the rights to these rivers.
By 1836 there were permanent settlers in
The earliest settlers in the area probably came to
In the Nineteenth Century salmon wardens regularly reported on the progress of this fishery and commented particularly on over-fishing. The fishery was prosecuted mainly by fishing servants who, having fished the brooks over a period of years, were regarded as the independent, sole proprietors of these waters. It was highly competitive, and even large firms jostled for the right to exclusive ownership with the year-round inhabitants of the brook sides. In 1856 it was noted by an irate warden, who supported the local fishery, that “at Gambo or Fresh Water Bay there are three considerable Brooks discharging into it their waters, viz: Gambo Brook, Middle and Taverner’s Brook . . . the heads of which no one but the occupier of the Brooks should be permitted to fish for salmon” (JHA: 1857, App. p. 345).
Settlers in the Gambo area .by 1871 were Edward Barrow, David, Jacob, Joseph and James Golong (Goulding), Alfred Inder, Jacob and Robert Oakley, Samuel Pretty and Job, John, James and William Pritchett, all fishermen (Lovell’s Newfoundland Directory: 1871). Most of these family names have earlier associations with Greenspond qv (E.R. Seary: 1976), and the Greenspond firm of Brooking and Company was known to be active in the salmon fishery. According to Seary the Pritchett family reputedly settled at Domino Point (Dominion Point),
One source of local oral tradition (M. Pond: 1973, p. 3) maintains that the first inhabitants of the Gambo area were a Micmac family named Joe, who were encamped at
Five male members of the Pritchett family were listed as salmon fishermen on the
Between 1876 and 1906 Gambo changed from a small fishing-farming area to a bustling group of communities with large sawmills and a burgeoning population. In 1878 a family from St. Brendan’s dammed a small pond at Dark Cove and built a sawmill. A second family from Greenspond settled at Doleman’s Point, Middle Brook, and a sawmill was constructed which utilized the waters of Middle Brook for power. After the Mint Brook mill was destroyed by fire, Middle Brook became the site of a 40,000 fbm per day mill (Head: p. 34). While the pine forests were exhausted by the turn of the century (Hand- cock and Sanger: 1981, p. 46), numerous other small mills came into existence based on the spruce and fir reserves. Pond (1973) noted the building of the second mill (made of brick) on Middle Brook in the early 1900s. In 1921 William Pritchet also started a mill on Middle Brook, and Pond Brothers established a sawmill in a cove outside Middle Brook. That mill was later relocated on Middle Brook itself. Other sawmill owners and operatom included Lewis Pritchett, the Hender Brothers and George Pritchett. Most of these enterprises, with the exception of those of the Pond, and the Hender Brothers, were short-lived.
The establishment of pulp and paper mills in central and western
The beginning of commercial lumbering in the Gambo area in the 1870s was the drawing card for many settlers from the older headlands and island communities of
from 1870 to roughly 1920, and from 1955 to 1965. As related, families from St. Brendan’s and Greenspond moved to Dark Cove and Middle Brook in the 1870s. In 1892 the railway running north from Placentia Junction reached Gambo and roads were constructed by 1894 linking Dark Cove, Middle Brook and Gambo. After fire destroyed the Mint Brook mill in 1907, the residents of that community abandoned it and moved to Gambo. During this era increasing local and world markets for timber, the coming of the railway and Gambo’s increasing importance as a regional administrative and service centre, attracted other new residents. In 1891 Middle Brook numbered ninety-three people; Dark Cove had thirty residents and Gambo River seventy-nine (Census). By 1911 Gambo had 344 residents (many from Mint Brook), Dark Cove had 242 and Middle Brook had a population of 281. The next major rise in population occurred in the 1950s, when twenty Bragg’s Island families resettled in Dark Cove mainly in three areas, known locally as “the Marsh,” “the Waterfront,” and “Pauls’ Hill
The pull-out of the major pulp and paper companies from the Gambo area and the 1961 forest fire which started near Middle Brook proved to be crushing economic blows. Increasingly Gambo residents sought employment outside the community, particularly in
Children were reported to be attending school at Gambo in 1884 and by 1891 there was a school at Mint Brook. According to Pond (p. 42), the first school in Gambo was reputedly established in Absalom Pritchett’s barn in the late 1800s by a Mrs. Churchill. This was replaced by a more suitable building by 1910. The first church,
M. Pond (1973), D.W. Prowse (1895), E.R. Scary (1976), JR. Thoms (1967), Census (1836-1981), Harbour Grace Standard (Oct. 9, 1872), JHA (1851; 1857; 1873), Newfoundland Gazette (Oct. 3, 1980), Royal Gazette (Jan. 1964), Lovell’s Newfoundland Directory (1871), Rounder (May 1979; Mar.-Apr. 1982) Newfoundland Historical Society (Gambo). Map G. JEMP