Southport

Southport

Southport

 

Southport, known as Fox Harbour before 1914, was the first community in the inner Random Sound region of Trinity Bay to be permanently settled around 1830, some eighty years after the nearby historic abandoned community of Heart’s Ease Beach was first permanently settled around 1750. Before 1830 Southport was one of the many Random Region winter tilting sites for residents from older Trinity Bay communities such as Trinity and Old Perlican and was also an early summer fishing station for a number of residents of Hant’s Harbour, New Perlican and other communities on the south side of Trinity Bay.   Rev. John Smithies, a Methodist minister at Hant’s Harbour, paid a visit to these seasonal fishermen at Fox Harbour (and to residents of Hearts Ease Beach) in June 1829.This is the first record of a religious service held in the Random region.

The community, because of its sheltered and strategic location near once productive inshore fishing grounds near West Random Head, evolved primarily as an inshore fishing community. It did have a small presence in the Labrador schooner fishery after 1880 and may have been the only community in Random from which a schooner participated in the Grand Banks fishery. Unlike many other Random communities it had only a minor presence in the commercial logging/lumbering industry throughout its early settlement period but there was one watermill established in the community circa 1890-1900. The construction of small fishing boats and larger schooners also played an important role in the community’s economy in the post 1875 period.

The 1836 census shows Fox Harbour (Southport) with two houses and a population of 12 residents. These first residents were Thomas and Eleanor Baker and their first children Eleanor, John, and Sarah and the family of James and Sarah (Pelley) Dean and their first two children William and Anne. Thomas Baker was born at Heart’s Ease Beach in 1794 while James Dean (1802-1865) was born at Old Perlican but had resided and married at Hant’s Harbour for a decade or more before moving to Fox Harbour circa 1832.

Around 1840 these families were joined by five other families from older communities on the south side of Trinity Bay including those of James Avery (Sr.) and Joseph Martin (Sr.) of Grates Cove, John Lambert of Old Perlican ancestry, and Phillip King and Thomas Smith of Hant’s Harbour. Over the 1842-45 period three more settler families arrived at Southport. These were the families of William Wells of English Harbour, Thomas Ellsworth of the Catalina area, and Richard Burrage of Grates Cove. By 1845 the population of Southport had increased to 38.

Over the 1845-1870 period a number of new settlers arrived at Southport including Thomas Pelley of Hant’s Harbour, William Evans of Old Perlican, James Lane of Catalina, Philip White of New Perlican, Susannah Pond and family of Champney’s, James Lambert of Old Perlican, James Brown, Thomas Miller, Mark Ivany, and Joseph Langer of Thoroughfare, Thomas Smith of Bishop’s Cove via Chance Cove, and Elias Harnum of Winterton. Over the 1885-1900 period the families of Edmund and Richard  Seward moved from Gooseberry Cove to Southport as did Henry Alcock (the community’s first merchant/trader) from Harbour Grace, Arthur Hiscock from Winterton, Charles Bursey from Old Perlican and John Balsom from Clarenville. A number of these 1845-1900 period residents moved to other communities at Random after residing at Southport for several years or more.

By 1857 there were 18 families comprising 86 residents residing in the community and by this date it was the largest community in the Random Region. The 1857 census actually shows 102 residents, including 16 residents of the R.C. faith, but it is believed the latter were entered in error for Fox Harbour, P.B. The first church at Random was constructed at Southport around this date and the community’s first Methodist school was constructed in 1875. By 1900 its population approximated 100, in 1921 it was 115, in 1935 it totaled 151, by 1945 it was 180, and it peaked at approximately 200 by 1955. Its present population is comprised of approximately 50 residents, a sharp decline largely resulting from out-migration, especially from the early 1960s. Most of these are descendents of the earliest Dean, Avery, and Lambert families.

 

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