Hodge’s Cove

Hodge's Cove, c1954

Hodge’s Cove, c1954

 

This piece barely scratches the surface relating to all that can be written about the history of this community. In time, numerous other items of related information can be accessed by simply clicking on the various links on this website.

For certain, the communities of Heart’s Ease Beach, Gooseberry Cove and Southport were settled before Hodge’s Cove, which is said to have been in1861. Given certain geographic features of other coves and harbours in the area, others communities may have been settled earlier as well.

The origin of the name may never be ascertained. It is widely accepted that decades before actual permanent settlement occurred, there were people who came to this cove, primarily to avail of the forest resource. Indeed, it is conceivable that not all of these visitors eventually settled here. Thus, it is quite possible that the name of one of these earlier visitors who didn’t stay was the one that became associated with the community.

Among the several theories there are relating to how the place got its name are these:

  • HODGE may have been a corruption of the surname Hodgions, a man who lived at Heart’s Ease Beach for a while and possibly had spent some time farther up South West Arm.
  • It has been noted that a John Hodge lived at Trinity; and another (same one?) lived at Kelligrews. Might the name Hodge’s Hole (the name of the settlement before it became known as Hodge’s Cove, c. 1883) had been derived from either of these?

When asked about the origin of the name, Obediah Higgins (1892-1985), who was born at Hodge’s Cove about thirty years after the community was settled and who lived there his ninety-plus years, related to Eric Stringer a story, the gist of which follows:

One spring there was a man walking up over the pond on the ice. He met another man who was carrying a turn of trout wrapped in a canvas jacket. When asked where he got the trout, the reply came, “Up in Hodges Hole.”

Local residents may be aware of the many pools where Hodge’s Cove Brook runs into the pond. These have always been prime places for catching trout. Whether the previous account was one of oral tradition, and not based in fact, is anyone’s guess. However, the explanation was given in good faith by Mr. Higgins.

 

Early Settlers

From historical information handed down, it appears that Hodge’s Cove was permanently settled in 1861, though it was quite likely that men, living in tilts, had earlier been here to cut wood for various purposes.

From the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, the following is attributed to a former resident of Hodge’s Cove, Mrs. Rebecca Jane (nee Peddle) Drover:

Two fishermen, both of whom were named James Drover (the youngest named “Fiddler Jim” to distinguish one from the other), erected houses at the foot of a pond which was then reputedly deep enough to hold a schooner. …. these fishermen only wintered once in the cove, returning the following fall to their home in Conception Bay. Their first winter in Hodges Cove had been quite tragic: …. two children had died. “They made coffins for them and put them under a boat bottom up and in the spring when the ice cleared out of Random Sound they took them to Fox Harbour … and there they buried them”.

These Drovers were from Upper Island Cove, Conception Bay. The land they cleared and claimed was that through which today runs Samuel’s Road and beyond. The great majority of Drovers at Hodge’s Cove descended from the elder James and his wife Maria (nee Mayo) who moved there around 1861. In 1885, another line of Drovers began when William married the daughter of James and Maria, Adliza, the first child born at Hodge’s Cove. They and their successive generations would use the upper beach. The junior, known as Fiddler Jim, and his wife Naomi (nee Peddle) had no children, though they would later adopt James Langdon, a boy from Torbay. They settled across the pond near where a point of land juts out.

Archibald Curtis from King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay married Barbara, a daughter of another James Drover (wife Emma Bemister) of Hodge’s Cove. Through this marriage a section of the Drover’s land was acquired bordering the pond. They settled at Hodge’s Cove around the mid- to late-1880s.

Through a marriage of a widow, Eliza Stringer (nee Martin), to James Drover, father of Barbara, the Stringer name was introduced to Hodge’s Cove in the 1880s, when Eliza brought her three children from her previous marriage to Joseph Stringer at Grates Cove. The Stringers acquired a portion of the Curtis’ property which ran adjacent to the pond.

In the late 1860s, the brothers John and Caleb Peddle arrived from Bishop’s Cove, Conception Bay. Most of the children of both John and his wife Virtue (nee Coombs) and Caleb and his wife Catherine (nee Barrett) had been born at Bishop’s Cove before they settled at Hodge’s Cove. They cleared and claimed the land extending back from the lower beach, on either side of a brook that ran through to the beach, with John taking the eastern side and Caleb the western side.

The Churchills who settled at Hodge’s Cove in the 1870s were through a John Churchill, from Portugal Cove, who married Susanna, daughter of Caleb and Catherine Peddle, and by which they acquired a portion of the Caleb Peddle land.

