|Explications on this Gazetteer: Notes from under the stage|
This section offers some explanations.|
The topics are:
Abandoned vs. Resettled - There is an important difference between these two words although most Newfoundlanders readily equate the latter with the former.
The Outport Reality - What exactly was a Newfoundland outport? How did they come into being? How long did they last?
The Problem with Counting - Why an exact number is difficult to determine.
The Present Situation - An overview of Newfoundland and Labrador communities today.
The S and H Problem - A note about dialect and toponomy and commonality.
|Click any topic heading in text to return to top of this page. Click here to return to Appendix index.|
|Abandoned vs. Resettled|
|Community resettlement, as a government social and economic planning tool, was promoted for three periods between Confederation and 1975. It did split communities and families, some wanting to go, others wanting to stay, and it certainly spawned a cultural revival of predominantly Irish, Roman Catholic values in the 1970's as Placentia Bay families began to adjust to their new surroundings. In the Gazetteer's list of abandoned communities, many were abandoned voluntarily without government financial assistance or political support; nearly 200 before 1949. Economic downturns; bad fish catches or markets; running out of wood, water, game, or ore; natural and man-made catastrophes; lack of doctors, schools, or churches; and isolation were contributing factors for many communities deciding to move. At the end of the 20th century it was common to hear people refer to another possible wave of community abandoment in the wake of the cod stock collapse after 1992.|
|The resettlement article in Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador reports on the three official "resettlement" efforts with 45 communities disappearing between 1945 and 1955; another 115 between 1955 and 1965; and 148 between 1965 and 1975. These 308 accounted for about 30,000 people.|
|After 10 years of Confederation, in 1959, the provincial government decided to study its resettlement policies and, in 1960, the Provincial Economist prepared an official report of his research. From March 1953 to February 1959, Robert Wells noted, 29 communities (484 families; about 2,400 people had resettled with government assistance of $146,027 (see Table 1). According to his survey results, 199 communities (3,289 families; about 14,800 people) were identified by respondents as needing resettlement. Thirty-five communities (see Table 2) made enquiries about resettlement in 1959 and 24 applications (966 families; 4,347 people) were pending.|
|Wells made much of the fact changing economic times required a fundamental change of attitude for people in isolated coves and harbours. Mining towns and communities with fish processing plants had the best potential to become "growth" centres, he noted, and he listed 21 communities with fish freezing facilities (see Table 3) and another 25 with salt fish plants (see Table 4).|
|The Outport Reality|
|Many communities were for long periods summer fishing stations used by the French, Basque and English. The South Coast, Hermitage, Fortune, and Placentia
bays were ceded to English control in 1713 and 1763. French stations were setled
by English and Channel Island fishing merchant employees on an increasing basis
The onset of Responsible Government in 1834 was followed by a census in 1835 and
many of these communities appear officially for the first time then.
The small communities started up in the mid to late 1800's appear less
successful than the older stations turned communities of the previous century
given their sole reliance on fish and fish alone; this is also evident in the
shore fishery carried out in Labrador throughout this period. As fish failed
so did communities.
An analysis of abandoned community duration, conducted by Mobilewords Limited, gives the average length of settlement at about 125 years (some are very short, less than 25 years; other very long, up to 250 years). The average accounts for four or five generations of natural resource exploitation and is reflected today in the duration of mining communities all across the industrialized nations. It is a "natural" process with a certain "inevitability". Unless there is some other form of economic development, either imposed from without or developed within, communities based only on natural resource exploitation cannot apparently survive longer. Whether this model can be super-imposed on territories, provinces, states, etc. might make for an interesting socio-economic or historical analysis.
Mining communities throughout Notre Dame Bay, Green Bay, Halls Bay, and Little Bay followed another settlement and abandonment pattern as hundreds of people suddenly appeared on site and just as suddenly disappeared once the mine was played out. This single resource economic development (boom and bust) cycle approximates the fishing community pattern but is much more time compressed.
|The Problem with Counting|
|Given the transitory nature, albeit over a century or so, of many Newfoundland
communities, determining their exact number is difficult. As smaller residential
enclaves merged many communities disappeared from census rolls but still exist.
