MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Calvert

photo: Ca. 1974, courtesy of Dr. Gerald Pocius, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

photo: Ca. 1974, courtesy of Dr. Gerald Pocius, Memorial University of NewfoundlandCalvert was one of the earliest places in Newfoundland to have a European name. Calvert was once called Caplin Bay, but was renamed in 1922 in honour of Sir George Calvert. The first census was taken in 1675; at that time there were only twenty people living there: settler Christopher Pollard, his wife, three children, and fifteen men. In 1794, Aaron Thomas wrote in his Newfoundland Journal, "Capelin Bay is more properly a Harbor … Its mouth is defined from the Sea by two very small Islands called Stone and Goose Islands, there is a deep water and a very good anchoring ground." This community, like many others in Newfoundland, was centered on the cod fishery. In the off-season, fishermen would take to the woods and work in sawmills, because money was scarce and food scarcer. The population of Caplin Bay (Calvert) began to rise and by 1901 there were 294 people living in the community, compared to only 193 in 1836. By 1966, there were approximately 473 people calling Calvert home. A sawmill provided local employment from 1850 to 1950.

Swains (highly reputed as boat builders) and Sullivans were among the first wave of Irish settlers in 1805, and were later joined by, among others, the Walsh and Reddigan families. These settlers formed the nucleus of the nineteenth and twentieth century community. The residents drew lots every summer to allocate fishing berths; those with good berths took less catch and sometimes shared their haul with those who had caught less. Each household had informal rights to cut wood in a particular area and other members of the community respected these rights.

For further information about Calvert, consult A Place to Belong: Community Order and Everyday Space in Calvert, Newfoundland (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991) by Dr. Gerald Pocius.

MacEdward Leach collected from eleven people in Calvert in 1950:


Calvert | Cape Broyle | Cape Ray | Curling | Flatrock | Port au Port | Pouch Cove | St. Georges | Tors Cove