Most of the settlements on the Cape Shore owe their beginnings to Ronald Sweetman, a prominent Irish merchant who at the turn of the nineteenth century owned a flourishing fishing operation in Placentia. The bulk of this fishing and shore work was done by young Irish immigrants. These Irish youngsters, eager to leave the poverty and famine of their native Ireland, had been lured to Newfoundland by the promise of a new beginning.
To supply his fishermen and labourers with provisions, Sweetman made
frequent voyages home to Waterford, Ireland for argicultural produce. Realizing
the expense of this venture he decided it would be more profitable to utilize
the many fertile valleys along the Cape Shore. Young men were sent to many
coves to grow vegetables and to raise cattle. It is probable that most
of the communities from Placentia out, with the exception of Branch, were
settled as a direct result of Sweetman's need for agricultural produce.
Branch, on the other hand, originated primarily as a fishing community,
and its pioneer settlers were not sent out by Sweetman.
Branch is a community of approximately five hundred people located on the Southwest side of St. Mary's Bay. It is about 90 km from St. John's and 72 km form Placentia. The nearest community is Point Lance, 16 km away.
Branch lies nestled between two forest clad hills and it was on the gently sloping land of one of these hills that the first settlers chose to build this settlement. An excellent salmon river runs through the community. This river begins about 22 km up country and empties into the gut which flows into the waters of St. Mary's Bay. Tributaries of this river wind in and out among the small meadows or flats which are used for pasture, hay land, and growing vegetables. The sea coast or land-wash is on the south side of the community. The hills to the east form what is called the East Cove and the cliffs to the west form the Wester Cove. No one has ever lived in the Wester Cove, but when Branch first became a settlement almost as many people lived in the East Cove as there did in the heart of Branch. In 1959, work was started on a causeway across the flats to link the East Cove people with the rest of the community. However, one wintery night in 1962, as the ice on the river broke up and moved out to sea, it caused considerable damage to the causeway and in 1963, practically all the East Cove people moved over to Branch. A new causeway has since been constructed and now in 1988, approximately twenty families make their home in the Cove.
It was in 1765, while the dark clouds of rebellion and hatred spread
over blood-stained Ireland, that Thomas Nash from Callan in County Kilkenny,
decided to leave his home in search of peace. He booked passage on a sailing
vessel and was soon bound for far off Newfoundland.
For many years Thomas lived and worked at Capelin Bay, now known as Calvert, a harbour for British ships on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland. Thomas had a boat and considerable fishing property in Capelin Bay. Records show that in 1773, Thomas Nash and one Roger McGrough (McGrath) petitioned the government for possession of a fishing room in Capelin Bay extending from the north side of Deep Cove to the Quay. This petition was granted but they were not to hinder the watering, wooding or brewing of any vessel! Records also indicate that Thomas Nash was a literate fellow and wielded much influence with other Kilkenny men in the area.
In 1789 a relative of Thomas Nash, Father Pat Power, from Kilkenny came to Calvert against the wishes of Bishop O'Donell and began to administer to the people of the area. This started much conflict between the Kilkenny men and the supporters of O'Donell. It was about that time that Thomas Nash decided to leave Calvert and moved with his family to Mosquito Island is St. Mary's Bay.
Thomas stayed on Mosquito Island only a short time. Legend has it that the grubs ate the shores out from under his fishing stage, thus forcing him to leave. He came to Branch, lured there, they say, by the abundance of salmon in its river. An English protestant named Kingspear accompanied him to Branch. Very little is know about him, expect that he converted to Catholicism and changed his name to Kerry. A well in the East Cove at Branch still bears the name Kerry's Spout.
Thomas built his first house on Summerhouse Point, a site near where Pat Nash's house now stands. It was a log house, stogged with moss and intended as a temporary dwelling, because Thomas later built a larger, more substantial house. This first homestead was in a choice location, next to a pond, where boats could be anchored and practically next door to the sea. Free land was available, much of it suitable for farming. Others fished in the area as well and possibly Thomas saw the development of a community in what was then a wilderness. Some sources say that Thomas called his new home Branch, because of the way the river branched in several places as it swept into the waters of St. Mary's Bay. However, Branch Cove and Branch Head were chartered by the map maker, Lane, as early as 1773. Branch is a French surname and it seems likely that the name could have originated with the French fishermen who were in Colinet and fished this area around 1760.
