History – Gooseberry Cove

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

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Gooseberry Cove, 1986

Gooseberry Cove seems to have first been settled by the overflow population of nearby Hearts Ease and may have had a winter population as early as 1753. It seems fairly certain that it was named for the gooseberry bushes that were common in the area.

Gooseberry Cove does not appear in any census until 1836 when a population of 12 was recorded, all Church of England. The population grew to 49 by 1857, 79 by 1874, and 105 by 1891. Early settlers were Balsoms and Langors from Heart’s Content, Fitzgeralds from Keels or nearby, Bakers from the Trinity area, Smiths from New Harbour, and Sewards from New Perlican. The community seems to have been entirely Church of England until a Seward married a Roman Catholic woman from Placentia and built a Roman Catholic church in Gooseberry Cove. In 1884 Roman Catholics represented one third of the community and two denominations had both built churches and schools prior to 1901.

The main occupation was, and continues to be, the inshore fishery. Gooseberry Cove was close to prime fishing grounds easily reached by small boats. The Labrador fishery was also pursued with the community sending schooners in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Population growth seems to have slowed by 1900 being 111 in 1901, a rise of only six people in 10 years. But in 1935, 187 in 33 families were recorded only to fall to 145 in 1966.

Merchants in Gooseberry Cove were William Seward who established a business in the early 1900s, and William Flynn who arrived as the Roman Catholic school teacher and later married a Seward girl. William Tim Smith operated a small business in the 1950s and Stephen Seward operated another small business until quite recently.

Gooseberry Cove wharf taking a pounding, January 1976 (Photo credit George Langor)

In 1908 a cooperage, two cod liver oil refineries and two lobster canneries were reported. Cod continued to be salted and sold to buyers until the 1960s. In the late 1950s a breakwater and a fish processing plant were built. A canopy covering the government wharf was washed away in a storm in early 1976 and this year a new breakwater is under construction. The most recent population statistics showed 183 residents.

St. Alban’s Anglican Church


Roman Catholic Church


See also the community history under Communities


Transcribed by Wanda Garrett

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