History of Greenspond, by David Pitt and Marion Pitt, 1981

From the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Click to view the original online)

Greenspond: (inc. 1951; pop. 1981, 423).

Situated on the northwest side of Bonavista Bay , off-shore about 1 km (.6 mi) at the nearest point, Greenspond is an island community comprising a group of contiguous islands, only a few of which are inhabited. These include Greenspond Island, the largest (about 6.4 km or 4 mi in circumference), and the much smaller Batterton and Ship Islands. Others (uninhabited) are Newell’s, Wing’s, Pig, Maiden, Groat’s and Puffin Islands and several others. Though rising at some points to a height of 55 m (180 ft) above sea-level, the islands are generally flat masses of weathered granite supporting little soil suitable for agriculture. At the time of the first settlement, in the late Seventeenth Century, Greenspond Island had a fairly good coniferous cover, but most of this was stripped away by early settlers for fuel and construction, and consequently much of the shallow soil was gradually eroded by the elements. Topsoil from the nearby mainland has since been sometimes brought in to facilitate limited gardening. Enterprising residents have thus usually been able to maintain small kitchen gardens, patches of lawn and a few shrubs and small trees. But the terrain is probably best described as barren of significant vegetation. It is also deficient in good harbours. The main one, on Greenspond Island, while providing adequate shelter, is very small, capable of accommodating only five or six fishing vessels at a time. Its entrance, moreover, is treacherous to approach and navigate. Yet it was as a strategically situated fishing-station that Greenspond first came to be settled in the 1690s, a fact that makes it one of the oldest continuously inhabited outports in Newfoundland.

Greenspond Island, Bonavista Bay

The early settlers were predominantly of English, mainly West Country, stock. The approximate date of first settlement is probably established by a letter written by one William Cock, a fishing captain at Bonavista, in 1697. In the letter (C.O. 194, cited by Frank Cluett: 1972, p. 1) Cock says that at least two fishing captains, Wyng and Nowill by name, had in recent years been crossing to the north side of the Bay to fish in an area much more abundant in cod than the waters around Bonavista at the time, and that others planned to do likewise in the following year. Since the names Wyng (or Wing) and Nowill (or Newell) were perpetuated in the names of two islands of the group it is reasonable to assume that the reference in Cock’s letter was to the place that was shortly to be called Greenspond. This name was probably derived from the surnames of two of the earliest families, Green and Pond, to settle there permanently soon after 1697. (Another, less likely surmise is that the name derived from the fact that at the time of its first settlement the harbour basin, a salt water pond, was surrounded by a forest of evergreens, long since laid waste.) According to Colonial Office records (cited by Cluett: p. 2) Greenspond in 1698 was inhabited by thirteen men, women and children who produced a total of 38100 kg (750 qtls) of fish. Sixty people were reported there in 1706. For some years the population fluctuated, but from about 1730 a fairly steady increase was recorded, reaching 600 by 1810. The t854 Census reported a population of 1,113, which by 1901 had risen to 1,726. Thereafter a gradual decline set in, caused mainly by out-migration. In 1921 the population was recorded as 1,536 and in 1935 as 789. In 1981 Greenspond was a town of approximately 400 people.

As in many other Newfoundland communities, certain family names have predominated in Greenspond from the earliest years of settlement, many of them surviving into the Twentieth Century. Lovell’s Newfoundland Directory (1871) listed more than seventy-five different surnames for Greenspond. A great many of these had disappeared a century later, but a number still remained. The following, though not an exhaustive list, includes a selection of the family names long associated with the place, some of them still well represented there in 1982: Bishop, Blandford, Brown, Bragg, Burry, Burton, Butler, Carter, Chaytor, Crocker, Dominey, Easton, Feltham, Granter, Green, Harding, Hawkins, Hoddinott, Hoskins, Hunt, Hutchins (Hutchings), Kean, Loveless, Lush, Meadus, Mullett, Mullins, Oakley, Oldford, Osmond, Parsons, Pond, Rogers, Samson, Saunders, Smith, Stratton, Way, Wheeler, White, Wicks, Woodland, Wornall (Wornell), Wright and Young.

