Presented by the
Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site
to assist you in researching your Family History

Click on the graphic below to return to the NGB Home Page
Newfoundland's Grand Banks

To contribute to this site, see above menu item "About".

How to report a possible transcription error

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

Vol. 51, #13 - Centre for Newfoundland Studies
Our Towns  - Tom Furlong



Harbour Main - known for a time as Rogue's Roost

Sources, besides those named in this article, include C. F. Furey and the Encyclopaedia of Newfoundland and Labrador

Like many Newfoundland communities, the origin of the name Harbour Main is up for debate.  Archbishop Howley suggests it came from the name of a saintly Breton bishop named "men" which sailed directions which the French pronounced "main" There is a set of 1680 English sailing directions which show it as Harbour deMain. L'Abbe Jean Baudoin reported in 1696-97 seeing men from Carbonear cutting wood at Harbour Main.  Dr. E. R. Seary suggests it is from a French family named Maine.

In the beginning there was a mix of Irish and English settlers but as time went on the influx of Irish immigrants made it a predominantly Irish settlement and Roman Catholic as well.

The laws forbidding celebrating Mass or other religious services were rather stringent.  In 1755, Michael Katen, a merchant from Waterford was convicted of having allowed a priest to offer mass in one of his buildings.  His store was hauled out to sea by a British man-o-war, he was fined 50 pounds and ordered to leave the Colony.  (We often hear Keating pronounced Kating Would these Keatings be descendants of Michael Katen?)

Abbe Baudoin reports that Irish servants were treated like slaves by their English masters.  Many of them ran away from their employers in St. John's and set signal fires at Runaway Rock, to attract the attention of the people in Harbour Main who secreted them when the law came looking.

Harbour Main was the shelter of choice in those times and was called, though not officially, Rogues Roost (the runaways being known as rogues

Jeremy Fortune from Wickelow is credited as the first settler.  A planter, he arrived in 1675.  He was a successful businessman with a fleet of four ships and 20 servants.  It is recorded that fishermen from Bristol also visited the locality in the 1600s but they left no record and did not appear to have any ambition to settle.

The famous Le Moyne d'Iberville burned the only dwelling in the place in 1697 and returned again in 1705 to sack the town.  The English persisted, however, and by 1774 there were 34 stages and the fishery was a booming business.  Chapel's Cove seems to have become part of Harbour Main in 1735; Lakeview joined much later.

In Chapel's Cove the people were mainly Irish and went in for farming.  The first person identified there is Richard Furey.  (Did this become Furey or Fewer over the years?)

According to J. P. Byrne two English firms had substantial operations in Harbour Main.  They were Pike & Green from Poole and the famous Newman and Roope.

The first official census showed 550 people in Harbour Main and 158 in Chapel's Cove, mostly fishermen.  The farmers raised horses, cattle, other animals and raised vegetables.  And, according to Reverend Lewis Anspach there was at one time a coal mine in operation in Chapel's Cove.

The first church was built about 1811; the first school, operated by Jeremiah Kennedy, in 1839; 14 years later, the Presentation Sisters built a convent and taught school in the area.  Harbour Main soon became the educational, religious and cultural centre of the district. 

It was also the electoral capital, though that story isn't as pleasant.  In 1861 Father Walsh led a delegation from Harbour Main to Cat's Cove (since renamed Conception Harbour) where some of them were obliged to vote.  The residents there felt sure they meant no good and a riot ensued; one man was killed and more than a score injured.  There was a trial but no one was convicted.

By 1891, the fishermen were going to the Labrador and the Seal fishery.  Before 1950, they sailed in schooners and after that they went down in vessels from Brigus or St. John's.

Those who did not go down North, fished for cod and bait fish for Banksers.  That fishing was the mainstay of the economy is supported by the census of 1871 which reveals that 76 per cent of the population of Chapel's Cove were farmers.

Toward the end of the century the fishery fell into decline and was replaced by work at Bell Island and the burgeoning lobster fishery.  The new century saw the town change from a fishing and farming community to a bedroom town, people commuting to various centres for less arduous work.  Buchans attracted some, others went to work at Argentia when the United States Armed Forces established a base there as well as to other similar military installations, American and Canadian, and the Newfoundland Ranger Force.

By 1982, the population had stabilized at about 1,300 souls and has remained at, or close to, that figure.  In 1977, with Chapel's Cove, it became the Rural Industrial Development community of Harbour Main and Chapel's Cove.  In 1980 it was granted Town status as the Town of Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove and Lakeview.

Residents who have attained fame outside their own environs include Patrick Vincent Strapp who was the first Newfoundlander to join the Irish Christian Brothers, and taught all but four years of his career at St. Bonaventure's College.

Also in the field of education was C. F. (Frank) Furey who became the province s superintendent of Roman Catholic Schools.  When the temperance movement was in its infancy and looking for supporters they found a solid ally in Father Kyran Walsh who didn't mind speaking his thoughts.

Another resident (of a sort) which attracted attention was a denizen of the deep.  One fine day in July 1935, Joe Ezekial went down to the beach to check his boat and found a giant squid lying nearby.  It was the main attraction for a while.  The press had a field day and the creature was soon loaded aboard a truck, taken to St. John's where it was frozen and shipped off to the New York Museum of Natural History.  It measured 27 feet, and was the full size of a two-ton truck.

As with most localities, especially on the East coast, it has much to offer in the way of history and the town council is pursuing that avenue to attract even more visitors.



Contributed by: Barbara McGrath
Transcribed by Ivy F. Benoit (January 2001)
REVISED: June 8, 2001 by Ivy F. Benoit

Page Revised: February - 2003 (Don Tate)

Recent Updates Contact Us

Search through the whole site
Hosted by
Chebucto Community Net

Your Community, Online!
JavaScript DHTML Menu Powered by Milonic
Newfoundland's Grand Banks is a non-profit endeavor.
No part of this project may be reproduced in any form for any purpose other than personal use.

© Newfoundland's Grand Banks (1999-2022)