Thomas Nash had five sons: Walter, Tom, Toby and Paddy, and we can only assume that all five accompanied their father to Branch. He also had two daughters whose names we have not been able to identify. In 1795, Thomas' tow brothers, Toby and Walter, moved from Capelin Bay to Branch, so the Nash's became firmly established in Branch. They cleared the land, tilled the soil, grew their own vegetables, raised cattle and sheep and fished in the summertime. Those early settlers traded their fish and excess produce to Slade and Spurrier, merchants from Poole in Dorset, who operated out of St. Mary's Bay.
It is believed that, several years after settling in Branch, Thomas Nash returned to Ireland to perform his Easter duties, since there were no priests in the area at this time. There he reported to his friends, Nick Power and Bill English, that all the land where he had left was free to anyone. "Yours is that which you can see," said Nash. On the return voyage, he was accompanied by his two companions. Bill English eventually married one of Thomas' daughters, Nora or Nellie. In 1857, John became a member of the House of Assembly for Placentia/St. Mary's. Nick Power marries another Thomas Nash's daughters, and they had at least three sons, Nick, Paddy, Davey.
Around 1850, another family of Powers came to Branch. They had come to Placentia on board of one of Sweetman's vessels from Waterford, Ireland, and had later moved to Branch. Included in this family were Jim, his brother Davey (the first school teacher in Branch), Bridget Power, called Irish Biddy who had been a professional dancer in Ireland, her sister Mary, who married James Carew from England, and Catherine who married Thomas Nash's son, Walter. This family of Powers was not related to Nick Power so this would indicate that the Powers in Branch today are not related only by marriage.
The first Roche, was an Irishman, named Paddy, who came here from Placentia around 1830 to fish in the Cape St. Mary's Bay area. When he married Nellie, Bill English daughter, he settled here permanently. The first Mooney, Patrick, was also an Irishman, who settled in Branch around 1840. He married Nick Power's granddaughter, Mary Power. The first O'Rourke to come to Branch was Mike O'Rourke, who came from Mall Bay around 1845. He married a Nash - thus relating the Nash's and the O'Rourke's. Mick Campbell, of Scottish ancestry, arrived in Branch from Newbridge, Salmonier, around 1870. He married Mike O'Rourke's daughter, Nellie. The Hennessey's moved here from Western Shore of Placentia Bay around 1880. However, Placentia marriage records show that Beckford in 1845, Patrick Hennessey, a native of Tipperary, married Betsy Noble of St. John's. Very little is known and it's doubtful that they were related to the John Hennessey who settled in Branch.
The first McGrath's were Jim and Paddy, originally from Gull Cove in St. Mary's Bay. Jim married Betsy Roche, Pat Roche's daughter and Paddy married Mary Allen, a servant girl shipped to Branch from some part of Placentia Bay.
Peter Corcoran, John Dunphy and John Lake came to Branch from the western side of Placentia Bay. John Lake married Agnes Nash, Tom Nash's granddaughter. Their decendants live in Branch today though the name Lake is now extinct here. John Dunphy married Anne Tremblet from Cuslett. Like the surename Lake, the name Dunphy has all be diappeared form the Branch Area. Peter Corcoran married Tom Nash's great-granddaughter, Margaret Nash. The name Corcoran is still common is Branch.
Bob and Dan Downey came from St.Bride's around 1870. Bob married Ellen
Nash, and settled in Beckford. Dan married Susan Nash and settled in Branch.
The most recent newcomers were Linehans and the Quigleys - Jack Linehan having come
from Colinet Island and Edward Quigley from Haricot within the last sixty years.
By 1884, Branch had a population of 211, most of them related one way or another. There are almost 500 people living in Branch today, practically all of whom are decendents of these first families.
Since fishing was the main source of income for the Branch people, Thomas Nash and those who followed him were primarily fisherman. Every family had its own boat and it was not uncommon for a boy to become a fisherman at the tender age of 11 or 12 years. The fishing skiffs were about 30 ft. in length nad had three sails and oars. They were built locally from the abundance of timber in the area. Since there wasn't a mill in the community, the first settlers used a pit saw to cut the materials. Before the coming of the Acadia engine the men rowed their boats to the fishing grounds.