Despite its rather forbidding features, Greenspond for many years was one of the major settlements in the Colony, important not only for its fisheries but also for its strategic location on the main sea-lines of communication and as a trading centre. For nearly two centuries indeed it was often called “The Capital of the North.” Its chief and initial importance sprang, of course, from its proximity to the then prolific inshore cod-fishing grounds, but salmon, and to a lesser extent herring and lobster, were also caught. Colonial Office records (cited by Cluett: p. 2) show that 5 080 kg (100 qtls) of salmon were taken at Greenspond in 1706. This must, however, be compared with 91450 kg (1,800 qtls) of cod caught and cured there in 1703. During this time a direct trade in fish between Greenspond and Portugal was already a growing enterprise. At least one ship is known to have plied the transatlantic route as early as 1699, the Willingmind, Patrick Wheeler Master, out of London with a crew of sixteen men. Two ships are reported in the trade between Greenspond and Oporto in 1701 (C.O. 194, cited by Cluett: p. 3).

An initial period of abundant catches was, however, followed by a decade and a half, beginning in 1713, of relatively poor catches of cod at Greenspond. As a consequence the population suffered much privation and many settlers moved elsewhere. The fact that in 1713, by the *Treaty of Utrecht qv, the French were given certain rights to the coastline extending northward from Cape Bonavista, and thus including Greenspond in the *French Shore qv, inevitably raises the possibility of a relationship between the two events. Perhaps not, for although the southern limit of the French Shore was not moved northward to Cape St. John until 1783, catches recovered considerably between 1728 and 1740, though thereafter they declined again, remaining relatively sparse until the 1760s. It was during the second cod famine that Greenspond merchants first began the practice of buying fish from fishermen of other places and that Greenspond fishermen began to range farther afield in search of cod, some as far north as Fogo Island. This venturing beyond the local fishing-grounds later expanded into a full-scale migratory fishery that took fishing ships each summer to the coast of Labrador. By the middle of the Nineteenth Century Greenspond had become one of the chief centres of the Labrador fishery. The importance as such stemmed, moreover, not only from the local ventures to Labrador, but also from the use of Greenspond as a supply and clearing post (the first collector of customs at Greenspond was appointed in 1838) by vessels from the whole north side of Bonavista Bay embarking on the Labrador fishery. Although by the end of the Nineteenth Century mercantile firms at St. John’s had taken over much of the commercial side of the fishing business, Greenspond continued to be an important base for the Labrador fishery until well into the Twentieth Century. With the decline of that fishery during and after World War II, Greenspond also declined as a fishing centre. The building of a bait depot there in 1946 helped to sustain its importance and its economy for a time, but the enterprise remained a viable one for only about twenty years. A substantial local cod fishery survived, however, prompting the construction in 1957 of a fresh-fish processing plant which employed about fifty people. Unfortunately this venture too proved unprofitable and was abandoned in 1967. In the mid-1970’s a further attempt was made to sustain a local fishing industry. This was the opening of a smokehouse, using the reconstructed building formerly used as the bait depot. Although employing only a few workers it provided a market for the catches of local fishermen, particularly those of salmon.

Next in importance to the cod fishery in the economy of Greenspond was for many years the *seal hunt qv. The community’s location, in the path of the northern ice packs as they moved south bringing with them many seals, enabled land-based hunters using nets and guns to harvest them. In the early years seal hunting at Greenspond was wholly of this sort, and its products–oil, furs and meat–were used almost entirely for local consumption. By the early Nineteenth Century, however, the use of ships at the seal hunt had begun. D.W. Prowse (1895, p. 451) records that in 1807 “from Bonavista and Greenspond 6 ships went to the ice with 64 men.” He also states that in the same year “in Greenspond 80 men took 17,000 seals in nets,” suggesting that by 1807 seal products had become an important export from Greenspond. The practice of using ships (in the early years of the Nineteenth Century Labrador fishing schooners with reinforced hulls) continued to grow. Figures quoted by Cluett (p. 8) from local records show that in 1860 some eighteen vessels, each with a crew of between fifteen and twenty men, prosecuted the seal hunt out of Greenspond. From the 1880s on, however, much larger vessels, more suited to withstand the northern ice and mostly steam-powered, were usually employed. In 1887, for example, five vessels only, but carrying some 200 sealers, left for the ice fields from the port.

