History of the Communities of the Peninsula

Red Island

Just off the coast at this tip is Red Island, or LT Rouge, used as a French fishing station from the 1700s. In 1862, the Journal of the House of Assembly reported:

Red Island (note: currently owned by Abbott and Haliburton Company Limited, the oldest firm of the West Coast) is considered by the French one of their best fishing stations on the West Coast....The mainland in the vicinity is rather exposed and is not well adapted for boat work. The settlers are well treated by the French, but are not allowed to compete with them in the fishery. They maintained themselves by farming; the pasturage must be good; judging from the richness of the milk. They have no difficulty in procuring sufficient bay to keep their cows during the winter. The French arrive about 24th April, and leave October 1st.

Settlers were said to be Breton or St. Pierre deserters from the French fishing fleet stationed on Red island. Many married local Mi'kmaq and Acadians from Cape Breton, who arrived from St. George's Bay and Port au Port in late 1700s and early 1800s.

L'lsle Rouge was a major summer fishing static from the late 1700s and was still considered the best fishing station on the west coast as late as 1862. Most residents arrived in late April to stay until the end of September, and one of the first permanent settliers was a M. Cornect. There may have been as many as 300 men on L'lsle Rouge in the late 1800s but the 1874 census showed Red Island with 29 residents, 28 Newfoundland and one French.

In the early 1900s, the French continued to fish cod at Red Island and ship it to St. Pierre, and als had a lobster factory with a M. Chretien as manager. No buildings remain on the island, but L'lsle Rouge continues to play an important role in the cultural heritage of the area. Mainland's museum with it's information centre is called L'Heritage de L'lsle Rouge.


Early French fishermen on L'lsle Rouge (Red Island) referred to the area as La Grand Terre and established the settlement in the 1800s. It was named, almost certainly by Breton fishermen, because of its mainland relationship to L'lle Rouge. A priest later unsuccessfully tried to name it Ste-Anne. Mainland never had a resident priest. Father Joy visited from Port au Port until a priest was stationed at Lourdes. Some early settlers were John Moore, Victor Marche, Adolphe Revellon, Joseph Briand, Frank Barter, Joseph Lainey, Frank LeBoubon, Peter Le Roux and Peter Peyo, mostly French fishermen from L'lle Rouge. Most came from Brittany and St. Pierre.

A logging and farming community with a sawmill in the 1870s, Mainland in the 1891 census had just 33 residents. The final abandonment of the French Shore in 1904 encouraged settlement of French families and the population rose rapidly to more than 100 in the 1920s. The first school, St. Anne's, was built in 1916, with a Mrs. Gearny as teacher. It later became St. Anne's Chapel when a primary school was built. The first postmaster was Joe Brian, and the first store was opened by John Cornect in 1920, later destroyed by fire in 1937. A new sawmill was built by Peter Cornect in the 1920s, and the road connection to Lourdes was completed in 1950.

There were 402 residents in 1971, and the community became a centre for Francophone residents of the whole Port au Port Peninsula, many of whom no longer used French at home nor at work. In recent years, renewed interest in the French language and customs has resulted in a French school and community centre, and the establishment of a French radio station, CFIR, and interpretation centre, L'Heritage de 1'Isle Rouge.

Other places in the Mainland area:

Low Point

Crow Head

Nana Lainey- Mainland Mi'kmaq

Warrant Officer Maurice Chaisson

Three Rock Cove

The community of Three Rock Cove was originally known as Trois Cailloux, named for three large rocks just offshore. Wave action has eroded away one of the rocks and reduced the size of the other two which are still visible.

Originally, there were two adjoining communities-Green Head and Salmon Cove, and the first settlers were Paul Hall, his wife and son, followed by Tom Collier, Fred Retieffe, Charles Dennis, Wilson Hawco and Basil Downey. The Halls still live in the community, as do most other early Three Rock Cove families. Salmon Cove in 1891 had 12 residents, and Three Rock Cove 26, but the combined population rose rapidly to 134 by 1901. People fished, went logging and did some farming. There were lobster factories in the late 1920s and a silver and lead mine at nearby Spider Pond.

