Spotlight on Hatchet Cove

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

(Click on images to enlarge)

Hatchet Cove

Most people would attribute the community’s name to the predominance of lumbering from the early days of settlement. The truth is, however, that the community was first called Hatcher’s Cove, from the connection with the Reverend Henry Hatcher who was stationed at Shoal Harbour in the late 1870s. Rex Clarke (1969) suggests Hatchet Cove was founded by the brother of Stephen Blundon of Bay de Verde who began a logging operation at Hickman’s Harbour on Random Island in 1799. Around 1910, some Blundon families changed their name to Blundell but the Blundons of Hatchet Cove did not. 

Seasonal settlers came from Trinity Bay South during the winter to cut wood. As the Labrador fishery increased in importance, the need for wood to build boats increased and more families settled to cut wood, build boats and start a small local fishery. Early families included Avery, Baker, Bishop, Blundon, Brown, Cramm, Hiscock, Lambert and Robbins. Three of the families have Welsh and Scottish origins. A Robbins family from Wales settled at Lower Island Cove and some of the family later moved to Hatchet Cove, where the name is common. The name Cramm comes from Perthshire and Fife in Scotland, as does the name Lambert. 

The community was first recorded in the 1884 census when the six families of 33 Wesleyan and Church of England residents were engaged mainly in fishing. Their five boats and one cod trap landed a total catch valued at $75. Nevertheless, fishing remained the major activity, although 110 lbs. of butter produced in 1884 suggests farming might have been important, too. 

Ball field at Hatchet Cove

The community was recorded in the 1891 census as Hatcher’s Cove, when it had a population of 47 Methodists. Of the 11 fishermen listed in 1894, three were Browns, three were Robbins and two were Bishops. Blundon, Cramm and Lambert were other early settlers. According to Russell Bishop, everyone came from the Grates Cove or Bay de Verde areas. The Bishop family came from Bishops Cove, Conception Bay. A Methodist school had opened by 1901, but the Church of England school was open “only for a short period” according to the 1907 report of the School Inspector. The two congregations lived in harmony, a fact underlined by the building of a joint church, St. Stephen’s, in 1973. 

Both the inshore fishery and lumbering were important in the early years of settlement, but only one vessel was listed as going to Labrador in 1901. At this time the population was 58, and local fishermen were dependent for supplies and sales on Trinity and Hickman’s Harbour merchants. Ore bodies of slate and sandstone did not encourage slate quarrying, which had become a major activity on the other side of Random Sound. The building of the railway contributed to fewer numbers engaged in the fishery with residents finding work in construction and with the railway in Clarenville. 

Only 13 children were in school in 1935, when the census listed a population of 96 in 17 families, with the United Church and Church of England both well represented. Fishing had improved somewhat, with a catch of cod, herring and caplin valued at $1,405, but fishing rapidly declined over the next 40 years until 1982, when the only activity was in salmon fishing. 

Logging and lumbering, however, continued to provide income for area residents. Jim Blundon and Eleazer Robbins operated a water-powered sawmill at the mouth of a local brook until around 1960. Evidence of this can still be found in the community. The Blundon and Robbins brothers’ partnership also owned another mill farther up the brook. In 1982 two sawmills were operated by the Smith and Brown families.

The 1981 census shows a population of 99 in 26 families. Local employment is very low, but several people are employed as stonemasons outside Hatchet Cove. When the slipway was built the following year, there was enough money left over for a playground. A swimming pool, ballfield and picnic area were added later. This has provided excellent recreational activities for local youth who are unable to take advantage of high school recreational activities because of the long return bus trip from Clarenville. Elementary students, however, continue to attend the local school.

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NOTE: 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.

 

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