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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Located south of Route 360 at the end of Deadman’s Cove Road in Harbour Breton, NL, Deadman’s Cove is composed of four smaller coves, starting to the west of Red Head and ending at North West Corner. The designation is confined to that piece of land known locally as Deadman’s Cove.
Deadman’s Cove has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Harbour Breton because of its historic, cultural, scientific and aesthetic value.
Deadman’s Cove has historic value as it is a reminder of a way of life once common in the area, recalling a time when small, scattered settlements existed close to bountiful waters and fertile lands. From the late 1800s to approximately 1944, two small settlements existed here, one at the first cove, commonly referred to as Deadman’s Cove, and one at the far corner of the fourth cove, called North West Corner. Surnames of people who lived here included Ashford, Bungay, Short, Stoodley, Quann and Snook. The land was suitable for growing root crops and cattle feed, and was also close to a ready supply of fertilizer in the form of caplin and kelp. Families from nearby Sagona Island also settled here to take advantage of the nearby supplies of wood. By 1944 the livyers at Deadman’s Cove and North West Corner had moved to Harbour Breton, the last family to move being that of George Ben Snook from North West Corner.
Over the years some lobster and salmon factories also operated in the Deadman’s Cove area, owned and operated mainly by individuals from Harbour Breton. George Lambert and Charlie Honeycote operated a lobster and salmon factory in the first cove. Sammy Skinner operated a small lobster factory in the far end of the second cove. Lobsters were boiled and canned twice a week. It was common for people from Harbour Breton to go there during the canning season and bring back flour sacks of free lobster bodies.
Deadman’s Cove has cultural value due to its continued, traditional use by the community. The four sandy beaches of Deadman’s Cove are popular for its annual caplin roll in mid-June. When the caplin roll, locals flock to the beaches to gather caplin and for a chance to see whales feeding offshore. In the past, fishermen from nearby communities and sometimes banking schooners would come to Deadman’s Cove to get caplin for bait.
Deadman’s Cove has further cultural value as it is a component of the legendary cycle in the community of Harbour Breton. As the legend goes, Deadman’s Cove got its name following the wreck of a ship crewed by evil-minded men. The wickedness of the crew was said to have caused the wreck and the death of all onboard. The spirits of the crew were said to haunt the cove in the form of a savage pack of wolves. Some unlucky sailors who later happened upon the beach were killed by the wolves and it was said that anyone who ventured there would meet the same end. One day, a woman of upstanding moral quality walked along the beach and as the wolves were about to attack, they were struck dead. It is said that God intervened, allowing goodness to overcome wickedness.
Deadman’s Cove has scientific value as archaeological surveys have revealed evidence of prehistoric occupation at the site. During the 1970s, amateur collector Don Locke discovered Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifacts at the site (dating from 1500-2000 years Before Present), including endblades, microblades, thumbnail scrapers and a notched biface.
Deadman’s Cove has aesthetic value due to its scenic landscape and natural features. Shaped by glacial action and sculptured by the sea, the topography includes sandy beaches, offshore islands, rolling grasslands and a red granite cliff. Nearby Gull Island is a breeding ground for sea gulls, Arctic terns, and cormorants (shags), all of which are very active during the caplin season. The area offers a view of the entrance to Fortune Bay, the nearby islands of Sagona and Brunette, Connaigre Head, the Burin Peninsula and the French island of Miquelon.
Source: Town of Harbour Breton Regular Council Meeting Motion #09-093 December 9, 2009.
All those elements which represent the scientific, cultural and aesthetic value of Deadman’s Cove, including:
- the name Deadman’s Cove;
- unobstructed view planes to and from Deadman’s Cove;
- continued public access to Deadman’s Cove, and;
- the untouched, natural landscape of Deadman’s Cove.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
1890/01/01 to 1944/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street
St. John's, NL A1C 5V5
Cross-Reference to Collection