The community of Haystack, located on the northeast side of Long Island, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, was settled in the early 19th century. Its name is said to have come from the shape of the hills at the entrance to the harbour. Settlers were attracted to its sheltered harbour, its proximity to good fishing grounds and the availability of arable land. Early in its history, Haystack served as a seasonal base for the migratory fishery but, as with other Newfoundland communities, it soon developed an economy based on the resident cod fishery.
In the first Newfoundland government census of 1836 Haystack is grouped with the neighbouring community of Paddy Poor's Cove (later called Spencer's Cove) with a combined population of 33. By 1845 it was listed as a separate community with 2 families, 11 people in all. By 1857 the population had grown to 37 residents in 5 families, most of whom were engaged in catching and curing fish. Haystack flourished but its population remained relatively small, peaking in 1921 with 148 inhabitants.
The population of Newfoundland and Labrador came mostly from the southwest of England and the south and southeast of Ireland. Migration to the island was intimately linked to the fishery and occurred mainly between the mid 18th and mid-19th centuries. The province is also home to three native groups-- Innu, Inuit, and Mi'kmaq--and to a French-speaking population, found mostly in the western portion of the island. More recent immigrants have increased the ethnic and cultural diversity of the province, but by comparison to most other parts of North America, this diversity remains limited.
During the next 20 years there was a gradual decline in both its population and economy. Tuberculosis was a problem in Newfoundland communities at that time and it took a heavy toll among the young people of Haystack. Some families were nearly devastated. The difficult years of the depression followed. By 1945 the population of Haystack had dropped to 97 and by 1953 there were only ten families left with 23 children attending school.
Despite the many advantages of living in a small community such as Haystack, the decline of the saltfish trade convinced many people to move to larger centres in search of employment. The relocation of previously thriving businesses hastened the move by other residents. When the three remaining families left in September of 1957, Frank Drake became Haystack's lone resident. He remained there for the next 12 years. In 1969, with great reluctance, Drake had his house towed to the nearby mainland town of Arnold's Cove, thus ending nearly 150 years of permanent settlement. Haystack eventually disappeared from provincial maps.
In 1995 former Haystack residents established a committee to organize a reunion in the community. The reunion was held on a windy weekend in August, 1997 with over five hundred people attending, many seeing each other for the first time in forty or fifty years. Another reunion is planned for August, 2003.
As part of the celebration, the Committee published the commemorative booklet, Haystack Reflections. It includes a brief history of Haystack, profiles of some of the residents, information on churches, schools, and genealogical information on many of the families who lived there.
The Committee maintains a web site at http://www.math.mun.ca/~haystack/ and publishes a newsletter. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 103, Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland, A0B 1N0.
The collection contains 204 copies of original photographs, circa 1900 to 1950s, collected by the Haystack Reunion Committee from former residents and their descendants. The images include schools, churches, business premises, work and social activities, special events, Haystack residents, and the changing landscape of the community in the first half of the 20th century. All have been identified.
The images in this collection were gathered by the Haystack Reunion Committee for inclusion in its commemorative booklet, Haystack Reflections, published in 1997. The images were copied by the Photographic Services Dept. of Memorial University. The copies and negatives were deposited with the Maritime History Archive in 1996/1997. The originals were returned to the owners.
The Maritime History Archive would like to thank the following for granting permission to use the Haystack Photographic Collection images on this web site.
Wilbur Allen for PF-285.015, PF-285.016, PF-285.030, PF-285.089, PF-285.103, PF-285.108, PF-285.127, PF-285.128, PF-285.138, PF-285.140, PF-285.141, PF-285.145, PF-285.148.
Berkley Best for PF-285.028.
Juanita Best for PF-285.029, PF-285.036, PF-285.060, PF-285.067, PF-285.101.
Clyde Burt for PF-285.076, PF-285.083.
Audrey Caravan for PF-285.109, PF-285.111, PF-285.112, PF-285.114, PF-285.117, PF-285.118, PF-285.119, PF-285.190.
The late Frank Drake for PF-285.001, PF-285.002, PF-285.003, PF-285.004, PF-285.005, PF-285.007, PF-285.009, PF-285.017, PF-285.018, PF-285.019, PF-285.020, PF-285.021, PF-285.033, PF-285.041, PF-285.042, PF-285.056, PF-285.059, PF-285.062, PF-285.064, PF-285.065, PF-285.066, PF-285.068, PF-285.073, PF-285.077, PF-285.082, PF-285.084, PF-285.085, PF-285.086, PF-285.087, PF-285.088, PF-285.094, PF-285.095, PF-285.096, PF-285.146, PF-285.186.
David S. Gilbert for PF-285.176.
Clayton Halfyard for PF-285.187, PF-285.200.
Kathleen Johnson for PF-285.037, PF-285.038, PF-285.051, PF-285.091, PF-285.092, PF-285.122, PF-285.123, PF-285.157, PF-285.171.
Hilda Loder for PF-285.045.
Shirley Ryan for PF-285.071, PF-285.079, PF-285.081, PF-285.170.
Charlotte Squires for PF-285.014, PF-285.049, PF-285.053, PF-285.054, PF-285.057, PF-285.058, PF-285.078, PF-285.090, PF-285.093, PF-285.104, PF-285.177.
Wilson S. Tibbo for PF-285.168.
Delilah L. Wendland for PF-285.022, PF-285.032.
All other images courtesy of the Haystack Reunion Committee.