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Life as a Cottage: Two Centuries at Mallard Cottage

For the week of Monday December 4, 2006

Quidi Vidi, a Newfoundland fishing village dating from the 18th century
Quidi Vidi, a Newfoundland fishing village dating from the 18th century
© Parks Canada / J.F. Bergeron / 2002
On December 5, 1803, the Mallard name first appeared on a Registry of Deeds in Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland. This is one of the only records of the early life of the Mallard family in Newfoundland. Another is Mallard Cottage – among the earliest surviving homes in Newfoundland.

In the early 19th century, the two Mallard brothers emigrated from Ireland. The brothers were the first to live in what would become the Mallard family home. It is generally accepted that the cottage was built between 1820 and 1840, although some suggest that it may have been constructed as early as 1750. The brothers arrived in Newfoundland during a period of great Irish immigration to the region. This influx had a profound impact on Newfoundland, not the least of which can be seen in the region’s architecture.

Mallard Cottage National Historic Site
Mallard Cottage National Historic Site
© Parks Canada / 1993
Mallard Cottage is a good example of a Newfoundland home derived from the thatched-roof cottages of Ireland. This form was widespread in Newfoundland until the 1840s. Key elements to the residence include its low, hipped roof, its five-bay façade, a chimney that is centred in the house, and its wood and clapboard construction. Part of the house’s charm is its small scale. The house was built on a one-and-a-half-storey frame. It was constructed by the brothers on an interior floor plan consisting of a total of four rooms divided between the ground floor and the second level.

Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland
Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland
© Parks Canada / J. Butterill / 1994
The house remained in the ownership of the Mallard family until 1985 – more than a century and a half! It was then that Agnes Mallard, the last surviving member of the family, sold the house. Sadly, Agnes died the following year. The new and current owner has transformed the historic home into an antiques and collectibles store. When the home was redecorated, 27 layers of wallpaper were found on the walls – a testament to the antiquity of the structure.

Mallard Cottage, a fine example of folk architecture, with stylistic English and Irish adaptations, was designated a National Historic Site in 1983.

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