History – Butter Cove

Reprinted from Decks Awash, Volume 15, Number 6
November – December 1986
Photographs from MUN Digital Archives

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Caplin Cove, 1986

This small fishing community is situated on a steep slope halfway along a narrow inlet that opens onto Trinity Bay. Although smaller than Gooseberry Cove, it is also better protected from northeasterly winds.

Butter Cove was probably visited by fishermen from at least the early 1800s. Within Butter Cove is a small cove called Ganny Cove, probably a corruption of Gandy Cove, and it appears on a map dated 1806. It seems likely that Butter Cove was first permanently settled in the 1850s by Moses, Uriah and David Spurrell who came from Dunfield near Trinity. The origins of the name Butter Cove are uncertain, but Dr. E. R. Seary notes the presence of a Butters from Devon living in the Bay de Verde area in the 1840s. Despite this, the predominant family names by 1894 were Baker, Hiscock and Spurrell—the latter another Devon name. Butter Cove is first mentioned in the 1874 census as having six families totalling 34 people, all Church of England. The population had grown to 54 by 1884 and increased by one family to seven. Eight children were in school but no school is recorded so they may have journeyed to neighboring Gooseberry Cove.

The population had grown to 81 residents by 1935. A one-room school was built that ultimately closed in the 1960s, the last teacher probably being Andrew Peddle of Hodge’s Cove. It has been suggested that Butter Cove was included in a resettlement program of the mid-sixties, and residents recall six or seven families leaving for Come by Chance, Sunnyside, and Arnold’s Cove, but most people remained.

The most recent statistics reveal 27 householders and a population of 98. Fishermen constitute the overwhelming majority of the work force (20) while three people pursued occupations elsewhere.

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See also the community history under Communities

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Transcribed by Wanda Garrett

These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.