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Bareneed is a small village on the northwest shore of Conception Bay, Newfoundland., Canada.

Location of Bareneed

My Newell ancestors settled in ‘The Dock’, the name for the western part of Bareneed, before 1780 and my grandparents relocated to the center of Bareneed in 1912. There is a separate section of this Web Site that deals with my Newell Ancestors; however this section covers the general history of Bareneed and the Dock.

This report on Bareneed is organized into two sections with descriptions of Geography, Population, Religion, Education and Economy presented below and a chronological review of the history of Bareneed provided in separate sub sections:


Conception Bay, Newfoundland was one of the first areas of North America to be settled by Europeans. The following Map shows the location of Bareneed (red star) on a 1762 map of southeastern Newfoundland.  The locations of St. John’s Newfoundland (Capital of Newfoundland) and Harbour Grace (Harve de Grace) are underlined in red on the Map.  Harbour Grace is approximately 20 km north of ‘The Dock’ and historically was the largest town in Conception Bay.

Map of Southeastern Newfoundland 1762

The first Europeans to arrive in this area were migratory fishermen from various European ports who sailed to Conception Bay each spring to fish for cod which was salted and dried on the local beaches then taken back to European markets each Fall. These fishermen were likely visiting Conception Bay prior to Cabot’s voyage of 1497 and by the 1500s they were regular visitors to the sheltered coves (anchorages) on the north west coast of Conception Bay.

The village of Bareneed is situated on the isthmus  of the Port de Grave Peninsula which extends into  Conception Bay, Newfoundland (see Map).  The peninsula separates the inlets of Bay de Grave (to the south) from Bay Roberts (to the north). Most villages on the Port de Grave Peninsular face south towards Bay de Grave since this is the more sheltered side.

Map: Location of Bareneed and the “Dock” in relation to surrounding towns.

The town of Port de Grave to the East of Bareneed had a more sheltered harbour and was likely the first area of the peninsula to be occupied by visiting fishermen. However, surrounding coves like Ship Cove, Blow me Down, Hibbs Cove (originally Hibbs Hole), Sandy Cove and Bareneed were likely occupied soon after. All of the coves (settlements) east of Bareneed are frequently referred to as Port de Grave by outsiders. Bareneed being separated from the others by a mile of rocky hills retained a separate identity.

The earliest image of the village of Bareneed is a sketch c 1851 (see below).

Sketch of Bare Need (Bareneed) c. 1851  (Source: Monthly Record, Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, March 1855) .

This sketch can be compared with a modern photo showing the same area (see below). The Church (Church of England) is in the center of the sketch and the existing Church (deconsecrated in 2017) was built in 1926 near the location of the church in 1851. Bareneed Cove (location of Wharf and historic center of the town) is in the lower left of sketch and photo. The hill in the top left of the 1855 sketch (see 1980s photo below) is known locally as “Dock Mountain”. The Dock is just behind this hill and is not shown in the 1851 sketch.

In historical records the western part of Bareneed ‘The Dock’  (see photo below) was sometimes considered as a separate village (e.g. in early 20th century Newfoundland census records) but in most historical records it was considered as part of Bareneed. In some cases, both of these villages were considered as Port-de-Grave (a larger town northeast of Bareneed).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Varrick-Photo-of-Dock.png
Photo of the Dock c 1950 taken from the Dock “Mountain” looking west. Source Varrick Newell via Kate Newell.

The following photo shows the southern coastline of Bareneed and the Dock’. The view is from west of the Dock (the Otterbury) looking east.

The 1878 Newfoundland Pilot (Admiralty Hydrogr. Dept) describes the south cost of the Port de Grave Peninsular west of Port de Grave as follows:

The coast westward of Port de Grave, is Cliffy as far west as Bareneed…Off the villiage [Bareneed] is a summer anchorage for small vessels in 10 fathoms water… From the village of Bareneed round the head of the Bay to Cupids Cove on the South, there are no dangers or sheltered anchorages.

The Pilot goes on to describe the area at the head of Bay de Grave. At the head of the Bay there is a beach, two streams here empty themselves, one at the north, the other at the south corner of the beach, they are named North Gut and South Gut. The following photo shows a view of the head of Bay de Grave taken from the hills behind South Gut [now the town of South River].

View from South River c 1970s:  North River (A); Northern Gut (B); West end of Otterbury Road (C); Clarke’s Beach (D); South River (E); Salmon Cove (F); East end of Otterbury Road. Source Town of South River Web Site.