The first school was in Maurice Keating's home in the early 1900s, with Maggie Holden as teacher. There were four schools built in the community, the last in the 1960s-it was used by the Women's Institute in the 1970s. The first stores were owned by a Le Roux from St. George's, and the Port au Port merchants, Abbott & Haliburton, and John Joy. The first post office was run by John Collier, and then by Mrs. Pat Hall who ran it for 44 years.

Three Rock Cove had 274 residents in 1971, and another 100 had settled by 1976. The fishery is the main employer, but construction, retail stores, and the area's schools also provide work.

Other areas in Three Rock Cove:

Three Rock Point

Salmon Cove

Round Head

Black Duck Brook

First known to the English as Shoal Cove, the French settlement of L'Anse-a-Canards was so named because of the local abundance of black ducks. The settlement originated from an early 1800s land grant to a fisherman named Tageon or Tachon, although the first permanent settler was said to be John Duffenais from neighboring Winterhouses. Tageon operated a lobster factory and may well have been a member of the Tagean family who later clashed with the English merchants at Port au Port West. Most early settlers of Mi'kmaq and Acadian stock were from Cheticamp, Cape Breton, and also from France, and St. Pierre. The school was started by the Roman Catholic Church in 1884.

Other early families originated in England and Scotland. John Gillis was from Glasgow and married Sarah MacDonald of Inverness. They moved to Broad Cove, Cape Breton, where three daughters were born. They then moved to Grand Codroy and Sandy Point, Bay St. George, where two sons were born in 1853 and 1855 before the family arrived at Black Duck Brook. By 1891, Black Duck Brook had 107 residents and was the largest settlement on the North Shore.

James Baird set up a lobster factory in 1888 with Mr. Haliburton as manager. The French on Red Island complained the lobster traps interfered with their herring fishery and forced the Baird operations to move to Bonne Bay in 1889. The factory building remain when the French moved out in 1904, but others soon arrived from adjoining settlements.

Our Lady of Lourdes parish started in 1912, but a missionary church, the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Black Duck Brook, was mentioned as early as 1894. The community's famous resident, fiddling virtue Emile Benoit, who was born March 24, 1913, and of Mi'kmaq and Acadian roots.

The French, and later the English, used the Long Point bar of land for temporary fishing stations. The French referred to the point from Winterhouses to where the light station now stands as La Barre, after the English called it The Bar, and later Long Point.

A settlement, composed of families of French, Mi'k Maq and English origin, existed until the mid-1900s when they were moved by the Newfoundland government. According to Walter and Emila Young of Black Duck Brook, there were a dozen family there, including Benoits, Formangers, Gaudets and Youngs. Joe Leroy later lived at Long Point year round, but most of the buildings found at Long Point, and adjoining Blue Beach where the harbour is located, are summer fishing cabins. The road was paved to the end of Black Duck Brook in 1989, and just eight kilometres of gravel road remains to Blue Beach.

The population peaked in 1901, when there were 178 residents, but had dropped to just 50 by 1921. Black Duck Brook had a post office by 1940. Most local fishermen haul up their boats on the gravel beach alongside the community or operate out of Blue Beach harbor at Long Point five miles to the north at the end of a gravel road. By 1976, Black Duck Brook had 132 residents.


The French and French Indian arrived in the early 1800s to fish at neighboring L'Anse-a-Canards and winter in the heavily wooded area of Winterhouses. There was some farming, but the settlement was mainly a winter home; hence the name Maisons-d'Hiver. The community's English name has varied between Winter House and Winterhouses. It was first settled year round by John Duffenais in the 1820s or 1830s-he built the cemetery cross. The Duffenais family came from Margaree, Nova Scotia, and joined John around 1840. Adolf Lainey arrived around 1870. The first schoolhouse was built in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

The community now has very few trees and in 1976, there were 77 residents in 45 families, many with relatives in St. Pierre.


