Showing posts with label Brigus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brigus. Show all posts

Monday, September 26, 2022

Fowler House: A Restoration Project in Brigus

The Fowler House in Brigus, built circa 1850, was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure by Heritage NL in 1988 for its historic value.

A three-storey yellow house with two red doors. The front and part of one side is visible.
Image: Fowler House, Brigus. Photo courtesy of Heritage NL

The most iconic and distinctive part of the structure is the roller located at the base of a door on the second floor of the attachment - this served as a way to ease pulling fishing nets up from the street into the loft to mend them. As the town of Brigus was heavily involved in the fishery, having a tangible representation of the history of the fishery in the community through the house is very valuable.

A view of the clapboard siding having been removed from the yellow house.
Image: Clapboard removal from Fowler House. Photo courtesy of

Today the current owners are working with Heritage NL, contractors, and individuals skilled in heritage restorative work to restore the house to be not only a home, but also a representation of the history of the community. In collaboration with them we are going to be posting a chronological history of the house, as well as restoration updates, on social media.

Follow along with the project by using the hashtags #BrigusTwineLoft and #HeritageNL on our
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @hfnlca, and by following on Instagram and @brigustwineloft on Facebook.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Heritage Update 085 - September 2021: Root Cellars, Research, and Rita Remembers Labrador!

In this edition of the Heritage Update newsletter: our new intern Sarah Roberts brings you up to date on our Digital Museums of Canada project tracking the history and evolution of root cellars in the province; Michael Philpott shares a summary of the research we've been doing on St. George's Anglican Church in Brigus; Lara Maynard has a report on our workshops and training program; Andrea O'Brien documents the work we've been doing with the Town of Fortune to reimagine a purpose for the old Victoria Hall Masonic Lodge #1378; Terra Barrett visits with  Rita Fitzgerald in North River (photo above) and reminisces about life on the Labrador; while Dale Jarvis fanboys about a historic potato. 

Download the pdf here:

Friday, September 8, 2017

#FoodwaysFriday - When Historic Places Meet Food: Sea Salt and Thyme

Sea Salt and Thyme. Photo by Katie Harvey. 

Sea Salt and Thyme is located on Convent Road in the historic and picturesque community of Brigus, Conception Bay North. Formerly St. Joseph's Convent, this building was constructed circa 1860. On September 11, 1861, four Sisters of Mercy, their reverend mother, and her assistant set out from Portugal Cove aboard the steamship Ellen Gisborn for Brigus. This was to be the first foundation of Mercy to be established outside of St. John's. Upon their arrival, the sisters immediately started their work; visiting the sick and teaching music, art and various other subjects. The convent was closed in 1991 and has since changed ownership several times.

In 2017, the building was converted into a restaurant and B&B by Rod Delaney. On the main floor, you can visit the pub or dine in one of  their multiple dining rooms. The nun's old living quarters on the second floor have been transformed into rooms for guests. Rod explains:

"There's a confession booth still up there and intact. There's a clear outline of crosses on the walls. And some of the details within the rooms are definitely loaning themselves to that time and particular type of history."

Spicy blueberry chicken wings. Photo by Katie Harvey.

This past labour day weekend, on a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive around the bay, we decided to stop in and check out this newly opened restaurant. We sampled a variety of items from the menu including: spicy blueberry chicken wings, pickled onion rings, orange ginger stir fry with seared tuna, a lentil burger and beat salad with croutons and balsamic reduction. For dessert, we ate deep fried oreos with a salted caramel sauce.

Orange ginger stir fry with seared tuna. Photo by Katie Harvey.

Although we weren't able to see the upstairs portion of this building, it was easy to imagine the life this building had previously lived. The well preserved architectural details paid tribute to the fact that this was once a religious building where nuns lived and taught. It is wonderful to see old buildings that are dying adapting with time to remain functional.