The North Gut referenced in the Pilot is the area where North River flows into Bay de Grave (see “A” and “B” on photo above). Historically, North Gut was frequently used as the boundary between Port de Grave District and Brigus (the next large town to the south). A number of fishermen from Bareneed and Port de Grave relocated to this area in the early 1800s.

Northern Gut c 1900. Looking north from Clarkes Beach, the Ocean to the right and the River to the left. Source:

West of the Dock the south coast of the Port de Grave peninsula has steep cliffs with almost no places to land a boat. This area is called the Otterbury which is the area between “C” and “G” in the photo taken from South River above. The land above the cliffs in the Otterbury had better soil than the areas further east on the Port de Grave Peninsula and this area was settled for farming after a road was constructed between Port de Grave and South River in the early 1830s.

Fields between Otterbury Road and cliffs


The first complete snapshot of the residents of Bareneed was a survey of Fishing Rooms compiled c 1805 (see separate History Section for more detail). This was not a true Census since it only documented individuals who made claims to ownership of property (Fishing Rooms). This survey captures the state of the fishing community in Bareneed.

The first survey of the total population of Bareneed [Bear Need in report] was compiled in 1817 (see my Census 1817 Section)). This census not only listed householders but also included statistics on their wives, children and servants. The survey was organized by town (Port de Grave, Bareneed, Cupids, Brigus) with Bareneed including people living at the head of Bay de Grave (Otterbury, Northern Gut, Clarke’s Beach, Southern Gut and Salmon Cove). The data for Bareneed was listed in two sections; the first group starting with Thomas Boon Senior who likely lived just east of the current wharf and going east to Jacob Delaney in the east end of Bareneed. The second group starting with John Boone (likely living west of Thomas) and running in a general east to west direction (counter clockwise around the Bay). I have assumed, based on my research, that Isaac Daw (Dawe) was the last resident of what is now Bareneed and that the remaining people in the list were living in what is now the Otterbury, North River, Clarke’s Beach and Salmon Cove. This gives a total of 53 households with a combined population of 325 individuals with an average of 6.15 per household. Using this average we can roughly estimate the population in 1805 to be 184. The first official Census was conducted in 1836 and the data listed for Bareneed in this Census included the Dock and Sandy Cove (west most part of Port de Grave). Attempting to adjust for Sandy Cove I have estimated the population of Bareneed and the Dock to be ~395. From this point there were Newfoundland censuses conducted in: 1857, 1869, 1874, 1884, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1935 and 1945. In 1949 Newfoundland joined Canada, unfortunately the Canadian data is not available in published reports for small villages like Bareneed.

Using the available population data listed above I have prepared a graph (see below) showing the trend in population between 1805 and 1945.

The graph shows that there was a rapid increase in population from 1805 to 1860 then a slow increase from then to 1885 followed by a decline which became steeper after 1900. A quote from the Journal of Governor Thomas Cochrane, written during a visit to Port de Grave in 1824, explains the cause of this increase: the population in all these Bays is on the increase — not from strangers but by Births. The graph does not provide data for the 18th century or for the post Confederation period; however, both of these periods will be discussed in the History Section of this report. Based on my personal knowledge I can state that after 1945 the rate of population decline slowed with the lowest level reached in the 1970s. This decrease resulted from out migration and and decrease in fertility. The fertility rate in Newfoundland has declined steadily from 5.9 (births per adult female) in 1957 (one of the highest rates in the world), to 1.2 in 2000 (one of the lowest rates in the world). After the 1970s there was a slow increase in population in Bareneed resulting from people from Port de Grave moving into Bareneed. Presently (2020) these migrants from Port de Grave likely represent the majority of the population and Bareneed is rapidly loosing its distinct character.

As I indicated earlier, in 1805 there were 30 Planters recorded in Bareneed and these 30 families had 17 different surnames. The survey (census) of 1817 also recorded family names and there was a voters list compiled in 1835. There is no name data available for the censuses conducted between 1837 and 1891; however, there are family name data for the censuses conducted between 1911 and 1945. The following Table tracks the 17 original names found in 1805 over time (in some cases these names were either recorded incorrectly or the spelling of the name changed over time so alternative spellings are shown in brackets). Note: this Table does not track new surnames that were introduced by families moving into the town (mainly from surrounding towns).