The French had a lobster factory at Clam Bank Cove, the settlement's original name. It was first mentioned in the 1884 census when there were 43 residents, and Harold March(e) was one of the first settlers- most of Mi'k Maq ancestry. The March(e) and Young families came from Cape St. George, and 1894 and 1897 directories listed William Brake, Isaac Duffney, Henry Edwary, John March, and Henry, Valentine, Arthur, Victor, Louis and John Young. Families arriving in the late 1890s came from Black Duck Brook, Mainland and Cape St. George. In 1901, there were 85 residents, and the 1904 directory added Henry Benoit, John Maclsaac and Angler Young.

A Mr. Nicol ran the local store for Abbott & Haliburton. The first priest was Father Pierre Adolphe Pineault from Rustoco, Prince Edward Island, who arrived at Clam Bank Cove in March 1912. He was priest until 1928 when Father Michael O'Reilly from County Caven, Ireland, arrived. Gerald Thomas wrote after Father O'Reilly made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France he renamed the community, although others attribute the change to Father Pineault. A school had been built by 1905, with 21 pupils taught by Miss E. Noseworthy. Other early teachers were a Miss Morrison and Martin Flynn.

In 1911, there were 123 residents, and there were 10 lobster factories operating in addition to the cod, lobster, herring and seal fisheries. Milk production rose from 6,700 gallons in 1911 to 13,500 gallons by 1921. A sawmill was opened by the Benoits. There were already 18 fishing families in Clam Bank Cove by 1935: Henry, Joseph and Peter Benoit; Arthur Blake; Joseph Companion; Arsene Gaudon; John Green; James March; Victor, Robert and Peter Woods; and Frederick, John, Joseph, Rueben, Victor and William Young. In addition, Michael Glynn was a logger.

Fishing was the main occupation until 1934 when a farming settlement was started by the Commission of Government. In an attempt to assimilate the local aboriginal people, people were resettled from Miller's Passage and Sagona Island, and arrived at Port aux Basques by coastal boat, took the train to Stephenville, travelled by road to Port au Port and then by boat to Lourdes. These families included those of James and Joseph Brake; Ambrose and Morgan Bungay; Dan, George, John, Ned and Sam Green; Owen and Thomas Quann; Harold and Richard Skinner; and Joseph and Morgan Snook. The first five men arrived in December 1934 and their families followed the next spring. This brought the population of Lourdes to 222 residents.

The Lourdes Co-op began in 1935 with the support of Fathers J.F. Kirton of Harbour Breton and Michael O'Reilly of Lourdes. The fisheries Co-op took over the government store in 1939 with Steve O'Driscoll as manager, and there were branch stores at Marche's Point, Long Point, Black Duck Brook, Winterhouses, Three Rock Cove and Mainland, but it went into bankruptcy in 1950. Father (now Bishop) O'Reilly started the Co-op again; the Fisheries Co-op separated and survived until 1974.

By 1945, there were 456 residents, and the population continued to rise with employment at Stephenville. The Americans developed a recreation camp at West Bay two miles from Lourdes. In 1955, the population of Lourdes stood at 623, and reached 775 by 1965. Electricity came to the community in 1959, and the first telephones were installed in 1962. The first high school was built in the 1960s, a new Our Lady of Lourdes Church was completed in 1975, and Lourdes was incorporated in 1969.

Cod, lobster and herring were the main fisheries. Other fish caught in the community included haddock, flounder, gray sole and halibut year round, redfish in the summer, shrimp in midsummer, scallops from April to November, and mackerel and turbot in the fall. Many fishermen preferred employment at the Harmon base in Stephenville until it closed in 1967.

In 1981, the population was 932 in 210 families, with 130 residents listed as being of French and Mi'k Maq origin. Most were Roman Catholic, with just 15 United and 10 Anglican Church members. Male unemployment was 34%, but double for youths, and female unemployment was just 6%. Of 175 men in the workforce, 55 were in primary occupations and 30 in processing. Of 80 women in the workforce, 25 were teachers, and 20 in clerical and processing occupations. By 1986, the population was 937 with just 10 whose mother tongue was French.

