History – Hodge’s Cove

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

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Hodge’s Cove

Hodge’s Cove on the south side of Southwest Arm, was probably first visited seasonally in the early 1800s but not permanently settled until the 1850s, almost exclusively by people from Conception Bay. The initial attraction appears to have been extensive stands of timber. Local resident Rebecca Drover suggests the first settlers were two cousins, both named James Drover. James Drover and his wife Meriah arrived 20 October 1861. His younger cousin, known as “Fiddler Jim” to distinguish him from the other, arrived the same winter. Both families lost their only child that winter. They made coffins for the two children but did not bury them, waiting instead for the ice to clear from Random Sound before taking them to Fox Harbour (now known as Southport)where the burials finally took place. The Drovers then returned to their home in Conception Bay and sought the advice of the local priest. He told them, “Dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed,” advice they took, but first stocked up with supplies from Harbour Grace. In 1863, Meriah bore James a daughter at Hodge’s Cove.

The old St. Mary’s Church

Tradition has it that a Hodge also occupied the land which eventually came to be called Hodge’s Hole, then Hodge’s Cove. There is no record of where Hodge came from or when. Sometime later, Caleb Peddle and his brother John arrived from Bishop’s Cove, followed by Jacob Higgins from Island Cove, and Stephen Smith also from Bishop’s Cove. Early family names include Baker, Boone, Butt, Churchill, Curtis, Hiscock, Smith, and Stringer.

No separate census count of Hodge’s Cove was taken until 1884 when 105 people in 17 families were recorded. The predominant religion was Church of England (87) and the first services were held in a fish loft. The earliest clergyman was the Reverend J. S. Saunderson who served Hodge’s Cove from 1880-1882, but the first reference to a church is not until 1903 when the first St. Mary’s was being torn down. It was about 25 feet long, had Church a central aisle between the seats and a small vestry.

Inside the new St. Mary’s Church

It was not until around 1907 that the new St. Mary’s was completed. This big, impressive building had three aisles between the pews and a fine roof of slate quarried from near Hickman’s Harbour. The church was dedicated by the Right Reverend L. Jones, Lord Bishop of Newfoundland on 9 September 1907. The Bishop’s chaplin, Reverend Henry Legge, noted the new church was, “Neat, well arranged, and it is possible to kneel between the pews.” Sometime after this the Methodists also built a church.

Unlike Southport and Gooseberry Cove, the economy at Hodge’s Cove was never based on the inshore fishery. The Labrador fishery was far more important, as was woods work. Thousands of board feet of lumber was shipped out, mostly to St. John’s, while more was used to build schooners to prosecute the Labrador fishery. But the number of Hodge’s Cove residents engaged in the Labrador fishery peaked in 1900 and declined through the 1920s. There began an emigration of people to the United States and Canada while others sought work in lumber camps elsewhere in Newfoundland and on the railway at Clarenville.

New United Church at Hodge’s Cove.

Mary McCormick recalls that in 1937 some Hodge’s Cove men who unable to get woods work after a poor fishing season were also refused dole by Eleazer Robbins, the relief officer. So they went to Southport, robbed the merchant of some goods, returned to Hatchet Cove to destroy Mr. Robbins’ books, and finally stopped the train at Northern Bight. An arrest was made but Eleazer Robbins was also replaced by Max Button who was popular and ultimately retired to Queens Cove.

In 1941 Hodge’s Cove had a population of 257, 3 sawmills, and 2 radios. The population climbed to 279 in 1945, 375 in 1961, and 391 in 1971. St Mary’s church was in need of repair by the mid-1950s and a building fund was started to replace it. This culminated in the present church which was started in 1962 and dedicated by Canon L. Norman in 1965.

In 1981 Hodge’s Cove had a population of 438. It also had 9 fishermen, 45 people employed within Southwest Arm, and a further 55 employed off the Arm. Some 46 members were recorded as working outside the province. The community has a garage, a hardware store, a couple of grocery stores and is unincorporated.



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.