The current church was designed and built by a native of Harbour Main, Nicholas LaCour. LaCour worked as a carpenter specializing in bridge-building in Newfoundland and Canada, but he eventually returned home and dedicated himself to building churches. Lacour designed and erected the three Gothic altars for Sts. Peter and Paul Church, one of which he donated to the church.
Sts. Peter and Paul hold regular mass in the Church, Sundays at 9:30 am, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:00 am.
Our Literary Legacy
Harbour Main-Chapel's Cove-Lakeview has a legacy of storytellers, singers, and writers.
Foremost among the traditional oral poets is John Costigan, known as "Johnny the Light." Johnny the Light was born in 1892 in Gallows Cove, Harbour Main. He and his twin brother were the keepers of the lighthouse at Salmon Cove Point, but in 1932, while rounding the head near Ram's Horn Bight with a load of coal, their punt was swamped and both men were dumped into the freezing sea. Only Johnny survived.
He tended the lighthouse for decades but is best remembered as a folk historian and poet. He often composed works to memorialize local events and performed them at community events right up into his nineties, from "The Frolic, 1913" to "Tribute to the Centennial" of 1982. He died at the age of 93.
Joe Costigan, the son of Johnny the Light, along with his wife Deborah, digitized many of Johnny's poems after his death, but Joe, too, was a noted folk poet. Some of his work was published in The Shoreline newspaper.
Johnny LaCour's "Red Cap Hole," about the area near the lighthouse where fishermen used to take shelter, is one of the few of LaCour's surviving songs. It appears in the book Our People...Our Church, published to commemorate the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. Included in that volume is "Dear Old Chapel's Cove" by Eddie Fahey, a lament for the author's home, as well as two songs by Hubert Furey.
Hubert Furey is well-known as a storyteller of rural life inspired by the people he met as an educator and resident of Harbour Main. Since his 2016 live performance of the comic tale "Raisin Bread," Hubert has performed at venues throughout Newfoundland. He has published two books, As the Old Folks Would Say and The Present.
Newfoundland and Labrador's foremost poet, Mary Dalton, was born and raised in Lakeview. Dalton is the author of five books of poetry, including Merrybegot, Red Ledger and Hooking: A Book of Centos and as well as poetry chapbooks Between You and the Weather and WasteGround.
Patrick Kavanagh grew up in Harbour Main and wrote the novel, Gaff Topsails in 2005. The community of Gaff Topsails is an outport modelled on Harbour Main prior to Confederation and includes fictionalized events and people from Harbour Main-Chapel's Cove-Lakeview.
Writer Robin McGrath was born in St. John's but married into an old Harbour Main family and retired with her husband, John Joy, to that community.
She is the author or editor of 25 books including award-winning poetry and novels. McGrath is a long-time columnist for the Northeast Avalon Times and a regular contributor to a number of magazines and journals.
Esther Slaney Brown, who was born in Chapel's Cove, published her first book Labours of Love: Midwives of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007.
Stories from our Past
Cat’s Cove Ruffians
With Catholic emancipation in 1829, many restrictions on Catholics were lifted. Irish Catholics dominated the Newfoundland legislature from 1830 to 1860. The formerly dominant Protestants found this situation intolerable. Curiously, it was friction within the Catholic community that brought that era to an end.
In the 1861 election, in the districts of Harbour Main and Harbour Grace, while all the candidates were Catholics, only one pair in each district had the backing of church officials.
Father Kyran Walsh, parish priest of Harbour Main, backed candidates G. J. Hogsett and Charles Furey against Patrick Nowlan and Thomas Byrne. The voters of Salmon Cove (today called Avondale), who also favoured Hogsett and Fury, had to go the poll in Cat's Cove (now Conception Harbour) where voters favoured Nowlan and Byrne.
On polling day, fearing interference with Salmon Cove voters by Cat's Cove people, Father Walsh led a contingent of 300 men from Harbour Main to Cat's Cove where, inevitably, violence broke out. One man, George Furey, was killed and several others were wounded.
At Harbour Main, returning officer Pat Strapp was forced to declare Hogsett and Furey the winners, but subsequently endorsed a writ saying Nowlan and Byrne had the most votes. When this was discovered, Strapp’s life was threatened, his cattle killed and his house and outbuildings burned down.
According to Cyril Byrne, a number of men from Cat’s Cove were tried for the murder but none were convicted, and they returned home to shouts of celebration.
Bishop Mullock was so incensed that he placed Cat's Cove under interdict, closing the church and forbidding the celebration of mass or the administration of the sacraments for a full year. Patrick O'Flaherty wrote that the interdict was referred to as the "Curse of Cain" and to this day, people of Conception Harbour are often referred to as "Cat's Cove Ruffians."
Byrne, Cyril J. "The Church on the History of the Parish of Harbour Main," in Our People...Our Church, ed.. Rev. J. Glavin. Harbour Main NL: n.p., (1983).
O'flaherty, Patrick. Lost Country: The Rise and Fall of Newfoundland 1843-1933. St. John's NL: Long Beach Press, 2005.
Indentured servants were men and women who signed a contract (also known as an indenture or a covenant) by which they agreed to work for a certain number of years in exchange for transportation to Newfoundland, food and shelter.
Plantation. Every fishing property usually included a planter's house, a store with goods and supplies, and cabins for fishing equipment and the crews.
Privateers were essentially pirates with government protection in order to pursue less than legal goals in wealth, dominance, and control of the seas
Longer, lunger. A long tapering pole, usually a conifer with bark left on, used in constructing roofs, floors, surfaces of stages and flakes, etc; fence, rail.
Sources of Information on the History of Harbour Main:
Browne, W. J. "In Praise of Our Land: IV - The Old District of Harbour Main”, Newfoundland Quarterly Vol. 34, No. 4 (April 1935): pp. 5-11.
Byrne, John P. "A History of Harbour Main", a paper written for History 231, a course at Memorial University, no date.
Glavine, Rev. J. “Our People...Our Church 1857-1982”. Sts. Peter and Paul Parish: Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove, Lakeview, NL, 1983.
Strapp, Alice. "History of Harbour Main." A paper prepared for Professor Matthews of the Memorial University Dept. of History, no date.
Williams, Alan F. “Father Baudoin's War: D'Iberville's Campaigns in Acadia and Newfoundland 1696, 1697”. St. John's: Memorial University of Nfld.,1968.
NOTE: There is a list of the twenty identifiable graves in the old Irish cemetery located between Woodford's Road and the Post Office to be found in the Heritage file of the Town Council office and in the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Office in the Parish Hall building. Vertical files on family names of Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove, Lakeview, along with other useful information, can be accessed at the Holyrood Public Library, and there are also vertical files on the community in the Centre for Newfoundland Studies, MUN, and at the A.C. Hunter Library in the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's. Both student papers and topic and place files are held in the Folklore Archive at MUN.