Other names in the Lourdes ares:

Red Point

Clam Bank Cove

Victor's Brook

Lourdes Links of Interest

Our Lady of Lourdes RC Parish

Lourdes Public Library

Lourdes Co-operative Society Ltd

(Lynx) Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps

West Bay

First settled by John LePrieur from St. Pierre in the last quarter of the 1800s, West Bay was a mix of French, Mi'kmaq and English families. The Gaudets were the first permanent residents, and William Hynes, Don, Ronald and John Gale, Joseph Duffney, Andrew Young, Frank Benoit and Peter Targett were among those who followed. Many early settlers were from Margaree, Cape Breton, and there were 57 residents by 1891, when James Joy was listed as a farmer. He later moved to Port au Port to establish a business.

The settlement had herring and lobster factories and lumbering, plus some farming in the 1900s. Tea Cove was a section adjoining Lourdes. The population rose to 103 in 1911 and continued to grow in the 1920s. Mrs. Ronald Gale's home served as the school until one was built around 1927-the first teacher was Maizie Retieffe. The school was used until 1968. Mail was delivered by the Fernfield, and the first postmistress, from 1914 to 1930, was Mrs. Arthur O'Quinn. Paul LeCoure had a lobster factory and lumber mill and left the community in 1958. The first store was a branch of Abbott & Haliburton run by John Sheppard, and the second was a branch of the Lourdes Co-op run by John White at West Bay Centre.

West Bay enjoyed a brief spell of prosperity after the opening of the Harmon base in Stephenville, with American families taking advantage of the West Bay recreation site started in 1953. After the base closed, West Bay's population had dropped to 137 residents by 1971. It remains a small community alongside the main highway, and is divided into West Bay and West Bay Centre.

Other areas of Interest in the West Bay area:

Tea Cove

Rocky Point

Harry's Brook


According to Mary Mavis Sheppard, the settlement was first known as Pie Denis, and there were just eight residents in 1891. There was a French fishplant until 1904 when the French Shore was officially abolished.

Some early residents arrived from other parts of Newfoundland. John Maclsaac moved from Moidart, Scotland, to Northwest River, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. Other members of the family settled at Broad Cove, Cape Breton. One son, Donald, moved to Sandy Point, Bay St. George, with his wife, Mary, six daughters and one son, while two daughters and two sons remained in Nova Scotia. Donald moved to Piccadilly in 1852 where he farmed for 10 years until his wife died and he moved to Port au Port West. McAlpine's 1884 Directory listed James Joy as a merchant. He was born in 1838 and married Mary O'Rourke from Holyrood, moving to Piccadilly in the 1880s and later to Port au Port. John Joy established a business on The Gravels.

The community was abandoned until the 1920s with no permanent settlement until 1932 when most Mi'kmaq French speaking families arrived. Joe Tourout settled in Piccadilly around 1926 with his Mi'kmaw wife Annie (Hinks) from Mouse Island, Port aux Basques. His 126 acres lay west of Camel's Brook. They moved from Ship Cove and had six children, four boys and two girls. Joe's father, Odges (augustus), had come from Paris, France, and settled at Sandy Point. His wife Mi'kmaw Mary Ann (Sheppard) moved with their three boys and two girls to Ship Cove shortly after his death in 1881. Joe Tourout fished for smelt at Piccadilly while logging in the winter. The smelt were taken by horse and sleigh to Stephenville and shipped to markets in Boston and New York; the logs were sold to the West Bay Lumber Company.

By the mid-1900s, the early French speaking residents had moved out and replaced by mainly Mi'kmaq and English settlers, and Piccadilly grew rapidly. Its harbor offered shelter from all but northeast winds. The Abbott & Haliburton wharf is about a mile south of South Head, and was built by the West Bay Lumber Company in 1925. They shipped most of their wood to Corner Brook for shipment to Sydney and Bell Island for mine pit props. In 1932, the North West Products Company took over and extended the pier, building a cold storage and cannery there, and tried to can scallops, clams, eels and blueberries, but markets were poor. They also made fish meal for poultry feed and fertilizer. The meal was shipped to Germany and Egypt, and the fertilizer was famous for its quality. The company also experimented with Irish moss, but, upon consultation, the Halifax research station deemed it to be uneconomical. The pier was later taken over by Abbott & Haliburton, who, by the 1930s, already had plants at Piccadilly and Three Rock Cove.

