Of All Places to Have Come From-Gordon Pinsent’s Father was Originally from Dildo, Trinity Bay.

Gordon Pinsent is one of, if not the most famous actor to come out of Newfoundland. He is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and iconic actors in Canada with a career that has spanned over sixty years. We all know Gordon Pinsent is from Grand Falls, but Grand Falls is a relatively young town and his people had to come from somewhere.

So it comes as a surprise that the following isn’t more well-known, or at least why This Hour has 22 Minutes hasn’t picked up on it yet. The connection between our most famous actor and our most infamous place name.

Gordon Pinsent was born in Grand Falls in 1930, but his father was originally from Dildo, Trinity Bay
Gordon Pinsent was born in Grand Falls in 1930, but his father Stephen Pinsent was originally from Dildo, Trinity Bay

Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its unique place names, from the quaint like Hearts Delight, Hearts Content and Little Hearts Ease to the downright dirty like Spread Eagle and the various “Holes” scattered around the island. But the one that most people will be familiar is a little town in Trinity Bay South.

Dildo.

Gordon Pinsent's father Stephen was born in Dildo in the 1880's. He left to work at Grand Falls sometime before 1913.
Gordon Pinsent’s father Stephen was born in Dildo in the 1880’s. He left to work at Grand Falls sometime before 1913.

And Dildo was where Gordon Pinsents father was born and raised. I am sure if it had been widely reported before, somebody would have called bulls—t on it, “no by’ somebody is making that up, they just made the connection with the silliest place name on the island!” somebody would say. No, no this is very true. And the Census corroborates it.

Stephen Pinsent-Gordon’s father was born and raised in Dildo, Trinity Bay and came to Grand Falls in the early days.[i] According to his son Harry, Stephen Pinsent originally worked with Lewis Miller (and most likely Newfoundland Timber Estates when they took over (http://collections.mun.ca/PDFs/ich_cn/gfw048.pdf) at Millertown. This led him to becoming employed with the AND Company very early on. He eventually went to work in the finishing department a core maker, making the cardboard cores on which the rolls of paper were wound (. It’s not surprising since many young men from that area of the island, which includes New Harbour and Greens Harbour also settled in the Central Newfoundland. There is also a Pinsents Lane in the Town of Dildo!

Dildo, Beautiful area, obscene place name. That whole area of Trinity Bay is actually quite picturesque. I was through Dildo  number of times back when I was too young to find the name funny.
Dildo, Beautiful area, obscene place name. That whole area of Trinity Bay is actually quite picturesque. I was through Dildo number of times back when I was too young to find the name funny.

Just to clarify nobody us really sure of how Dildo got its name. Some say that it may have been a corruption of the Spanish place name Bilbao. It is also said that the world Dildo was also used for a thole pin on a rowboat-which was also or “bird” shaped. Then there are some reports that the word has had its present connotations since before the first maps of Trinity Bay were even made. Whatever the real story is the word Dildo is present in at least three different place names on the island: Dildo, Dildo South ( in the same area just a little further south) and Dildo Run-which is located hundreds of kilometers away from the other two, near New World Island.

rowdyman poster

So if somebody out there has or is going to ask the Rowdyman “where’s his fadder’ from” I hope they are not surprised or offended by the answer.

[i] http://nl.canadagenweb.org/ct_21cen_grandfalls4.htm

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