Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Chapter VII. District of Fogo and Twillingate

THE principal place in this district is Twillingate (originally Toulingate,) it is situate on an island of the same name, and contains a population of about 2,300. Twillingate is divided by the sea, forming the north and south side of the harbour into two islands. The principal part of the inhabitants live on the north side, which includes Back Harbour and Crow Head. The south side of the harbour, includes J enkin’s Cave, Durrell’s Arm, and Farmer’s Arm. Twillingate has two places of worship, one Church of England, and one Methodist. Many years ago a Congregationalist minister was stationed here. There are also two schools, and a Court House and gaol. There is a police magistrate, John Peyton, Esq., (celebrated for his endeavours to bring the Red Indians into a civilized state.) There is also a Clerk of the Peace, a jailor and Bailiff, and a Custom House officer. Wm. Stirling, Junr., Esq., is the physician and coroner of the district. Twillingate is an old settlement, the principal trade of which has long been carried on by merchants connected with the trade of Poole, England. The principal merchants formerly were J. Slade & Co., Cox & Slade, J. Colbourne, Joseph Pearce, Lyte & Hayward, and Muire & Co.

In 1845, Bishop Field for the first time visited Twillingate. The following account of the Bishop’s visit will perhaps interest the reader:—

“At Twillingate the arrival of the ‘Ship’ was announced and welcomed by a splendid display of flags on every side of the harbour, and discharges of cannon from the establishments of Messrs. Slade & Co., and Messrs. Cox & Slade. The church flag in this settlement is a beautiful St. George’s ensign, presented by three captains of vessels. A very substantial, capacious and handsome church, 80 feet by 45, with a lofty and characteristic tower at the western end, has lately been erected here ; and the inhabitants were anxiously desiring the Bishop’s presence, that the fabric might be duly set apart and consecrated to God’s honour and service, with accustomed prayers and blessings. The consecration took place on Thursday morning, commencing at 11 o’clock, and, though the fishery was at its height, a large congregation assembled to witness, and assist at the solemn service. It was very gratifying to see among them the grey heads of many respectable old planters, who still know how to use and value an Apostolic ministry and the Church of their fathers. There was no collection on the occasion, for all the work had been completed and paid for (to the amount, it is said, of £1,000, besides voluntary labour), by the contributions of the merchants and planters, assisted only with £50 from each of the two great Church Societies in England, and £10 from the Church Society of this Country.—The contributions of the inhabitants had been wisely made at intervals, and year by year, thereby lessening the pressure on their (in some cases) slender means, and keeping up their interest in the pious work; and preventing the necessity of that most objectionable, not to say illegal, practice of selling the pews, and so giving to private persons a property in God’s house. Nothing surely can more directly set at naught our Blessed Lord’s injunction, “ Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandize.”—(St. John, 2, 16.) The church, as it is now completed, is an honour and an ornament to the settlement; and may it be a great and lasting blessing! The Bishop, is reported, offered to present a silver cup and paten for the Holy Communion, but found himself forestalled by the liberality of R. Slade, Esq., of Pool, who had signified his wish to furnish funds for the purchase of a complete set of Communion-plate, to any amount which might be necessary. Another feature in the proceedings of the day is deserving of all notice and commendation—viz., the anxious desire of the inhabitants, many of whom had possessed pews in their former church, to prevent such acquisition of property in the new one ; for which purpose they made over the church by a proper deed to the Bishop, in trust, for the perpetual use of all the inhabitants. (The same method, we understand, was adopted, with the same laudable object in view/at the consecration of the church in Fogo.) The consecration service was concluded by two o’clock; after which many boats again put out for their fishing-grounds. The^day was fine, and the whole proceedings seemed to be conducted under happy auspices, and, we humbly trust, with a special blessing from above.

On the morning of quitting Twillingate (the 4th of July), forty ice-islands, we understand, were distinctly seen and counted at one time from the deck, and others, some of them of immense size, were met and passed every hour.”

The next important place is Fogo, which is also situate on an island of the same name. It contains a population of about 800 inhabitants. Here there is an Episcopal Church and School. There are also two mercantile establishments belonging to the Messrs. Slade & Cox. There is a Collector of Customs and a physician.

Tilton Harbour ranks next in trade and population; here there is a Roman Catholic Church and School. It contains a population of nearly 400.

The other principal settlements are Joe-Bats-Arm; Herring Neck and Exploits; Burnt Island and Tilt Cove, where an extensive copper mine is being worked. Fishing is the principal occupation of the inhabitants of the district.