By 1935, Piccadilly had 140 residents. The Hudson Bay Company had the first licence to ship live lobster to the Boston market. Arthur House started the scallop industry by dragging from a pleasure boat. A man from Digby, Nova Scotia, was brought over to demonstrate the correct technique. Residents packed an average of 200 barrels (3,000 Ibs.) a day. The community was also known for its smelt run. The smelt fishery operated from the 1890s to the 1930s when the price rose to 30 cents a Ib., but dropped in the 1940s. Piccadilly's population had increased to 628 by 1976.

Mrs. Danny Gale was the first postmistress. Our Lady of Fatima Church was built in 1959, and a new church was started in 1977 under Father John Moriarty. There was a fertilizer factory, lobster fishery, scallop industry (with 3,000 Ibs. a day at peak), logging, farming and fishing in 1980. The water tower was built in 1982 to supply the National Sea Products fish plant, whic closed this year. There are now two lobster buyers operating from the wharf. Kendall's Fisheries Limited, started by Matthew Kendall, is the prominent buyer in the area today.

Place names of interest in the Piccadilly area:

South Head

Piccadilly Bay

Piccadilly Head

Piccadilly Head Regional Park

South Brook

Piccadilly Central High School


Reference list

  1. "Decks Awash,"magazine Volume 19 Number 4, published by Memorial University, July-August 1990
  2. Joseph Benoit, and Marc Cormier, "History of the Francophone movement". The Georgian. Stephenville. luly 11, 1978. Comeau, Paul A. 'Port au Port". Student paper. Maritime History Group, Memorial University, n.d
  3. Doucette, Nelson V, "I'attern of settlement in the Port au Port Area of Newfound land". Student paper. Maritime History Group. Memorial University, n.d,
  4. Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. Vols. 1 and 2. F-d. J.R. Smallwood. Newfoundland Book Publishers (1967) Ltd. St. John's. 1981 and 1984.
  5. Benwah, Jasen, "Growing up on the Port au Port Peninsula". Stephenville. 2002
  6. Hynes, Sharon. "Port au Port". Student paper. Maritime History Group, Memorial University. 1985.
  7. Lawlor, Kathleen. "A History of the Port au Port Peninsula". Student paper. Maritime History Group, Memorial University, n.d.
  8. Lawior, Kathleen. "A Brief History of Port au Port". Student paper. Maritime History Ciroup, Memorial University, n.d.
  9. Mclsaac, Sandra. Merchants, Mint", and Ffalf-Fenny Lobster. Curran Memorial Library. Port au Port East. 1984. Power, Mike. "The Abbott family". Student paper. Maritime History Croup, Memorial University, n.d.
  10. Quinlan, Sister Elizabeth. "History of Port au Port". Student paper. Maritime History Group, Memorial University. 1972,
  11. Sheppard, Mary Mavis. "The History of Lourdes". Student paper. Maritime History Group. Memorial University. 1972.
  12. Sheppard, Melvina. "The History of the resettlement of Lourdes". Student paper. Maritime History Group, .Memorial University. 1976.
  13. Thomas. Gerald. "Noms de licux et de lieux-dits associes aux Franco-Terreneuviens de la presqu'ile de Port au Port" in 450 ans de noms de licux Fran-cais en Amerjque du Nord. Les Publications du Quebec. Quebec. 1986.
  14. Tourout, Cecil Joseph. "The Tourout Land Settlement at Piccadilly". Student paper. Maritime History Group. Memorial University. 1972. Decks Awash. Vol. 5, No. 2. Memorial University. April 1976.
  15. The Rounder. Rural Development Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. Gander. August 1980.


Dick and Dolly Alexander, Sylvester and Edna Benoit, Joe Arruda. Greta De Louche, Mike Felix, Eileen Hann, Theresa Hann, Lorraine Hoskins, Patsy Jesso, Brian Kerfont, Julie Oliver, Valerie Young, Paula Marshall of the Maritime History Archives, Kitty Power of the Newfoundland Historical Society, Memorial University Photographic Services, staff of the Memorial University Centre for Newfoundland Studies, the Provincial Reference and Research Library, and the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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