Terra Nova National Park of Canada

Yours to Discover: Newman Sound Prior to 1957

Newman Sound, 1939
Newman Sound, 1939
© Province Archives, 1939

The 402km2 of land that is now Terra Nova National Park of Canada was once home to shipbuilding operations, sawmills, and several small communities. The majority of theses activities occurred along the shorelines of Newman Sound and Clode Sound, which feature the unique interaction between the cold Atlantic Ocean and the rugged boreal forest of Newfoundland.

Before the park was established, the area along the shoreline from Headquarters Wharf to Big Brook estuary was referred to as Big Brook. At the beginning of the 20 th century, families from the Eastport and Bonavista Peninsulas' came to Big Brook to begin their saw milling operations.

George Hubert and Caleb Lane constructed their mill on a section of the current Coastal Trail known as Sandy Point, while George Squire built his mill near Pissamare Brook (the current location of the waterfall on the Coastal Trail). These sawmills were in operation from the end of the fishing season in the fall until the spring of the year, from the 1920s until the 1950s.

Log cabins in Newman Sound, circa 1930
Log cabins in Newman Sound, circa 1930
Annie J Tunner

Many of the working men brought their families to Big Brook and small winter communities were established. The current location of the Newman Sound Day-Use Area was the primary settlement location, consisting of over 60 dwellings of houses, barns, sheds and cellars. Women played an important role with these settlements. They were responsible for taking care of the children, baking, cooking, gardening, mending, knitting, cleaning and gathering wood and water.

Terra Nova's sheltered coastlines also provided the ideal location for shipbuilders. During the first half of the century, five schooners were built at Sandy Point and another was repaired further up the shore. Logging was also a popular form of employment due to the good stands of timber. Although these activities were not as dominant as sawmilling, local inhabitants considered themselves fortunate to have stable employment during such a challenging time.

Remnants of a concrete foundation found along the Coastal Trail
Remnants of a concrete foundation found along the Coastal Trail

There's plenty of evidence of this past lifestyle in Big Brook scattered throughout the park. Take a stroll along the Coastal Trail to discover remnants of the sawmills and the residential area. Visit Sandy Point during low tide and you'll find evidence of the shipbuilding operations, or take a hike to Minchin's Cove to visit the cemetery. These magnificent examples of Canadian Heritage are yours to discover.