Eastport Peninsula: "The Neck"
"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 was built in 1890.
Photo by Gordon Handcock, ©1985. Reproduced by permission of
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 with school complex in the background.
Photo by Gordon Handcock, ©2000. Reproduced by permission of
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.
"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.
Since its inception,
"The Neck", has functioned in much the same way as the ancient village green or
community commons. The "green village" has Medieval origins in Europe and England.
The "green", usually situated in the centre of settlement, was an area of public or
common land (usually covered by grass) where a church and school or, as in New
England, the public hall could be found and also open space for gatherings and
sporting events. Normally, the "green" was used by one community. "The Neck" has
that very rare distinction as serving as the communal area for three communities
since the 1870s. Presently it functions as a central area for all seven places on
the Eastport Peninsula. This special area, "The Neck", thus lends a very distinctive quality
to the cultural character of the Peninsula and is also one of the more enduring
legacies of its human history.
© 2002, Gordon Handcock