Many of the early settlers sold their fish to the Sweetman's of Placentia. It was the custom to get your fishing supplies in the spring from the same merchant to whom you intended to sell your catch in the fall. These merchant's boats would come to area several times during the fishing season to pick up fish. In the fall the men would go back to the merchants to "get squared up". At this time they would pay their expenses and purchase their "winter's diet" of sugar, flour, tea and molasses. Fish was shipped from Branch by boat until as recently as the 1950's. The skipper of the last boat to come to Branch for fish was Joe Delorey, who shipped the fish to East Coast Fisheries in Bay Bulls.
These early settlers had their own animals providing them with milk, butter, cream, and meat. They took advantage of the wildlife in the area and lots of cod and salmon. Although, nobody had much money, they led comfortable, God-fearing lives. This account taken from the memoirs of Agnes Singleton (nee Mooney) who was born in Branch in 1879 and married a fisherman, John Singleton, from St. Joseph's in 1902, gives us a glimpse of life in Branch as she remembers it.
"Branch is a July sun - the beauty, the loveliness and peace, the wide sparkling sunlit sea, the many skiffs on the smiling water, sailing home from the fishing grounds. This day nearly all are loaded with the fish that give these people their living. The tide is full and the skiffs sail serenely over the moaning bar, leaving the screaming gulls behind where they gather on the beaches to feast on the caplin thrown there by the sea, and the busy people, women as well as men, from the fields to the fishing room, right glad and thankful to God for the bountiful harvest from the sea. As well as being industrious workers, these people of mine could enjoy themselves and welcome the holiday season. The twelve days of Christmas saw quite a reunion of the people from Branch and the Cape Shore. Kerosene lamps shone brightly in the good wife's care. The corner was pile high with birch chunks, a roaring fire and plenty of food for man and beast. Everyone in Branch could sing and play and were always ready to spring out on the cottage floor and step it out".
Joys were simple but satisfying. The people had little news from the outside world ...at least nothing to sadden them. People instead, had the joy of working together to make their community a happy and enjoyable place to live.
Although life in Branch continued in much the same fashion for nearly 150 years there were certain milestones along the way - most of which are dealt with in other chapters. Important among these are the construction of schools and churches since both religion and education have always played an integral part on the communities of the Cape Shore.
The fishery has changed to become a more modern and a more profitable venture. Well equipped longliners replace the old skiffs and larger quantities of gear is now used. The communities still depend largely on the fishery and the successful operation of the local fish plants could mean a great economic boost to the area.
Farming too has come almost full cycle. The statistics of 1845 showed branch as having a population of 75 - growing 810 barrels of potatoes and raising 90 head of cattle. For the next 100 years people grew all their own vegetables, made their own butter and had plenty of meat for consumption. However, the operation of the Argentia Naval Base in 1941, lured many of the farmers as well as the fisherman from their communities. Now, in 1989, we see a revived interest in farming as more people are turning to the land to supplement their income.
The coming of electricity in 1965, heralded Branch's entry into the twentieth century. On December 18th of that year the Cape Shore had its kerosene lamps replaced by electric lights. Up until that time the lifestyle hadn't changes for nearly one hundred years... Now things changed almost too quickly.... There was a mad rush to buy electrical appliances. People hastily disposed of many of the old family heirlooms. Lovely antique lamps, wash boards and wash basins were either taken to the dump or sold to antique dealers. The social life of Branch also changes. The number of house parties began to decline and church functions were no longer the major source of entertainment as more people began to attend dances at Coffey's Country Club in Angel's Cove and the newly erected Shamrock Club in Branch. Televisions in the homes also meant many changes. What leisure time families one had - to talk, play games, tell stories, sing, or read was now spent watching T.V. No doubt it was good for people to finally have a look at the outside world, but, on the other hand, it was sad to see the end of an era.
In 1966 Branch became the first community on the Cape Shore to become
incorporated under the leadership of Mr. Dolph Nash, who became the first
Chairman. The council looked after such things as street lighting, garbage
disposal and the water supply. In 1967; a community building was erected
and houses' offices allocated for the council, the Public Health Nurse
and the Volunteer Fire Department. The community receives its water supply
from four dams - one at Valley's Pond, one at McGrath's Gully, one at Corcoran's
Gully and one at O'Rourke's Bridge. It was from the latter that Branch
received its first water supply in 1949. Prior to that people carried water
from wells with a hoop and bucket.
