People often ask “what is the oldest building in Grand Falls-Windsor” or “Which is the oldest house still standing in Grand Falls.” It can become the subject of great debate and I believe some of the candidates may be on Carmelite Road or maybe one of the sets of duplex apartments in the old Downtown area. The fact of the matter is this, there is a whole neighborhood in which the houses were built before 1910, that being the Circular Road area.
If you want to get technical the first road in Grand Falls was Beaumont Avenue, which according to many accounts was an old portage route that was used as far back as the Beothuk and was noted to have been used by loggers cutting for the Exploits Lumber Company sawmill at Botwood. I am not sure where on the river it would have started (as noted below, it probably actually started at Bishop’s Falls), but the area of the boat launch is very likely candidate for a landing area for supplies coming up river. There was also a supply store house down there during railway construction around 1892-93. The railway workers would have had to have blazed a trail up to the mainline as well, which likely would have roughly followed the same direction of the oldest actual road. It should be noted that that this may have been a continuation of a road that existed between Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls. This road, is also noted as “Old Tolt” road on Crown Land grants back in the 1910’s. Station Road (Lincoln Road) was the first actual road in Grand Falls. It was blazed through sometime in 1905 even before a railway spur was built from the railway to the future mill site. Near to this the first dwelling was built, by the Gardiner family in the fall of 1905. Along this same stretch of road were the original Company store and many of the shacks of the workers building the mill.
Church and Carmelite Roads (Carmelite Street, near Fleet Street in London was where the Carmelite House, the headquarters of the Daily Mail and Amalgamated Press was located) would have been a continuation of Station Road. A strong candidate for the oldest house in town is on Carmelite Road. Customs Agent Nathianl Pike built a house here in 1906 that is noted to still be standing. L.R Cooper, the man who ran the townsite for the AND Company built his house on the same street in 1907. Cooper’s house was located behind the wall at Church Road Park, quite the conveinaint place to live for the person who oversaw most of the public activities that took place in the park.
The other Branch from station Road became Church Road and would have connected to High Street. High Street was connected to the Circular Road area which was one of the first housing developments, as did Mill Road on the other end. Here houses were built for the first mill workers in circa 1906-1908. This area included First, Second, Third Avenues, Fourth and East and West Street. I believe that First and Fourth avenues later became Circular Road and I believe Second Avenue became part of Union Street (Think this is confusing, wait until I get to Windsor). Hill and Bank roads would have been built around the same time. Riverview Road started in 1910, Exploit’s Avenue was noted as being built in 1908 and Exploit’s Lane. Gilbert Street was built in 1910 and named, to the best of my Knowledge, for Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
As in many towns in England, High Street was lain out as the commercial center of the town. In the early days it was also home to three large boarding houses as you can see below. The first school was located on what is now Carmelite Road and the Lady Northcliffe Hospital was built on the corner of Station Road and Riverview Road. On the present site of the Memorial grounds was the Wood house, which was the home of Alex Wood, one of the mill managers and a director of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. This house burned down between 1916 and 1922.
Valley Road was where the cemetery was located a far back as 1907 but I am unsure of when the first houses were built there, and I do believe it is one of those streets that has houses built during different eras. An annotated copy of a 1918 Grand Falls directory says that it was built in 1921, a few years before they stopped using the cemetery. Railway Road is in a similar boat, although this directory lists it as having been built in 1925, I do believe many of the houses were built during different eras.
The Church of England, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic denominations built churches along what became Church Road. Across from the Church of England was the athletic field. I am not sure when this athletic field was put there since in the pre-World War One period there was also a sports field used for cricket and baseball in the area now near the junction of Lincoln and Carmelite Roads and behind the Grand Falls House on Log Cabin Field.
Even with all of the housing development there was a noted shortage of housing in Grand Falls in the first decades. As I have noted before many workmen lived in tar paper shacks at various locations around the townsite and many workers chose to build on Station Road or outside of the townsite near the station.
In the Pre-war period the old downtown neighborhoods gradually filled in. There were houses of differing ages on some of these streets, such as some built in the Circular Road and Riverview road areas in the 1930’s, but many of the houses were pre WWI.
House building slowed a little during the First World War, but another expansion began even before the War was over. This was the development of Beaumont Avenue starting in 1916-17. The Beaumont Avenue development was the first stage of a housing development that saw the building of Suvla, Monchy, Polygon and Haig Road’s during the 1920’s. It was noted by the late Tom Howell that Thomas Brown and John Knight built the houses on Monchy Road during the summer of 1920. The expansion in housing was necessary due to continued expansion at the mill and because the second generation of residents was growing up.