-Katie Harvey

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hauling Pinkston's Forge: Heritage Building On the Move in Brigus

I've written before about the Pinkston's Forge in Brigus, Conception Bay. The Brigus Historical Society has been working to document it's oral history and stories. The photo above, from July 28th, 2014, shows Muriel Pinkston Wells, John Pinkston, and interviewer Dale Russell Fitzpatrick --  you can read and listen to their interview on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative (DAI).

It has been important to the Brigus Historical Society to document what they can about the forge, because the building had to be removed from its original location. Yesterday, December 15th, was moving day. The building had been covered in plywood to keep it together during the move, and hoisted up onto a sledge made of long wooden poles. A local company was hired to facilitate the move, and a crowd gathered to watch the old blacksmith shop be hauled to its new home near the Brigus Stone Barn museum. The old forge squeaked over the little bridge near Hawthorne Cottage, with only inches to spare on either side, and was then dragged to the new concrete pad that had been erected to receive the forge.

CBC has story on the move, and you can check out some photos on YouTube.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Cut Bellows - a story from Pinkston's Forge, Brigus

I mentioned in an earlier post that the ICH Office helped record an oral history of Pinkston's Forge in Brigus. In this section of the interview, John Pinkston talked about a cut made in the bellows, and if you look closely at the picture above, you can see the repair work he mentions.

John Charles Pinkston: There's one other instance. Back, I guess, in the 20s and 30s, well there was at one time, there was something like six forges in Brigus, right?

Dale Russell FitzPatrick: Yes.
John Charles Pinkston: And then there was three, but anyway at this particular time, I think there was two blacksmiths in Brigus, so there was Harris and Jackson's. And previous to that I think there was another one, James. Anyway, at this particular time there was two operating: there was grandfather's and Jackson's down in Jackson's Quay. One Saturday morning dad and grandfather came down, of course eight or ten horses lined up, and the window was broken in the forge. So they thought no more about that, so they opened up and got the horse in and grandfather start pumping the bellows. The bellows wasn't working. 
He looked in, there was a cut in the bellows about ten inches long. So grandfather told all the men, b’y, he said I can't do nothing for you because somebody cut the bellows. So they said all right Mr. Pinkston, we're not going down to Jackson's. We're going to wait for you to fix the-- So grandfather went over to-- who's the person that fixes shoes? Cobbler or leatherer. He went over and this fellow, I don't know what his name is-- Keene? Anyway, he came over and he sewed up the bellows. 
So two hours later, had the bellows going, all the men waited for him, and they didn't go down to Jackson. So rumour was that Jackson broke the window and cut the bellows. 
Dale Russell FitzPatrick: And of course people today can still see those stitches. 
John Charles Pinkston: You can still see them. 
Dale Russell FitzPatrick: And they've worked ever since, haven't they?
Muriel Pinkston Wells: Yes.
Dale Russell FitzPatrick: That's a wonderful story.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Documenting Pinkston's Forge in Brigus

On Monday of this week, I travelled to Brigus to help the Brigus Historical Society with their work of documenting the history of Pinkston's Forge.

Pinkston's Forge has been a fixture of the community for a long time, and up to now has been in the hands of the Pinkston family. But maintaining a heritage building like the forge has been a challenge for the family, and the forge itself sits on a lovely piece of corner property. Recently, the family has decided they want to develop the property, but were concerned about the potential loss of the forge. So, the family has decided to turn the building over to the town, on the condition that it be moved.

Moving a heritage building from its original location is rarely the first choice for heritage conservationists, and moving an old forge will pose challenges for the historical society, but it will ensure that the building sees a new life, and hopefully, more educational opportunities.

Local heritage volunteers will be working on the documentation of the building and artefacts, and the ICH office has offered to help with collecting the associated oral histories of the building. On Monday, we helped with the first interview. The photo above shows (l-r) Muriel Pinkston-Wells and John Charles Pinkston, whose father and grandfather started the blacksmithing business, along with  local heritage consultant Dale Russell-Fitzpatrick, who conducted the oral history interview.

