Resettlement in Our Backyard.

Every so often somebody asks me if I am related to :”so and so Marsh that lived somewhere in Grand Falls who lived there back in sometime before 1959″-usually the answer is no. Though there were a couple of families with my last name in Grand Falls in the early years, if I am related to them its from back in England. My family came from a tiny village that is not there anymore and nobody has ever heard of.

Resettlement- the very word conjures up images of floating houses and folk songs lamenting on the mistake that was made. It is a phenomena that is heavily associated with Bonavista and Placentia Bays. But many in the Exploits Valley are probably not aware of how resettlement took place within an hour and fifteen minute drive from Grand Falls-Windsor.

Well Exploits Island of course you may say, this is very true. Exploits was once a thriving community, a prosperous community, home to some of Newfoundland’s first millionaires. It is in the area, but it is a well-known example. There are all kinds of pictures of Exploits. Ed Roche did an entire collection of paintings related to the settlement. But if you look even closer into the area considered the Exploits Valley you will come to Glover’s Harbour and Leading Tickles. In between there were once two other villages.

You will see the signs on the highway “Glovers Harbour-Home of the Giant Squid” and many people are intrigued enough to go down the Botwood highway, take a left through Point Leamington and stop and admire ( or be disappointed that it is not an actual squid) the statue of the giant tentacled creature in the tiny fishing village. Most will leave unaware that Glovers Harbour is the only survivor of three communities in the area and that the other two now resettled communities are accessible through somebodies back yard. Or if you are lucky, by boat.

Locks Harbour old map scan
Lock’s Harbour from an old map. Here you can see the “road” as well as the houses in the village. This map was made from aerial photos taken in the 1940’s and there are about a dozen houses depicted. Lock’s Harbour was renamed Lockesporte of Lockport to avoid confusion with long abandoned Lock’s Harbour-located near Seal Bay Head-in the early 1950’s.

Until the 1960s Glovers Harbour was the smallest of three communities in its vicinity. The other two were Winter House Cove and Lock’s Harbour. Both located in Seal Bay.

George Marsh 1825
George Marsh 1825-1911. Was the First permanent settler in Winter House Cove. Contrary to family lore that said he was from the Isle of Wight, George was from near Wareham, Dorset near Poole. He was last recorded living in England with his Grand Father in 1841. In October of 1857 He married Louisa Loder in Herring Neck. It is said they came to Leading Tickles in a row boat. He died in 1911 and is buried in the old Anglican Cemetery in Leading Tickles.

Winter House Cove was first settled around 1858 when according to legend George Marsh rowed with his new wife Louisa from Herring Neck on New World Island. Marsh had been born around Wareham, Dorset England and had come to Newfoundland as a “youngster” –or indentured fisherman between 1841 and 1857. He settled in a little cove known to have been used by residents of Leading Tickles for winter logging and ship building. For a number of years the Marsh’s were the only settlers in Winter House Cove. Their first child, John was the first child born there in 1859. John was soon followed by five boys and two girls. Other families such as the Forseys, Cassells, Peddles, Burtons and Wards eventually joined the Marsh’s at Winter House Cove.

Winter House Cove WY
Winter House Cove in 2005. This community was made up of Marsh’s Arm and Ward’s Point. It was the first community of the three to be resettled in the 1960’s. The area had been used as a winter settlement by people from Leading Tickles until George Marsh settled here around 1858.(Photo by Wanda Yetman)

The Next settler in the area was likely Joseph Martin who settled in Thimble Tickles (present day Glovers Harbour). Martin fished, farmed and logged in the area. He would be the initial discover of the famed giant squid in 1878. Martin came from Harbour Grace.

glovers harbour giant squid
In 1878 the largest giant squid ever recorded came ashore at thimble Tickles (Glover’s Harbour). Joseph Martin was credited with the discovery. But I have no doubt that George Marsh and Henry Rowsell were also present since accounts say that Martin was helped by other fishermen in securing the beast.

