History of Point Leamington

NL GenWeb

Oral History

Notre Dame Bay ~ Exploits District

History of Point Leamington (South West Arm, New Bay )

and transcribed by BEVERLY WARFORD.

While I have endeavored to be as correct as humanly possible, there may be typographical errors.

The picture above of Mugford's Hotel has been difficult to find over the years but was finally located in Grand Falls! The buildings on the point were owned by Crowe's sawmill operation. The first is a company house and the second was know as the "shop". Note the tree on the point where residents always stated Thomas Rowsell was buried following his killing by the Beothucks here in PL in 1789. Sorry to say it is no longer there. The two story building on the right, near the road, was Mugfords Motel. The men who came from all over the Island to work in Phillips' and later Crowe's mills stayed in this building.

It was also from this point that Point Leamington received its name. Joseph Phillips had named this area "Point Leamington" in honor of his son George Leamington Phillips. The remainder of the community was known as South West Arm of New Bay until 1911 when the name of Point Leamington was introduced. I have an advertisement for Phillips Sawmill in the early 1880s stating the address as Point Limington (note spelling), South West Arm, New Bay.


It has been conjectured that people of the Maritime Archaic Tradition may have frequented this area partly due to the fact that the New Bay River empties into the Bay at Point Leamington.

In the 1700s migratory fishermen began making excursions to this area. The South West Arm of New Bay was frequented by the Rowsell family of Fogo and Leading Tickles from the early 1800s, for salmon fishing in the spring and early summer and for fur trapping in the winter.

Contact with the Beothucks was sometimes violent. The killing of Thomas Rowsell is a stirring event in local tradition. The Rowsell brothers, Thomas and George, worked the brooks for Matthew Ward of New Bay, who carried on a salmon fishery on South West Brook and West Brook.

The Indians trusted George but Thomas became their deadly enemy. According to Rev. W. Wilson in Newfoundland and Its Missionaries, "Thomas was reputed as being a great Indian killer. He never went anywhere without his long flintlock gun and woe betide the unfortunate Beothuck who dared show himself where Rowsell was. He is said never to have spared any of the natives."

However, the Beothucks sought their revenge on Thomas and in 1789 they caught him off guard while dipping salmon from his weir on South West Brook, where Mr. Joseph Phillips would later have his sawmill. Thomas was ambushed and murdered by the Indians, and in Beothuck fashion, was beheaded, stripped of clothing and his body pierced with arrows. (Source: River Lords by Amy Louise Peyton. )

Residents state his headstone was inscribed:

Do not come over to this brook
Unless you guarded be;
For Indians lie in wait
To steal your life away.
After Rowsell's death, his brother George assumed charge of the salmon stations and bought out the fishing rights from Matthew Ward for the sum of 90 pounds sterling. After George Rowsell died, his son Joseph operated the salmon post at South West Brook for forty-eight years when it was taken over by George's grandson Henry. It was still being run by the Rowsells a hundred years after Thomas Rowsell's death. (Source: River Lords by Amy Louise Peyton).

The first year-round settler is said to have been Isaac Stuckless of Twillingate in the 1860's, followed shortly thereafter by the family of John Cooper of Cornwall, England. Other early residents include the Harvey family from Twillingate, who came to the area for winter trapping and lumbering. In the 1880's Joseph Baggs from Spaniard's Bay, forced to seek shelter here one autumn, returned with his family the next year. By then trading ships were calling at New Bay exchanging supplies for fish and furs. Some other early families included Sharron, Andrews, Rowsell, Parmiter, Mugford, Hutchcraft and Walker.

Joseph William Phillips operated a water turbine sawmill near the Mill River in the early 1870s to harvest the large quantity of pine in the area. The point, on the south side of the harbour where the mill was situated, was named Point Leamington by J.W. Phillips after his only son George Leamington Phillips. By 1911 the community, originally known as South West Arm of New Bay, had been renamed Point Leamington.

Sawmill owner J.W. Phillips (whose sawmill, situated at Point Leamington, was one of the largest in Newfoundland) has been associated with one of the greatest walks in the history of Newfoundland. It is of special interest to the residents of Point Leamington in that the walk originated here in the community. Joseph William Phillips was extremely anxious in March 1875 to get from Point Leamington to Toronto on urgent business. Those were the days before trains or roads, and in March navigation was still closed. But Phillips was determined to get to Toronto, so he hired two Micmac Indians as guides and with a team of dogs set out on March 12 to walk to Bay d'Espoir, (beating his way through deep snow on snowshoes, with a 45-pound pack on his back), to find boat passage to St. John's. In freezing temperatures Phillips finally arrived at his destination only to find that no boat was available to take him to St. John's. But he was still determined to get to Toronto so he decided the only thing to do was continue walking to St. John's. Twenty-one days and 600 miles after leaving Point Leamington, he walked into St. John's, where he engaged passage for Canada and Toronto.

