A heritage worth preserving in New Perlican

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New Perlican is nestled between Mount Misery and Norman’s Hill on one side, with a sheltered harbour in between, and by Norman’s Hill and the Farm Hills on the other side, where Vitter’s Cove beach and another harbour area are located.

Where the name New Perlican comes from is not certain, but English settlement in New Perlican, on the south side of Trinity Bay, dates from the 17th century.

The following is from www.baccalieudigs.ca:

"One of the first references to a place called ‘Parlican,' comes from a letter written by Capt. Charles Leigh in 1597 in which he mentions a Spanish ship, probably Basque, anchored in that harbour. However, this is almost (note the word “almost”) certainly a reference to Old Perlican located roughly 22 miles (35 km) farther out the bay. By at least 1612, ‘Parlican’ was known as Old Perlican (or Old Perneca). On his 1612 voyage into Trinity Bay, John Guy makes several references to this place by that name. Since the very name Old Perlican suggests the existance of a New Perlican, it seems likely that New Perlican was named by at least this time."

Reference is made in Thomas Rowley’s (one of John Guy’s explorers) letter in September 1619 in which he says that he and a Master Hill were planning to go from Cupids to Trinity Bay in 25 days’ time to trade with the Beothuk. In another letter dated Oct. 16, 1619 Rowley states that Master Hill is leaving next week for Trinity Bay and in a letter dated Feb. 2, 1620, Rowley states that if he cannot hire a carpenter to help in building his house in New Perlican, “we shall make means without with master hills carpenters."

Thomas Rowley had been living at Cupers Cove (Cupids) since at least 1612. In 1618 he and William Hannan entered into partnership with Percival Willoughby to settle on the Trinity Bay side of Sir Percival’s lot. Rowley planned to settle at New Perlican. Once established, the colonist intended to live by fishing, farming, trading with the Indians and prospecting for minerals. Although this next letter is not dated, it is clear from its content that it was written sometime between Rowley’s letter of Oct. 16, 1619 and his letter of Feb. 9, 1620.

In it he describes his plans to settle “near Harts Content … at New Pernecan” (baccalieudigs.ca).

Even though the foregoing indicates a much earlier date of settlement, Bill Gilbert, archeologist who discovered the Hefford Plantation near the Long Bridge behind the SUF Hall building (now Lower Trinity South Development Assoc.) has dated that plantation to 1675, therefore, this is the “confirmed” date of settlement here.

This plantation is thought to be the oldest in Canada that is still inhabited by the descendants of the first settlers. Many artifacts are held at the Lower Trinity building as well as at Cupids Museum under the care of the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corp. Heritage New Perlican hopes to have some of them housed here in the community in the future.

Heritage Day

This year was the 6th Heritage Day in New Perlican. It is held on the second Saturday in July. This year the committee recognized the oldest resident, Ruth Peddle, 92 at her home in the morning with a surprise bouquet of flowers. Ruth was truly surprised and touched by this.

Heritage Day becomes bigger every year. In fact, this year the Heritage New Perlican committee found it difficult to fit all the picture displays, artifacts, items brought by townspeople, etc. into the community centre in the upstairs area for display. This is a good thing!

Heritage New Perlican has been given the full support of the townspeople and former townspeople. This year there were several new displays by town residents. Peggy Burridge brought one from the Burridge family; Nettie Martin brought the geneology of the Martin family in New Perlican, who date back to the 1700s; we had some local people bring their hooked rugs of life in the past in New Perlican; there was a war veteran display showing 101 war veterans from this small town; St. Mark’s Anglican cemetery showing recent headstones uncovered in June 2013; Grant and Matthews family displays by David Kelly and a Martin family display from Verna Martin Gosse.

Our Heritage New Perlican Facebook page started in May, 2012, with almost 400 members and growing daily. The stories, family geneology and photos that are posted here by members as far away as Hawaii.

Heritage New Perlican thanks all the members for sharing, so if you have not joined yet, please do so and spread the word to anyone interested.

This year’s photo contests “new” and “old” were successful and the photos entered were difficult to rank, according to judges Greg Shyshko and Eugene Hiscock.

Each year Heritage New Perlican unveils new drymounted photos that are discovered and worth enlarging to be shared with the public and displayed in the town’s community centre. This year the municipally designated sites were St. Mark’s Anglican cemetery, thought to be the oldest Anglican cemetery in the town, and Jean’s Head Lighthouse, which from 1905 has served the mariners of this area well. We were fortunate to have six letters written to the newspaper in 1892 transcribed and available to read at our event on the pros and cons of having the lighthouse on Jean’s Head.

Heritage New Perlican was also presented with a print from Ed Snook, who painted the Jean’s Head Lighthouse from old pictures and information obtained. It is dry mounted and on display at the community centre. Ed has done 40 prints only and from each print he will donate $5.00 to Heritage New Perlican.

Our guest speaker for this year’s festivities was Ron Piercey, a former resident of New Perlican who now lives in St. John’s, yet returns here often and still has a love for the town. Ron delighted all with the rousing stories of growing up in New Perlican and his vision for the future of the town.

The afternoon was wrapped up with an old fashioned cup of tea and refreshments served with china teapots and cups/saucers by the our lady volunteers. The displays were held over for several days at the community centre for those who didn’t get to attend the Saturday event.

Heritage New Perlican members are Lorraine Warren, Max Warren, Betty Simmonds, Gail Snook, Greg Twining, Gary Lane, Linda Pelley, Pat Hiscock and Eileen Matthews.

— Submitted by Eileen Matthews, chairperson, Heritage New Perlican

Organizations: Cupids Museum, Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corp. Heritage New Perlican, Heritage New Perlican committee

Geographic location: New Perlican, Trinity Bay, Old Perlican Mount Misery Farm Hills Long Bridge Trinity South Canada Hawaii

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  • alicia merritt
    February 01, 2014 - 00:29

    My great-grandmother Lillian Penney (aka Delilah Paris) came from Hants Harbour/New Perlican. She was born around 1903 to John Penney and Amelia Garland. She also had an aunt, Elizabeth Langer, her father's sister with whom she stayed briefly before emigrating to Springfield, Massachusetts (around 1919) where she became a vaudeville singer for a brief time, eventually ending up in northwestern Pennsylvania married to my great-grandfather William Smalley. Are there any Penneys or Garlands left who might be able to help me find more information on my great-grandmother and her family? Thank you in advance for any information you share with me.