Sometime in the 1870s settlers arrived at the sheltered little port of Lock’s Harbour on the Western shore of Seal Bay. The first settler was most likely Henry Rowsell who moved with his family from Thomas Rowsell Island, Leading Tickles. Other families were the Haggetts , the Wards, and some of the Marsh’s from Winter House Cove moved there as well. Lock’s Harbour would be closely associated with what was called the Thimble Tickle prospect, a copper mine that operated periodically in the 1880s and 90s. The ore was shipped by tramway from the mine, which is over the hill from Glovers Harbour, to Lock’s Harbour. From there it was shipped to Tilt Cove for processing. The ore here was similar to that found in Pilley’s Island in that it was rich in sulfur and was mined more for that sulfur than it was for the copper content.

locks harbour mine
Site of the Copper/Sulfur mine between Glover’s Harbour and Lock’s Harbour. Known as the Lockport Mine or the Thimble Tickle Prospect this min operated sometime in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Subject to much mineral exploration over the years the shafts were closed up in the late 20th Century. 

Besides these families in the three main villages there were also a few scattered settlements in Seal Bay over the years. The biggest of these was-to make matters very confusing-was Lock’s Harbour at the tip of the peninsula that separates Seal Bay and Badger Bay. Most of the people left here and settled around Triton by the early 20th century. Other little settlements I have heard of were: Herring Bottom, Mill Cove, Rowsells Cove, Budgells Cove  and  Indian Cove. There was a fairly large sawmill located at Mill Cove sometime around the turn of the 19th and 20th century. One of the settlers in one of these isolated coves was a man by the name of William Elemore of Helmore who came from the same place (a number of years later) in England as George Marsh, that last name died out, though he has descendants.

Lock's Harbour
Lock’s Harbour, Seal Bay. From the 1870’s to the 1970’s this picturesque sheltered little harbour was ringed with houses. in the 1880’s from the point at the right ore was loaded via a tramway from the mine located over the hill and shipped to Tilt Cove for processing. Today there is one cabin in the old community.

All three communities engaged in fishing, men went to the French Shore near Gray Islands in schooners and salmon and Lobster were caught inshore. Lobsters were so plentiful during the late 1800’s that there were lobster canneries in the area. Fishing remained the mainstay of Winter House Cove but gradually forestry became the most important employer of men in these three little villages. By the 1940s most of the young men in Lock’s Harbour worked in the woods for the AND Company for at least part of the year. This trend had started with the building of the mills at Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls. There were also sawmills operating in the area. A Mr. Boone had a water mill at Glovers Harbour and Robert Rowsell (and later his brother William) operated a small engine powered mill near Lock’s Harbour. There were good forests in the area and much of the lumber was sawed on the halves, meaning people who wanted lumber cut twice as many logs as they needed and the mill operator took half as payment.

Locks harbour 2
Once upon a time there would have been three or four houses in this picture.(Author Photo)

With most of the young men working in the woods near Bishop’s Falls resettlement seemed inevitable. Some families moved out early to be closer to work. As Dave Marsh stated in an interview with Hiram Silk in the 1980s it took two to three days to get to work in the woods from Winter House Cove: a day to Point Leamington, a day to Botwood and a day into the woods from Bishop’s Falls. I recall hearing that prior to this men had gone into the woods by rowing to the bottom of Seal Bay and walking into the camps on South Twin Lakes. Many families moved before resettlement to places such as Point Leamington, Bishop’s Falls and Deer Lake.

Between the three communities educational and religious services were shared. An Anglican School chapel was located in Winter House Cove by the 1920s. The second denomination to move into the area was the Salvation Army which came in the late 1920’s. The Salvation Army Barracks and School was situated centrally in the woods between Lock’s Harbour and Glovers Harbour, near the old mine.