By 1887 Greenspond, as in the prosecution of the Labrador cod fishery, had become an important supply and clearing port for the seal hunt too, for a time equal in importance almost to St. John’s. The practice by then was each fall to sail the ships, ten or so in number by the 1890s, and most of them owned by St. John’s or Conception Bay firms, into Greenspond Tickle (between the island and the local mainland and commonly known as Pond Tickle), where they were securely moored until needed in late winter. Since most of the crews and captains were drawn from Greenspond and neighbouring communities, and the port, being a supply centre, was capable of outfitting the ships, as well as being situated much nearer the Front than were their home ports, the practice seems to have been both efficient and economically sound. The vessels on their return, however, proceeded directly south to St. John’s or Harbour Grace. Nevertheless, the use of Greenspond in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries as a base of operations for an important part of the seal hunt contributed greatly for a time to both the economic and the social life of the town. For whatever reason the practice was gradually abandoned, though it is reported that as late as 1917 “of twelve sealing steamers that went to the ‘Front’. .. nine sailed from back of Greenspond Island” (Saunders and Wright: Spring 1962, p. 17). Many members of sealing crews and a number of sealing captains from Greenspond continued to join the hunt each spring at St. John’s long after “the Capital of the North” had ceased to be a primary base of operations. Reference to sealing captains from Greenspond reminds one that the town gave the seal hunt in its heyday some of the most celebrated. These included Captain Darius Blandford, reputed to have made “the quickest trip ever recorded,” only nine days for a full load (ET: Mar.13, 1959, cited by Saunders: Spring 1963, p. 28); his brothers, Captains James and Samuel Blandford qv; Captain Alfred Burgess, and the Captains Alexander (Sandy), Augustus (Gus) and Peter Carter qv. The latter is said to have secured “the heaviest load of seals in the history of the industry” (Cluett: p. 9).

Because of its size, its shipping connections, its having one of the few medical practitioners in the area, and above all its location at the centre of a notoriously hazardous navigational region, Greenspond in the Nineteenth Century served for many years as a virtual hospice for the victims of marine disasters. By the 1860s, the Government having established a scheme by which those who sheltered and fed such unfortunates were paid for the service, it had become almost a regular, if minor, source of income in the settlement. The records show, for instance, to cite a few of many examples, that in February 1867, when the sealing brig Amazon was lost off Cape Freels, William Yetman of Greenspond was paid for “dieting” (the customary term for the service) some thirty-five men for four days as well as providing four coffins (Saunders and Wright: Spring 1962, p. 19). In 1868, when the Adamant was wrecked near Pinchard’s Island, no fewer than “142 men and women and 18 children” were given refuge and “dieted” at Greenspond for several days before being transported elsewhere by a coastal steamer (p. 20). When the Othello was lost in June 1870 “Dr. Skelton attended the sick at a cost of two pounds” while “George Bridle boarded ten men” (p. 20). The complete list of wrecks, the victims of which found refuge at Greenspond, is lengthy and included in part the Selah Hutton (thirty-six men), the Britannia (thirteen men), the Volunteer (thirteen men), the Mayflower (ten men), the Attila (number unknown) and the Perseverance (six men) (pp. 19-20). Saunders and Wright (Fall 1962, p. 33), citing records of the House of Assembly for 1884, state that in 1883-1884 there were 120 reports of “expenses in connection with shipwreck crews” in Newfoundland. It is apparent from local records that Greenspond was a major recipient of the funds disbursed. In an attempt to reduce the appalling toll in the Bonavista Bay North area, as well as the drain on the treasury, after much agitation a lighthouse was built in 1898 on Little Denier Island, which “looks up the bay from Greenspond” (p. 33). At the time only Cabot Island, about 36 km (25 mi) northeast of Greenspond, and nearby Puffin Island had lighthouses.

