The Big Fish Store in Gaultois, originally built by Newman and Company, was recently declared a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. The building may very well be the last original structure built by the company on the south coast of the province. The store, located on the Room section of the community, had been used for a number of purposes in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The residents of Gaultois in the 20th century and those of today probably didn’t think too much about the building.
It was used by the town’s fish plant and by the Garland’s Company to store freight and various materials for a good part of the 20th century. Few people thought the structure had any historical significance.
However, he Newman and Company Fish Store in Gaultois, which is most likely the last remaining original structure built by the firm on the south coast of the province, has plenty of historical value.
On April 26 the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador officially recognized the building’s historical importance in designating it as a Registered Heritage Structure.
Andrea O’Brien, the Municipal Outreach Officer and the Provincial Registrar with the Heritage Foundation, said that the building was designated as heritage structure because of its historic and aesthetic value to the community and to the province.
Ms. O’Brien recently talked about why the Newman’s’ Fish Store received the honour from the foundation.
Editor’s Note: The following information is taken from a conversation with Ms. O’Brien and/or information directly from the Board of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador’s web site.
The Newman and Company firm, which originated in Devon, England can trace its roots all the way back to the late 1700s. By 1850 the firm was headquartered in London and had agents in Newfoundland at Harbour Breton, Gaultois and Burgeo.
By the late 1820s Newman and Company had established a whaling station at Gaultois, which operated by until the 1840s, by which time the cod fishery had become the mainstay of the firm’s operations on the south cost.
A fisheries report of 1865 noted that Newman and Company was the only firm operating in Gaultois and in 1871 a fisheries inspector reported that the firm had a large fish store and drying place in Gaultois.
As the firm later began to withdraw from the cod fishery the Job firm acquired its holdings in the community in the 1890s and in the early 1900s they, in turn, sold out to the Garland firm.
Ms. O’Brien said that the building has an aesthetic or beauty value, as it is an excellent example of a fisheries building constructed by a mercantile firm. It is also a rare example of the type of fishing premises built by the Newman firm. The existence of Roman numerals on the posts running the length of the building suggest that some of the main structural components may have been prefabricated elsewhere and shipped to Gaultois.
Newman’s Fish Store has further aesthetic value as it is a well-known landmark in the community and is an architectural rarity in the province.