Lock's Harbour Sundy School 1944-45
Salvation Army Sunday School, Lock’s Harbour Circa 1945. Between three tiny communities of Winter House Cove, Lock’s Harbour and Glover’s Harbour there were a fair number of children. With about two dozen kids in the picture it more than doubles the 2011 student population of the primary school in Leading Tickles.

In the early 1960s the road went through to Leading Tickles and the only community that was connected was Glovers Harbour-which at the time was the smallest of the three. But Glovers Harbour was the easiest to connect by road. The small population coupled with the rough terrain meant that no all-weather road would go to Winter House Cove or Lock’s Harbour even though they were so close to the Leading Tickles Road.

Locks harbour boat and stage ted keddie
Lock’s Harbour (Lockesporte) Old fishing stage near the former property of Mr. Elijah Marsh. 1970’s (Photo Courtesy of Ted Keddie)

Winter House Cove was the first to be abandoned and was done so by the early 1960s. By 1971 the last families had left Lock’s Harbour. Most of the houses were floated out, though it appears from a few ruins that some may have remained after resettlement. I know of two houses from Lock’s Harbour still standing. One is in Leading Tickles and the other in Point Leamington.

Lock's harbour cemetary
A fence denoting a cemetery is barely discernible through the trees between Lock’s Harbour and Glover’s Harbour. Near here a Salvation Army barracks and school once served three communities.(Author Photo)

The one in Point Leamington belonged to my great grandparents and was floated the 25 plus kilometers south in the 1950’s. My Great grandmother sold the house but it is still standing despite being been built in 1931 and have had such a sea voyage.

Today there are a couple of cabins in the area. The long closed mines were finally sealed up around 1999. Just past the mine there are two cemeteries-in the middle of the woods on either side of the pond. I honestly can’t make sense of the cemeteries if one was old and the other new, or if it was by denomination because there are headstones in each that contradict both those theories. But in both of them are a number of my own ancestors who lived most of their lives in these two little isolated hamlets just about hour away from one of the islands biggest towns.

I stated at the beginning of this article that my family came from a village that is not there any more and that nobody has ever heard of. There are scores of people in the Exploits Valley that can trace there ancestry to these communities.

Also See:

Interview with Dave Marsh of Winter House Cove 1988

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11 comments

  1. I truyly enjoyed reading this. My Mom was born on Ward’s Island. Their home had been pulled over water to Leading Tickles. Thank you so much for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Ward’s Point and Ward’s Island were two differnt places located in the same general area. Ward’s Point was part of Winter House Cove and Ward’s Island was part of Leading Tickles West. I know people lived on Thomas Rowsell Island and Ward’s Island and moved to Leading Tickles.

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  2. Hey, great article. My great grandfather was William Rowsell of Lock’s Hr and my Pop (Bram) tells me lots of stories about life there. It’s a beautiful place with a great history, at least to those of us with family roots. Keep up the great work!

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  3. Hi Bryan, Just stumbled across this article. Love it! I’m from Leading Tickles and always wondered the history of the sawmill in Mill Cove, do you have anything further on this or can you point me in the right direction to research. Thanks

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    • There isn’t much information on this mill. What I have seen came from old newspapers. I believe it was a steam powered mill and operated down there in about 1907. I may have come across who owned it at one time, but I cannot remember at the moment. There were a couple of other similar operations in Badger Bay. Is there any sign that there was anything ever there?

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      • Hi Bryan, Thanks for your response. Yes there is still sign of the mill and some of its equipment is still there. I’ve always wondered who owned it and its history. No one in Leading Tickles seems to know anything about it. If you find out anything about it, please let me know, it has peaked my curiosity.

        Thanks again

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      • Cool, I would love to see pictures of the equipment. It was my understanding that a couple of hundred men found work associated with this operation briefly. I am sure some of my ancestors must have worked for this operation. My great grandfather Rowsell had a sawmill somewhere Lock’s Harbour, but this was a small mill back in the 30’s and 40’s.

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