The community Council had sponsored many Canada Work Programs, which have provided much needed employment in the area. Mr. Dolph Nash was instrumental in having much of this work done. Programs such as improvements to the wharf and fishing facilities as well as the construction of gear shed have proven very serviceable to our fishermen. Under the leadership of Mr. Nash, a playground and swimming pool were acquired. The latter was the only one on the Cape Shore and a source of much summer enjoyment for the children in the community.
The sawmill in Branch, which is the only one in the area, was owned
by Mr. Albert English and was operated by him and his sons for thirty-five
years until Albert's death in 1987.
Nestled between two hills on the southern most tip of the Cape Shore, lies the picturesque community of Point Lance. The original name for this settlement was Bull bay, probably named so because just off the shore are three large rocks called the Bull, Cow and Calf. The name later changed to Point Lance, referring to the point of land which resembles a lance, or a spear.
Like many other settlements on the Cape Shore, Point Lance was initially settled as a farming community. Although the pioneer settlers lived on the doorstep on one of the richest fishing grounds in Newfoundland - Cape St. Mary's - they did not fish, but instead painstakingly cleared the land. They had been sent out to Point Lance by the Sweetmans to raise cattle and crops to feed the Irish labourers who worked for their firm in Placentia.
The first person to have lived in Point Lance was Tommy Dunn, from Placentia. He never formed a permanent settlement but instead lived there only during the summers while he fished. Around 1820, Philip and Ned Careen from County Tipperary became the first permanent settlers. Eventually, Dunn stopped his yearly fishing trips to the settlement.
Philip and Net Careen, cleared and farmed the land which belonged to
the Sweetman's but they later purchased it for the sum of sixty pounds
in gold. This land was later divided equally among the sons, making Point
Lance 'Careen' territory. Ned remained single but Philip married Agnes
Viscount and they had six sons and four daughters. All the Careens of Point
Lance today are direct descendants of this one family.
As mentioned before, the first generation of Careens were not fishermen, but they later learned about this way of life from migrating fishermen who taught them how to utilize the rich resources which they lived next to. It was around 1850 that the settlers of Point Lance turned to the fishery as their main source of income, but from the beginning they were hampered by the lack of good harbour - and even today the same problem remains.
Fishing still plays a big role in the community of Point Lance, and although there is little fishing done directly out of the community, most of the fishermen fish out of St. Bride's or Branch. These communities, while not having the best harbours, do have much better landing and dock facilities. A strong south easterly has been know to smash up many boats that moored at Point Lance.
In addition to being fishermen, the early settlers continued on with farming. A lot of it was for personal consumption but the sale of cattle and sheep was a great boost to a family's income. Today in Point Lance there are approximately sheep and Foxes. No one grows vegetables for sale, just for personal use.
In 1960 Point Lance was slated by the government for their resettlement program despite the fact they had just build a new wharf and stage there. The idea was to take the people out of the smaller communities and incorporate them into larger centers - in this case, St. Bride's. However, at this time Point Lance was one of the most economically productive communities on the Cape Shore, and the residents, under the leadership of Mayor Joe Careen, dug in their heels and resisted such a move. Only four families relocated, the remainder stayed.
Today, Point Lance is still a small community having occupied dwellings and a population of 136. Its size however, has not held back its lifestyle. It has two convenience stores, a new hall, a larger gear shed for fishermen, a church. Many new, modern homes have been built of the past years and although a lot of high school graduates must leave this community to find employment, some do stay to carry on the fishing and farming begun by their ancestors.
The Careen name is no longer the only surname to be found in Point Lance.
Others to be found there today are Conway, Corcoran, Mooney, McGrath, Nash
and Power. Even with the growing diversity origins, Point Lance still remains
a close-knit community.
The first settlers arrived in St. Bride's from Ireland in the early
part of 1800. Previous to this, French fishermen had used the cove and
had give it the name La Stress. The English speaking settlers later changed
the name to Distress. However, the census of 1845, listed the community
as St. Bride's. The residents, no doubt were wary of having such a foreboding
name as Distress on their community, so they called it after St. Bridget,
a favorite saint of Ireland.
Those early settlers were very industrious and worked hard clearing land and growing vegetables. St. Bride's is a good agricultural center and has more arable land than any other community on the Cape Shore.
Fishing in St. Bride's commenced around 1859 and has now become the chief industry in the community. The proximity of good fishing grounds had encouraged the continued use of the traditional small boats. This less expensive method of fishing has made the industry a very profitable venture for many of St. Bride's fishermen.
