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Rorke Store

Carbonear, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1Y, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/02/01

View of front facade of stores in 1998. Eastern store no longer stands (blown down during a storm in 1999); HFNL 1998
The Rorke Stores, Carbonear
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1870/01/01 to 1917/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/11/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Rorke Store is a gable-roofed wooden building located on Water Street in Carbonear. Built in the 1870s, this building is an impressive and rare example of a merchants premise in Newfoundland. The designation is confined to the property.

Heritage Value

The Rorkes Store has been designated as a heritage building because of its historic, architectural and environmental value.

This building is historically valuable because of its association with a prominent family in Carbonear, the Rorkes. The Rorkes Stores, one which is no longer standing, was one of the provinces largest firms, dealing with trading, fishing and sealing. These stores were built for John Rorke, a prominent Carbonear merchant who served as a representative in the House of Assembly for 14 years. The firm operated within the family for 140 years. Additionally valuable is the long historical associations between the property and the mercantile business in Carbonear. This west building which is still left standing was known locally as the "Molasses Store" because it was where people could fill there molasses kegs. From these stores the Rorkes also provided the community with cement, lime, iron, glass, paint, flour, beef and pork.

Architecturally, this building is valuable because of its many rare structural features. Constructed entirely of wood, this building is of a sort rarely seen in Newfoundland today. The mortise-and-tenon jointing of massive timbers within the building are reflective of a construction style not commonly seen anymore in the province. Also intact is the original slate roofing, significant because it is uncommon for building to have retained an uneconomical slate roof after the advent of newer, more practical materials. Also, the roof is unusual in the fact that written on it using a lighter slate is the sign "John Rorke & Sons".

Environmentally valuable is the context of the store in respect to the landscape. Directly across from the building is the Rorkes Stone Jug, a designated stone building. This building served as the Rorkes residence during the time that they worked at the Rorkes Stores. Together, the two buildings comprise the entire Rorkes property, minus the East Store which blew down in 1999. Carbonear is one of a handful of places in Newfoundland and Labrador where a complex of buildings have been preserved.

Source : Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, unnumbered property file, Carbonear - Rorke Store

Character-Defining Elements

All original features which relate to the age and style of the building including:
- Wooden frame
- Original windows and window placement
- Original wooden doors and door placement
- Slate roof
- Signage on slate roof
- Simplicity of exterior decoration and detail
- Rubble stone foundation
- Clapboard cladding
- Timbers with Mortise-and-Tenon jointing
- Location in respect to Rorkes Stone Jug



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Location of supporting documentation: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street, St.John’s Newfoundland, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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