Monday, April 14, 2014

Ship Cove, NFLD

Ship Cove, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland - May 2013

In 1794 the first settler of Ship Cove, Placentia Bay Newfoundland was a man named John Skerry.  He came to Ship Cove with his wife Alice, and two young daughters, Catherine age 8 and Alice age 6, from Blackwater, County Waterford, Ireland.  Within a few years Patrick Tobin from Wexford, Ireland and James Brennan from Fadown, Ireland, landed at Placentia and made their way to Ship Cove.

The Skerry dwelling house was built on a level of land that had a current of fresh water running through.  The house was studded and had three small windows, a porch, two bedrooms upstairs, two bedrooms downstairs, and a rock chimney. [1]

My connection to Ship Cove is from Patrick Tobin who married John Skerry's youngest daughter Alice, they had five daughters and three sons, Patrick built his house in the southeast corner of Ship Cove.

The Southeast Corner in Ship Cove -  May 2013
My Tobin Family History is as follows:
                                     Patrick Tobin - Alice Skerry (one of the first settlers)
                                       (unknown)        1788-1838
                                                Patrick Tobin - Agnes O'Rielly
                                                   1826-1914        1828-1887
                                                           John William Tobin - Mary Bridget Follett
                                                                 1874-1960                1874-1948
                                                                        Ellen Mary Tobin - Stephen Flynn Jr. (My Grandparents)
                                                                              1904-1987           1895-1981

By the early 1900's, the population of Ship Cove was 52 residents, the first school was built in 1909. My grandmother Ellen, was born in 1904 and was probably one of the first students to attend the school. she continued her education and became a teacher herself. (I am not sure where she taught school)  In 1914, Ship Cove had a thriving fishing Industry.  The first motor boats were being used and there were ten boats and approximately twenty fisherman.  Although Cod was the main species, some tired their luck at Lobster and for several years two men from Nova Scotia, Johnny Snares and Jesse Masters, operated a Lobster canning factory in Ship Cove.

By 1935, the population had increased slightly to 66 in 12 families with 11 dories and four motorboats. The 49 acres supported 10 horses and 30 cattle.  There were also two factories, and blueberries, partridge berries and cranberries were collected on the barrens.  The first bridge was built in 1937. [2]

Gradually, the fishery came to an end, and Ship Cove was mostly abandoned in the 1960's and 70's   Many young men left Ship Cove to seek work in the lumber woods or at the US Naval Base in Argentia.  [3] 

Today, there are two remaining families in Ship Cove, descendants of first Patrick Tobin. Stan Tobin and one of his sons, they operate a Slater house that produces organic beef.  Mr. Tobin's wife, Delores operated a Creamery for many years, which was recently sold. [4]  

On the west side of the road there was one older home still standing, my guess is it was probably built around the early 1900's, around the time fishing was thriving in this community.  Across the road, was the newer home and business of my distant Tobin cousin, he was not home at the time I was in Ship Cove, so I just took a look around and admired the beautiful picturesque view.  I walked up the road a bit from his house and found this wood studded foundation. I remember my cousin Edna telling me that my great grandparents house ( John Willie Tobin and Mary Follett) had been moved and then burn down, but that was many years ago.

After my blog entry "The Tobins", I received a message from a second cousin Monica, she states her mother was Mary Tobin daughter of Patrick Tobin 1901 - 1982 (My Great Uncle) and Hilda McGrath.  She recognized her Great Grandparent's photo of John and Mary Tobin, I had posted and she shared, "I fished in the lagoon, caught eels and trout there.  My grandfather Patrick, ran the store and the post office in Ship Cove." Uncle Ray had shared a story of how my grandmother  (Ellen Tobin Flynn) talked about how as children they always played in the river by their house. It was their job to pick the berries.

As a young girl, I remember driving from Argentia to Ship Cove, I was sitting in the back of the car on the right side, as we came in I remember seeing the flakes and stages set up in the cove, I asked," What was that, what are they doing?" I was told "that is how they dry the fish".

Fishing and farming established by my ancestors is still carried out on this land today.


[1]  Cape Shore Cultural History      pages 12 & 13

[2]  History of Ship Cove

[3] Ibid [1]

[4] The Compass - Ship Cove Resident talks life, work, philosophy

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