The census of 1981 showed St. Bride's with a population 599, to be the largest community on the Cape Shore. Although not centrally located, it has traditional been considered the center for the are. In the past, St. Bride's had Newfoundland Constabulary Officers stationed there. Their job was to enforce Wildlife and Welfare regulations and keep a check on bootlegging in the area. The first office stationed there was Constable Jerry Devine, followed by Constables William Beehan, Larry Dutton, and Vincent Leonard. After Leonard's departure the house was used as a nursing station. Today it is the home of the Dalton Family. At this time, St. Bride's, as well as the rest of the Shore receives its police protection from the R.C.M.P Detachment at Placentia.
St. Brides has a community council that was incorporate in 1971. The first Chairman was Walter Manning, who held the position for over a decade. His son Eugene is the present mayor.
Some well - established surnames in St. Bride's are Conway, Dohey, English, Foley, Griffen, Lundrigan, Mahoney, Manning, McGrath, Murhpy, White and Young. The resettlement program of the 1960's brought several families from the Western side of Placentia Bay. Lar Barry and his family came from Red Island, the Lakes came from Oderin and the Brennans came from Paradise. Many of these names testify to the Irish ancestry of the inhabitants of St. Bride's.
The community of Cuslett us situated in a small valley east of Placentia on the Cape Shore. It was first settled in the early 1800's by Sweetman's firm. Like other communities on the Cape Shore, it was settled as a farming area. The name Cuslett, is French, probable coined by the French fishermen, who were there before any permanent settlement took place.
The first permanent settler to this community was Walter Manning. Although
no definite date has been found for his arrival, it most likely was early
in 1800. He married a girl from Angel's Cove and they raised their family
in Cuslett. The census of 1891 showed Cuslett as having a population of
During the early days, the residents of Cuslett spent most of their time farming and clearing land. They raised cattle, sheep, and horses, and grew vegetables. Around 1857, the residents of Cuslett began to fish.
In 1901 a lobster factory was built at Cuslett. It was operated by an Englishman, G.C. Ferran. The factory employed about eighteen people. Wages were $ 0.20 an hour, a good wage at that time. Approximately twenty dories with crews from the neighboring settlements placed pots in the water from Point Bireme to Island Head and nineteen hundred cases of lobster were landed the first year. They were boiled in huge vats, canned, crated and then shipped abroad. By 1911, the lobster factory had unfortunately ceased to operate.
The first school was built in Cuslett in 1901 - prior to this school was held in a private house. There is no longer a school in Cuslett and the children are now bussed to school in St. Bride's.
By the early 1900's a large business was operated in Cuslett by Walter Manning, grandson of the original settler. People came from Barasway to Branch to purchase supplies from his store and his business operated until the early 1960's.
Around 1903, a ship called the Palermerina went aground in a dense fog on the north point of Cuslett. The iron that was salvage from this wreck was used to build a sawmill - owned and operated by Tom Jim Coffey. The lumber from this mill was used in all types of construction in Cuslett. We were unable to get a definite date on when this operation closed down.
The first community center in Cuslett was completed in 1986. Here all social in the community are held and during the summer of 1987 the people of Cuslett hosted their first garden party, which was a huge success.
The community of Angel's Cove, is situated on the eastern side of Placentia Bay some 35 km from the town of Placentia. The 1981 census placed the population of Angel's Cove at 51, all of whom are directed descendants of James Coffey, who in the early 1800's became the first resident of this community. Today, the entire population of Angel's Cove bears the Coffey surname.
An employee of the prominent Sweetman's firm in Placentia, James Coffee was lured to Angel's Cove by the promise of some very prime farmland.
A family of Follets also lived in Angel's Cove in its earlier days. James Follet from Clatice Harbour commanded a schooner that traded on the Cape Shore, bringing provisions to the people and freighting their fish to St. John's. He married Ellen Coffey, daughter of the first settler, James Coffey, and settled down in Angel's Cove.
They had four sons and three daughters. Mr Follet's son's were great sea men and in the early 1900's built their own schooner. James Follet was considered one of the best captains in Newfoundland. His wife, Ellen, was one of the most prominent midwives on the Cape Shore.
