Description of Historic Place
The Mockbeggar Plantation Provincial Historic Site, located in Bonavista, Newfoundland, is a restored outport merchant premises. The Mockbeggar Plantation dates back to the 17th century when the town of Bonavista was first settled. The site consists of a large property with a dwelling house and outbuildings that consist of a large fish store, a barter shop, a cod liver oil factory and a cabinet makers shop. The designation encompasses all five buildings and the land on which they sit, as defined by the description of boundaries.
The Mockbeggar Plantation was designated a Provincial Historic Site because it has historic and aesthetic values. It makes its first appearance in a written record in an 1805 inventory of Bonavista Bay fishing rooms, but by then it had already changed hands several times. The first known owner was Joseph White (1685-1771), of Poole, England, who had substantial holdings in the Newfoundland fishery. Its history as a fish enterprise came to an end in 1946 under its last operator, the Bonavista Mutual Traders Ltd.
The Mockbeggar Plantation was a thriving operation that played a major role in the development of Bonavista. The Cod Liver Oil Factory was constructed in 1941 by the Bonavista Mutual Traders Ltd. During its productive years the factory was used to render oil from the cod produced at the site. The Barter Shop was constructed in the early 1900s and for a time was used as a general store. It was also used as an administrative office for the Bonavista Mutual Traders Ltd., as a storehouse for flour and later was converted into a garage. The Work Shop building was traditionally used as both a stable and a workshop. Constructed in the 1940s as a stable, this building housed F. Gordon Bradley’s workshop on the second floor by the 1950s.
The large fish store, called The Big Store, earns its historic importance through its age and its functional purpose. Local folklore dates the building to the early 18th century. This building was used primarily as a processing and storage building for the salt fish trade business and its form and layout were designed specifically for this purpose.
Bradley House, the residence located within the Mockbeggar Plantation, was constructed in 1871, likely from timbers salvaged from an earlier house. Originally owned by a local merchant, Jabez Saint of Bonavista, this house eventually came under the ownership of F. Gordon Bradley, a prominent lawyer and politician. Bradley held several positions in his political career, such as MHA (Member of the House of Assembly) for the Humber District, Canadian Secretary of State and Senator, among others.
Mockbeggar Plantation attains its aesthetic values through the forms and materials used in the complex of buildings. From the saltbox style of the fish store, to the gambrel roofed workshop, the utilitarian construction of the cod liver oil factory and the merchant-styled house, these buildings contribute to the overall appearance of the early, outport merchant homestead complex. The buildings reflect the vernacular architecture which was tied to the business of fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The fish store is a massive wooden building with an unusual window fenestration, and one gothic peaked window in the center of the main façade. The workshop is a two storey barn with the first floor for animals and the second floor utilized as the workshop. The cod liver oil factory building is a one storey utility building that, in its form, was designed for manufacturing purposes, then in later years for storage. The barter shop, with its shed roof and double doors indicate another form of utility building; it once operated as a general store, and eventually was used as a storage facility, then a garage.
The Bradley House reveals Classical influences with a pedimented doorway and windows. The 6/6 windows are framed by wide mouldings and heavy raincaps. This house has a two storey central porch tower and a long, one storey gable roofed addition at the left side of the house. Unique elements of this house include a fireplace made of stone from the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and a stained glass window depicting John Cabot’s landfall at Bonavista in 1497.
Source: The Newfoundland Gazette, St. John’s Friday, June 12, 1987, Vol. 62, No. 24, p. 175 – Newfoundland Regulation 108/87 Schedule “C”, Parcels “A”, “B” and “C”.
All those elements that define the collection of vernacular, outport merchant buildings, including:
-the varying ages and styles of the buildings;
-the use of wood construction;
-narrow wood clapboard, wide corner mouldings and wooden windows;
-the varying roof styles according to the specific functions of each building, ie. Gambrel roof on barn, shed roof on barter house;
-proximity to other buildings of Mockbeggar Plantation and orientation towards Bonavista harbour; and
-general massing, heights and dimensions of each building.
All those elements of the 19th century residence, Bradley House, including:
-use of the Classical style of architecture of the Bradley House, including pediments and wide mouldings;
-the fireplace made of stone from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa;
-the stained glass window depicting Cabot’s landfall;
-its location within the complex of buildings and the organic pattern in which they were constructed.