November 1861. This event went smoothly, returning two Conservatives. The next six elections, in fact, were conducted with great civility at Harbour Grace. This was not the case with the election of October 31, 1885, however.

The uneasy peace that had existed for two decades had slowly been giving way to increasing hostility between the Protestants and Roman Catholics, and on Boxing Day 1883, when the Loyal Orange Association held their annual parade through the town, it was taken by the Roman Catholics as an affront. What followed was related by an anonymous (but obviously Protestant) poet of the time:

Song Composed on the Harbour Grace Riot,***  Dec. 26, 1883

Come all you loyal Orangemen, Attention to me pay,

And I will tell you what occurred, Upon St. Stephen's day.

Four hundred brave young Orangemen, With neither fear nor dread,

Walked in procession to the Church, And up to Riverhead.

When a mob of Riverhead men stood In rows across the street,

With guns and pickets in their hands, The Orangemen to meet.

And "no surrender" was their cry But go right straight ahead,

They fired upon the unarmed men And shot two of them dead.

One Orangeman was picking up, A brother that was dead,

When he who was his murderer, Stood aiming at his head.

And turning to the murderer,***

To him he there did tell,

Mind if you shoot me Harper, Be sure and do it well.

A double barrel gun he took, And with an oath he cried,

One load he put into his arm,

The other to his side.

Some of our young Orangemen,

That were shot in the head,

The Fenian slugs were found in them

Were made of brass and lead.

Since we are few in number,

They cry to crush us down,

Because we're true to England's King,

And to the British crown.

But like the true son Gideon

We'll never bow the knee

To Papist priest or cardinal

To Pope or Popery.

When we to Church that morning went

As Christian brothers do,

We little thought foul murderers would

Our peaceful steps pursue.

Those faithless Fenian ruffians

In hundreds did prepare

To murder all the Orange boys

Returning from the Square.

When brothers Brown and Hawkins

Did nobly interpose,

To save their brothers from assault

The cry for blood arose.

And then those Fenian murderers

For Orange blood did roar,

They beastly murdered William Janes

And left him in his gore.

Some thirty shot had William French,

When like a soldier true,

He marched up to the Fenian crowd,

To see what he could do.

At length a bullet brought him down,

For it had pierced his brain,

And in a second poor William French,

Was numbered with the slain.

Soon spread the news from East to West,

As lightning quick does fly,

And soon proud Orange spread her voice,

With vengeance in her cry.

And hundreds of her gallant men,

With arms were soon prepared,

To aid the men of Harbour Grace,

No time nor money spared.

Oh, had you seen those Fenians

As we marched bravely on,

With banners flying in the air,

With courage soon was strong.

When foot to foot the Orange stood,

All ready for to fight,

No Riverhead men could be seen,

They ran away with fright.

May a curse attend a Fenian

Wherever he may go,

For fireing on the Orangemen And murdering of them so.

And now my song is ended,

I have no more to say,

Wherever there's an Orangeman, He'll think of that affray.

As a result of this event, which became known as the Harbour Grace Affray, nineteen people were arrested and brought to trial; there was so much conflicting evidence and suspected perjury, however, and all the accused were acquitted. This apparent failure of justice paved the way for the sectarianism that disrupted the campaign for the 1885 general election, when citizens were urged to vote along religious rather than political lines. The so-called Reform Party, comprised exclusively of Protestant candidates contesting exclusively Protestant Districts, promised a return to clean government and no amalgamation with the Roman Catholics; they took Harbour Grace. Although subsequent elections were sometimes marred by outbursts of personal abuse and accusations of "dirty tricks," the 1885 election was the last to see violence on election day 

MISCELLANEOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND SERVICES. Although social amenities were lacking in Eighteenth Century Harbour Grace, the Nineteenth Century saw developments befitting the town which was becoming known as Newfoundland's second city. Many of the institutions were church-oriented and philanthropic in nature. One of the earliest, a "society for improving the condition of the poor" (Anspach, p. 241), was formed at a public meeting in June 1803. Others included the Conception Bay *Benevolent Irish Society qv, formed in 1814 with Dr. William Stirling as its first President; the Dorcas Society, a Presbyterian women's group formed in 1832 with Rev. J. Burt as its President and Treasurer; the Church of England Total Abstinence Society, a temperance group formed in 1844; and a lodge of the Newfoundland British Society, established in 1861 with John J. Roddick as its first President, and the membership of which at the end of its first year totalled 180; the Masonic Order, with roots in Harbour Grace as early as 1785, formed a lodge in 1867 with George C. Rutherford as its first Master. Some of these organizations had their own buildings. The Temperance (Donnelly) Hall was begun in 1844; the corner-stone, laid by Magistrate R.J. Pinsent, contained a scroll deposited by John Roddick. In 1868 a cornerstone was laid for a hall on Victoria Street; the ground floor was used by the British Society, the second floor by the Masons. In 1886 the Church of England built St. Paul's Hall, which was used for church and school functions; it opened in May 1888 with a concert by school children.