Although the first settlers had been primarily farmers, by 1870, the inhabitants had begun fishing as well. By 1874, three fishing rooms had been established on the shore line of the community. Today, the Angel's Cove fishermen fish mainly out of St. Bride's but the community does have a gear shed to house the fishermen's gear.
Early in the 1920's, a school room was set up in the home of Patrick Coffey. This was soon followed by the construction of the first schoolhouse. This building was also used as a church with Mass being celebrated there once a month and the Rosary recited every other Sunday. Later, residents went to nearby Patrick's Cove to church and the children went to school in St. Bride's
Today, Angel's Cove is a thriving little community with a general store, a recreation committee, fox farm industry. Many of the younger generation, disillusioned with the promise of better jobs 'away', are staying home to fish and farm - as their ancestors had done before them. Today's fishing and farming however, requires much technology expertise and the participants in these industries in Angel's Cove are very much in tune with these demands.
Around 1804, the picturesque valley of Patrick's Cove, then know as Devil's Cove was settled by a young man from County Tipperary, Ireland. Bartholomew McGrath made this sheltered cove his home, and following his marriage to Catherine Ryan from North Harbour, raised his family of four sons and three daughters there.
When Bartley arrived in Newfoundland he had no background in fishing, being a farmer by profession. However, by 1849 he was going to sea on the bankers (fishing vessels) and his sons had learned to build boats and were beginning to fish locally. By 1845 there were four small skiffs at Patrick's Cove, and as the years passed the number grew to seventeen. At the peak of the fishing season, men came from the Barasways and Point Verd to assist. These were called 'summer men', they came to help and in exchange for services they received food and free board. Today, those who fish, do so out of St. Bride's.
The name Devil's Cove, was changed to Patrick's Cove by Bartholomew's
son Bartley on the occasion of the birth of his son, Patrick. The name
has help through the years and just about every family in Patrick's Cove
with the surname McGrath has a son named Patrick. In the 1800's Patrick's
Cove had all McGrath living there.
St. Patrick's Day was celebrated 'as good as Christmas' in this very Irish community. The people wore something green on this day and it was traditional to carry, on a barroe, the four hundred pound statue of St. Patrick from the church, around the community, and back again.
Since there is no school in Patrick's Cove today, the children are bussed to St. Bride's to the central elementary and high schools. The church in the community is the oldest one on the Cape Shore.
There is no major industry in Patrick's Cove, but over the past few years there has been a substantial increase in farming and with some of the residents venturing into the Fox industry. There is also an Auto Body Shop owned and operated by Benedict Tobin which employs several people, but the majority are migrant workers.
Today, the community of Patrick's Cove, is one of the best kept communities on the Cape Shore - it is without a doubt the cleanest. The people have a lot of civic prode and it is evident in the overall view of the community.
Gooseberry Cove is today a small provincial park and mainly noted for its sandy shoreline. Few people of the Cape Shore still remember that Gooseberry once had a full-time school teacher, and that several families made a prosperous living there through trapping, hunting, fishing and farming. They were very independent people who built their own houses, barns, stages, and dories and grew vegetables, cut firewood, raised cattle, sheep, pigs, and kept horses.
The Doyle brothers; Bill, Tom and Jim, arrived from Ireland and settled at Gooseberry sometime around 1840 when the potato famine and harsh English laws forced them to emigrate. Bill and Jim, along with their sister, lived on the north side while Tome erected his house on the south side.
In March of 1880, there was a terrific downpour of rain 'never before or since witnessed in Gooseberry' Ice blockedaded the river and eventually swept away all the Doyle buildings on the north side resulting in extensive loss of property. The lone surviving animal of the flood was a pig that somehow stayed on top of some hay and remained above water long enough to be rescued.
When the plight of the brothers was made known, all the people in the neighboring settlements came to their rescue. Logs were cut on Ship Cove Brook, a pit saw erected, and horses hauled the sawed lumber to Gooseberry. A new family house was erected where the Doyle's remained for a number of years. The census of 1845 showed Gooseberry with a population of 13 - twelve born in Newfoundland and one in Ireland. The village is now uninhabited. The last person to have lived there was Richard Dalton, who moved to Patrick's Cove in 1958.
The Sandy beach continues to attract many of the residents of the nearby communities and tourists are forever struck by 'the peace and beauty of it all.'
Ship Cove is situated on the east side of Placentia Bay, about 22 km from the town of Placentia.