Small towns, for example, Bay Bulls and Witless Bay, on the Avalon's Southern
Shore are still divided by residents into "neighbourhoods" such as
Bread and Cheese, Gun Ridge, Gallows Cove, Bears Cove, and The Beach. In the
Gazetteer of abandonment every effort was made to include all the components of
a community, especially when the primary placename was something Islands.|
There were nominally 1440 individual communities in Newfoundland and Labrador at the time of Confederation. There are nominally 750 remaining. This gazetteer accounts for about 600 leaving another 90 which presumably fall into the "not gone but almost forgotten" category.
In the closing days of the twentieth century a dwindling portion of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador actually lived in the last of the 1960's "resettled" communities, and many more places exist only by reference and not in remembrance. Their reality will become even more attenuated in the next generation. Ironically, many people who now use former communities as cottage sites don't know there was once an active, permanent community there. Even nostalgia fades as perhaps it must.
|The Present Situation|
|Newfoundland and Labrador today sustains about 750 communities. Outside the major urban
areas of the Avalon
Peninsula and in Clarenville, Gander, Grand Falls, Corner Brook, Stephenville,
and Port aux Basques, some 350,000 Islanders live in about 600 towns and
unincorporated communities (a little over 500 per community). There are
surrounding that average, of course, a huge number of communities around 1,000
people and an equally huge number with 250 or fewer. Labrador's nearly
30,000 people are mostly concentrated in four inland communities (taking Happy
Valley-Goose Bay as not being coastal). On the coast there about 20 communities, with an average
population of about 350.|
About 450 of Newfoundland and Labrador communities are organized as towns with a mayor and a council, the rest are unincorporated; although about 150 operate with Local Service District committees. Since 1990 there have been efforts to "amalgamate" or "regionalize" smaller communities based on the premise there is strength in numbers and community servicing costs can be more economically provided across neighbouring communities. Like "resettlement" these efforts threaten to divide communities.
|The H and S Problem|
|Two peculiarities of Newfoundland and Labrador speech have been
noted in popular literature since the mid 1800's - namely the tendency to drop or
add "h" and to drop or add "s" to normal constructions. A
Newfoundland woman who moved to the mainland some time ago recounted her new
Ontario neighbours were completely flummoxed when she replied to a question
about her normal life "back on the rock" with:|
"Hice, hice, hice, ockey, ockey, ockey - thas hall hi ears from Hoctober to Hapril."
The phemomenon is often referrd to as "dropping your h's in Olyrood and picking them up in Havondale"; or, "dropping your h's on the blue line and picking them up at center ice".
The "s" problem is somewhat different and more pertinent to this Gazetteer. It follows a pattern of adding one to otherwise normal first person verbs. "I loves you"; "I hates it when that happens"; etc. In placenames it is added or dropped without rhyme or reason, especially when placenames reflect family names; eg. Pinchard Island and Pinchard's Island and Pinchards Island are all used. The first is probably official; the second usage indicates it was settled first or predominantly by a Pinchard family; the third that it a place where you will find Pinchards.
little help as they will use variants from one edition to the next. The
convention used in this digital gazetteer is to drop the apostrophe in all
cases, however, that doesn't solve the Pinchard/Pinchards problem. Added to this
is a tendency to add an "s" to the word "Island" when there
is more than one island in a group but only one community, giving Fair Island
(the community) and Fair Islands (the area) equal usage on maps and in post
office records. This is reflected in some entries in this digital gazetteer
especially when the material was collected from different lists and maps. No
attempt was made to "standardize" the toponyms.
For the geographic, genealogic, or historic researcher, names can quickly become confusing, expecially when the same name was repeated, sometimes within the space of a bay or two (Wild Cove, Bonne Bay), sometimes between the Island and the Coast of Labrador (Bay of Islands, Ragged Islands). Homonyms create verbal information quandries (Bay de l'Eau and Bay de Loup). Displacements are common (Cul de Sac West is east of Cul de Sac East).