Eastport Peninsula: "The Neck"

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"The Neck", a parcel of land used for inter-community and peninsular activities, located between Eastport, Happy Adventure and Sandy Cove, represents a most remarkable feature of the Peninsula's settlement geography and cultural landscape. It is indeed a settlement characteristic which may be unique not only to Newfoundland but to Canada and perhaps to North America. Although "The Neck" is, in legal terms at least, a piece of church land, its functional use makes it effectively a public reserve and an inter-community commons.

Holy Cross Anglican Church, 'The Neck', 1985
Holy Cross Anglican Church, "The Neck", 1985

Photo by Gordon Handcock, ©1985. Reproduced by permission of Gordon Handcock.

In the early 1870s, during the fledgling stages of Eastport, Happy Adventure and Sandy Cove, a decision was taken by the Anglican Church to build a school-chapel to serve all three communities. The building was constructed on a centrally located rise, or elevation, near the present site of Holy Cross Anglican Church (which was built in 1890 to replace the earlier chapel). The Church also acquired title to a 30 acre block of land. Over the years this central area, "The Neck", has provided the space needed for cemeteries, schools, playgrounds, and other public buildings. Today, for example, besides Holy Cross Church, "The Neck" contains a parish hall and rectory, an all-grade school complex which serves the whole Eastport Peninsula, two cemeteries (Anglican and United), a war memorial, a youth center, sports and recreational facilities, a fire hall, a fraternity lodge (SUF), a medical clinic and other structures.

Anglican Cemetery, 'The Neck', 2000
Anglican Cemetery, "The Neck", 2000

Photo by Gordon Handcock, ©2000. Reproduced by permission of Gordon Handcock.

Until the 1960s it contained an armoury built by and for the Church Lads Brigade. The CLB armoury was a simple but magnificent open-space structure that not only served its primary purpose, the training of boys, but for decades provided the main inter-community venue for social and cultural activities (socials, banquets, concerts, plays, movies, entertainment, agricultural fairs, celebrations, sports activities and other events). Nearby outdoor spaces were used for sports such as football and softball, Sunday school picnics, summer camp grounds for the CLB and especially for casual youth gatherings and a popular resort of courting couples.

The assignment of a central area for church and public use by three adjacent communities in the 19th century was unquestionably a unique event in the history of Newfoundland settlement. It can be seen as a planning strategy, or at least forward thinking on the part of someone (possibly the Reverend H.M. Skinner), but also a remarkable example, for its time, of community cooperation.

Aerial view of 'The Neck', 1968
Aerial view of "The Neck", 1968
"The Neck" is located between Sandy Cove, Happy Adventure and Eastport.
Reproduced by permission of the Surveys and Mapping Division of the Department of Government Services and Lands, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. ©1968. Image modified by Tanya Saunders.

Until the 1960s it contained an armoury built by and for the Church Lads Brigade. The CLB armoury was a simple but magnificent open-space structure that not only served its primary purpose, the training of boys, but for decades provided the main inter-community venue for social and cultural activities (socials, banquets, concerts, plays, movies, entertainment, agricultural fairs, celebrations, sports activities and other events). Nearby outdoor spaces were used for sports such as football and softball, Sunday school picnics, summer camp grounds for the CLB and especially for casual youth gatherings and a popular resort of courting couples.

The assignment of a central area for church and public use by three adjacent communities in the 19th century was unquestionably a unique event in the history of Newfoundland settlement. It can be seen as a planning strategy, or at least forward thinking on the part of someone (possibly the Reverend H.M. Skinner), but also a remarkable example, for its time, of community cooperation.