The first settler, John Skerry, came to Ship Cove in 1794 from Blackwater, County Waterford, Ireland, on a vessel owned by Ronald Sweetman. His wife Alice, and his two daughters: Catherine; age eight and Alice; age six, accompanied him on the voyage. Within a few years Patrick Tobin from Wexford and James Brennan from Fadown, landed at Placentia and made their way to Ship Cove, where they settled.
The Skerry dwelling house was built on a level of land that had a current of fresh water running through. The house was studded and had three small windows, a porch, two bedrooms upstairs, two bedrooms downstairs, and a rock chimney.
James Brennan built his house on the bank of the river, enabling him to brook logs. The logs, sawed on a pit-saw, had numerous uses. In addition to building houses, the lumber was used for stools, shelves, closets and cupboards. The slabs were used for firewood and the sawdust fro bedding for the animals.
James married John Skerry's oldest daughter, Catherine, and had eight daughters and three sons. Patrick Tobin married John Skerry's youngest daughter, Alice, and had five daughters and three sons. He built his house in the southeast corner of Ship Cove .
These were the first two families from which all the Brennan's and Tobin's of the Cape Shore descended.
By 1900, the population of Ship Cove had risen to 52. In 1909, under the guidance of
Fr. Renouf, the first school was built. The first teacher was Mary Lundrigan from St. Bride's followed in 1910 by Mrs. Caroline Brennan. Very few boys remained in school after the age of 12, as a lad was then considered old enough to fish in a dory.
In 1914, Ship Cove had a thriving fishing industry. The first motor
boats were being used and there were ten boats and approximately twenty
fishermen here. Although cod fish was the main species, some tired their
luck at lobster and for several years two men from Nova Scotia, Johnny
Snares and Jesse Masters, operated a lobster canning factory in Ship Cove
Gradually, the fishery came almost to an end. Many young men left Ship Cove to seek work in the lumber woods or at the naval base in Argentia. Today, there are only about 6 to 10 people living in Ship Cove, but the fishing and farming established by their ancestors are still carried out by the local residents.
Big Barasway and Little Barasway are the communities on the Cape Shore nearest to Placentia and for this reason one could assume that they were probably the first coves that Sweetman made use of. Although included in our definition of the Cape Shore, neither Big Barasway nor Little Barasway belong to the 'Sacred Heart Parish' as do the other communities in the area. Rather, they are in Placentia Parish.
The first settler in Little Barasway was an Irishman named Tom Foley, nicked named Traumoors. Tom was married to Nellie Boe, also from Ireland and they had four sons: Jim, Patrick. Joe, and Michael; and two daughters: Marg and Nellie. (James Foley who stills in Little Barasway is a descendant of this Tom Foley.) Later, Tommy Doyle and his family came. When they left and where they went to, we were unable to find record of. In the early 1960's, George O'Keefe and his family moved to Little Barasway and his family is one of the three families who now make their home there.
The first settler in Big Barasway was Tom O'Keefe, sent there by the Sweetman's to grow farm produce for their operation in Placentia. The story goes, that when the Sweetman's went bankrupt, they gave the O'Keefe's the farm. They and their descendants have lived in
Big Barasway ever since.
Years ago, Big Barasway was the 'stopover' for people traveling from Branch and St. Bride's to Placentia. Mr. Ned O'Keefe's was a favorite place to stop and have a 'mug - up' before continuing on.
The O'Keefe's were followed by Grant, Bradshaw and Medcalf. Because the area was rich in good timber land, Bradshaw soon built a sawmill. The timber from the mill was purchased by Sweetman and shipped back to Ireland in vessels constructed by Bradshaw and Metcalf. In time, Metcalf started a lobster factory where they cooked and tinned locally caught lobster.
The census of 1845 showed Big and Little Barasway combined, with a population of 27. There were one hundred and sixty quintals of fish caught and cured. There was an abundance of salmon in the excellent river that ran through the community of Big Barasway and one old lady recalls women in that community going to the bank of the river and quickly pronging a fat salmon for dinner! There was fifty acres of land under cultivation which produced 220 barrels of potatoes. There were 34 beef cattle, and 17 milch cows from which they produced 910 pounds of fresh butter.
Lears Cove, a sung little inlet, is another of the now uninhabited coves that we feel must be mentioned in a history of the Cape Shore. It is located between St. Bride's and Cape St. Mary's. Today, Lears Cove is surrounded by the community pasture and only the crumbling foundations of barns and houses testify to its existence as a community.