The importance of Greenspond as a trading and commercial centre requires a somewhat fuller account, the town having been at one time an entrepot that almost rivalled St. John’s. That a collector of customs was appointed there in 1838 indicates its already substantial trading role. The port records for the period 1838-1850 (cited by Cluett: p. 7) show that in 1839 some eighteen ships cleared from Greenspond for such overseas destinations as Great Britain, Italy, Portugal and Spain; and during the period covered, for Brazil, Greece and Ireland as well. The main commodities of this trade were cured cod on the outward voyage, and salt on the inward. But the port records show that there was also a small export trade in blubber and oil, dried capelin, furs, staves, pickled salmon, whalebone and berries (mostly gathered on the local mainland and shipped in barrels and kegs). Besides salt the vessels often imported such commodities as dry-goods, wine, fruit and other exotic comestibles. The census returns for 1854 show for Greenspond a total export trade valued at £23,996 and an import trade of £8,639, substantial sums in the currency of those days.

Because of this commercial activity and the consequent demand for their products among a growing and fairly prosperous population, tradesmen and artisans came from elsewhere and opened establishments in Greenspond: tinsmiths, blacksmiths, coopers, cobblers, carpenters and others. (As an interesting sidelight to this aspect of Greenspond’s history it might be mentioned that one merchant to set up shop there in the late 1860s was an immigrant from Prince Edward Island via St. John’s, David Smallwood, the only resident who dared to fly the Confederate flag during the acrimonious Confederation campaign of 1869, and who was destined to be the grandfather of Hon. J.R. Smallwood qv.)

Besides the enterprises of independent artisans, branches of several mercantile firms with headquarters mainly at St. John’s were also opened there, particularly during the period 1840-1880 when trade and commerce at Greenspond were at their zenith. One William Keen (or Kean) was, however, operating a substantial mercantile business there in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century, and toward the end of that century a firm was operating under the name of Slade. According to the Journals of the Chamber of Commerce (cited by Cluett, p. 9), between 1865 and 1881 there were at Greenspond establishments operated by Brooking and Co., William Cox and Co., Ridley and Sons, E. Duder, W. Waterman and Co., P. Hutchins, Harvey and Co. and J. and W. Stewart. Their main interest was the fisheries: they were all firms primarily engaged in the collecting and shipping of cod and to a lesser extent the products of the seal hunt. But these enterprises also entailed the supplying and outfitting for these fisheries as well as providing the merchandise needed by the population. The fish-trading business houses were thus general stores as well. Several shops were wholly owned and run by local entrepreneurs, such as, for many years, the firms of Blandford’s. Early in the Twentieth Century a “Union Store,” operated by the Fishermen’s Union Trading Company, the business arm of the *Fishermen’s Protective Union qv (of which there was a substantial branch at Greenspond), was also opened, and flourished there for many years. Greenspond was thus in those days a general mercantile centre of far greater activity and volume of trade than any other community of its size in Newfoundland.

