Life in Anderson's Cove

A librarian retraces her roots and discovers memories of the deceased settlement in Long Harbour, Fortune Bay

(Second of a two-part series)
By Fay Herridge
Special to the Telegram

Men from Anderson's Cove, Hoop Cove and Hare Harbour all joined the Orange Lodge at Stone's Cove. In the fall and winter, times were held on every occasion. Usually a soup, bean, or cabbage supper, followed by a square dance. Sometimes the younger couples got together just for a dance, often walking from Anderson's Cove as far as Hare Harbour. Accordion music was often supplied by Cyril Thornhill of Anderson's Cove, his nephew Archie Thornhill, or one of several musicians from Stone's Cove. Weddings were big celebrations, with invitations being sent to everyone in the Long Harbour area. "Everyone who could walk" attended the school Christmas concert, in which every student had a part. There was usually an adult concert during the winter as well.

Having only infrequent visits by doctors, the residents relied on home remedies for many ailments. However, they could not combat serious diseases on their own. In the late 1930s to mid-1940s, a number of people died from tuberculosis , or "consumption." Many victims were between 17 and 20 years of age. Those who were sent to the sanatorium at St. John's survived the disease.

Sometime between 1941 and 1945, diphtheria struck the community. Three young girls died before the cause was identified. When Aletha Thornhill became ill, her husband Cyril sent for Dr. Coxen at Come-By-Chance, who quickly diagnosed the disease. Angry at not being summoned earlier, the doctor placed the entire community in quarantine. He set up a temporary office in the school and everyone was vaccinated.

The 1929 Atlantic earthquake which caused the tidal wave that devastated parts of the south coast was felt in Anderson's Cove also. One former resident, Henry Herridge , recalls it well.

Our house was built on rocks, very close to the water. The kitchen stove was an old- fashioned iron model, called Our Own. This day there was a small schooner anchored out in the harbour - the Kathleen Burke. Thomas McCarthy of Terrenceville was her master. My father, Arthur, and others in the community, did business with the Burkes, groceries, dry goods, etc.

It was suppertime and we had fried venison (caribou). Mom heard the noise first and Father figured Tom was taking up his anchor, getting ready to leave. Suddenly the table and chairs started to tremble and the stove covers rattled. We all jumped up from the table. Mom thought the house was tipping over so we ran outside. We saw that everything was shaking, even the dories on the water. Well now, Mom figured it must be the end of the world. With that, Father went back inside to finish his supper. He said, 'If this is the end of the world, I'm not going on an empty stomach!'

Later we learned what had happened. Dr. MacDermott, who was stationed at Pool's Cove, sent a telegram to Anderson's Cove, explaining what had happened and advising the people to watch out for very high tides. The water rose high enough to cover the road. Mom was visiting friends when someone mentioned the rising water and she left for home. She arrived to find the water up to the legs of the kitchen stove.

Uncle Jim Herridge lost his motor dory. Someone went to his house and told him about the high tides so he went to check on his dories. The motor dory had washed off from the slip. He tried but was unable to reach it. A strong surge of water pulled the dory out of reach. The motor and part of the dory bottom was later picked up down in the lower part of the community.

Mining was attempted at Anderson's Cove in 1952 when Roy W. Rawley, an American from Arkansas, came to the community. Two employees of Newfoundland Fluorspar at St. Lawrence had been there earlier but nothing was said about their findings.

Rawley hired a prospecting team of Henry Herridge, Howard Herridge, Cyril Pope and Will Pope. Rate of pay was 89 cents per hour. He also hired Albert Pope as foreman; Gilbert Thornhill, and Ray Keeping who had a forge at Tickle Beach. On the beach at Lobster Cove, Rawley taught his team how to use dynamite. When he felt they were ready, he sent them to Stood's Hill. They blasted a tunnel about 12 feet deep into the cliff. Plenty of fluorspar was found, so a big diamond drill was brought in.

A bunkhouse was built at Pissin' Mare Cove, so named because a single stream of water ran down over a high cliff at the back of the cove In over this cliff was a pond with a patch of trees on one side, where the bunkhouse was built. It was equipped with a generator to supply electric lights.

Many ore samples were taken and recorded, and things looked very promising. The prospecting team was sent on several expeditions in the nearby area. Then, almost without warning, the operation was shut down. The equipment was packed up and shipped out. Several explanations were offered but, whatever the reason, after a few short months, the Anderson's Cove mining operation was abandoned. All that remained was a gaping hole in the face of Stood's Hill. The bunkhouse was later sold and torn down.

No industry appeared to be feasible for Anderson's Cove, and indeed, the entire Long Harbour area, except the fishery. At the start of the herring fishery, shortly after the Christmas season, seals and whales followed the herring into Long Harbour. Turbot, also, was a winter fishery, carried on outside the Black Rock. The fish were cleaned, salted and sold by the barrel. Herring lasted until around the end of May. Nets were used during the first half of the season. In March, when the fish moved closer to land, bar seines were used.