Lears Cove was once a prosperous farming and fishing settlement. The census of 1845 showed that the 14 people living there at the time cut 32 tons of hay, grew 110 barrels of potatoes, raised 26 head of beef cattle 10 milch cows, 4 horses, 12 sheep and 10 goats. They made 836 pounds of fresh butter. One later resident of Lears cove now residing in St. Bride's, recalls his father, Arthur Young raising a flock of 100 sheep.
The fishermen in Lears Cove made all their nets during the long winter months. When their catch was cured in the fall, it was sold to one of the many fish merchants from St. John's who were eager to purchase some of the 'Cape St. Mary's Fish.' The merchants anchored their schooner in the cove and the fish was loaded aboard out of dories. If the fish was of a good quality they would be paid $ 2.50 a quintal.
The first settler to live in Lears Cove was John Fewer, from Ireland. Later, Jim Young, another Irishman, arrived and married Mary Moores, a girl from his homeland. They had four sons: John, Jim, Walter, and Robert. When Jim died, Mary married John Fewer. John and Jim Young stayed in Lears Cove; Walter moved to Placentia and Robert moved to St. Bride's. Most of the Youngs in St. Bride's are direct descendants of this family.
The last family of Youngs to live in Lears Cove belonged to Mr. Arthur Young. He was the grandchild of the John Young mentioned earlier. Arthur and his wife, Ida, a Careen from Point Lance, had 5 sons and 4 Girls. In 1961, Arthur moved to 'Young's Lane' in St. Bride's. His sons who now live in St. Bride's have many happy memories of a good life in Lears Cove.
Beckford, once an attractive little village about a mile or so from Branch, has now been abandoned for almost 40 years. In its day Beckford supported several families who made a good living from the land and from the sea. It had an abundance of firewood, good land for farming, and a bountiful salmon river.
In 1970, John McGrath and his family left Patrick's Cove to settle in Beckford. They raised four sons, Paddy, John, Martin, and Bat. Around 1880 Jacob Clark and a Mr. Whalen came to Beckford and built houses. Mr. Whalen was regarded by all as a fine scholar and for a number of years he taught night school in Branch. There is no trace of where those two men came from or indeed where they went to after leaving Branch.
Also, in the late 1800's, John Dunhpy came to Beckford from Petit Forte. He married Anne Tremblett and had two children; Mary Ellen and Jack. After his wife, Anne died, John married Mary Anne Careen from Point Lance and had another daughter, Hannah, who is still living in Branch today.
In 1888, Bill Heffern and his bride, Bridget Kenny of Renews settled at Beckford. The couple had no children but raised a foster son, Martin. Martin married Nora Heffern from the Southern Shore and they had one son, William, and three daughters; Bridget, Mary and Margaret.
In 1920, Patrick Joseph Nash, a World War 1 veteran, and his wife Mary, a Barry from St. John's, went to live with Bat McGrath in Beckford. They raised a large family and remained in Beckford until the mid fifties. Then, Mrs. Nash, now widowed, and her family almost reared, had her home transported by boat from Beckford to the East Cove in Branch where she lived for many years. This was the last family to live in Beckford.
The village of Gull Cove, which lies between Branch and Point Lance, has now been uninhabited for some forty or fifty years. It was once a thriving little fishing community. The settlers raised livestock, grew gardens, and made use of the abundance of wild life in the area.
The pioneer settler of Gull Cove, was Paddy McGrath from St. Mary's, who married Peggy McGrath from Patrick's Cove. They had two daughters, Polly and Ann, and two sons, Patrick and James. It is interesting to note that Patrick's son, George, fought in World War 1, and was one of the few survivors of the famous 'July Drive.' The descendants of these first McGrath's still live in Branch, Point Lance, and St. Bride's.
Around 1875, Bill Tremblett from the Western shore and William Judge of Red Island settled at Gull Cove. When his family was still quite young Mr. Tremblett left Gull Cove and settled in Cuslett.
William Judge married Ann McGrath of Gull Cove and had four sons; Patsy, William, James, and Jeremiah, and one daughter. Mary Margaret. Patsy Judge of Patrick's Cove and John Judge of St. Bride's are direct descendants of this family.
Although uninhabited now, Gull Cove still lures hikers and campers and those who want to gather the cliff berries, for which Gull Cove is 'famous'