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John's Cove Area

John's Cove is named after Cornelius John Fox 1841. He was the second lighthouse keeper. His father was the first. What gave this place importance is that it was sheltered from the sea and the land sloped in such a manner that the fishermen could haul their boats up on shore for repairs. Some of the boats were motorized with "make and break" engines ( 1 cylinder ); other boats had sails. The boats were pulled up from the sea by oxen or horses. The fishermen did their own repairs on their boats. Along the shore ( where the big boulders are today ) there were fish houses. This is where the nets were hung out to dry and the fish were processed inside. They used "hogsheads" ( large casks) for salting fish. The fish (mostly cod) were kept in salt brine for 3 days, and then spread out to dry in the sun on fish flakes. The salt fish was then taken into Yarmouth and sold to a fish dealer. Some fish were sold fresh, but the fishermen got a better price if they processed them themselves. The bones and skins from the fish were placed in a burlap bag and sold for fish glue. Nothing was wasted. In John's Cove eel grass used to be collected. It was brought ashore, dried and sold for insulation in housing, mattresses and furniture. The eel grass does not lie on the beach, but is immersed in water and harvested with a rake. There was an abundance of clams at one time, but for some reason the clam beds have been obliterated. The John's Cove families would usually maintain a small vegetable garden that supplied food for the winter months. These were often looked after by the wives and children while their husbands were out fishing. Each individual fisherman had his own fish shed, boat and equipment and was completely independent; but the entire community assisted in those circumstances where cooperative help was necessary -- such as building a house, raising a barn or beaching a boat for repairs. People in John's Cove were very religious and Sundays were set aside for church attendance and family gatherings. No fishing or other work were undertaken on the Sabbath.

In the old Cape Forchu school ( which is located in John's Cove ) there were no more then 25 children. The children came from Cape Forchu and the Yarmouth Bar. They had to walk to school every day no matter what the weather was like. It was very cold in the school house in the winter time. They could not keep it warm. In the vicinity of another school in that area ( it is torn down today ) an RCF airplane crashed, killing all of its crew members during the second world war.

In the 30's the Cunningham's ran the lighthouse. It was built in 1840 and was replaced by a more modern one in 1960. It was said that one of the early French explorers fell off the rocks and was killed. Whether the story actually happened or not is questionable. Some people say they saw a phantom ship on fire, but usually these stories are associated with the sea. Today we take them with a grain of salt. ( this was an old saying that the fishermen said.) Some people also say that Champlain and Leif Ericson, the Nordic explorers landed here, but this has not been authenticated.

The Grant R. Cunningham Shanty

This dwelling is believed to have been built around 1906, although it may have been even earlier.  The builder is unknown. 

"All the deeds for this property, back to a deed written in 1927, mention "the dwelling house now on said property, and formerly the homestead of David Walsh".  In the 1927 Quit Claim Deed from David and Alice Walsh to Robert and Margaret Corning, Mr. Walsh relinquished any claim he had to the property, which he did not own.  According to assessment records, the house was built sometime during 1906 and David Walsh (Welsh) was assessed for it.  The land on which the house was built was owned by Frank and Allen Sweeney, who probably leased it to the Walsh family."

Frank W. Sweeney (occupation - farmer ) and Allen A. Sweeney (occupation - fisherman) October 1884 - 16 August 1932

Robert F. & Margaret E. Corning (occupation - clerk) 16 August 1932 - 11 May 1935

Alexander Sweeney (occupation - probably fisherman) I can't remember if he was a fisherman, but I will check to be sure 11 May 1935 - 28 August 1975

Herbert J. jr & Kathryn E. Cunningham (occupation - fisherman) 28 August 1975 - 23 October 1982

Grant R. Cunningham (occupation - fisherman) 23 October 1982 - present

It has been used as a gear shed for as long as I can remember.  Herbert (Bub) would have used this as his gear shed, as his house is not far past this shanty, so probably since 1975.  Not sure what Alexander (Alec) would have used it for.  I assume the same thing, as his house was on the Lobster Pound Rd as well.  I will ask around, to see if anyone knows for certain about this.

Research by: D Cunningham
Source (bolded):  Yarmouth Archives and the Dept of Municipal Affairs

There is another story about False Harbour. The "Linton" (a boat) left from Yarmouth for St.John New Brunswick. The Linton followed the "Keith Cann" (another boat) that was carrying passengers and freight to St. John N.B. The Keith Cann could see the lights of the Linton trailing behind. There was a heavy sea running and blowing a gail. What is assumed is that the Linton decided to return to Yarmouth and instead of going around Cape Forchu and into the Yarmouth harbour, it went into False Harbour which is at the west of the Cape where it went into the rocks. No one survived. The following morning the Linton's mast could be seen above the surf. On that evening it was totally submerged. Most of the men were from Yarmouth.

My grandfather and his friend had been fishing on Trinity ledge when the wind began to blow from the west and the sea turned bad. They decided to return to Yarmouth to avoid the storm. Rather then enter the harbour around Cape Forchu, they decided to go under the Breakwater at Yarmouth Bar and enter John's Cove. While going under the Breakwater, a heavy sea lifted the boat and they hit the lower part of the bridge at the Breakwater, there they lost their cuddy.

Research by Jonette Duffus
information by my grandfather, Nelson Surette

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