WILLIAMSPORT by Robert Cuff, Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador

(pop. 1971, 15). A resettled fishing and whaling community, Williamsport was located on the northern arm of Fourch Harbour, on the east coast of the Great Northern Peninsula, approximately 25 km southwest of Englee. Fourch (forked) Harbour is a deep fiord, 5 km long, and was a minor French fishing station until about 1870. Thereafter the harbour came to be used by migratory fishing crews from Greenspond, Bonavista Bay and became known locally as Greenspond. When a post office was opened in 1911 the community was renamed Williamsport, to avoid confusion and to honour Govemor Ralph C. Williams, Williamsport was not settled year-round until the 1890s, when Bonavista merchant Philip Templeman qv established shore premises to collect and process catches of cod made by crews out of Bonavista Bay off the Grey Islands. Fishing families which settled there include Cannings and Parsonses from Englee; Cassells and Randells from Great Harbour Deep and a family named Brenson from Change Islands. Williamsport first appears in the Census in 1901, with a population of 83. In the 1920s the Templeman premises were acquired by Englee merchant E. John Reeves qv. The Methodist and Church of England congregations were served by clergy visiting from Englee.
In 1945 a whaling factory was established on the Southwest Arm of Fourch Harbour, approximately 2 km across the Harbour from the community, by the Olsen Whaling and Sealing Co. Thereafter many of the residents of Williamsport found seasonal work at the factory and the population of the community increased, to 188 by 1951, including some families from Williamsport whaling centres in Placentia Bay. When the whale factory was closed in 1951 some inhabitants resettled, most to Englee. Over the next few years the remaining families resettled as well, although the whale factory was revived in 1967 by the Atlantic Whaling Co. The last few families resettled after the fishing season of 1972, when the whale factory was closed once more. Twenty years later, some homes and fishing premises at Williamsport were still used in the summer months, by residents of Englee. See also WHALING. Rob Mills (1993), E.R. Seary (1958), Aubrey Tizzard (1982), Census (1901-1971), Archives (A-7-2/P), Newfoundland Historical Society (White Bay), rhc (Robert Cuff, Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador)


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