Scroll for the history of Trinity’s early years

Chronology of Selected Historical Events


used as a summer cod fishing station by English Westcountry migratory fishermen (Whitbourne)


Trinity Sunday, Richard Whitbourne under a Commission arrived from Exeter, Devonshire, to hold “the first Court of Admiralty … that ever was …”


(a) Census (Sir John Berry) records planters named: Tho. Carmen & Wife, David Horton & wife, Edward Horton, James Horton, and Tho. Gabriell; (b) Hydrographer Henry Southwood describes & maps planters living in cove on the east side [Pease Cove], identifies a cove inside of Fort Point as the site of the Admiral’s Room, and a cove on the west side as the Vice-Admiral’s Room. .


H.M.S Bonaventure of the Admiralty convoy, put into Trinity Harbour for repairs.


April 2-3, French forces burn two settlements inside Trinity Harbour. Capture 6 men in one; all flee from other.


Poole merchants (Whites) concentrate shipping and supplies for protection being deemed defensible if guns were mounted at its narrow entrance (Admiral’s/Fort Point). Sam White first used Sam White’s Cove 1699.


Capt. Thos. Cleasby RN of HMS Mary Gally draughts and awards a fishing room [formerly rear-admirals room] to William Taverner, a Poole trader formerly at Bay de Verde.


Poole traders & ship-owners petition for fortification.


Census Planter families: Davis, Harvey, Gifford, Roberts and Taverner (Harvey & Taverner were resident on Westside).


Settlement destroyed again by the French (de Montigny) from Placentia.


Census Planters: Davis, Harvey, Taverner, Barbeome, Foulks, Sweet, Thaine and Martin.


Capt. John Moors, a ship-owner from Christchurch, Hampshire acts as a lay minister of the Church of England at Trinity, English Harbour, Hants Harbour and Old Perlican.


Shore-based sealing conducted by winter & spring crews from skiffs.

Poole merchants begin recruiting servants for the fishery in southern Irish ports – Cork, Waterford and Youghall – and using these ports for wet provisions -butter, pork and beef (salted)


Brig Joseph (100 tons) first ship known to be built at Trinity by Poole Quaker merchant Joseph White (his mother Mary Taverner of Bay de Verde).


Justices of the Peace appointed: Jacob Taverner and Francis Squibb; Parochial church built by Jacob Taverner; and Rev. Robert Kilpatrick, missionary, Society for Propagation of Gospel (SPG) arrives.


Quaker Whites built the ships: Charlton (200 tons), Willing Mind (90 tons), Adventure (90 tons), Samuel and Dove (70 ton) and Speedwell (40 ton). Shipbuilding was now on a firm footing.


Fort built and garrisoned on Admiral’s Point.


Summer census enumerated 63 Family Heads including 83 women, 167 children, 1368 servants (488 during the previous winter). Total summer population 1680(servants 81 percent).


Seven Years War. July 17-August 1, 1762 Trinity Harbour was captured and occupied by a French expeditionary force. Some fishing rooms burned but major merchant properties preserved. Benjamin Lester, Poole merchant & resident JP, chief liaison with French.


Benjamin Lester built large brick house and enlarged his shop and counting house. Both still preserved (Lester-Garland House and Ryan’s Shop).


Migratory ships ordered to return home unemployed servants (mostly Irish) at the end of the fishing season.


SPG Missionary Balfour wrote: “Trinity being the principal Port of this northern part of the Land, I have a decent audience every Sunday during the summer season of about three hundred People… “Summer populations of Trinity Harbour in this period reach levels of 1500-1700 people.


Balfour complained that Samuel White, "a Rich Miser Quaker . . . built a huge flake . . . over part of the Garden . . . which Flake obstructed the Smoke of my Chimney, Darkened my Windows, and rendered my House hardly Habitable . . ." White was ordered to remove the flake. Complaint emphasizes that good land near waterfront was much crowded with fishery infrastructure.


Court House and gaol built with “a tax of one shilling on all servants…”


Methodist preacher, John Hoskins, visits Trinity - taunted and tarred by English sailors.


Arrival of Dr. John Clinch, surgeon. Clinch also became J.P and SPG missionary.


Clinch appointed stipendiary Magistrate.


Clinch records Beothuk vocabulary from Indian girl named Oubee and possibly from John August, another native who fished for the firm of Jeffery & Street at Catalina in the summer and reportedly went back to his people during the winter.


Clinch experimented successfully with smallpox vaccination sent from London by his boyhood friend and medical colleague, Dr. Edward Jenner. This was a major milestone in world medical history.


A Return of the Number of Houses, Inhabitants, Fishing Rooms, Rents of Rooms etc. etc. in the District of Trinity, Newfland in the Winter of 1800 and 1801 with the Number of Servants, Boats, etc. employed in the Fishery in the Summer 1800 and the Totals of Wages given" Benjamin Lester owned five fishing room (or plantations) and 23 dwelling house in Trinity Harbour; 19 rooms and 20 dwellings in 12 other Trinity Bay settlements. Population of Trinity Harbour c 800.