In 1857 the population of the district of Fogo was—

There were 17 churches; 9 Episcopal, 4 Roman Catholic, and 4 Methodists. There were 1484 dwelling-houses, and 16 schools, with 675 scholars. There were 1,183 acres of land in cultivation, producing 63,262 bushels of potatoes; 1,497 tons of hay; and 900 bushels of turnips. Of live stock, there were 37 horses; and 592 cattle; 383 milch cows; 215 sheep and 2,063 swine and goats. Butter manufactured, 16,454 pounds. Some three or four small vessels are sent at the seal fishery, and the number of seals annually manufactured is from seven to nine thousand. In 1857, there were 1,819 seal nets owned in the district, and 9,320 sails. There are probably about 20 vessels employed in the foreign trade. There are 10 vessels employed in the fisheries, and 1,720 boats carrying from 4 to 30 quintals and upwards, of green fish, The quantity of fish cured was 72,655 quintals of codfish ; 75 tierces of salmon; and 893 barrels of herring ; gallons of oil, 63,360. Fogo and Twillingate Island lies at the mouth of the great Bay of Notre Dame ; or, as it is generally called, Green Bay. In this capacious bay are seven smaller bays, among which are Seal Bay, Badger Bay, Gander Bay, Hall’s Bay, and Bay of Exploits, in the last of which three mills are in operation. This part of the country during the summer season abounds with deer, and is celebrated as being the hunting-grounds of the Red Indians of Newfoundland. The Indians had fences erected about 18 miles into the interior, to entrap the deer, extending a distance of 30 miles, all which has long since disappeared. From the Bay of Exploits a small river extends about 70 miles, which reaches Red Indian Lake, which is about 40 miles long; thence a chain of lakes extend to the Grand Pond in St. George’s Bay, which is fifty miles long, and empties into the ocean. An inland water communication could be effected from the extreme north to the extreme west of Newfoundland, both of which are agriculturally or geologically considered the most valuable portions of Newfoundland. In the Bay of Notre Dame or Green Bay, there are some excellent forest timber, consisting principally of Birch, Pine, Spruce and Fir. Mr. Gibbins, of St.John’s, erected a saw-mill here in 1844; the pine board obtained is closer grained and much wider than what is generally imported from the neighbouring colonies.

The Messrs. Knights, of St. John’s, who carry on a trade in this part of the country, usually take several cargoes of board and plank to St. John’s in the summer season, which always commands a higher price than any of the imported lumber. There are now five sawmills at work, valued at SI 5,000. Mr. Murray estimates that in Grand Bay there are 720 square miles of pine and spruce timber; manufactured into lumber would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The district of Tobo terminates at the northern extremity of the Bay of Notre Dame, which is Cape St. John; thence commences the French Shore, extending north; thence to Cape Bay on the west. For an account of the French fisheries, see Fisheries and District of Fortune Bay. Captain Bennett, of H. M. S. Rainbow, in 1856, says :—

“I was anxious to have revisited Tolinguet, but it would have been highly imprudent to have run the ship into the bight of the Bay in such a series of tremendous weather, attended as it was with incessant fog.

“I was fortunate enough to be in the harbour of Croque during the worst part of it, where I found the French King’s ship the Giraffe, and saw several English fishermen from different parts of the coast, none of whom had any complaint to offer.

“The French to the northward have been very successful in this fishery, so much so, that many hay© been obliged to desist from fishing, having used all their salt, and they are, even now, anxiously looking forward for vessels from France with a further supply.”

Some of the finest and most beautiful harbours of Newfoundland, are on what is called the French Shore north. The following interesting account of this part of the coast, is given by Captain Loch, to the Earl of Dundonald, in 1847:—

“I sailed from St. John’s for the coast of Labrador, July 23rd, with clear weather, and a moderate breeze from W.S.W., which lasted until we were abreast of Trinity Bay, when we met a fog from the southern coast, which generally fills that Bay, with wind between South and W. S. W. passing over the narrow Isthmus which joins the district of Ferryland to the great body of the Island.

“The wind shifted to N.N.E. and threw up, as it increased, a chopping sea ; but as the fog was light I stood towards Cape Freels, to see whether the valuable fishing grounds, extending round its extremity, were occupied by our own people.

“This Cape is to be avoided in thick or heavy weather, on account of innumerable rocks and shoals that surround it, both North and South.

“It nevertheless is a good fishing station, and affords shelter for boats and small vessels—seventeen were in sight.

“At noon we passed Funk Islands within a mile, leaving it on the port hand. It is a flat-browed Island, I should say not more than sixty feet high, and cannot be seen at more than twelve miles distance.

“Parties repair thither in Spring and Autumn to collect eggs and feathers. At one time a very considerable profit could be gained by this trade, but lately, owing to the war of extermination that has been waged against the flights of Puffins, Gannets, Divers, Gulls, Eidar Duck, Cormorants, &c., &c., it has greatly diminished. One vessel of twenty-five tons, is said, once to have cleared two hundred pounds currency in a single trip to Halifax.

“July 26th, we passed between Groais and Belle Island (South), shortly after daylight, counted ten icebergs—some drifted about with the winds and tide, others aground, and two at the entrance of Croque.


“This harbour is a long, narrow indenture, slightly curving towards its head, where vessels may lay perfectly land-locked.

“It is the head-quarter station for the French men-of-war employed for the protection of their fisheries.

“I found at anchor the French brig of war Maleagre, and two empty merchant vessels laying with their top gallant-masts down, and hatches locked, their crews to a man were engaged fishing. Besides these, there was a small English schooner, the Marine, bound and belonging to St. John’s, with a cargo of Salmon.