In the December 1939 edition of the Barrelman, J.R. Smallwood referred to Phillips' trip as one of the most remarkable walks in the history of Newfoundland and others have compared the feat to that of W.E. Cormack who was the first known white man to walk across Newfoundland.

Mugford's Hotel was constructed near the mill in the 1890s to accommodate the employees of other communities who worked at Phillips' sawmill.

In 1891 there were 78 residents, most employed directly at the mill. Over the next decade the population jumped to 198, as a number of smaller mills came into operation. Harry J. Crowe, who became an important force in bringing the newsprint industry to Newfoundland, acquired the Phillips' mill in 1907. His company, the Newfoundland Pulp and Pine Company, operated the mill until 1911. Forest fires in 1907 and 19ll destroyed a substantial portion of the pine reserve.

Woods work continued to be the lifeblood of Point Leamington, and after the opening of the Grand Falls paper mill, many residents found work in cutting pulpwood. Many of the newer arrivals came from Pilley's Island and Tilt Cove, where mining operations were closing, including the Patey, Rice, Roberts, Thompson and Saunders families.

Point Leamington's ties with the native population date back to 1916 when Louise Woodworth of Point Leamington went to work at Badger, and while there met and married Andrew Paul. They moved to Point Leamington and started a family there. Doug was the first of the Paul children born, and consequently is the first native born at Point Leamington. There has been a small native population in the community since then.

J.M. Sharron opened his first store in 1916. William Baggs established his business the following year in 1917.

The boom was halted near the end of World War I by a huge forest fire which damaged pulpwood reserves in the area. Among the population of 395 in 1935 the chief family names were Andrews, Baggs, Cooper, Curlew, Earle, Feener, Goulding,, Inder, Paul, Roberts, Rowsell, Saunders, Sharron, Stuckless, Thompson, Warford, White and Woodworth. A substantial number of new residents arrived in the 1950s and 1960s from the area's isolated communities, the population peaking at 940 in 1971. Some of these were the Sheppard, Kinden, Marsh and Ward families.


In the 1880s Joseph Baggs received the first grant to cut a path around South West Arm. By 1908 a path connected Point Leamington with Botwood, with a road being completed in the late 1920s. Construction of the road to Paradise (Pleasantview) was begun by the Canadian soldiers and later completed by the Newfoundland Government in the late 1940s.

Coastal boats, most notably the Clyde, operated by the Reid Newfoundland Co. Ltd., delivered supplies to the community. Before the arrival of the automobile, most travel was by boat, horse teams or on foot.


The Methodist constructed their first church in 1884 under the direction of Rev. James Williams. The Methodist Church of Newfoundland later became a part of the United Church of Canada. The Salvation Army was introduced by Captain Peter Oxford in 1898 and a citadel was built shortly after. The Salvation Army and the Methodists had both constructed schools by 1911. The Pentecostal Assemblies came to the community in 1929 under the direction of Pastor Herbert Rideout. The Pentecostal school opened in 1957. For a number of years in the 1920s, the Seventh Day Adventist also had a church and a school in the community.

Joseph John Thompson (1889-1970)

Son of James and Rachel Thompson of Point Leamington, Joseph, formerly a logger became founder and president of the first loggers' union in Nf., The Newfoundland Lumbermen's Association (N.L.A.) 1936-1956. In 1937 the membership peaked at 7000. The offices of the committee of management were located in Pt. Leamington before relocation to Grand Falls. The bridge over Mill River is named in his honour.

I.W.A. Strike

Throughout the history of Point Leamington the forest industry has been, and to a lesser extent still is, the lifeblood of the community. Over the years many men from Point Leamington were employed in the lumber woods and the seasonal trek to the logging camps in the fall and winter became a way of life.

However, the wages and the living conditions in the early camps were far from adequate, and despite several attempts to improve those conditions, when the International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) arrived in the province in the late 1950's working conditions were still far from ideal.

Although Landon Ladd's attempt at organizing the Nfld loggers into his union failed following the bitter strike of 1959, the Commission of Enquiry on the Logging Industry that followed in 1961 addressed the conditions of the camps, and this eventually led to improved conditions for loggers. Within a few years most of the recommendations of the Commission had been implemented, and many loggers attribute the improved working and living conditions in the logging camps (either directly or indirectly) to the I.W.A. strike of 1959.



During the period 1907-1911 women sold home baked bread to the Norwegian sailors who came here to buy lumber from H.J. Crowe Company. Local women served as midwives with little or no remuneration. Ethel Woodworth delivered approximately 500 babies over a 35 year period. During World War II women knit clothing for the Armed Forces under the organization of The Women's Patriotic Association. In order to maintain a subsistence most women cultivated a vegetable garden and raised a few livestock.