It was logically inevitable that such an important centre should have gradually acquired most of the services and facilities usually associated with prosperity and growth. Some of them were long in coming and even then were often somewhat makeshift. Thus, though fishing and trading vessels provided an irregular means of transportation and communication for the general public, it was not until well into the Nineteenth Century that a somewhat regular public service for mail and passengers was instituted. Cluett (p. 13) states, “There was a mail and passenger service established with St. John’s in the year 1848.” This would appear, however, to have been conducted mostly by the “overland” route, that is, by whatever means of land travel were available to the Bonavista Bay North area and thence by boat to the island. Saunders and Wright (Spring 1962, p. 19, citing JHA: 1864) state that the first “regular” service by sea, employing the S.S. Ariel, began in 1863. In the summer of 1864 H.M.S. Vesuvius, Captain Hamilton, R.N., Master, “played a double role as Fisheries Protection Cruiser, or gunboat, and as a carrier of mails and passengers” (p. 19). Saunders and Wright (p. 21, citing JHA: 1868) state that mail by the Ariel arrived at Greenspond two days after being posted in St. John’s, and “from four to five days in the fall season”–a fairly speedy service. This was initially a monthly service, but Lovell’s Newfoundland Directory for 1871 states that by then Greenspond was served fortnightly by a steamer from St. John’s (the fare being $6.00) and weekly by an “overland route.” From then on, it appears, Greenspond, like other settlements on the northeast coast, had a fairly regular mail and passenger service by both land and sea. Some indication of the official care taken to ensure that residents might fully avail themselves of the service provided is contained in a report by Postmaster John Delaney to the Colonial Secretary in 1870: “A gun on board to be fired when the steamer entered a port after nightfall; Flag to be hoisted on the arrival of the mails in port, and to be lowered at half-mast an hour before closing time” (Saunders and Wrlght: Spring 1962). It should be added that to help ensure the safe entry of the steamer to Greenspond “after nightfall,” the Government, having considered the matter for several years, in 1871 erected a lighthouse on Puffin Island at the approach to the harbour.

In winter and early spring, all mails moved by the “overland route,” steamer navigation being wholly suspended from December to May. From St. John’s to Greenspond, a route which varied considerably in the years before the railway and any significant network of roads took the couriers by a series of stages from Conception to Trinity Bay, up the Isthmus of Avalon, thence by a varying route to Bloody Bay (later Glovertown qv) and so northward to Greenspond and environs. Sometimes a specific route was not defined, the most expeditious one being left to the courier’s judgement. A route that conveyed mail by boat to Bonavista and thence overland was also used from time to time. In any case it was always a hazardous journey, not only beset by winter storms but frequently taking the couriers and their dogteams across treacherously frozen ponds and shifting seaice. At night the couriers bivouacked at small, crude “tilts” erected strategically along the usual routes. These were often so small that either the men and dogs or the mail had to remain outside in the snow. Not surprisingly couriers changed frequently. Records for 1857 (JHA) show that in that year two men by the names of Duly and Burne “took the winter mails to Greenspond for slightly over twenty pounds sterling and Duly made special runs to Greenspond for slightly over five pounds” (Saunders and Wright: Spring 1962, p. 17). The same source states that in 1863 one Robert Ford was paid £60 for delivering the Greenspond mail. The records also show that Micmac often worked as mail couriers in the Nineteenth Century. Their value in the service, especially when routes were undefined, was acknowledged in a statement issued by the General Post Office at St. John’s on July 17, 1867: “It would be desirable to employ Indians in conveying the mails, the ensuing winter, as it is very doubtful whether any person would be had in the Northern settlements to take up the contract. ..

(p. 19). The most notable Indian courier was John Joe, who for many years “travelled with his dogs, and mail on the sleigh, from Gambo to Greenspond, a distance of thirty or forty miles” (p. 19). He was reputed to have achieved speedy passage by sometimes using “a long pole with a rabbit or partridge attached,” the pole being so fixed that it was “just ahead of the dogs” causing them to “go faster to catch the rabbit or bird” (p. 21). When in the late Nineteenth Century the railway reached Gambo, a courier service was necessary only from that point northward. In this way winter mails to Greenspond were conveyed for many years, well into the Twentieth Century until the opening of a year-round, motor road between Gambo and Bonavista North in the late 1950s.

The laying of a submarine cable between Greenspond and the local mainland in 1885 and the consequent provision of a telegraphic service greatly improved communication with the rest of Newfoundland and the outside world. The coming of a wireless service in the 1920s, and of radio and subsequently telephones also helped greatly to mitigate the effects of geographical isolation. Yet even in the 1980s, when a ferry service between Greenspond and Badger’s Quay qv operated regularly, the island was at times totally cut off by impassable barricades of northern drift-ice. On occasion the services of helicopters were needed to move supplies, mails and passengers. Roads on Greenspond Island were still unsuited to motor traffic, so that it was still little employed, but in winter snowmobiles were in fairly common use. The building of a causeway across the tickle was talked of for many years and in early 1982 tenders were called for its construction.

