History – Caplin 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

Situated on the south side of Southwest Arm between Hodge’s Cove and Little Hearts Ease, Caplin Cove was probably named for the abundance of caplin in its waters, although Leslie Dean notes its earlier name was Swearing Cove. It appears to have first been settled in the early 1800s by people from the northeast shore of Trinity Bay, particularly Grates Cove, and Conception Bay. Unfortunately, early census records lumped Caplin Cove with other communities referring to the whole as Random Sound. No separate figure for Caplin Cove is given until 1884 when 34 people in five families were reported.

The predominant religion was Methodism and the main occupation fishing for cod and caplin. It seems likely that part of the winter attraction of the area was an abundance of lumber which generated steady work supplying sawmills in Random Sound.

McAlpines Newfoundland Directory for 1894-1897 lists seven fishermen named Shaw, two named Stringer, and four named Whalen. By 1904 the same source lists an additional 11 fishermen called Baker and two called Drodge. The Stringers, possibly a family of Yorkshire origins, were listed for Random Sound as early as 1871, as were a George and Solomon Drodge. A George Shaw was listed at Hearts Ease in 1868, and George and John Shaw were planters at Random Sound in 1871. The Whalens came originally from Ireland. Descendents of these people are still to be found in Caplin Cove today.

United Church at Caplin Cove

In 1911, Caplin Cove had the services of a Methodist teacher but it appears he (or she) divided his time between Adeyton and Caplin Cove.

By 1935 the population had reached 89 and while some inhabitants were going annually to Labrador for the summer fishery, others were employed in woods work as far away as Terra Nova and Corner Brook.

The population peaked around 1966 at 188 people and in 1981 was 109. The community’s elementary school closed some time after 1970 and pupils now attend Hodge’s Cove primary, or the Integrated High School at Little Hearts Ease.

In 1981 the work force was reported at 7 fishermen, four women employed in Southwest Arm, and 21 working beyond the immediate area. A further 16 inhabitants were said to be working outside the province

 

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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.