Settling between the Drovers’ ‘room’ and the Peddles’ ‘room’ in the late 1860s were the family of Stephen and Prudence (nee Smith) Smith from Bishop’s Cove. A number of their children were born at Bishop’s Cove before they settled at Hodge’s Cove. For a number of years they settled near the beach at the base of a steep cliff, but would in time set permanent residence on higher ground which extended back through the center of the community. Jacob Higgins acquired a portion at the eastern boundary of Stephen’s property at Hodge’s Cove. Both these Smiths and the Higgins used the upper beach.

Don Smith, the eldest great-grandson of Stephen and Prudence, relates that Stephens first house was built on the beach, near where Wilson Smith lives today (2014). Stephen lived there for at least ten years. Thereafter, c.1880/81, the house was hauled up the scrape just inside Wilsons to a location just in front of where Fred Smiths (now son Mikes) house is today.

Sometime in the 1870s, another line of Smiths from Bishop’s Cove settled at Hodge’s Cove. Most of the family of Abraham and Elizabeth (nee Coombs) Smith had already been born at Bishop’s Cove when they arrived at Hodge’s Cove. The firstborn at their new home was Nathaniel, who was born circa 1873. They settled atop the hillside to the east of the property of the original John Peddle.

Elizabeth, a daughter of Abraham and Elizabeth Smith, married William, a son of Henry and Angelina (nee Smith) Hiscock from Trinity via Southport. The Hiscocks settled at the eastward boundary of these Smiths.

Mary Jane, a daughter of Henry and Angelina Hiscock, married Moses Wilcox (from Western Bay) circa 1890. They settled at the extreme easterly part of Hodge’s Cove and used the lower beach.

In the late 1880s the family of Joseph Baker (of Southport) and his wife Hannah (nee Drodge) settled between the Wilcoxes and the Hiscocks.

Through a marriage to Mary Ann, a daughter of the original John Peddle at Hodge’s Cove, Henry Leach Thomas from St. John’s arrived at Hodge’s Cove around 1880. He acquired land at the western end of the upper beach, and later gained title to property at the western end of Hodge’s Cove. They used the upper beach.

Isaac Boone from Bareneed, Conception Bay married Georgina, daughter of the original James and Maria Drover, in the early 1890’s. They acquired a section of the Drover property near where the fire hall is today.

 

Religious Denominations

Generally speaking, the greater numbers of the original population of Hodge’s Cove were of the Church of England / Anglican faith. These Drovers, Peddles and Smiths settled at the center and western part of the community. At the eastern end, particularly the Smiths (on the hill) and the Bakers, plus the Churchills, were of the Methodist / United Church faith. Later, the Stringers would become part of that latter minority faith. At Hodge’s Cove there has never been a church other than that of those two denominations.

 

Military

Under the chairmanship of Lion Jim Peddle, a project was undertaken by the Hodge’s Cove – Caplin Cove Lions Club in the 1980s to honor the veterans in these two communities. A framed showcase at the Lions Club bears witness to the number of people who offered their services in the two great wars.

Through the decades since then, the numbers continue with at least two dozen others from Hodge’s Cove who have or are now serving their country. The names of these people and many others from the area will, in due course, be posted on this website.
Organizations

Over the course of South West Arm history, Hodge’s Cove has been among the fore-runners with respect to “blazing trails” for the area. In the late 1800s Acorn branch #48 of the Loyal Orange Lodge was formed at Hodge’s Cove. Through the desire of Samuel Drover, Jr., and with the support of leading citizens in the community, the earliest Co-op was established here. In the early 1970s, the Local Improvement District of Hodge’s Cove was formed, eventually its successor to become today’s Local Service District of Hodge’s Cove. Without such a local government, the local Fire Department would not likely have come to be. In the mid-1970s, the Hodge’s Cove – Caplin Cove Lions Club was formed. Other initiatives include the construction of the ball field, the playground and the small boat basin. More detailed information on these organizations may eventually be posted to this site.

All of these organizations were formed through the determined efforts of progressive, civic-minded people of the community.

 

Occupations

The inshore and the Labrador fisheries, in addition to subsistence farming and woods-related work, comprised the greater part of the occupations of the earlier generations at Hodge’s Cove. For a period, the building of smaller schooners took place on level areas, one near the lower beach, and another on the “Mead” (pronounced “made”), near the upper beach. This activity had become history by the 1940s.

Confederation with Canada in 1949 brought a substantial change in the lifestyle of the people of Hodge’s Cove and surrounding communities. Compared to those of earlier times, the far greater number of infrastructure projects involved new job opportunities, especially in such trades as heavy equipment operating, mechanics, truck driving and supervisory positions. The number of people in the fields of health care and education experienced a substantial increase, as did those in the retail trade.

 

 

 

Note: This article is subject to further correction and revision.