Chronology of Selected Historical Events
1570s: used as a summer cod fishing station by English Westcountry migratory fishermen (Whitbourne)
1615: Trinity Sunday, Richard
Whitbourne under a Commission arrived from
1675: (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.
1696: H.M.S Bonaventure of
the Admiralty convoy, put into
1697: April 2-3, French forces burn
two settlements inside
1700: Capt. Thos.
Cleasby RN of HMS Mary Gally draughts and
awards a fishing room [formerly rear-admirals room] to
William Taverner, a
1702: Census Planter families: Davis, Harvey, Gifford, Roberts and Taverner (Harvey & Taverner were resident on Westside)
1705: Settlement destroyed again by
the French (de Montigny) from
1708: Census Planters: Davis, Harvey, Taverner, Barbeome, Foulks, Sweet, Thaine and Martin
1719-29: Capt. John Moors, a
1720s: Shore-based sealing conducted by winter & spring crews from skiffs
1723: 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).
1730s: 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.
1729: 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 (
1739: Kilpatrick reports most Trinity families removed “up the bay” during winter months (for shelter, wood cutting & sawing, boat-building, hunting and trapping)
1746: Fort built and garrisoned on Admiral’s Point.
1747: Missionary Rev. Henry Jones
1753: 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).
1756-63: Seven Years War.
July 17-August 1, 1762
1764-6: Benjamin Lester built large brick house and enlarged his shop and counting house. Both still preserved (Lester-Garland House and Ryan’s Shop)
1766: Migratory ships ordered to return home unemployed servants (mostly Irish) at the end of the fishing season.
1774: 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.
1775-83: American Revolutionary War. No report of attempts to invade but much disruptions to trade, fishing activities and shipping by American privateers on the coast and Grand Banks. Food supplies (bread, flour, & c) were scarce and expensive. Settler population declined. Balfour removes to Harbour Grace.
1778: Court House and gaol built with “a tax of one shilling on all servants…”
1780: Methodist preacher, John Hoskins, visits Trinity - taunted and tarred by English sailors.
Arrival of Dr. John Clinch, surgeon. Clinch also became J.P
1791: Clinch appointed stipendiary Magistrate.
1791-92: 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.
1799: Clinch experimented
successfully with smallpox vaccination sent from
1800-1: "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
1802: Benjamin Lester of
1804: Robert Slade of
1810-34: 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.
1812-14: (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.
1815: October. The first recorded
visit by a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Fr. J. Sinnott,
stationed at King’s Cove in
1816: 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.
1819: Rev. Dr. Clinch died, having served in Trinity for over 35 years.
1819-21: John Bingley Garland rebuilt Benjamin Lester's Georgian house, making it a three-storey salt box type.
1820-1: Construction of a new
parish church began (
1822: Rev. William Bullock
1822: October 15 "horrendous gale..." Journal of William Kelson
1825-26: Public school opened by
Newfoundland School Society (
1826: Methodist Meeting House built - a cottage shaped structure.
1827: June 12.
1828: NSS School with attached teacher house completed. Enrollment c 150-175 students.
1832: 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.
1833: 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.
1834: 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.
1835: Sailing vessels sent ice hunting for seals: 16 schooners, 1 brigantine, and 6 brigs –tons total 1865, and 516 men. At this time the seal fishery was as important to the local economy as the cod fishery.
1835-36: 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.
1838: 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.
1849: 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).
1852: "Garland Plantation" leased to Robinson & Brooking of St. John's.
1861: 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)
1866: 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.
1867: 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.
1869: 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.
c1870: Commercial School opened primarily for the middle and upper classes.
1871 lighthouse constructed on Fort Point by the Newfoundland Lighthouse Service. Mr. James Rowe appointed first keeper
1872-80: Grieve’s S.S. Lion (229 tons) to the seal fishery each spring, Capt. Frank Ash.
1875: Capt. Edward Murray Cooksley, son-in-law of John Bingley Garland, arrives with family & friends from England; attempts to re-develop Trinity; house burned.
1877: A new Methodist Church built, Gothic style with spire (demolished in 1935); Trinity, Catalina and Bonavista connected by telegraph.
1881: Hiscock House built for Richard “Dick” Hiscock, blacksmith. A Provincial Historic Site.
1882: 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.
1886: Newspaper Weekly Record / Trinity Bay Advertiser, editor & proprietor D.C. Webber (drowned 1893), then published until 1899 by John A. Barrett.
1892: 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]
1893: Trinity connected by wagon road (40 miles) to Shoal Harbour via Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay.
1887: 17 schooners (849 tons) sent to the seal hunt with 330 men.
1891: Population 550 (declined from 814 in 1869)
1892-4: 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."
1898-1905: Parish Hall built
by William Lockyer using Second Empire ornate features.
1900: Bankruptcy of R.S. Bremner, merchant in Trinity from 1866; last tenant of the Garland Plantation.
1901: 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.
1904: Last schooner sailed ice hunting for seal (Captain Fowlow)
1904-14 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.
1906: 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.
1909-1947: Newspaper Enterprise published by F.J. Brady (Breddy) gaps 1924-34.
1910-11: Construction of Bonavista Branch Railway linking Trinity to Clarenville. Trinity Loop, a feature designed for the steep slopes and hilly topography near Trinity, built 1911.
1921: lighthouse rebuilt with white cylindrical cast iron tower attached to base of earlier structure and fog horn added
1938: November Wreck of schooner Marion Rogers on rocks outside Fort Point just under the lighthouse. Seven persons perished.
1945: Census population 376.
1948: Trinity Cabins opened by Rupert Morris, a veteran of World War II, pioneering the modern day tourist industry in the community.
1951-55: Liquidation of Ryan Brothers Ltd., completing the mercantile abandonment of the ancient Taverner-Lester-Garland-Ryan Premises.
1964: Trinity Historical Society (THS initially Historic Sites Committee) formed to preserve historic sites, buildings and records
1966: Census population 323
1967: Museum opened in a traditional family house by THS (first museum outside St. John’s)
1969: Trinity incorporated as a municipality
1978-83: 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.
1991: 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).
1993: 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.
1994: 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.
1996-7: Lester-Garland House reconstructed and officially opened June 25, 1997; The Story of Trinity by Gordon Handcock published by Trinity Historical Society (republished 2008).
2001: Trinity Historical Society Office and Archives located in Lester-Garland House; Census population 240.
2006: Census population 191 (decline of 20 percent from 2001)
2007: Cooperage on the Lester-Garland Premises reconstructed.
2011: Census population 137 (decline of 28 percent from 2006).
2011-2: Restoration of the Fort Point Military and Lighthouse Site.
2014: Trinity Historical Society celebrates 50th Anniversary.