In the early 1900s men worked in the logging industry for the Phillips and Crowe sawmills. Later they cut pulpwood for the A.N.D. Company staying away from home for periods of up to three or four months. During this time the family obtained the bare necessities, i.e., sugar, tea, flour, from the merchant, on credit. It was not uncommon for a man to be unable to totally square up with the merchant when he came home with his three or four month's pay. (Minimum wage under Commission of Government was $25. per month. Men received $.90-$1.35 per cord for cutting pulpwood).

Untrained local people such as James Andrews, served in professional capacities such as dentist, doctor, pharmacist and land surveyor, often for no remuneration.


Children attended school when weather permitted and when they could be relieved of their chores. Both boys and girls took adult work responsibilities at ages 12 or 13 at which time they either worked in the wood cutting industry or went to live with a family who gave them room and board plus $2-$3 per month to do house keeping chores (in service).


Denny W.G. Andrews, S.C.

Denny Andrews, then aged seventeen, saved Ronald and Lorne Sheppard from drowning near their home at Pont Leamington, Newfoundland, on 28 December 1977. The Sheppards, who were cousins, had been skating and had fallen through the thin ice some seventy-five yards from shore. Their cries attracted several residents, including Denny. Firemen arrived and held out a rope and ladder, but the ice was too thin to support any weight. When Denny saw the Sheppards' strength was failing he entered the water and pushed them toward the ladder. All three were subsequently brought to shore.


Throughout its history Point Leamington has been linked directly to the forest industry, and it comes as no surprise that many of the town's residents were - and still are - involved with logging camps and sawmill operations. Many men in the town and the surrounding communities worked at logging camps operated by such locals as the Rowsell brothers (Jim, George & Joe), Joe's son Arthur, Les Rice, Amos Feener, Eli Stuckless, George White, and Theophilus Stuckless. The wood from these logging operations supplied the raw material needed to make newsprint by the AND Co. Paper Mill at Grand Falls - and later the Abitibi-Price Paper Mill.

Also, many of the locals operated sawmills within the Point Leamington area and employed many of the town's men. Sawmills operated by George Baggs (and later by Harold Sheppard, and his father Alex), Johnny Cooper (and his son Calvin), Howard Feener, Hallett Boone, Dave Goulding, Joe Roberts, Wes Parmiter, Theophilus Stuckless (and his son Lloyd), Cedric Andrews, William Paul Sr., The Stuckless Brothers (Eli, Mark and Obed), Harry Parmiter and Charlie Rice supplied lumber for local buildings, for shipbuilding, and for export overseas.

An excerpt from the diary of Rev. R.S. Smith, a Methodist Minister who was stationed in New Bay and served South West Arm.

January 26, 1907 SATURDAY

Very weary and tired so stayed in bed for a while. After breakfast I did some writing but didn't do much work. I went over the bay on skates with Bro. Waterman who is my teacher here. Mr. Waterman also is lay reader and holds services in my absence. This was the day we got an organ put into the church (the school house). I was going visiting when I was stopped by Mr. William Thompson who came for me saying that I was needed to marry Joseph Rowsell to Bertha Hutchcroft. I made all the arrangements for this and went to church - where I played some pieces on the organ and then tied the knot. I went to take supper and after supper came back home and to my room where I studied until 1:30. I had lunch during the evening and I ate an orange which was a real luxury.

Did you know that

in 1880sNathan Feener, Joseph Woodworth, Arthur Hutchcraft and David Skivington arrived by schooner from Nova Scotia. They travelled with a load of oxen destined for the loggers working in South West Arm. Mr. Skivington died of sickness that winter and became the first person to be buried in the Methodist Cemetery?
in 1910George S. Andrews, at the age of 10, worked as clean-up boy at H. J. Crowe's sawmill for 4 cents per hour?
in 1912The first post office opened in Point Leamington?
in 1921The first plane to land in Pt. Leamington was piloted by Major Sidney Cotton?
In 1928George Pardy was the first person to travel by car to Point Leamington from Botwood?
in 1934The first radio powered by a dynamo and windmill was operated in Point Leamington?
in 1944Vehicle traffic switched to driving on the right side of a road, from the Old English system of driving on the left?
from 1948-67Wesley Parmiter operated a coasting business?
from 1930s-50sThe Newfoundland Rangers were stationed in the Community?
in 1957Leamington Farms began operation?
in 1962The town was first serviced with electricity?
in 1967Point Leamington received telephone service?
1970The town was incorporated as a municipality?
1989Superior Glove Ltd. began business?

© Point Leamington History Board Committee, Beverly Warford and NL GenWeb
Exploits District