Of course, not all the organzations were philanthropic or utilitarian in intent. Harbour Grace was well-known for its sports events. Horse racing, sponsored by the Harbour Grace Turf Club, was popular from the 1830s to the 1850s at the Cochrane Race Course, named after an earlier Colonial Governor, Sir Thomas Cochrane (Munn: {~4~}1937, p. t6). The course was located at Target Hill near Lady Lake, as was the Rifle Range, where the local militia, the Harbour Grace Volunteers, held contests of marksmanship. The best-known sporting event of the community was the Harbour Grace Regatta which, according to Munn (1937c, p. 13), was established by Edward 1. Oke. Oke, the lighthouse keeper, was a qualified harbour pilot. In 1859, during the course of his work, he assisted a Captain Walsh, who boasted of his crew's ability as oarsmen. Oke challenged him and his crew to a three-mile race, with a crew of five rowers from Harbour Grace, for a purse of $25. Although Walsh's crew took an early lead, Oke and the four fishermen in his craft beat them soundly. When a regatta was held in St. John's in 1860 to celebrate the visit of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), the Harbour Grace Standard suggested that a similar event take place at Lady Lake. It was not until 1862, however, that such an event took place. First organized by the Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Company, the regatta held races using four-oared whale boats. Each race of the two-day event was run by four boats over the two-and-one-half-mile course. The annual event was later shortened to one day; in 1983 the Regatta continued to be held.

Cricket clubs also won great popularity among the adult population in the 1860s when John Cathrae, an employee of Punton and Munn, formed the Alexandria Cricket Club (Munn: 1938b, p. 7). The club played other teams from the Conception Bay area, but their greatest rival was the team from St. John's which they apparently defeated regularly. Cricket remained a popular diversion until the early 1890s. In the Twentieth Century hockey became the most popular sport, and in February, 1958 the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium was opened to provide an indoor skating surface. The stadium, which also housed fairs, exhibitions, animal shows and concerts, became the home of the Conception Bay Cee Bees (See SPORTS: H~CKEY).

Business-related organizations were also plentiful in the Nineteenth Century. In 1823 James Crawley became the first manager of the Friendly Marine Insurance Society, which in 1834 was reorganized as the Mutual Marine Insurance Club under the chairmanship of Peter Rogerson. Thomas Ridley was the first to preside over the Merchants' Society, organized in 1825; he retained the presidency in 1832 when it became the Commercial Society. The town's first union, the *Fishermen of Harbour Grace and Carbonear qv, was formed in 1829. In August 1862 a meeting was called to form the Harbour Grace Water Company; $50,000 in shares was raised in one day. On March 2,1863 the Water Company Act was passed by the Newfoundland Legislature, and by 1869 the company was distributing water from Bannerman Pond. The Harbour Grace *Gas Light Company qv was also formed, and on August 11,1852 the streets of Harbour Grace were lit for the first time. The Gas House was destroyed by fire on August 30,1860, but by 1864 a new building had been built. The town also had its own volunteer fire-fighting team, established in 1833 by an Act of the Legislature (4 Wm. IV, c. 5) which gave the volunteers the status of Naval Reservists. On September

4,1860 the volunteer fire brigade was reorganized, a fire bell was erected and a new fire engine purchased. The company, though it underwent many subsequent reorganizations, proved effective in fighting the many fires which plagued the town (See FIRE FIGHTING AND PREVENTION).

Medical services in Harbour Grace began in the early 1830s when, because of a cholera scare, a hospital was built. In 1861 a schooner was fitted as a floating hospital and three years later, when smallpox broke out, a fever hospital was constructed on Military Road; this structure was replaced by a new structure in 1870. Hutchinson's Newfoundland Directory for 1864-1865 (p. 290) lists three physicians: William Harvey and William Down, both on Harvey Street, and Charles Toussaint on Water Street near Bannerman Road. By 1885-1886, according to the Directory for St. John's, Harbour Grace and Carbonear, Dr. William M. Allen was the only practising physician, with offices on Water Street. In 1909 it was reported that $100 was allocated for repairs to the hospital at Harbour Grace (JHA: 1910, App. p. 11); it is not known, however, if the hospital referred to was the one operating in the late Nineteenth Century; how long it continued to operate is also a mystery. Residents of the area were later served by the Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Carbonear until 1976, when the Carbonear General Hospital was opened. Clinical and emergency services were provided by three doctors at the Harbour Grace Medical Centre.

TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS. As was the case with all Newfoundland communities, Harbour Grace in the early days was accessible only by sea. The bar across the harbour mouth, which left only a narrow channel to navigate, received early attention in the mid1760s when Captain James Cook, being aided in his survey of the Conception Bay coastline by Magistrate George Garland, had a pile of rocks erected at Point of Beach to help guide mariners through the channel. Sailing vessels engaged in the fishery remained the only form of transportation, supply and communication until 1808, when Michael Duley of Portugal Cove initiated the first mail and passenger vessel service in Conception Bay. By 1809 there was regular communication between St. John's and the Conception Bay towns, and a post office was open at Harbour Grace with Andrew Drysdale as postmaster. As the community grew and prospered, demand for passenger service increased. Thomas Ridley of Harbour Grace and James Clift of St. John's instituted a service with the packet-boat Express during the 1820s; cabin passengers paid ten shillings for the trip while those in steerage paid five shillings; letters cost sixpence each. By 1832 there were six packets operating out of the area; they were owned by Robert Oke, George Voisey, Edmund Phelan and James Doyle, all of Harbour Grace, Maurice Doyle of Carbonear, and S.W. Cozens of Brigus.

By 1836 the packet service was supplemented by a coach service in summer and a covered sleigh in winter. Navigation was also improved in that year when, according to the Directory for St. John's, Harbour Grace and Carbonear 1885-1886 (1885, pp. 284-285), a lighthouse {~5~}Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser (later *Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser qv) was established and continued publication under a series of owners until the 1930s. The Conception Bay Man qv was founded in 1856 by Henry Webber and continued for three years. In 1983 the town was served by The Conception Bay *Compass, qv which had been established by Robinson-Blackmore Printing and Publishing Ltd. of St. John's in 1968.


By 1983 the population of Harbour Grace appeared to have stabili~ed, having remained just below the 3,000 mark since 1976. The community was served by an eighteen-man detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the detachment was first stationed there in 1949, the first outside St. John's. The Harbour Grace Fire Brigade, composed solely of volunteers, was equipped with three fire trucks. Governmental services were provided by over forty civil servants in the town; telephone services were supplied by the Newfoundland Telephone Company while Newfoundland Light and Power supplied electricity. In addition to the five schools there was also a day-care centre, and the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium catered to approximately 2,000 students' hockey and figure-skating groups. It also hosted dog shows, which were first organized by Harbour Beem Kennels, incorporated in 1956 and dedicated to preserving the Newfoundland Dog. The Harbour Grace War Memorial Library, the Harbour Grace Historical Society and the Conception Bay Museum were centres of historical and cultural interest. Although many workers commuted to other Conception Bay towns and St. John's, the fish plants, owned by the local firm Ocean Harvesters, were major employers. In the early 1980s it was expected that business in the area would benefit from the offshore oil and gas industry.

L.A. Anspach (1819), W.J. Browne (1935b), R.J. Connolly (1946;1963), T.G. Ford (1935), Frank Graham (interview, Sept. 1983), W.B. Hamilton (1978), C.G. Head (1976), M.F. Howley (1979), H.A. Innis (1954), D.W. Johnson (n.d.), W.M. Moncrieff (1968), H.M. Mosdell (1974), W.A. Munn (1933; 1934; 1934a; b; c; 1935; 1935a; b; c; 1936; 1936a; b; c; 1937; 1937a; b; c; 1938;1938a; b; c; 1939;1939a; b; c;), Msgr. J. O'Brien (interview, Sept. 1983), Parsons and Bowman (1983), Charles Pedley (1863), A.R. Penney (1981; interview, Sept. 1983), D.K. Regular (1969), J.A. Rochfort (1877), F.W. Rowe (1964;1976), E.R. Seary (1971), H.F. Shortis (IV, 411), Rev. W. White (interview, Sept. 1983), Atlantic Advocate (Mar. 1982), Atlantic Insight (Dec. 1981), Census (1836-1981), DA (Nov.-Dec. 1982), Directory for St. John's, Harbour Grace and Carbonear 1885-86 (1885), ET (Aug. 8, 1964; Apr. 4, 1973), "Harbour Grace Regatta" (1966), Hutchinson's Newfoundland Directory for 1864-65 (1865), Sailing Directions Newfoundland (1980), WS (May 1, 1964), Archives (C.O. 1: 35), Newfoundland Historical Society (Harbour Grace). Map H. LER

Back to top

Enjoy Your Visit

This Site is owned and maintained by
William Coveduck

Page Created  06 June 2001