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Man-of-War Brook Municipal Heritage Site

Harbour Breton, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/09/26

Photo view of Man-of-War Brook, Harbour Breton, NL, 2008; Doug Wells, 2008
Man-of-War Brook, Harbour Breton, NL, 2008
Photo view of Man-of-War Brook, Harbour Breton, NL, 2008; Doug Wells, 2008
Man-of-War Brook, Harbour Breton, NL, 2008
Photo of Harbour Breton, showing location of Man-of-War Brook, highlighted in red, right of center, 2008; Doug Wells, 2008
Harbour Breton, NL, 2008

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/01/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Man-of-War Brook (or Man o' War Brook) is located on the south side of Harbour Breton and is contained in a steep, natural gorge stretching a distance of approximately 305 metres, from Hospital Pond to the seashore. A large culvert allows the brook to run under the main road on the south side of the harbour. The municipal heritage designation includes the length of the gorge from Hospital Pond to the seashore, with a buffer area of 15 metres from the edge of the

Heritage Value

Man-of-War Brook has historic value because of the era of Newfoundland history which its name evokes, as well as for its associations with Newman and Company, the local fishing industry, its past use as a source of drinking water, and for its association with Harbour Breton Cottage Hospital.

Man-of-war ships and other flagships once patrolled Newfoundland waters. The British Royal Navy policed Newfoundland throughout the eighteenth century. Naval convoy ships would cross the Atlantic in the summer to patrol the coast, and convoy vessels across the ocean in the autumn. Man-of-war ships would have had particular reason to stop at Harbour Breton because of the presence of the Newman and Company there.

Harbour Breton is one of the oldest fishing centres on the south coast of Newfoundland, serving as a base of English colonial fishing ventures during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Newman and Company operated there from about 1790-1907, during which period it was the dominant mercantile force on the coast. Miss Elizabeth Holman, daughter of a Newman and Company Plantation manager, reported that when a British man-of-war ship entered the harbour, the company would fly the Union Jack flag.

Local historians deduce that the man-of-war ships obtained their supply of fresh water from the brook, a recognized source of drinking water at the time, and hence the brook got its name. Warships, and later fishing schooners and coasting vessels obtained their water from this brook as well.

Several people historically took care of the brook for the purposes of ships’ water supply, and the last known caretaker was Patrick Hearn. He had a chute set up to fill the barrels with the fresh water. The barrels were then taken to the waiting vessels in the harbour, and Patrick was paid a small sum of money by the vessels’ captains.

Local residents living in the area of the brook obtained their drinking water from the brook by bringing it in buckets to their homes. This practice continued until the installation of the town’s water system in 1963.

Man-of-War Brook also provided the water supply for Harbour Breton Cottage Hospital, which was built on the steep, right side of the brook's bank. The hospital used brook water from 1936-1963, and didn’t completely relinquish the brook until some years after. To guarantee its necessary supply during the dryer months, the hospital erected a dam at a higher point on the brook, so as to ensure a continuous reservoir for the hospital’s needs.

Man-of-War Brook also has aesthetic value in Harbour Breton as a natural gorge with a strong flowing brook, located such that it is easily observed and may remind onlookers of the several important historical purposes it has served.

Source: Motion 08-083, Town of Harbour Breton Council Meeting, Minutes of 2008/09/26

Character-Defining Elements

Those elements relating to this landscape feature’s historic and aesthetic value:

-steep natural gorge;
-and the name Man-of-War Brook.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1790/01/01 to 1963/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Hunting and Gathering

Function - Category and Type



Nature Element

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Harbour Breton
P.O. Box 130
Harbour Breton, NL A0H 1P0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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