Prior to 1779 there was little choice regarding religion in Conception Bay since there were restrictions on Roman 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).

Harbor Grace Standard, 1889-12-18

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.