Anderson's Cove

Memories of a deceased settlement in Long Harbour, Fortune Bay.

(First of a two-part series)
By: Fay Herridge
Special to The Telegram

Exactly how and when Anderson's Cove came into being is uncertain. When Captain James Cook charted the south coast of Newfoundland in 1765, he reported Morgan Cove, in Long Harbour, Fortune Bay, as being suitable for one fishing station. Morgan Cove later became Anderson's Cove. Sources report that the first settlers were nine Church of England families, who supposedly arrived there in the late 1880's. However, family records show that James and Susan Thornhill moved to Anderson's Cove around 1870, bringing with them five children.

Anderson's Cove first appeared on census reports in 1884 with a population of 43. Prior to that, all the fishing stations and settlements in Long Harbour were enumerated together. The Long Harbour population of 18, recorded in 1836, could have included Anderson's Cove. One legend states that when several sheep rustlers were forced to leave England, they came to Newfoundland. There they settled in various outports, including Anderson's Cove.

So the birth of the community remains clouded in uncertainty but touched with romance. We know only that settlement occurred at least as early as 1870. It was probably chosen for its land- locked harbour and access to good herring fishing grounds. The harbour was deep, but narrow, with steep sides and a rocky bottom. Although it was practically closed in by high hills, strong squalls funneled through the harbour, making poor holding grounds for ships during southerly gales.

Anderson's Cove was situated west of Long Harbour Point, just inside the entrance of Long Harbour. The rugged, rocky terrain ruled out any substantial expansion. The population peaked at 106 in 1951, not many years before resettlement. The community grew up around the harbour, on very little level land, and literally surrounded by high cliffs. The down harbour portion was fairly level and was most likely the site identified by Cook. However, up harbour was built between the sea and the cliffs. Many houses, as well as fishing sheds and small wharves, were built partly out over the water. The two sections were connected by a foot path, part of which was a very narrow ledge that wound along the cliff face.

Agriculture was very limited due to lack of space and poor soil. People set their gardens wherever a suitable patch of ground could be found, in all the little coves and inlets along the shore of Long Harbour. Potato, turnip, carrot, onion and cabbage patches were cultivated and no garden was ever vandalized. John Riggs even had gardens on Gull Island.

Livestock was scarce in Anderson's Cove because of limited grazing land. People had sheep to provide wool for home-knit socks, mittens, sweaters and suits of long underwear. Goats provided milk for drinking as well as for making butter and cheese. Most families kept hens to get eggs and an occasional chicken dinner. One man even had a cow that was called Spark. People would go up Long Harbour to cut hay. Those who owned very little land took turns spreading it on the road and wharves to dry.

Fish was salted and dried for winter use. They hunted moose, caribou and wild birds and snared rabbits. Meat that was killed in the fall was hung up in the store (shed) to freeze. Slabs were cut off as needed. Partridgeberries and marshberries, for making jam and pies throughout the winter, were kept in water. Chunks of frozen berries and ice were chopped out as needed. Blueberries were dried and then used like raisins in cakes and buns.

A travelling merchant operated from a trader that was a combination shop and transport vessel for fish. A fully stocked store was located below deck in the stern of the schooner. Salt fish was traded for supplies such as salt beef and pork, sugar, butter, and barrels of flour. When the salt fish was all delivered, the fisherman settled up with the trader. Many of the men went away to fish on banking schooners that sailed out of Grand Bank, or Halifax and Lunenberg in Nova Scotia. When they returned home in the fall, they brought much of the winter's provision with them.

In the early years people went to Stone's Cove, about one-and-one-half miles away, for any item they needed from the shop. In the early 1940's, Clifford Shirley of English Harbour West set up a small store at Anderson's Cove which was run by Cyril Thornhill. After a few years, Cyril, who was also a fisherman, bought the business. It was the only store there until a second small retail outlet was opened in the 1950's.

Drinking water was drawn from wells. Considering the rocky foundations, digging them could not have been an easy task. Still, many families had their own well. There were also two public wells, one up harbour, in the side of the hill, and one down harbour. The water had a reddish tint, caused by the high iron content.

Kerosene lamps were the only source of light. The lamp was refilled with kerosene and the chimney cleaned every day. Lanterns were in use for outside work. Wood-burning stoves were used year round for cooking and heating purposes. The men went up Long Harbour to places like Dog Cove, to cut wood. Calm water was needed to bring it home, for the dories were loaded until they were almost level in the water. A good supply of firewood was essential. Very little coal was burned because money was too scarce to spend on more than one or two tons for the winter months.

