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Spaniard's Bay United Church Municipal Heritage Site

Spaniard's Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/10/23

Exterior photo of Spaniard's Bay United Church, taken October 17, 2006.; HFNL/Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Spaniard's Bay United Church
View of small, flagstone-walled river which flows next to the church. Photo taken October 17, 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Spaniard's Bay United Church, river
Interior view of the church showing the stained glass window at the altar.  Photo taken October 17, 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Spaniard's Bay United Church

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/11/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Spaniard’s Bay United Church, situated at 006 Church Hill, Spaniard's Bay, is a late 19th century Gothic Revival wooden church building with a pointed spire and tower in which the main entrance is located. The church sits on a small plot of land encompassed by a picket fence, and a flagstone walled river flows next to the building. The designation encompasses the entire property delineated by a picket fence.

Heritage Value

The Spaniard’s Bay United Church has been designated for its historic, aesthetic and environmental values.

Spaniard’s Bay United Church is historically valuable due to its age and significance in the community as the first Methodist church in Spaniard’s Bay. Over 100 years after Lawrence Coughlan laid the foundation for Methodism in North America at Harbour Grace the Methodists were finally able to find a foothold in Spaniard’s Bay by the late 18th century. However, by the late 19th century the various religious denominations in the area were in violent conflict with each other. In 1883 tensions escalated into an insurrection of religious factions in nearby Harbour Grace (known later as the Harbour Grace Affray) and its aftermath marked a watershed in sectarian violence, signaling the beginning of the end of the conflicts. Roman Catholicism, Church of England and Methodism were free to spread throughout the area without fear of violence. Initially, missionaries preached to large congregations comprised of residents from several nearby communities. Members from Spaniard’s Bay had to walk two miles to attend meetings in Bay Roberts. As the congregation grew it became evident another church was needed, and they built a meeting house on property donated by Captain Harry Gosse on Brazil’s Hill, Northern Cove. When the congregation outgrew the small meeting house they were able to purchase land from Richard Gosse to erect a new church in Spaniard’s Bay. In 1894 the Spaniard’s Bay United (then Methodist) Church was built at the foot of Church Hill.

Spaniard’s Bay United Church is also historically valuable because of the time capsule that was put in the foundation of the church in 1894. Inside the time capsule were some copies of the Monthly Greeting (a church newsletter), church papers, an account of the cornerstone laying ceremony, a few coins of the colony and the names of the trustees. The time capsule is there still.

Spaniard’s Bay United Church has aesthetic value as a good surviving example of vernacular Gothic Revival architecture in the area. Built with local materials this small church has a steeply pitched gable roof and a protruding tower with a tall spire at the gable end. Windows are arched in the Gothic Revival tradition and the front door, made of planks, is also arched. The tower is square and the spire that rises from its hipped roof is six-sided with a very steep peak. As this church was built as a replacement for an earlier building, some of the wood from the latter was re-used. It is sheathed in narrow wooden clapboard, a traditional material in Newfoundland architecture. Several stained glass windows in the building bear the names of those community members who made the building a reality.

Spaniard’s Bay United Church has environmental values because of its location. Nestled amongst a small green space with mature trees, this church has a small, flagstone-walled water-way running through the property. The little river was deliberately diverted to run alongside the building. This church is located directly across the road from the Atlantic Ocean, making it highly visible to mariners because of its unimpeded view of the water.

Source: Town of Spaniard’s Bay regular council meeting held October 23, 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that reflect the vernacular Gothic Revival style of architecture, including:
-wooden construction;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-steeply pitched gable roof;
-arched, wooden windows and doors;
-window fenestration;
-square tower with 6-sided pointed spire;
-main entrance in tower;
-stained glass windows; and
-location, orientation, dimensions and massing.

All those elements that reflect the original environmental setting, including:
-wooden-picket fenced lot, including the metal gate;
-large, mature and indigenous trees;
-grassy lot with flagstone-walled river running through it; and
-location directly across the road from the Atlantic Ocean.



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)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type




Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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