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Martinique Bay Provincial Historic Site

Conche, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1977/12/12

View of Martinique Bay, Conche, NL, site of the wreck of the French vessels Marguerite and Murinne.; French Shore Historical Society 2005
Martinique Bay, Conche, NL
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Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/06/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Conche is a coastal fishing community located approximately 1000km by road from St. John’s. The wreck that was investigated in 1977, the Marguerite (Borden number EfAx-03) lies in Martinique Bay, which is located at the isthmus of the Conche peninsula. The wreck is located approximately 74m from shore and lies in 6m depth of water. The bottom on which the wreck lies is composed of fine sand. The wreck itself consists of a pile of ballast stones measuring 17m in length, with a maximal width at any one point of 10m and having a height of approximately 1.5m. The designation encompasses the entire site.

Heritage Value

The Martinique Bay Ship Wreck Provincial Historic Site was designated for its historical and scientific values. The long maritime history of Newfoundland and Labrador has meant that numerous sites of potential marine archaeological importance are present.

The series of actions that led to the loss of two French vessels at Conche in 1707 is a relatively well-recorded event. Newfoundland and Labrador, in the opening years of the eighteenth century, Conche Harbour lay at the very heart of the activities of the French fishing fleet operating off northeastern Newfoundland. Conche and the neighboring settlement of Carrouse (now Crouse), located on another bay half a mile to the north, were midway between the outposts at St. Anthony and Baie des Canaries; the two ports thus provided the warships of the French fleet with sheltered anchorages in a good strategic location. Conche was the most active of the fishing ports.

Two warships were sunk in Martinique bay, which were the Marguerite and the Murinne, though only the Marguerite has been found through archaeological diving. Along this fifty-mile strip of coastline there were, in 1707, twenty one French warships carrying 2000 crewmen in all and with a total armament of 516 guns, to guard the fleet of 381 fishing vessels. One third of the strength of the naval units lay at anchor at Conche (two ships) or at Carrouse (four ships). On August 2 Conche Harbour was subjected to a surprise attack by two large English privateers who had shortly before attacked and destroyed the outpost at Canaries and d’Aiguillettes, where they captured the vessel Duc d’Orleans and destroyed the vessel Pine. The two French warships anchored at Conche, immobilized by unfavourable winds, had no hope of escaping the attackers. They returned the enemy’s fire but were soon set on fire and abandoned. The crewmen withdrew across the narrow peninsula separating Conche from Carrouse; the four warships waiting at the latter port took them on board and put to sea immediately, fleeing the pursuit of the English convoy.

The Martinique Bay Ship Wreck Provincial Historic Site is scientifically valuable for the information it reveals about the site. The wreck is located in Martinique Bay less than 100m from shore, and in a depth of 6m of water. The vessel consisted of a large ballast pile surrounded by numerous cannon (21 in total). The Marguerite was a 200 ton vessel mounting between 20-26 cannon. A total of 41 artifacts were retrieved from the wreck in 1977, including concretions and wood samples, as well as ceramic sherds and glass fragments. All artifacts taken from the site are presently being conserved.

Source: Newfoundland Regulation 264/78, The Newfoundland Gazette, Jan 12, 1979. See also: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador unnumbered file – Conche – Martinique Bay Ship Wreck Provincial Historic Site.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that respect the archaeological site and artifacts, including:

- in-situ archaeological remnants of the French warships, the Marguerite and Murinne, in their locations, forms and materials as well as artifacts removed from any and all of these sites in an intact and documented state; and
-cannon recovered from site and located at the Conche Interpretation Center.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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