Names in 1805 Plantation Book18171835191119351945
Batton (Batten)YYYYY
Boone (Boon)YYYYY
Bucham (Beauchamp, Beecham)YYYYY
Cavanaugh (Kavanagh)
Curnew (Curlew)YYYY
Daw (Dawe)Y
Filleul (Filleut, Philere, Fillieur, Filler)YY
Moore (Moores)YYYYY
Noel (Nuel, Newell)YYYYY
Picco / Preautx  (Priaulx)Y

Based on the surname data presented in this Table it is clear that the majority of the Planters found in 1805 had descendants that continued to live in Bareneed and the Dock well into the 20th century. As part of a separate project I have prepared a Google Map showing the location of houses and their occupants in Bareneed during the 1950s. The families living in Bareneed in the 1950s and the location of there houses would seem very familiar to someone who was living there 150 years earlier.


While Agriculture might not be the first item that one might associate with a Newfoundland fishing community it did play a significant role in allowing the people of Bareneed to survive and prosper. The Plantation Book compiled in 1805 (see earlier discussion) shows that many of the fishermen living in Bareneed had gardens and  pastures. These were used to grow potatoes, turnips and cabbages (these reduced the dependence on imported flour since wheat would not grow in Newfoundland) and for raising animals for meat, milk and butter.  In addition, if there was a failure in the fishery (due to catch or price) these might be the only way to survive.

The importance of developing agriculture in Newfoundland to prevent starvation in bad years was recognized as early as 1817. After the winter of 1817, when there were severe food shortages in Newfoundland (see history section), there were several letters sent to the governor pointing out the importance of  developing local agriculture. 

The following description of a bad fishing year (Labrador fishery) written in 1894 by a minister at Port de Grave demonstrates how important the potato crop could be in in these circumstances. 

Finding land for growing potatoes was especially difficult for the people of Port de Grave (less so for those in Bareneed) given the rocky ground on the outer peninsula. The following extract from the Journal of Governor Thomas Cochrane describes a visit to Port de Grave in 1825:

It is an arrid stoney point but the people have taken advantage of every spot of ground to cultivate and some of their patches do them much credit… the gentlemen here are of the same opinion as at every place where I have been, that the people would starve were it not for the cultivation. He goes on to say: to my mind the advantage of the cultivation is this that when the fishery is by chance bad [,] the poorer people who rear vegetables have something to live upon. Those who do not cultivate must starve

The Newfoundland Census of 1857 (the first with comprehensive agricultural data) demonstrates that the residents of Bareneed and the Dock had taken the advice of Governor Cochrane.

Acres of improved land632083
Tons of hay141428
Barrels of Potatoes11158121927
Barrels of Turnips303
Meat Cattle7613
Milk Cows161026

While not a significant amount of produce, compared to other Colonies with more developed agriculture, this is significant by Newfoundland standards. Interestingly, it was around this time that many families from Port de Grave moved to North River (west of Northern Gut) to take advantage of the better agricultural land in that area. Agricultural data from 1884 demonstrates that production of potatoes had decreased from 1927 barrels in 1857 to 1538 barrels in 1884! This decrease occurred during a period when there was a slight increase in population. Several factors might account for this:

  • there is very limited agricultural land in Bareneed and most of this may have have been in use by 1857;
  • the economy may have improved which reduced the dependence on local produce (i.e. could now afford imported flour);
  • the expansion of the Labrador fishery may have reduced the supply of labour in Bareneed during the  growing season;
  • factors like potato blight may have had an impact on production.

After the 1880s agricultural production increased in Newfoundland (see below) but most of the new production came from new farming areas situated inland from the coast.

Between 1880 and 1921 agriculture’s share of Newfoundland’s estimated gross value of production increased threefold to 28 per cent, a level equal to that of Canadian agriculture, and by 1939 agricultural products still accounted for a sizeable 16 per cent of Newfoundland’s gross value of production (Robert Mackinnon).

Agriculture was still an important part of the local economy in Bareneed right up to Confederation with Canada in 1949 (see following photo of my father and sister).

Harvesting Cabbages in Bareneed c 1949

In 1925 my grandfather Albert Newell got a government contract to build a new “farm access road”. The road followed the height of land which was the boundary between landowners in ‘The Dock’ and those on Black Duck Pond Road to the north. People on the pay list were Albert Newell and his sons Ted, John and Philip; Henry French; Thomas G “Bucham”; Samuel Batten, John R Bucham; A.R. “Suley”; Jacob Petten; Isaac H. Richards; John Richards; Ebeneazer Mercer and Edward Batten; The following were paid for land: Wm H. Richards, A.R. Seely, Albert Richards. Even into the 1950s many residents of Bareneed still produced potatoes, cabbage, carrots and turnips which were stored in cellars for the winter and had a small kitchen garden for summer vegetables. However, the reduced price of imported food, improved economy and aging population (see discussion of population) almost completely ended agricultural production by the mid 1960s.

