Seal Cove Smoked Herring Stands National Historic Site of Canada

Seal Cove, Grand Manan, New Brunswick
Aerial Photo of cove (© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada 1996  (HRS 1075))
Aerial photo of the cove
(© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada 1996 (HRS 1075))
Address : Seal Cove, Seal Cove, Grand Manan, New Brunswick

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1995-11-24

Other Name(s):
  • Seal Cove Smoked Herring Stands  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1995-041, 1995-AM-02


Existing plaque:  Seal Cove, Grand Manan, New Brunswick

This landscape of buildings, wharves, weirs and stands evokes the enduring culture of an important smoked herring fishery. Its structures date mainly from the period 1870-1930, the heyday of the trade in smoked herring to American and West Indian markets. From this cove, residents fished the rich waters along the coast, while others, including many women and children, processed the catch. Seal Cove survives as vivid testimony to a time when Grand Manan was a thriving centre of herring production in Canada.

Description of Historic Place

The Seal Cove Smoked Herring Stands NHSC on Grand Manan Island consists of some 54 vernacular wooden buildings, most built between 1870 and 1930, and their associated landscape sited around a cove bounded by breakwaters at its mouth and a creek at its head. These stands are situated between the Atlantic ocean and the village and hills to their rear.

Heritage Value

The Seal Cove Smoked Herring Stands NHSC was designated because: their visual richness and evocative nature speak to the culture of the Atlantic smoked herring fishery from the late 19th century to the present; of Seal Cove's importance as a leading centre of the fishery as it developed in southern New Brunswick at the end of the 19th century; the historical importance combines with its aesthetic richness, resulting from the blending of natural landscape features, industrial buildings that provide vivid evidence of the technology and processes of the fisher, and winding lines of water, to create an extraordinary area once typical of maritime landscapes, but increasingly rare today.

The heritage value of the site resides in the meeting of built and natural features in an aesthetic whole typical of vernacular maritime landscapes of the late 19th century.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes November 1995.

Character-Defining Elements

Elements which characterize the heritage value of this building include:
the siting of small wooden buildings in dense clusters constituting production units known as 'stands' the composition of the stands, comprising a smokehouse, a stringing shed, and sometimes, a boning shed, as well as smaller storage sheds the pole wharves and their attendant sluices, hoists and sheds the system of narrow, earthen paths and lanes, defining circulation patterns on the site the siting of buildings and wharves around the cove, in front of the village

Stringing sheds: their simple rectilinear massing, gable-roofed, wood framing and shingle-sheathing the use of modest materials in an unfinished state their placement along the waterfront, often on piers over the water

Smokehouses: their balloon framing, wooden sheathing, steep, open-gable roofs, sliding windows, and cement foundations their design as expandable series of bays providing an open space with drying runners spanning their width the use of modest materials in an unfinished sate

Boning sheds: their open plan and vernacular wood construction their close placement, sometimes joined, to other functional types the use of modest materials in an unfinished state