Musgrave Harbour

Musgrave Harbour is a Canadian town in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Musgrave Harbour

Muddy Hole

Coordinates: 49°25′00″N 53°57′52″W
Country Canada
Province Newfoundland and Labrador
  Land69.94 km2 (27.00 sq mi)
  Density14.2/km2 (37/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-3:30 (Newfoundland Time)
  Summer (DST)UTC-2:30 (Newfoundland Daylight)
Area code(s)709
WebsiteTown of Musgrave Harbour


Located on the Kittiwake coast of the island of Newfoundland, the closest major centre is the town of Gander.


Musgrave Harbour is a fishing community that was originally named Muddy Hole. The name was changed in 1886 in honor of Governor Anthony Musgrave. It was visited as early as the 18th century by Europeans. For example, George Skeffington from Bonavista was given salmon fishing rights there in 1723. In the 19th century the migratory fishery took place between Musgrave Harbour and Cape Freels and eventually permanent settlement began. The first family to settle in Musgrave Harbour was John Whiteway, of Western Bay, in 1834. The 1836 Census show Whiteway's family of eleven living in "Muddy Hole" and five people living in nearby Ragged Harbour. Musgrave Harbour was the administrative and religious center of Hamilton Sound by 1900, but due to its poor harbour it failed to be a commercial center. When Tobias Abbott of Doting Cove introduced the gasoline engine in 1909 the Labrador fishery was replaced with the inshore fishery. The people of Musgrave Harbour also became active in the Fisherman's Protective Union movement and the F.P.U established a local council there in 1909. In 1912 a Union Trading Co. store opened in Doting Cove. By 1911 the population was 433 in Musgrave Harbour, 458 in Doting Cove, and 49 at Ragged Harbour.[1]


The earliest people in Musgrave Harbour were of the Church of England; however, settlers from Bonavista introduced Methodism to Musgrave Harbour. A Wesleyan school opened in 1853, it was closed in 1862 and then reopened in 1865 by John Wheeler. A full-time minister was appointed to Musgrave Harbour in 1874. Doting Cove, Ragged Harbour, and Musgrave Harbour had a combined population of more than 500 by 1884, and almost all were Methodist. The first resident minister in Musgrave Harbour was the Rev. Henry Lewis, and the 1874 church was the first Methodist church in the Greenspond circuit. The Salvation Army came to Musgrave Harbour in the 1890s and by 1930 made up the majority of the population.[1]


The first school in Musgrave Harbour was established in 1852 with Charles Harris as the teacher. It was built by the people for the Wesleyan School Society, it opened in 1852 with about 36 children. The school was closed in 1863 but it reopened again in 1865 with John Wheeler as the teacher, and he served for 24 years. The first female teacher was Laura Taylor in 1893.[2]

Census information

1845 1857 1869 1874
population 54 150 204 232
inhabited houses 8 19 23 30
families - 23 35 34
Church of England 48 65 44 6
Roman Catholic 6 4 2 -
Wesleyans - 81 158 226
No. of Schools - 1 - -
students - 40 50 46
who can read/write - - - 36
total boats 5 8 23 24
barrels of potatoes produced 90 938 978 770
barrels of turnip - 1 - 10
oil produced (gals) - 1355 - 2487
tons of hay - 29 21 25.5
cattle/cows - 42 35 35
swine/goats - 12 38 39
horses - - - 1
nets and seines - 17 29 34
people catching/curing fish 22 59 57 68
seamen and fishermen - 29 48 51
cod fish cured (qtls) - 1520 - 3082
salmon caught (tres) - 1 - 8
herring (brls) - - - 152
stores/barns/outhouses - 9 38 25
fishing rooms in use - 6 12 15
vessels in seal fishery - 1 4 -
men on board - 6 26 21
tonnage in fishery - 23 102 76
seal nets - - 6 1


- Lovell's Directory of 1871 describes Muddy Hole as a fishing settlement in the Twillingate and Fogo district, distant from Greenspond by 24 miles in boat with a population of 130. It also says "A number of boats leave here for the Wadham Islands, and their fish are the best cured on the island."[3]

1941 airplane crash

In 1941 Dr. Sir Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, died in a plane crash near Musgrave Harbour. The Hudson Bomber, with crew Captain Joseph Mackey, co-pilot William Snailham, and navigator William Bird, were en route to England when they had engine trouble just after leaving Gander. They attempted to return to Gander, but didn't make it. Captain Joseph Mackey was the only survivor.[4]


The local park is named after Sir Frederick Banting, and also has an interpretation center dedicated to Dr. Banting and the crash. The wreckage of the plane was airlifted to the park in 1990.

St. Luke's United Church is a sightworthy church in the center of Musgrave Harbour. The War Memorial in front of the post office is worth a look as well.

Important early architect William Tuff Whiteway came from Musgrave Harbour.

See also


  1. Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Guy, Raymond (1994). From the Straight Shore. St. John's, Nfld: Harry Cuff. ISBN 978-0-921191-92-6. OCLC 31781034.
  3. Lovell, John (1871). "Muddy Hole". Newfoundland directory for 1871. ISBN 978-0-919941-09-0. OCLC 15273532.
  4. Stevens, James. The Maw. Trafford Publishing. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4122-3789-5.

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