MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Port au Port

Roughly triangular in shape, the Port au Port Peninsula is located on the west coast of Newfoundland. This area was settled first by Dorset Paleo-Eskimos and later by a group said to be ancesters of the Beothuk. Jacques Cartier is said to have visited the Island in 1534, landing at what is today the community of Port au Port West.

In the late eighteenth century, a few French fishermen settled on the Peninsula, in areas such as Cape St. George. Harry Felix is said to be the first settler at Felix Cove (hence the name). At Three Rocks Cove, settlers included the Collier, Dennis, and Hinks families. John Marche at Marches Point was another early settler of the area. Most early settlers were fishermen, but some raised livestock and kept gardens, as well. Some of the local merchants included Abbott and Haliburton, who opened for business on the Port au Port Peninsula in approximately 1884.

Many changes have taken place on the peninsula over the last hundred years. An American air force base was established at Stephenville in the mid-1940s, and this brought more English-speaking residents to the area. The use of the French language has been in decline, but since the 1970s there has been a rebirth of French culture. The fiddler Emile Benoit was a leading figure in this revival. Since then, an annual French folk festival has helped re-energize the French culture and heritage of the area.

Leach listed one of his two Port Au Port informants as "Mr. Alexander Marsh." This was probably Alex March (from Marche, the name of one of the founding families of the area).

The other informant from Port au Port was Ms. Theresa White.

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