There was one final chapter in the agricultural history of Bareneed. In the 1950s and early 1960s the government of Joey Smallwood tried to develop a woolen industry in Newfoundland. This leveraged an existing (pre Confederation) Woollen Mill at Mackinsons (~10 km SW of Bareneed on South River).

Ad. with photo for Mackinsons Mill c 1952

This Mill and a sister operation the Newfoundland Knitting Mills were in operation prior to WWI and had produced uniforms for the Newfoundland Regiment. The area where this mill was located (on South River) was near the location of a water mill built by John Guy c 1620.

View of the South River Valley taken from the west end of the Otterbury. Northern Gut in the foreground, Clarke’s Beach at the head of Bay de Grave to the center left. The hill to the right separates North River from South River.

In 1830 the area where the Woollen Mill was located was granted to Judge Charles Couzens (the Judge at Brigus who had accompanied Governor Cochrane on his visit to Port de Grave in 1824).

In 1830, 400 acres of land were awarded to Judge Charles Couzens. The gift from the King of England on his retirement from the Crown included mountains, valley views, a bounty of wildlife, and the jewel, Gould’s Brook River.

In 1839 Joseph Beete Jukes, a geologist working for the Newfoundland Government, visited this area and gave the following description:

After Confederation in 1949 the Smallwood Government tried to develop a clothing industry in Conception Bay north (e.g. Newfoundland Tanneries (William Dorn Ltd.), Carbonear; Koch Shoes, Harbour Grace; Atlantic Gloves, Carbonear ; Gold Sail Leather Goods, and Eckhardt Knitting Mills, Brigus). To support the woollen component Smallwood introduced programs to support raising sheep for their wool. Sheep had been raised in Bareneed since before 1857 (see census data) but this was small scale with families raising a few sheep for wool and meat. My father ( a supporter of Smallwood) got in on the program and started raising sheep as a sideline (he was a carpenter by trade). By 1960 we had a flock which was approaching 100 sheep (see photo below). The sheep were kept in a barn over winter and fed hay grown in Bareneed supplemented by imported grain. During the summer the sheep were initially set free on common pastures around Bareneed (some abandoned fields) but later the Government opened community pastures inland from Bay Roberts and the sheep were trucked there for the summer. In the early 1960s the industry collapsed (like many other of Smallwood’s ventures) due to a parasite (blue bottle fly), and poor markets for the wool and meat (the Woollen Mill used imported wool and Newfoundlander’s were not big consumers of lamb).

Part of my father’s flock of sheep in Bareneed 1961 (St. Mark’s Church in background)


Prior to 1779 there was little choice regarding religion in Conception Bay since there were restrictions on Catholics practicing their religion and for Protestants there was only one Church which was St. Paul’s in Harbour Grace that opened in 1764. I addition to the minister at Harbour Grace the area was also occasionally visited in the summer by missionaries from the Society for the Propagating the Gospel (SPG). While St. Paul’s was Church of England the preaching depended on the minister who frequently had Wesleyan / Methodist leanings (see below).

Even though restrictions on practicing other religions were removed in 1779 there were still attempts to restrict religious freedoms well into the 19th century especially for Catholics but also for Methodist (see below).

28 Sept. 1816From: David Rowland, Missionary and officiating garrison chaplain
(St. John’s)
Request from government to prevent the recurrence of Methodist ministers solemnizing the rites of marriages in St. John’s contrary to the laws of the realm. CO194/CO194-59

The first Church at Bareneed was built around 1816 (one of the first outside Harbour Grace) and prior to that most residents only undertook the 24 km voyage to Harbour Grace for marriages and Baptisms (generally postponed until the next visit for business). Perhaps the absence of Ministers and Priest reduced religious tensions during this period.

The following chart shows the religious affiliation of the combined population of Bareneed and the Dock from 1836 on (the period with data).. What it demonstrates is that the Church of England (Anglican Church) remained the dominant religion in Bareneed throughout the historical period. In 1836 23% of the population were recorded as Roman Catholic however this percentage dropped off rapidly during the 19th century. This drop off was a result of religious tensions that resulted in most Roman Catholic residents of Port de Grave relocating to North River or further south in Conception Bay (the area between Brigus and Holyrood was predominantly Roman Catholic). Many of these Roman Catholics lived in the area between Sandy Cove (west end of Port de Grave) and Bareneed, this area was depopulated as a result. The last Irish Catholic resident of Port de Grave was local merchant Peter Butler who died in 1901, after Butlers funeral the local Roman Catholic Chapel was torn down after standing for almost 100 years (see G.W. Andrews, 1997, p.123-128). The decline in the Roman Catholic community coincided with an increase in the Methodist (later United Church) community. However, this increase is deceiving since many of the early (pre 1836) missionaries in this area had strong Methodist leanings.

