About the Bay Roberts Heritage Society
The Bay Roberts Heritage Society’s mission is to preserve, protect, and present the history and culture of the Bay Roberts area. The Society was founded in 1989 and incorporated in 1991 in an effort to stem the erosion and destruction of the last remnants of the history and culture of the Town.
Most recently the Heritage Society has been involved in having Cable Avenue declared a Municipal Heritage District.
Efforts to preserve the Town’s Heritage have received international recognition. Eric and Betty Jerrett were recently awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for their work in preserving heritage. Congratulations are in order as well to Mayor Phillip Wood and Marilyn Dawe, members of the Heritage Advisory Committee who were also awarded medals.
The Society mission statement is: “To preserve, protect, and present the history and culture of the Bay Roberts area”. In order to be proud of the past, our history must be preserved, presented, and promoted. In that regard, the citizens, the Society, and the Town must work together as partners for the benefit of present and future generations.
The circle represents a porthole providing a window on our past and our marine heritage. The codfish was the determining factor in the settling of Bay Roberts. The flat rocks in the beaches of Bay Roberts East afforded an opportunity to dry fish without the use of flakes. In later years, a major salt fish plant was established in the Town. The fish symbol was painted on the door of the plant. The dots and dashes spell out Bay Roberts Heritage Society in Morse code and are emblematic of the Western Union Cable Company and its socio-economic impact on the Town.
Policy is determined by the Society. At the request of the Society, each Council has assigned one or two Council representatives as liaison persons. There is also a Heritage Advisory Committee for the Heritage Society.
“Friends of The Museum” organization has been established for those who would make a valued contribution on an as-and-when-available basis. This group meets on the first Thursday of each month, except during the summertime, and new members are always welcome. The contribution of these “Friends” is essential to the ongoing operation of the museum and gallery.
Praise for Bay Roberts’ Heritage Value
The Cable Building was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2007 because it was an important keystone in transatlantic communications and in the development of the Western Union Telegraph Company network. Its construction represents the corporate entity that dominated the transatlantic telegraph industry from 1912 to the 1960s; – its design is a strong corporate symbol of the telecommunications giant and a direct affirmation of the impact of the telegraph industry in the 20th century. Moreover, its design introduced to Newfoundland a new type of telegraph station that was more functional and highly specialized in its layout; and, – it was a flagship of telegraph technologies, illustrating Western Union’s important role as an innovative industry leader. In the late 19th century, Newfoundland became a major hub for the development of telecommunications networks as it offered the shortest route to link North America and Europe. In 1910, the first transatlantic cable for the Western Union Telegraph Company was landed in a temporary building in Bay Roberts.
By 1913, the current Cable Building in Bay Roberts was built to serve as the main relay between the North American and European networks of Western Union Telegraph. Its establishment was a key component in the company’s international strategy and its architectural design is important corporate evidence of the expansion and dominance of Western Union in Newfoundland. The design of the Cable Building also introduced a new type of telegraph station to Newfoundland as it adopted the Western Union Telegraph corporate model. The architecture demonstrates a functional and specialized layout with rooms dedicated to specific equipment, technical operations, and administration. From its technical design to the connecting cables, the Cable Building was a flagship of telegraph technologies, illustrating Western Union’s important role as an innovative industry leader. From HistoricPlaces.ca
Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation
About the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation
The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation, incorporated in 2009 as a not-for-profit, registered charitable organization, has been established to help people better understand and appreciate the tangible and intangible artistic and cultural heritage of Bay Roberts specifically, and outport Newfoundland in general.
Newfoundland and Labrador has changed a great deal since becoming part of the Canadian Confederation in 1949. The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation (BRCF) honours the characteristics of our culture which have always made our province a holdin’ ground, as Bay Roberts native son, Newfoundland writer Ted Russell, describes it.
The Foundation seeks to highlight characteristics of Newfoundland through presenting literary works, art works, music, crafts, storytelling, theatre, food, and other means of expression.
BRCF Successfully Nominated Ted Russell “Person of Provincial Significance”
The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation has a General Manager, Sandra Roach, and is managed by a Board of Directors that currently has ten members. The Chair is Clarence Mercer and the Vice-Chair is Ron Delaney. The Board of Directors acts in accordance with the Foundation By-Laws.
Congratulations to the three members of the Board of Directors were recently awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for Community Service: Agnes Butler, Marilyn Dawe, and Edmund Dawson.
