History of Griquet
It is believed, by American born historian Samuel Eliot Morison, that John Cabot (1497)
started his voyage, in the Matthew, at Dursey Head, Ireland and sailed towards the west.
When he reached the ice floes in the Straits of Belle Isle he turn towards the south and
his landing point was Griquet Harbour.
When Jacques Cartier visited in 1534, the harbours were being used by Breton fishermen
and had French fishing stations until the mid-nineenth century. Clay pipes, rusted nails
can still be unearthed, espically on Camel Island and Four Ears Island ( My brother found
a 1729 french coin, while tending his garden ). Another Island called Griquet Island but
locally known as Ellis Island have many old buriel mounds.
The first English settlers at St. Lunaire and Griquet were guardiens, who oversaw the
French fishing premesis during the winter months, as they were being pilfred by the
visiting Inuits from Southern Labrador, who came here to hunt. There is a story relating to
the French fishermen hauling their small boats to neary by Joe,s pond, filling them with
rocks and sinking them to the bottom, thus when the water froze , they were hidden. Still
another story about a man clearing a large bolder from the middle of his garden had
uncovered rusted anchors and chains, another hiding place. The French were not
allowed to stay in the Petite Nord during the winter months.
In 1785 the French marines attacked sealing crew's, who spent the winter's in St.
Lunaire, with drawn swords, cutlasses, pistols, and bayonets, and burned their property.
The first settlers arrived around 1849, and my Great-great-grandfather John Pilgrim was
born at Carbonear January 27, 1836 . His son Great-grandfather James Pilgrim was born
at St. Anthony , April 17, 1862 and eventually moved to White Cape Harbour, Griquet
By 1872 it was noted that the French had not been in the Griquet area in some years and
their old fishing rooms were occupied by English settlers who were migrating from
Conception Bay and Bonavista Bay.
The first public building was a small Church of England school/chapel, built by the Rev.
J.J. Curling ( about 1885). Soon there was a Methodist school/church at White Cape
Harbour. Grace Quinton/Smith ( representing the Salvation Army) arrived in Griquet in
1914, and my mother, Minnie Pilgrim/Quinton/Hillier, was the first baby to be baptised in
the newly erected Barracks , in 1916. The first Pentecostal church was built in 1935. By
1935 there were about 500 people living at St. Lunaire-Griquet, making it in size second
only to St.Anthony among the area's communities. Since then the population has
decreased with the down turn of the fisheries.