Benjamin Lester of Poole, Trinity’s principal merchant from the 1760s, died. Property and Trade acquired by his son-in-law, George Garland.


Robert Slade of Poole established trade on former premises of Joseph White and Jeffery & Street facing Northwest Arm towards Hog’s Nose and on Southwest Arm


The off-shore seal fishery (ice hunting), using schooners and brigs, flourished at Trinity, becoming an important part of local economy. Marks a period of rapid growth in the resident population; the heyday of Trinity as a port and place of commerce; and expansion and rebuilding of community infrastructure.


(War of) Loyal Trinity Volunteer Rangers formed (a local militia force under Slade’s agent Wm. Kelson). Fort rebuilt by Garlands & Slades. A company of British marines arrived in September 1812. No active military engagements in war. Signalling system established to alert residents of enemy ships. One false alarm recorded.


October. The first recorded visit by a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Fr. J. Sinnott, stationed at King’s Cove in Bonavista Bay.


First resident Methodist preacher, the Rev. John Haigh; Freemasonry lodge established, a branch of Lodge of Amity #137, of Poole, Dorset, Dr. John Clinch, Master.


Rev. Dr. Clinch died, having served in Trinity for over 35 years.


John Bingley Garland rebuilt Benjamin Lester's Georgian house, making it a three-storey salt box type.


Construction of a new parish church began (St. Paul’s) under committee chaired by J.B. Garland. The Rev. Aubrey Spencer, later the first Church of England Bishop of Nfld., became incumbent missionary at Trinity.


Rev. William Bullock appointed SPG missionary; married Mary Clinch, John’s daughter; served also as magistrate, doctor, land surveyor & c until 1840; moved to Digby, Nova Scotia.

October 15 "horrendous gale..." Journal of William Kelson


Public school opened by Newfoundland School Society (NSS) in C of E Rectory, then in Court House. Benjamin Fleet the first teacher. 1826: Methodist Meeting House built - a cottage shaped structure.


June 12. St. Paul’s Church consecrated by Bishop Inglis of Nova Scotia. Hymn, "We Love the place, O God,” composed by Rev. Wm. Bullock for this occasion later gained widespread use in Christendom.


NSS School with attached teacher house completed. Enrollment c 150-175 students.


October 19, John Bingley Garland (Poole merchant) chosen member for Trinity District in the newly formed Representative Government; elected first speaker of the House of Assembly; resided part-time in St. John’s.


Small Roman Catholic Church, Church of the most Holy Trinity, built on land donated by Garland. Original structure, with bell tower added in 1880, still standing. Reputedly - the oldest wooden church in the province.


August 9, John Bingley Garland resigned from government and returned to Poole from Trinity following death of his brother George. Also disheartened by Newfoundland politics & prospects for trade.


A Road Committee established under the Revd. Bullock (a trained surveyor); network of roads and lanes designed (based on earlier footpaths); names assigned mostly after street names in Poole.


Trinity Benefit Society, an organization –still extant - formed by Bullock, to provide financial aid to the sick or members unable to work (and death benefits) – a forerunner to modern disability and life insurance programs. Unique in Canada at that time.


John Bingley Garland closed his establishment at Trinity dating to the Taverners c1700, the Lesters 1748-1802, and the Garlands 1802-49. Continued a trade at Greenspond into the 1860s in partnership with St. John’s firm (Robinson & Brooking).


"Garland Plantation" leased to Robinson & Brooking of St. John's.


Robert Slade & Co. bankrupt, last of the Poole merchants. “Slade Plantation” acquired by Grieve & Bremner (St. John’s & Catalina); NNS becomes Colonial and Continental School Society (CCCS School)


William Kelson, former agent and partner of Robert Slade, died at Trinity; a renowned citizen, one of Trinity’s most outstanding 19th century community leaders.


First wooden streamer S.S Wolf dispatched to the ice/seal hunt from Trinity by Grieve & Co., under Capt. George Gent and a crew of 103. Use of schooners in the seal hunt begins to decline.


Walter Grieve & Co. combine the Slade & Garland Plantations, using the former mainly for landing seal pelts and processing oil; the latter for general trade, storage, and shipping. Population of Trinity 814.


Commercial School opened primarily for the middle and upper classes.


Lighthouse constructed on Fort Point by the Newfoundland Lighthouse Service. Mr. James Rowe appointed first keeper


Grieve’s S.S. Lion (229 tons) to the seal fishery each spring, Capt. Frank Ash.


Capt. Edward Murray Cooksley, son-in-law of John Bingley Garland, arrives with family & friends from England; attempts to re-develop Trinity; house burned.


