Loon Bay

A Brief Glimpse of Loon Bay

Loon Bay is a fishing and lumbering community at the bottom of Loon Bay in the Bay of Exploits.

The first record of settlement at Loon Bay occurred in the 1836 Census when one family of nine was living there. Eventually some of the winter visitors from settlements farther out the Bay of Exploits stayed year-round. Family names reported by Lovell in 1871 were Manuel, Mills, Roberts, Peckford and Wheeler, all common names in Notre Dame Bay in the late 1700s and early 1800s. By 1911 the population had gradually increased to 144 and has remained fairly stable since.

In addition to fishing the local waters for cod, salmon and lobster, many of these early settlers fished on the Labrador, nineteen men on three vessels going there in 1884. Some commercial farming was being conducted by 1884, when three people reported their occupations as farmers, the number increasing to seven by 1921. Some produce was probably marketed on nearby islands, where subsistence farming was often impossible.

Timber stands near Loon Bay which attracted the first settlers eventually provided the community with its primary source of employment. In 1890 five people reported their occupation as lumbering and by 1911 the number was 30. In addition to sawmilling many of these people were employed by the Grand Falls pulp and paper mill. Two sawmills were still operating in 1941, but by the 1950s all of Loon Bay's lumber-men were employed by the Grand Falls mill.

The original English settlers at Loon Bay were members of the Church of England, but by 1869 there were also Wesleyans. In 1874 the community also had six Roman Catholics. A school had been built by 1891 and a church by 1901. In 1990 children beyond the elementary gardes attended Greenwood High at Campbellton.

Loon Bay in 1990 was mainly a residential community. Most permanent residents were retired, and in the summer the population greatly increased when cabin owners made their annual return. Some workers commuted to larger centres in the area over a road built in the early 1950s. The fish plant at Comfort Cove processed local catches and employed some people, especially women. The regional service centre is Lewisporte, about 18 km. away by road.

Sources of information:

Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Volume Three, page 372, 1991

Used with Permission

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