Yet another interwar housing expansion was undertaken in the Junction Road and Pine Avenue area during the 1930’s. I believe the development of Perrone Road and Queen Street and Crescent Heights took place around this time as well. Perrone Raod was likely the last street named fro a World War One battle. For some reason it sticks in my head that the apartments on Pine Avenue were built around 1938-39. There was also a short connecting street called Prospect Road or Street, I can’t remember if it connected Junction Road to Crescent Heights or became part of Crescent Heights, I think it later became part of somebody’s driveway. Many houses were built on the newly constructed Botwood Highway during the 1920’s and 30’s as well. Development of the Botwood Highway was and is ongoing and is now so extensive that there are now houses down there that are parallel to Bishop’s Falls.
By 1935 the pre World war two shape of Grand Falls had taken shape. The Northern boundary of the town was marked by the Botwood Highway and Station Road with the eastern edge being the Cemetery and the north-western being the Railway tracks at the Station.
The Second World War put a halt to most housing development in Grand Falls. When the war ended and the baby boom began the development of the vacant land to the North East of the Lincoln Road high school took off in the big way.
The first development in this time period was Memorial Avenue, many of the homes here were built for returning veterans. Most of the houses on this street were built around 1946-48 and later. Next, during the early 1950’s came Greenwood and Elm Streets, Maple may have come a bit later. It was reported that the water and sewer lines were extended to Greenwood Avenue in 1953.
The Birch Street area started to be developed in around 1959 as the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was beginning to loosen control on the town. My Grandparents had one of the first houses on Birch Street in the fall of 1959. Larch Street and Poplar Road came about shortly after this.
The first building on St. Catherine Street would have been, you guessed it, St. Catherine’s School-probably known by many as NDA. The duplexes there date to about 1967, the row houses are about the same age, but the apartment building may have come a bit later.
Lind Avenue started to be built up shortly after St. Catherine’s School and for some reason the year 1964 pops into my mind for that Street. Originally the plan for the streets in the area was vastly different from what was actually developed.
Over the next decade or so most of the new housing development in Grand Falls took place in the Goodyear Avenue subdivision which came on the heals of the big new hospital on Union Street.
The seventies came with a change in the commercial make up of the area which would come to effect both Main Street and High Street. The Exploits Valley Mall was built in 1975 on Cromer Avenue. The development of the Cromer Avenue began in the early 1960’s and I know for a fact that the Company was selling off lots in the vicinity of Duggan Street in 1960, gradually more and more businesses either started or moved tho this area. Eventually familiar names from Main Street and High Street would all move to this area, including: Cohen’s Furniture, Riff’s, Cabot Bakery and even the Royal Stores.
After the Goodyear Avenue area gradually filled in, the next subdivision that was developed was across the Trans-Canada Highway in the early 1980’s and this became the Southcott and Sheppard Street area. The Brown Avenue area was also developed around this same time period, I believe in the second half of the 1970’s. This development included Finn Ave, Tucker Place, Bartle Place Etc. After Brown Avenue was developed Knight Street started to be developed.
Next came Shallow, Ireland and Gardiner and that whole area up there. Development in this general area continued into the 2000’s. I would go into further detail but the listing of streets has gotten boring enough!
If I missed something please add it in the comments section.
Unlike most of Grand Falls, Grand Falls Station-later Windsor was not a planned community. People initially built near the Railway tracks and gradually moved backwards. Another difference is that unlike Grand Falls (old Grand Falls) many of the early settlers were granted Crown Land.
The expansion of housing development in the former town of Windsor is a bit more challenging to trace than the development of Grand Falls, and there is definitely more work to be done on this. Naturally the first street to develop was Main Street. Main street included an interesting mix of businesses and housing an in many cases housing attached to businesses. Bond Street, Second Avenue and what became Patrick Street came about roughly the same time.
I have no idea what the oldest house still standing in the former town of Windsor is. Two of the first houses were the two located between the railway tracks and main street, which are now long gone. They were the were the section foreman’s and section man’s house. It is likely that they were there as early as 1906 (the railway section crew responsible for the section of track between Bishop’s Falls and Badger had previously been based out of Rushy Pond Siding near Red Cliff).
Most of the earliest land grants for the for what became Windsor were taken out in 1910 or 11. These grants were taken out by and large by people who were merchants. They include Edward and Frederica Burry, who I believe were in business with Colin Stewart as Burry and Stewart if I recall correctly. A couple of Lebanese/Syrian businessmen were early to get land in Windsor. Edward Boulous was granted a number of pieces in the vicinity of Main Street and Bond Street as was Antonio Micheal. I am unsure of the latter ever operated in central. Another early grantee was Alexander Stoude in 1910.
