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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Peter’s Finger is the site of many legendary tales in the community of New Perlican, NL. This large outcrop of rock, with a cliff pointing out towards Trinity Bay, is located in the southwestern corner of New Perlican, west of Route 80 and south of Vitter’s Cove Road. The designation is confined to that piece of land known locally as Peter’s Finger.
Peter’s Finger has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of New Perlican because of its cultural and aesthetic value.
Peter’s Finger has cultural value as it is a component of the legendary cycle in the community of New Perlican. Legend has it that the rock feature was named after pirate Peter Easton, who used it as a lookout for enemy forces entering New Perlican by sea. By contrast it is rumoured that residents went to this spot to look out for Peter Easton or possibly D’Iberville during his campaign of raids in Trinity Bay in the late 1600s. It is also rumoured that the finger points to the location of an undiscovered treasure left behind by Peter Easton. Local residents have scaled the area, but the infamous treasure has yet to be discovered.
Legend also claims that Peter’s Finger sits near a bottomless cave. The story goes that goats last seen at the top of Peter’s Finger were found floating dead in the salt water of adjacent Vitter’s Cove. This gave rise to the story that the cave is without a bottom and connected to salt water.
Adding to the legendary status of this site are two silver saddle stirrups reportedly found there. The stirrups are owned by local resident Dennis Smith who first saw them as a young boy when he met two other boys walking down the road with stirrups tied to their feet. The boys said they had climbed down Peter’s Finger and found the stirrups. A few years later Smith found one of the stirrups in water under a bridge. Much later, Smith heard that a neighbor had the matching stirrup and he eventually obtained it to complete the set. The stirrups bear the mark of the Potosi mint, which was located in what is now Bolivia. A Spanish coin dating from the mid 1600s and bearing the same mark was found at the nearby Hefford Plantation archaeology site. Bill Gilbert, archeologist for the Hefford Plantation, told Mr. Smith that the silver in the stirrups is very pure, as the stirrups have never been cleaned and are in excellent condition for their age.
The legends associated with Peter’s Finger speak to the importance of oral tradition in Newfoundland, and are part of the rich intangible cultural heritage of the province. Peter’s Finger serves as a reminder of the persistence of oral tradition in a modern world.
Peter’s Finger has further cultural value for generations of New Perlican residents who have a shared recollection of the cultural use of the site. The top of the feature is flat with many dangerous crevices and holes. In the past local residents were known to climb down into these on a rope ladder during the summer months to retrieve ice for making homemade ice cream. This same cave was also said to have been a cold storage location for perishable foods during the warm season. Currently, local resident Mr. Ches Peddle has annually scaled the steep cliff to erect a large Canadian flag at the top of Peter’s Finger. It has become a well known sight in the community and an anticipated event when the flag flies each year in late spring or early summer.
Peter’s Finger has aesthetic value as a prominent landmark in the community. Rising above the community, it offers a panoramic view of New Perlican and the waters of Trinity Bay.
Source: Town of New Perlican Regular Council Meeting Motion #2010-043 July 6, 2010.
All those elements which represent the cultural and aesthetic value of Peter’s Finger, including:
- unobstructed view planes to and from Peter’s Finger;
- the untouched, natural landscape of Peter’s Finger;
- the lack of buildings, and;
- continued public access to Peter’s Finger.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
2010/01/01 to 2010/01/01
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, A1C 5V5
Cross-Reference to Collection