We’ll be posting more on the project as it unfolds.

If you have a memory of Pinkston's Forge, email me at or comment below.

- Dale Jarvis

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Folklore Photo: The Cupids American Man circa 1930

Today's folklore photo comes courtesy of the Newfoundland Historical Society archival collection. The photo shows the "American Man" - a cairn of stones located at the top of Spectacle Head, in Cupids. The original photo was taken by A.C. Hunter, and the back of the photo has an inscription which reads:

Photo by A.C. Hunter, about 1930
The "American Man" on the hill between Cupids +
Clarke's Beach. Mrs Hunter in photo
There was another one between Brigus and Cupids.
They were used as landmarks for Vessels
coming in, we supposed. We also wondered if
they came from "Marking Man"???
                             Muriel H. Hunter, 1976
Negative of this is in the A.C. Hunter Collection, Memorial Univ.
                                                                                Audio Visual.

The cairn, which has been rebuilt several times since the 1930s, is much taller today, and a secondary, smaller cain has also been constructed nearby.  I've heard it referred to as both the "American Man" and the "Merican Man," and have also heard the theory, given by locals, that it is indeed a corruption of "Marking Man."

Here is how the structure looked during the Cupids 400 Celebrations in 2010. I believe the photo is by Dennis Minty:

At some point after the 2010 celebrations, the structure was damaged by vandals, and rebuilt by local volunteers. Here is what the cairn looked like on 13 October 2013. Note that it is slightly more symmetrical here, than in the 2010 photo.

This note is the first I've heard of a similar structure located between Brigus and Cupids. If anyone knows of that particular cairn's current or previous location, email me at

- Dale Jarvis


On 5 February 2013, Mike Sexton wrote me and noted the following:
"...years ago I met an Icelander in L'Anse Aux Meadows, he was on the hill looking for a third cairn at the viking site. He was an old mariner and he told me that there should be three if they were used for navigation. they always have the sky as a background,and you have to keep one in the middle for safe water. This one in the middle could be a considerable distance behind the ones closest to the coast. so you sail by, and when you have them positioned right you turn towards shore. (Safe water)"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

More on abandoned mines, including one at Blow Me Down Bluff

On Friday, I posted about a trip to an abandoned 19th century copper mine in Avondale. I concluded that post by asking if anyone had information about that mine or other abandoned mines in the area.

Several people responded, including Mr Craig Moore, who had done some research on the Avondale mineshaft in the mid 1990s. At that point, Moore had been told by the property owner, Greg Deveraux, that the shaft was the remains of an exploration site for a copper mine, dating to 1899. He corroborated that local knowledge holds that the offshore sand bar was the remains of the excavation, and concluded his note with a bit of a mystery. Apparently, a ship left the area in 1899 headed to Wales with a load of ore samples from the exploration site, but the ship never reached its destination.

Other people responded with information about different abandoned mines. Some told me about abandoned mines in Tilt Cove, Marysvale and Brigus. Susan Furneaux wrote,

"When I lived in Colliers I was told about an abondoned mine that was there...which kind of makes sense considering the name. Not sure if it exists. It was supposed to be on the Northside of the harbour a ways out. There was an old path that went along the shore, beyond where the old settlement was. I have wondered about it often over the years."

In addition to these emails, Linda Lewis sent me the above photo, with this note:

"At Blow Me Down Bluff between Holyrood Bay & Chapel’s Cove is an abandoned mine. The attached pic of of Ed Fahey back in the 50s who was trying to attract attention to the mine at that time. It was mined back in the 1800s and is mentioned in the will of Msgr. Wm Veitch of Holyrood"

You can read Mr Veitch's will online here.

If you have heard a story about any of these mines, email me at I'd be particularly interested in knowing the exact location of the Marysvale/Colliers/Brigus mines, if you've seen them in your own explorations, or in other old photos of mining activity in Newfoundland and Labrador.

- Dale