“The French have two rooms in Croque, on opposite sides of the harbour. When they return home for the winter they leave them in charge of two fishermen named Hope and Kear ney, only removing the canvas covering of the stages.

“They also leave some of their boats behind them, turning them over on the beach, and thatching them with spruce boughs, in the same manner that our own migratory fishermen do theirs on the coast of Labrador, to protect them from the weather.

“Their establishments are conducted upon the same principle as our own, and although their arrangements evinced a better system of discipline, I do not think that the same energy is displayed by their fishermen in the prosecution of their employ ment—nor does it appear to me to be so thoroughly performed. I mean that, to my inexperienced eye, they neither seem to be so well cleaned, split, boned or cured.

“The two rooms in Croque employ between them thirty seven-quintal boats, and one hundred and thirty men; hundred afloat and thirty shore men (as they are termed), in the establishments, six of these boats were exclusively occupied in catching caplin and herring for bait, and were manned by crews of eight men.

“Their fishing this year commenced the 5th June, and is considered good in point of quantity—although the fish are unusually small. The catch has been to the present date (July 27), seven thousand quintals, and they anticipate six thousand more before the close. They use seines principally, but they also fish with lines.

“Caplin had struck in very early, and in great adundance. They are now beginning to disappear, replaced by herring.

“Croque is by no means a first-class fishing station. Rouge, St. Julian’s, Goose Cove, Creminallera, Braha, Quirpon, besides others in the vicinity of Cape St. John, all harbour more vessels and send forth a greater number of boats.

“The French coast fishermen do not receive so large a bounty as their countrymen engaged exclusively on the banks. The risk and expense attending their occupation is much less, and consequently the insurance lower.

“The coast fishermen sail from France in vessels of 150 to 200 tons, laden with salt and containing their entire fishing equipments, comprising men, boats, nets and provisions. When they arrive at the destined harbours they move their vessels, reroof their last year’s establishments, land their goods, lock up their vessel’s hatches, and commence fishing. If the season proves prolific, traders connected with the planters will, perhaps, once or twice during the season carry away the produce of their good fortune and industry, preserving a sufficiency to freight their own vessels back to France.

“The French north-east coast fisheries are prosecuted perhaps with greater vigour, and have increased more rapidly, than those to the southward.

“This year there were upwards of 11,000 fishermen employed between Cape Ray and Cape St. John, showing an increase of 1,500 men within two years. I had great difficulty in collecting information, not only from the superintendents of rooms, but also from the naval officers; they evinced, I thought, great jealousy in their answers to my questions.

“The northern and southern fisheries are opposing interests. The former are conducted by houses at Granville, St. Malo, Gampol, Bennick, Havre, Rants and St. Brieux; the latter by merchants at Dieppe, Bayonne, and in one instance in connection with a St. Malo house of the name of L’Guiller. I met, at the table of the Captain of the French brig-of-war, two superintendents of rooms, they had originally been masters of bankers ; they appeared to be men of energy and substance, and possessed very considerable general information. They spoke with pride of the sailors their bankers produced, and of the hardships and dangers they were exposed to while fishing on the banks, and that to deprive their country of these fisheries would be to lop off the right arm of her maritime strength.

“I found, during my stay, the climate dry, the winds light and in the harbour (notwithstanding the proximity of eight or ten icebergs), the temperature mild and agreeable; but outside the air was damp and chill, even with a clear sky over head.

“Sailed for Belle Isle North, July 29th, and observed on my way there, one brig in Fish Shot Cove, one bark and one brig in Goose Cove, one bark, one brig and a schooner in Creminillera Cove, two barks and two brigs in Braha. one English brig in Griguot Harbuur, one French brig in Degrat Harbour.”

The following is an account of Bishop Field’s visit to this part of the coast in 1849. The number of British subjects inhabiting the French Shore North, from Pack-ipiet to Cape Norman, is about 1,200 :—

“The attempt to cross the Straits was more successful today, and by the kind assistance of a French fishing-boat, the dangerous harbour of Quirpon was safely entered, and the Church Ship anchored among a crowd of French vessels and boats about 4 o’clock.

“A comfortable looking cottage on shore seemed to speak of natives or residents, and bj enquiries made there it was found that eight families have settled in the place, chiefly from Harbour Grace. One family has been resident 35 years, others 14 years, &c. No clergyman of our church had ever before visited them. Evening service was celebrated in one of the cottages the same day, and on the following day both the morning and evening service; and at these services all the children of the settlement, and some from Noddy Harbour, were received into the Church. All the English inhabitants attended, and, notwithstanding their separation and seclusion, they are well-dressed and well-mannered people. Their catch of seals in the winter is probably as profitable as the summer fishery; and wood is abundant at a short distance. They have the custody of the French rooms and gear in the winter, for wiiieh service they receive presents of clothes and other remuneration. The French fishery is conducted on a liberal and systematic scale. In this little harbour there are five establishments, numbering from one hundred to one hundred and thirty men at each. They fish with the bultow and enormous seines.”

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus