The Resttled Fishing Village At La Manche

La Manche Provincial Park, East Avalon

On the Irish Loop (Route 10) between Tors Cove and Cape Broyle is La Manche Provincial Park. First opened in August 1966, La Manche Provincial Park is a great place for hiking, whale watching, camping and swimming. The park is named after a small fishing community that was once located in a narrow cove on the ocean. La Manche got its name in the 16th/17th century by French sailors who are believed to have used the cove to hide from English ships during their raids on Ferryland and St. Johns. La Manche is French for "The Sleeve" which describes the long, narrow shape of the harbour.

The community was first settled around 1840 by a man named George Melvin. He was shortly followed by relatives and in a 1845 census it was recorded that 7 people lived in the cove. The community grew over the years and in 1919 a small school was built for the lower grades. Children in higher grades had to continue the 5 mile walk to Tors Cove each day. The school closed after confederation with Canada though because it did not meet the requirements of having 11 students in attendance.  The community contained 13 houses at its peak, a Roman Catholic Church, and many stores and fishing flakes built along the cliffs and shorelines. 

At this time in 1949, the population had risen to its highest with 54 people living in the village. But because of a number of reason by 1961 only 25 people remained in the community and because of this and the difficulty in maintaining and clearing a road to the area, the community was under a great amount of stress to relocate. 

Then on January 25, 1966, a powerful winter storm hit the east coast of the island. A combination of high tide and waves caused many boats, flakes, stores and the original suspension bridge connecting both sides of the harbour to be destroyed and washed out to sea. The destruction of the village was enough to cause the people living here to relocate.

Today little remains in the area. Most of the houses were made of wood and thus without maintenance any structures remaining after resettlement were lost out to sea. Several foundations, stairs, and rock walls can be seen around the area today. The community lies on the East Coast Trail and in 1999 a new, large suspension bridge was built over the harbour by the East Coast Trail Association and is one of the most interesting features here today. 

The community can be access by a short hiking trail that begins at the end of Fire Exit Road just south of the turnoff to the actual Park. 

Newfoundland has many more resettled communities along its coast. To find more, visit Abandoned Communities. 

Sources & Further Exploring

Maritime History Archive (n.d.). La Manche. Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Found at https://mha.mun.ca/mha/resettlement/lamanche_1.php.

 

Smallwood, J. R., & Pitt, R. D. W. (1981). Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John's, N.L.: Newfoundland Book Publishers. (Article: “La Manche”. Available online through the Centre for Newfoundland Studies collections database)

 

For camping, hiking, and other tourism information check out Provincial Parks Newfoundland found at

https://www.parksnl.ca/parks/la-manche-provincial-park/.