A rich history shaped by the land, sea, the church and its people
Eastport (originally known as Salvage Bay) is a unique Newfoundland community. It was first established as a farming community to serve the needs of the surrounding fishing communities. Records show pioneer families from Salvage settled in Eastport in the mid-1860s.
James Burden played a prominent role in the early development of Eastport. He acquired a prime piece of agricultural land, developing it into a fairly prosperous farm. After his death, it gradually fell into disuse, until later, when part of it was acquired by other families and again put into agricultural production.
Despite being compelled by social and economic circumstances to turn to farming as a means of livelihood, many of the menfolk did not adapt easily to their new landlocked profession. Thus, in about 1874 when the cod fishery recovered and experienced a relative boom, the men returned to their former tradition of fishing and, in particular, the summer fishery on the coast of Labrador, leaving the women to care for the crops and livestock.
For over a century, hundreds of tons of root vegetables and other farming produce were shipped yearly from the shores of Eastport. Small boats, skiffs, and larger vessels, such as the famed “Glencoe” anchored offshore to be loaded with Eastport’s produce for delivery to communities along the northeast coast of Newfoundland as far as St. Anthony.
Eastport in 1939 was finally connect via a road to the Newfoundland railway, at a siding known as Alexander Bay Station. Now trucks could pick up the produce from the various farms and root cellars and bring it to the railway where it was stored in freight sheds until the next train came to take it to the market.
An interesting fact of Eastport’s history is “The Neck” . . . a parcel of land located between Eastport, Happy Adventure and Sandy Cove used for inter-community and Peninsula activities. In the early 1870s the Anglican church made the decision to build a school-chapel to serve the three communities. and, over time, they managed to acquire a 30-acre block of land in this central area which is known locally as “The Neck”.
Over the years, this central area has provided the space needed for cemeteries, schools, recreation areas and other public buildings. Until the 60s it contained an armoury built for the Church Lads Brigade for the primary purpose of training the boys. For decades it also served as the main inter-community venue for social and cultural activities.
In the 19th century, the assignment of a central area for church and public use by the three communities was a unique event in the history of Newfoundland settlement. Today, “The Neck” is still a bustle of activity, providing space for worship, cemeteries, a war memorial as well as educational, social, and recreational venues for the Peninsula.