Sometimes the water froze in the little coves and bights along the shore. A hole was cut in the ice and a baited hook was lowered into the water. If two or three herring were pulled up, a seine was put across the edge of the ice, closing off the cove. Then the ice was sawed into pans and towed away. A man was put on the ice pan, holding one end of a rope, which was attached to the boat. When the ice was cleared, the seine was pulled in secure around the herring. Sometimes the herring were thick enough to see when the hole was cut. Henry Herridge remembers watching them one time with Cyril Thornhill. The ice close to the hole gave way beneath them and Cyril fell through.

Just inside the tickle, near Woody Island, was good ground for cod. About two miles northeast of Anderson's Cove, the island probably got his name from the fact that it was covered with trees. It has no beach, but a basin on the east side provides shelter for small boats. Sometimes nets were strung across from Woody Island to the harbour where large steak cod were plentiful.

Cod was usually fished by trawl in the spring, and again in the fall until close to Christmas. Steak cod, very large fish, followed the herring. At Cock 'n' Hen Hole, inside the tickle, there are shoals, which was always a good place for scallops. Henry Herridge and Hughie Herridge set gill nets there one time at high tide. The next day, at low tide, they pulled the dory up on the shoals and got out into the water. All they had to do was take the fish from the net and throw them in the dory.

Henry and Hughie caught 25 quintals of the big fish one spring. One day in particular they took 75 steak cod from a net off Granny Herridge's Point, on the western point of Lobster Cove. (John Herridge used to live just up over this point and his wife, Jane, picked marshberries there.)

Sometime in April, the lobster fishery began. A lobster-packing facatory, located at Southwest Cove, was owned and operated by Uncle Ned (Edward) Osmond. The lobsters were kept in carpots that were anchored just off shore. Once a week they were collected for processing.

There was a huge fireplace in the factory, built from rocks. Lobsters were cooked in large square boilers and removed with dipnets. The meat from the claws and tails were packed in cans while the bodies were discarded. Young people often feasted on the bodies on processing day. When the Anderson's Cove factory closed down, Billy Fizzard opened one at Hoop Cove.

Lobster extended from around the Anderson's Cove area, all the way up to Tickle Beach. There was excellent lobster fishing grounds in the vicinity of Lobster Cove, which had settlers as early as 1858. A lobster factory operated there sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Another good spot for lobsters was around the Black Rock, in the mouth of Long Harbour. About 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and flat on top, it rose about 10 feet above water. In times of high winds, sea water washed over it. At other times its barren surface appeared white from the seagulls that congregated upon it. At Crant's Cove, John Riggs had a factory where he packed both lobster and salmon. Riggs, who only had one hand, was also the lightkeeper at Long Harbour Point, on the west side of the entrance of Long Harbour. His large house was located on Long Harbour Point.

Herring appears to have been the most plentiful species in the Anderson's Cove area. In winter, American ships from ports along the Eastern Seaboard bought frozen herring from the fishermen. Sometime in the late 1930s a herring factory was built at Anderson's Cove. Situated near the cemetary at Anderson's Cove Point, it was owned and operated by F. Bannikhin & Sons (Frank, sons Wilfrid and Cyril, son-in-law Ben Swartz.). It consisted of a main building measuring about 60 feet long by 40 feet wide; a small cooper shed; a bunkhouse for workers coming from outside the community; and a cookhouse where Minnie Hardiman worked.

At peak periods, the factory employed more than 30 people. Born in the Ukraine in 1888, Bannikhin came to Newfoundland in 1917. Described as being a stern man, but fair, he paid his workers about 71 cents per hour. He bought fresh herring from local fishermen for $2.50 a barrel. During the time this factory was in operation, the community enjoyed a financial stability it would never know again. Records show that 1,665 barrels of salt herring were packed at the factory in 1952 for West Atlantic Products. The building was destroyed by fire sometime after 1954 but by then the herring fishery was declining. Mr. Bannikhin, who passed away in 1970, will always be remembered by the people of Anderson's Cove for starting the only industry of any significance in the history of the community.

People were beginning to leave Anderson's Cove for other towns with more opportunities. In 1964-65, families from Stone's Cove moved to Anderson's Cove. The government spent money for a new breakwater, upgrading of the public wharf, and a road to the post office. The Anglican clergyman, who was stationed at Belleoram, brought a church there from Lally Cove in 1964.

All these improvements left the people unprepared for resettlement. It was as if new life was breaathed into the community, only to be snuffed out quickly and unexpectedly. Anderson's Cove was resettled permanently in 1966, though many had left earlier. Many of those resettled people returned during the fishing season and still have cabins or summer homes there. The deceased community is, therefore, enjoying some measure of afterlife.

© F. Herridge
Published in 2 parts in The Telegram, March 28 1998

Non-fiction 1

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