Although Greenspond in 1981 has retained much of the character of an early outport, it was by no means deprived of the customary amenities enjoyed by most other Newfoundland towns its size. By the end of the Nineteenth Century it had, to quote Cluett (p. 13), “all the services of any large town …. a resident doctor, magistrate, policeman, customs officer, welfare office, clergymen, post-master and teachers.” A town council was instituted there in 1951 and a mayor and council installed. Many municipal improvements followed, one of the most important being a much better water supply. Hitherto, water had come mainly from individual wells and springs, but the construction of several large reservoirs in the 1950s provided all who wished it a plentiful supply of running water. In 1976 it could be boasted in print that during “the last 2 years there were about 30 to 40 bathroom systems put in” at Greenspond (DA: Aug. 1976, p. 24). By then electricity (hitherto provided to a few families by private power plants) had come to the community at large and many families enjoyed, besides the service of electric lights, that of most household appliances including television sets.

Most of the early settlers having come from British West Country stock, their religious affiliations were mainly with the Church of England (later the Anglican Church). Not that they were necessarily, to quote Cluett, himself a clergyman of that church, “a deeply religious lot” (p. 3). As he goes on to say, “. .. moral conditions left much to be desired …. Drinking, swearing, adultery were rife; Sunday in the summer season was a market day” (p. 11). As late as 1866 a Wesleyan Methodist missionary at Greenspond described it as “The Sodom of the North” (cited by Cluett: p. 11). This condition of moral turpitude, undoubtedly exaggerated by censorious observers, may perhaps have been due to Greenspond’s having had, during the first century and more of its history, only the desultory visits of clergy whose vast parishes included it among scores of other settlements widely scattered.

The first of such visits was probably made by the Rev. Henry Jones qv of the Church of England, sent under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the *Gospel qv in the 1720s to serve Bonavista and its environs as both a priest and a law enforcement officer. In 1728, having been instructed to extend his ministrations, both clerical and legal, to include Greenspond, he became so far as is known the first ordained clergyman to set foot in the community (Saunders: June 1956, p. 14). Although Jones was to serve in Bonavista Bay until the 1840s his visits to Greenspond were necessarily few and far apart. His successors, often assisted by laymen, carried on in much the same manner. It was not until 1812 that the first church building (Church of England), named St. Stephen’s, was opened at Greenspond, thanks largely to the concern expressed and funds allocated by the Governor, Sir John Duckworth qv after a visit to Greenspond in 1810 (Cluett: p. 14). But the town still had to wait until 1829 for the appointment of a resident clergyman, the Rev N.A. Coster, whose parish also extended far beyond Greenspond. The Rev Julian Moreton qv, appointed there in 1849, described “the mission of Greenspond” as “the largest. .. in the diocese of Newfoundland, extending along 70 miles [113 km] of coast and requiring a journey of 200 miles [322 km] to visit all its stations” (Moreton: 1863, quoted by Saunders: Winter 1963-1964, p. 35). The first church served the congregation until it was replaced (or greatly enlarged and renovated; the records are unclear) in the 1850s. Other architectural changes and renovations were made at later times, but it was to serve the Anglican congregation for well over a century longer.

Wesleyan Methodism made its first appearance at Greenspond in t796 when it was visited by the Rev. George Smith qv, an itinerant missionary stationed at Trinity, who organized a small Methodist “class.” But few further such visits appear to have been made for many years. In July 1826 the Rev. John Corlett conducted a service there in a store and revived the small “class.” But he was also merely an itinerent, and though others like him came and went during the next half-century holding services in stores or private houses and with the assistance of resident laymen gradually building up the Methodist membership, it was not until 1862 with the appointment of the Rev. John Allen that Greenspond got its first resident Methodist minister. For a number of years thereafter a succession of ministers served a marine mission with headquarters at Greenspond which extended from Flat Islands qv to Musgrave Harbour qv. Even after some of its original constituent communities became separate missions, the Greenspond Methodist (after 1925, United Church) circuit embraced several islands in the Bay and a number of settlements along the nearby mainland. For nearly a century Greenspond remained the centre of such a circuit, with its minister resident there. In the late 1920s during the pastorate of the Rev W.J. Woolfrey qv, the circuit acquired a mission boat, the Endicotl, to facilitate pastoral visitation. In 1960 a reconstitution of circuits moved the minister to Valleyfield qv, which with Brookfield qv and Greenspond made up a new pastoral charge. The first Methodist church, seating 600, had been opened at Greenspond in 1873 and was to serve congregations there until 1965 when it was dismantled to make way for a new one.