September and October were generally the months for wood cutting. People had cabins in all the small coves and bights along the shore, which were used when cutting wood or hunting. Henry Herridge built his cabin on the wharf at Anderson's Cove and transported it to Dog Cove in sections because "...the flies were too thick up there to do anything." Most cabins had stoves made from drums cut in half. A square wooden frame filled with gravel provided a fireproof base. Roofs were sometimes covered with homemade felt. This was made by covering sheeting paper with several coats of tar.

Up Dog Cove Brook, near the falls, there was big wood. Henry Herridge cut three trees there and towed them down to a sawmill at Tickle Beach, owned by Joe Saunders. The logs were too big for the saw to cut through. One saw cut was made first, then the log was turned and finished cutting from the other side. Enough side and bottom boards were cut from these three trees to build a 17-foot motor dory and a 14-foot row dory. The sterns were cut from a large spruce. Both dories were built by Uncle Jim Herridge (step-brother of Henry's father).

Making use of nature's provisions was a way of life. At Little Back Cove, accessible only by water, there was a cave in the cliff. Dories could get into the cave, called Black Hole, at low tide. People gathered saltwater clay there, in blue, red, grey and white colours. It was used to paint sheds and also to coat the back irons on stoves.

Church of England was the only religion there until the arrival of Congregational missionary, Dr. Hugh Macdermott to the area in 1904. He held services in the old school at Anderson's Cove, indicating that a school may have existed before the turn of the century. Shortly after Dr. Mac's arrival, the first church was built. In 1954 construction was underway on a second chapel. The Church of England, meanwhile, had a chapel at Stone's Cove and a cemetary at Crant's Cove. Congregational burial grounds were located at Anderson's Cove Point.

From the early 1900's the community was serviced by two coastal boats and one mail boat each week. The first radio was brought to the school in 1927, and required a 40 to 50-foot aerial pole to pick up a broadcast signal. The first private radio was owned by Charlie Thornhill. He would incite the young men in to listen to the Gerald S. Doyle News at noon. Caps in hand, they stood just inside the door, listening almost in reverence.

Telegraph service was available in Anderson's Cove from 1914. Prior to that, service was provided by the Long Harbour Repeater Station, near Mitchell Point. Built in 1856 by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, it was operated by Philip Ryan for perhaps 50 years. Years after the station closed, people still spoke of Old Man Ryan's Place. Hunters from Anderson's Cove often ;used the place as a hunting cabin.

During the fishing season, it was early to bed and early to rise in coastal outports. Sometimes they were up waiting for daylight to come, to begin the day's work. In the winter months there was more time for leisure activities. People created their own entertainment and were never bored. Many hunting and fishing tales, or ghost stories, were related around the kitchen table, while smoke from the men's pipes created a dim, dreamlike atmosphere.

One popular story was that of Perham's Island, located across from Mitchell Point. It seems that an old man named Perham died there, leaving behind a lot of buried treasure. He supposedly left a headless man to guard it. Could Perham have been a pirate, maybe burying his treasure when his brigantine was wrecked at Tatie Garden Cove?

This brigantine, according to tales, was anchored off the shore there. A strong northeast storm caused the ship to drag her anchor until her bottom struck the rugged seabed of the harbour and she sank. Less than 50 years ago, sections of the wrecked two-master, built of oak, were still visible. Within the last 15 years divers have retrieved souvenir pieces of wood from the ship.

Squashberries grew on Perham's Island and it was covered with trees. Berry pickers boiled up there, and hunters camped there but none ever saw Perham or his headless guard - at least no has ever told of seeing them!

Another story surrounds Brews Cliffs, on the west side of Long Harbour. According to legend, the Devil launched his boat from Brews Cliffs. The craft brought up solid when it struck Doughball Cliffs on the other side. It carved out a channel in the rock face which is known as Doughball Cove.

Tatie Garden Cove, at the south end of the community , was a good spot for salmon, herring and lobster. It's name came from the potato gardens which some residents had there. Lobster pots and herring seines had to be set with care so they did not tangle in the wrecked brigantine. A brook ran down over the cliff, from Anderson's Cove Pond, where schooners often took on their fresh water.

Anderson's Cove Pond was located at the south side of the community, about three or four minutes walk up over the hill towards Stone's Cove. It was the only pond the residents used for trouting and also for swimming. About three-quarters of a mile in length, the pond reached a depth of 17 fathoms in the middle.

The brook that flowed from the pond to Tatie Garden Cove was spanned by Running Brook Bridge. Sometimes people brought water from this brook. The road to Stone's Cove went along the east side of the pond. In winter, when the pond froze, people skated on it and went sliding on the nearby hill and out across the pond.

© F. Herridge
Published in 2 parts in The Telegram, March 21 1998

Non Fiction
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