The combined statistics are somewhat deceiving since the Dock had a much stronger Methodist leaning than Bareneed (47% in 1911 and 52% in 1945). The Church of England Church (St. Mark’s) was in Bareneed and the United Church was in the Dock. After 1900 there was also a small Salvation Army community in the Dock (mainly the Hampton family who moved to the Dock from Port de Grave).

The final chapter in the religious history of Bareneed had its roots in Port de Grave. In 1925 the Pentecostal Church took hold in Port de Grave and by 1945 they had 45 members in Port de Grave (none in Bareneed). The Pentecostal community in Port de Grave expanded rapidly and now is the dominant religion in Port de Grave. The people of Bareneed did no follow this path; however, starting in the 1970s many Pentecostal families from Port de Grave moved to Bareneed.


In 1822 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel appointed a Schoolmaster in Bareneed and there were 20 boys and 33 girls attending school (total population of Bareneed was approximately 350). This was one of the first schools in Conception Bay. In 1874 the population was 591 and there were 175 children in school. Bareneed, tended to have one of the strongest school systems in Conception Bay and in later years produced an above average number of school teachers. In the 1911 census for Bareneed 8 adult children were identified as teachers (likely back living with their parents in the summer months).

Name Relations Age Occupation
Cyril Batten Son 19 School Teacher
Joseph Vokey Boarder 18 School Teacher
? Bartlett Daughter 21 Teacher
Annie Boone Daughter 21 Teacher-C.E.B. Educ.
Thomas Seely Son 21 School Teacher
Irene French Daughter 23 School Teacher
Elsie French Daughter 24 School Teacher
Mary Richards Daughter 20 School Teacher

In the 1935 Census there were 12 teachers.

RICHARDSJohn E.Head39Teacher
NEWELLVera M.Daughter21School teacher
RICHARDSAllanSon28School teacher
FRENCHWinston O.Son22School Teacher
FRENCHGordon M.Son25School Teacher
FRENCHHaroldSon23School Teacher
FRENCHGrahamSon20School Teacher
The Newfoundland Weekly, 1941-01-25, vol. 01, no. 08
The Daily News (St. John’s, N.L.), 1955-06-18

The number of children in Bareneed declined in the 1940s and 1950s due to out migration and an aging population (decrease in birth rates). In the mid 1950s the high school students from Bareneed started attending St Luke’s School in Port de Grave (in 1960s both Port de Grave and Bareneed high school students were bused to Bay Roberts). The United Church School (west end of Bareneed) closed in the late 1950s. The last School in Bareneed (St. Mark’s, see photo below) closed in the mid 1960s and after this a bus took the few remaining school children to Coleys Point or Bay Roberts.

The last School in Bareneed now used as a tea room by the local Heritage Society.

The following photographs show students from Bareneed during different time periods:

School Boys from Bareneed c 1919
Bareneed School Girls c 1950, Photograph by Phyllis Smith 
  Back Row, Left to Right
Ellen Newell daughter of John and Jessie of the Dock
Emmie Mercer daughter of James and Diana
Grace Richards daughter of George and Eliza
Myrtle Bartlett daughter of John and Susie
Verna Batten daughter of Reginald and Sarah Jane
Ida Richards daughter of George and Eliza
Middle Row Right to Left
Effie Boone daughter of William and Rachel
Shirley Newell daughter of John R and Gladys
Pearl Mercer daughter of James and Diana
Marion Batten daughter of Walt and Ada of the Dock
Sandra Boone daughter of Ike Jr and Jean.
Front Row Left to Right
Calvin Batten son of Walt and Ada of the Dock
Barbra Mercer daughter of James and Diana
Grades 1-8, St. Mark’s 1961 with teacher Walter Dawe
Students Back Row L to R: Roy Lush, Barbra Lush; Alice Boone; Irene Batten, Myra Mercer; Betty Richards, Cyril Boone. Front Row L to R: Roy Richards, Loyd Lush , Pearl Richards; John Newell, Beatrice Richards , Howard French, Douglas French, Donald Boone, Eileen French (thanks to Alice Boone for help with IDs). Teacher year after this Mrs Chalk.