A new Methodist Church built, Gothic style with spire (demolished in 1935); Trinity, Catalina and Bonavista connected by telegraph.


Hiscock House built for Richard “Dick” Hiscock, blacksmith. A Provincial Historic Site.


January 6, mysterious disappearance of S.S Lion (wooden steamer owned by Grieve & Bremen used in seal fishery), enroute St. John’s to Trinity, off Grate’s Cove with loss of Capt. Patrick Fowlow, crew of ten, and about 20 passengers.


Newspaper Weekly Record / Trinity Bay Advertiser, editor & proprietor D.C. Webber (drowned 1893), then published until 1899 by John A. Barrett.


17 schooners (849 tons) sent to the seal hunt with 330 men.


Population 550 (declined from 814 in 1869).


February 27. The Trinity Bay Disaster caused by a blizzard striking suddenly with c. 215 men & boys from Trinity Byte sealing on the ice in the bay. Over twenty perished, most from English Harbour and Ship Cove [Port Rexton]


Trinity connected by wagon road (40 miles) to Shoal Harbour via Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay.


St. Paul’s Anglican Church, an impressive Gothic Revival edifice was constructed, based on plans designed for Trinity Anglican Church, Nova Scotia (built 1878) by Stephen Carpenter Earle; consecrated November 13, 1894 by Bishop Llewelyn Jones. He labelled it "the Gem of the Diocese."


Parish Hall built by William Lockyer using Second Empire ornate features.


Bankruptcy of R.S. Bremner, merchant in Trinity from 1866; last tenant of the Garland Plantation.


CCCS School & Commercial School merge into a general High School (first principal Mr. A.T. Tulk, assistant Miss Bessie Gribble). Parish Hall used as school for ten years.


Last schooner sailed ice hunting for seal (Captain Fowlow)


Whaling factory operated at Maggotty Cove by Atlantic Whaling and Manufacturing Co Ltd (Job Brothers of St. John’s). Processed 472 whales- mostly killed in Trinity Bay during the period.


Ryan Brothers of Bonavista (James) & Kings Cove (Daniel) purchase Garland Plantation to outfit schooners for and receive cod from the Labrador fishery and general merchandising; Trinity re-established as an important mercantile centre.


Newspaper Enterprise published by F.J. Brady (Breddy) gaps 1924-34.


Lighthouse rebuilt with white cylindrical cast iron tower attached to base of earlier structure and fog horn added


November Wreck of schooner Marion Rogers on rocks outside Fort Point just under the lighthouse. Seven persons perished.


Census population 376.


Trinity Cabins opened by Rupert Morris, a veteran of World War II, pioneering the modern day tourist industry in the community.


Liquidation of Ryan Brothers Ltd., completing the mercantile abandonment of the ancient Taverner-Lester-Garland-Ryan Premises.


Trinity Historical Society (THS initially Historic Sites Committee) formed to preserve historic sites, buildings and records.


Census population 323


Museum opened in a traditional family house by THS (first museum outside St. John’s)


Trinity incorporated as a municipality


Projects to restore, refurbish and preserve historic buildings and sites including: Parish Hall & Court House: St. Paul’s Anglican Church; Church of the Most Holy Trinity (RC); Mortuary Chapel; Society of United Fisherman’s Hall (former Methodist School); Ryan’s Shop (former Garland and Lester); and Hiscock House. Palisades rebuilt around military site on Fort Point. Private dwelling acquired, remodelled and opened as an Interpretation Centre on the history of Trinity.


Restoration of the Green Family Forge; Trinity Trusts formed in Poole, England (Alan G Perry) and Trinity, Canada (David R.L. White), to reconstruct ( incorporating remnants of original) the Lester-Garland House. Project entailed documentary research, fund-raising, archaeological work in situ, and community engagement (Town Council, Trinity Historical Society, and local oral history).


Rising Tide Theatre (formed in 1978 by Donna Butt) established “The Trinity Pageant -The New Found Lande” outdoor theatre presentations taking audiences through the lanes and roads of Trinity while re-enacting historical events of the Trinity Bight area.


Rising Tide opened “The Summer in the Bight” as a companion event to the Pageant featuring plays, dinner theatre and concerts on Newfoundland cultural themes and history. Renamed “Seasons in the Bight” in 2002.


Lester-Garland House reconstructed and officially opened June 25, 1997; The Story of Trinity by Gordon Handcock published by Trinity Historical Society (republished 2008).


Trinity Historical Society Office and Archives located in Lester-Garland House; Census population 240.


Census population 191 (decline of 20 percent from 2001)


Cooperage on the Lester-Garland Premises reconstructed.


Census population 137 (decline of 28 percent from 2006).


Restoration of the Fort Point Military and Lighthouse Site.


Trinity Historical Society celebrates 50th Anniversary.