Contact the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation
The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation is seeking students for Summer Employment. Please print the form, complete it, and return it to the address below or drop it at the Bay Roberts Town Office in the Cable Building on Water Street. If you have questions, contact:
Sandra Roach, General Manager
t: (709) 683-1195
Clarence Mercer, Chairperson
t: (709) 786-4150
PO Box 1759,
Bay Roberts, NL A0A 1G0
t: (709) 683-1195
f: (709) 786-2128
Main Achievements of the Cultural Foundation
The Cultural Foundation has been involved in organizing a number of community events which celebrate Cultural Heritage during the year. Some of these include the four week “Holdin’ Ground Festival” during the summer, which has been sponsored by the Foundation, the Town of Bay Roberts, and Heritage Canada; Canadian Culture Days Events in September; the Lantern Festival at Hallowe’en; the Grand Old Christmas Time during Christmas; and “24th of May Event” in the spring.
Wayside Signs Relating the Town’s Cultural History
Ten signs have been placed to tell the story of the Town. The signs were developed by the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation supported by the Town of Bay Roberts. 8 of the signs were also supported as a legacy project by Cupids 400 in the neighbouring town of Cupids.
The Holdin’ Ground Project
The Holdin’ Ground Project was developed to record the intangible cultural heritage of the Bay Roberts area before older citizens pass away and it is lost.
Partnerships were formed with Asension Collegiate Senior High School, The town of Bay Roberts, the Bay Roberts Heritage Society, the Bay Roberts Fifty Plus Club. and the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation in order to conduct interviews. Funding was provided by New Horizons Canada. Interviews with Area Seniors
In 2013, these interviews are being continued through a partnership with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Program of Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ted Russell Heritage Legacy Project
For the past three years, under the leadership of Marilyn Dawe, there has been a Heritage Legacy Activity at Ascension Collegiate in the Spring. Kelly Russell (Ted Russell’s son who is a NL Tradition Bearer) and Ray Johnson (Rural Rights Activist and member of Buddywasisname and the Other Fellers) have conducted a series of five classes with High School Students to Create Oral Stories and Recitations.
Bay Roberts Heritage Advisory Committee
- Marilyn Dawe, Chair
- David Dawe
- Judy French
- Eric Jerrett
- Eric W. Mercer
- Eric S. Mercer
- Marilyn Oates
- Mayor Philip Wood
The Bay Roberts Town Council on December 12, 1995 adopted Municipal Heritage Area Regulations specifically to protect the Shoreline Heritage Walk region. In 2004 the Council appointed a Heritage Advisory Committee to advise Council on matters related to heritage preservation. The Council recognized that significant heritage structures in the Town were disappearing. There was a need to conserve and protect heritage buildings, structures and areas for their historic and aesthetic value and for their potential to improve the local economy through tourism related businesses.
Heritage Advisory Committee
Since its appointment the Heritage Advisory Committee has been active in recognizing the heritage of the Town of Bay Roberts. In the early years it helped the Town develop Heritage Regulations. Based upon these Regulations it has recommended the designation of three Municipal Heritage Sites – the Caplin/Myers Building, Bay Roberts Railway Station and Western Union Cable Building – and one Municipal Heritage district – Cable Avenue. It also worked with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador to have Cable Ave designated as a Registered Heritage District by the Province. Recently the Committee applied for and received a Registered Heritage District Grant for work on Cable Avenue trees and the production of a brochure for the Avenue. It has also recently developed interpretive panels for three historic churches in the town.
Large size (PDF) – The Caplin/Myers Building, Bay Roberts Railway Station, Bay Roberts Cable Building (also a Registered Heritage Structure and National Heritage Site), and Registered Heritage District.
Photos of three church panels
Large size (PDF)
The Town in 2009 with the assistance of the Heritage Advisory Committee established Heritage Regulations to help recognize and preserve the Town’s heritage sites. Through these regulations the Town can designate any building, structure or land as a heritage building, structure or land. Once designated, a heritage building, structure or land should not be demolished or built upon, nor the exterior of the building or structure altered except under written permit of Council. A designated property owner will receive an exterior plaque recognizing the property as a Municipal Heritage Site.
Municipal Heritage Site Plaque
Municipal Designation Process
Individual(s) who own heritage property make application for designation. Application is reviewed by the Heritage Advisory Committee who makes a recommendation to Council. Council either designates or does not designate property. A designated property owner will receive an exterior plaque recognizing the property as a Municipal Heritage Site. Once designated, a written permit should be obtained from Council before the exterior of a building or structure can be altered, a structure or building demolished or land built upon. Council will refer permit applications for designated property to the Heritage Advisory Committee for a review prior to approval of permit.