In the last decade of the Nineteenth Century the Salvation Army also came to Greenspond and built a citadel “up on the island” (Saunders: Mar. 1956, p. 12). The Army’s evangelistic appeal “struck a responsive note in a maritime people “(p. 12), so that in a relatively short time it had acquired a substantial membership in the community and later built a larger citadel “down by the main road” (p. 12). The Army at Greenspond sent many officers into its work both in Newfoundland and abroad, including Brigadier Walter Oakley who became Principal of the Salvation Army Training College at St. John’s.

Roman Catholics were never numerous in Greenspond. Rev John Corlett at the time of his visit in 1826, during the period of Irish immigration, noted that there were then at Greenspond “500 Protestants and 100 Catholics” (quoted by Saunders: March 1956, p. 12), but many of the latter were soon to move elsewhere. The census figures for 1874 (cited by Cluett: p. 10) show 945 Church of England adherents and 499 Methodists at Greenspond but only seventy-nine Roman Catholics. In 1901 eighteen were listed out of a total population of 1,726. Nevertheless a small Roman Catholic chapel was built there in the early Nineteenth Century, though it had fallen into disuse well before the Century ended. A priest from St. Brendan’s qv continued to serve the small congregation until the mid-Twentieth Century.

In Greenspond, as elsewhere in Newfoundland, the history of education followed that of the churches, under whose aegis education was long propagated. There is consequently no record of any provision for schooling at Greenspond until after the first church was opened there in 1812. In 1815 the residents petitioned the Governor to appoint Thomas Walley as lay reader to the church since he was “capable of teaching the children to read, write and cypher etc” (C.O. records, cited by Cluett: p. 5). The report of the S.P.G. for 1816 shows that Walley was appointed. Classes for some years were held in the church and private houses, but although the first school was not built until 1830, by 1828 Greenspond is reported to have had 186 “Day school” pupils, 220 in Sunday schools, and 75 in Adult school (Saunders: Sept. 1957, p. 7). The teachers in that year were a Mr. and Mrs. King. Two decades later the teacher (and lay reader), a Mr. (later the Rev. Mr.) Dyer, was proudly able to record in his diary (September 1850) that a visiting judge had declared the school “the largest in the island, larger than St. John’s” (quoted by Saunders: Winter 1961-1962, p. 10). A keen interest in education continued, and with the rise of Methodism a school for its adherents was opened in 1880 and one for the Salvation Army in 1900. Greenspond schools were fortunate in having a succession of able and dedicated teachers, many of whom remained for long periods. That Greenspond for decades sent out to other parts of Newfoundland and of the world many able teachers, ministers, lawyers, politicians, journalists and members of other professions, some of whom achieved a significant measure of distinction, is undoubtedly attributable, at least in part, to the quality of the teaching provided by its schools. It is probably no exaggeration to say that Greenspond’s export of human resources has over the years been equal in importance, if in a different way, to all its trade in cod, salmon, seals and the like, of which we have spoken at far greater length.

Frank Cluett (1972), Charles Lench (1919), Julian Moreton (1863), Robert Saunders (1954-1966), Saunders and Wright (Spring-Fall 1962), D.W. Prowse (1895), Census (1954-1976), DA (Aug. 1976), ET (Mar. 13, 1959; Oct 15, 1963), JHA (1857-1888), The Rounder (Mar. 1981), Trident (Nov. 1976), Personal Knowledge. Map G.

D.G. Pitt and Marion Pitt

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