Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Gun Hill is a natural promontory that rises to a height of over 150 metres and is located on the north side of Harbour Breton, NL, directly above the area known locally as Road Knob. The designation is confined to that piece of land known locally as Gun Hill.
Gun Hill has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Harbour Breton because of its aesthetic, historic and cultural values.
Gun Hill has aesthetic value as a prominent landmark in the community. Rising over 150 metres above the community, it offers a panoramic view of the sheltered port of Harbour Breton. Harbour Breton Bay Fiord, Sagona Island, Brunette Island and the entrance to Fortune Bay can also be seen from Gun Hill. On a clear day, the promontory offers a view of the Burin Peninsula and the French island of Miquelon, which are located between 40 and 50 kilometres from Harbour Breton by sea. Today, a combination of board walks, trails and steps provide easy access to the summit of Gun Hill, known as Gun Hill Lookout.
Gun Hill has historical value because of its connection to the early settlement and development of Harbour Breton. According to Newman and Company photos circa 1887, the hill was originally called Strickland’s Head. Brothers John and Jim Strickland were among the early settlers to the community and they lived at the base of the hill. By the early 1900s, the name Gun Hill had come into use. One explanation of the name change credits the use of the hill for target practice. The large, English merchant firm of Newman and Company had defensive cannons mounted at its premises on Thompson’s Beach. The cannons would often be fired in the direction of Gun Hill, probably to test for distance and accuracy. Residents who live near Gun Hill have found some of these old cannon balls.
Gun Hill has further historical value as it is a physical reminder of a way of life once intrinsically tied to the sea. Historically, Gun Hill was used as a lookout by residents of the community who would go there to watch for vessels approaching the harbour. The firm of Newman and Company would station a lookout on the hill when they were expecting Company vessels from Europe loaded with supplies and port wine. In more recent years men, women and children would frequent Gun Hill to watch for fishing schooners approaching the harbour. Many of Harbour Breton’s fishermen worked on banking schooners and their family members would watch for the schooners that picked up crew members in the spring and returned them home in the fall.
Gun Hill has cultural value for generations of Harbour Breton residents who have a shared recollections of the cultural use of Gun Hill. In the early 1900s up until the 1950s, Gun Hill was the site of Harbour Breton’s biggest bonfire on Bonfire Night, held in November. Boughs were piled on top of the hill in anticipation of the festivities and when lit, the fire could be seen throughout the community.
Source: Town of Harbour Breton Regular Council Meeting Motion 09-011:B February 25, 2009
All those elements which represent the aesthetic, historical and cultural values of Gun Hill, including:
- unobstructed view planes to and from Gun Hill;
- the untouched, natural landscape of Gun Hill;
- the lack of structures and buildings, and;
- continued public access to Gun Hill.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
2009/01/01 to 2009/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
Function - Category and Type
- Nature Element
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street
St. John's, NL
Cross-Reference to Collection