On May 13, 2011, Woody Point celebrated the designation of Woody Point as a Registered Heritage District by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. The celebration included the unveiling of a plaque displayed at the front of the JW Roberts House which is also a provincially designated heritage structure and acts as an information centre for the town. The proceedings were well attended by residents, visitors and especially visible were students from Bonne Bay Academy. The designation ceremony was hosted by Mayor Ken Thomas, who recounted some of the history of Woody Point and informed on how the designation came to be a reality. Government officials in attendance who conveyed congratulatory remarks were Wally Young, MHA for St Barbe, Terry French for Tourism Culture and Recreation and Gerry Byrne, MP for Humber St Barbe. Darrin King, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment was also in attendance.
Following the designation ceremony everyone gathered for light refreshments at the Heritage Theatre.
The JW Roberts House will be open to the public again this summer by July 1st again, as an information centre and representative of a typical early 20th century home. Friday afternoons throughout the summer will see demonstrations of various crafts at the House. Look for postings around town which will show the specific programming as it unfolds.
Wanted: Volunteers to serve on the heritage committee and to help with events and programming. If you have some time and would like to be involved in supporting heritage activities in Woody Point, please call Rose Dewhirst, Chair – Woody Point Heritage Committee at 453-2035.
History of Bonne Bay South
According to historian E.R. Seary, Bonne Bay appeared on maps in 1698 and 1741 as Belle Bay, belle meaning beautiful in french. Bonne Bay was part of the “French Shore” until 1904. A treaty had given the French the right to pursue the fishery along the Coast. Clashes between English, French and American interests presented obvious deterrents to settlement as battle on the high seas has never been particularly good for real estate, but between 1807 and 1838 there were six families in the area. Most of these people hailed from Southwest England. By 1872 there was 129 families residing in the area. By 1900, the area was at its’ height. The herring fishery was booming with such firms as Joseph Bird and Co. of Sturnminister Newton, England firmly established in Woody Point. Logging was also a large portion of the economy. A logging operation had been established first at Stanleyville and had expanded and moved to Lomond. By the late 1800′s, Bonne Bay was firmly established and had a wide variety of people and services. Some of these were: master mariner, magistrate, merchant, teacher, postmaster, clergy, telegraph operator, banker, tinsmith, blacksmith, lumberman and tidewaiter and sub-collectors (custom officers).
The ‘capital’ of the area. Woody Point was the centre of law, government for the West Coast of Newfoundland until the early to mid 1920′s. It has been known as the “Jersey Room’ owing to the large number of settlers from the Jersey Islands until 1873 when the first post office was opened in the home of J.R. Roberts, the first postmaster. As the ‘capital’, Woody Point was the entry point for all vessels. There was a government Bond Store where goods cleared customs and it was located in the waterfront where the fish plant stands today. In 1922, a fire ripped through the downtown destroying 58 businesses. This was a devastating blow to the area. The opening of a pulp and paper mill in Corner Brook in 1925 was also a serious hit to the area and as a result of these two factors, it did not recover its’ former status. Fortunately for us today, much of the built heritage remains as a link to this time.
Curzon Village was originally named Crawley’s Cove after the brook which runs through it. This community was renamed for a British man-of-war commander, Sir Curzon-Howe. Its’ first permanent settler was Michael Eisan from Ship Harbour, Nova Scotia in 1863. Today, one can see many wharves along the shore, although now there are considerably less wharves now than there was when the Taylor’s established their premises and wharf. The worldwide Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 came to the area from a Danish three masted schooner which had tied up at taylor’s wharf. The Captain concealed the fact to those on shore that his sailors were very ill and the disease was contracted by some of the men. The first person to die was a member of the Taylor family. Many people in Bonne Bay died as a result of the epidemic.
So named because of the way which early settlers would live on the beach in the summer months and move further back into the woods in the winter season. Each family in the area had two houses. Charles and Philip Payne were the first settlers in 1856, and they hailed from Rocky Harbour.