Early settlers who were granted land include William Anderson and the Stewarts. George Stewart was granted land when he was about 15! I am not sure you can do that now. Windsor was built almost entirely on granted Crown Land. Many houses were built on land from subdivided pieces of these original land grants. Colin Stewart’s house is still standing on Second Avenue, which I believe must are from the 1920’s or earlier. It seems many of the early homes were on Second Avenue and that vicinity.
Grand Falls Station experienced considerable growth between 1910 and 1921. By 1921 Grand Falls Station had a respectable population and Main Street was lined with businesses that both catered to rail passengers and to people in Grand Falls who wanted more variety.
King Street and Coronation Streets have some older houses on them likely dating from prior to World War Two. Erastus King was granted land in the area around 1920. There is also a house on Seventh Avenue that I have always thought must be very old.
It should also be noted that the AND Company appears to have had some roads in what became Windsor, most likely used to haul pulpwood directly by sled to the mill.
Caribou Road definitely had houses on it shortly after the Second World War and likely had houses on it before then as the road existed much earlier. The earliest indication of Caribou Road I could find was from 1920, though it was likely just a path back then. Both King Street and Caribou Road were there in 1920.
Grand Falls Station became home to many numbered Streets and Streets named after those living there. King Street-That’s where the King’s lived, Rice’s Avenue, Keats Place, Wheeler’s Avenue, Cooper’s Avenue and Churchill Place were also named for the families that lived there. I am pretty sure 8th Avenue may have dated from the 1930’s, only from judging how many layers of canvas were on the floor of my Grandparent’s house there in 1954.
I believe people first moved into the area of Mulrooney Avenue sometime in the 1940’s. And the Mulrooney family owned most of the land originally.
Windsor continued to grow during the 1950’s and 60’s. There seems to have been an influx of people who moved in from the bays after the Second World War.
I know for a fact that Park Street dates from the early 1970’s and some of the houses there were prefabricated and assembled at the location in a kind of kit form. A lot of the later development occurred in this area, especially after the stadium and swimming people were built in this area back in the 1970’s. This later development included Snow Crescent.
Peddle Drive was developed starting close to 20 years ago and to me seems to be the first housing development that was not clearly in the old town of Grand Falls or Windsor both geographically and because of changing attitudes after so many years or amalgamation.
P.S Can anybody tell me the story on the green house on Bond Street that looks like its made of pipes or metal logs?
Some of the Builders.
Thomas Brown oversaw the construction of both the Log House and the Grand Falls House. Brown also oversaw the construction of many of the houses in the actual town site. He became what was called the “town inspector” with the AND Company. Most likely this was a job that ensured all the houses were built to specifications. I think I may have seen the plans or descriptions for the houses and they were all uniform at this time and had names like “Workmen’s Bungalow #4” whole Streets were built of nearly identical houses.
John Knight is another builder his same is associated with many houses and buildings. I belive he was active at the same time as Brown and I also believe he was involved in building a considerable number of houses in the Beaumont, Monchy, Suvla area during the 1920’s.
Some of the very early houses and building were built outside firms such as the Horwood Lumber Company. The Presbyterian Church was built by that Company. When the home of George Sanders was being renovated a few years ago the new owner sent me a picture of the names the builders had written inside of a wall in 1910 and I didn’t recognize them as early residents.
Harvey Dawe ran the carpentry shop for the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company and carpenters under his supervision built many of the houses in town and carried out repairs. When the Company was giving up control of the town during the 1950’s Dawe was given the contract to do all of the work he had formally done as a Company employee. Throughout the history of Grand Falls when there were neighborhoods being built up there would be dozens of “carpenters” and workmen that would come into town from “around the Bay” and they would work all summer building houses. My Grandfather Baker was one of these carpenters (although many “Carpenters” had littler formal training he actually did a correspondence course in carpentry and cabinet making in the early 50’s after he had been working as a Carpenter for around 15 years at the Argentia base, Clarenville Ship Yard and around Grand Falls and Windsor) and spent every summer in Grand Falls back in the late 40’s mostly building the houses on Memorial Avenue and working on the Stadium (As well as the Vogue Theatre) . He was from Hillview, but many of the workmen were from Twillingate. Twillingate was the home of E.J Clark who after years of taking house building contracts became a successful building contractor and eventually settled and had a successful business in Grand Falls.