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Adams House
(Cape Onion)

Possibly the oldest surviving house along what was once known as the French Shore, the Adams Home has housed four generations of one of the best-known families on the Great Northern Peninsula.

© 1998 Heritage Foundation
of Newfoundland and Labrador

(20Kb)
The Adams family were the first recorded inhabitants of Cape Onion. William Adams arrived there in 1874 and constructed the original part of the house in 1890. His son, Henry, built the main part in 1910.

The house became a focal point for the Cape Onion and Ship Cove area, and it became quite common for the family to entertain guests. Sir Wilfred Grenfell was one early visitor to the Adams household. In the following years doctors, nurses, magistrates, clergy and the Newfoundland Rangers all either visited or lodged at the house.

Henry and his wife, Mary Ann, along with his father, lived in the house. The family grew, and in 1938 they built an extension so one of the children, Ross, could live there with his family.

It was during these years that the family's business and influence grew. Henry and Ross often employed a crew of fishermen who lived in the house during the summer. They also became fish merchants and opened a general store. They were considered the best ship builders in the area, not only for the quality of their boats, but for their speed as well. Because of this growth, the home continued to see many visitors and lodgers.

In 1948 Ross and his fishing crew erected phone poles and lines to the house to bring the first private telephone to Ship Cove. Ross also became the area's first social worker in 1949; this increased the flow of people to the home because many of his clients stayed there when they consulted him.

In 1955 Ross moved away from Cape Onion, eventually settling in St. John's with his family. Henry continued to run the local general store until his death in 1967. In the following years, the home was used as a summer retreat for members of the Adams family.

Although the house was in remarkably good shape considering its advanced age, by the late 1980s some restoration work was necessary. This, coupled with the desire of David Adams, son of Ross, to turn the house into a bed and breakfast, led to extensive renovations.

The house is a prime example of a Newfoundland fish merchant's home. It is made entirely of locally cut trees. All of the wood was either hand sawn or sawn in the local sawmill. It stands two storeys tall and has a steep gabled roof. Over the years extensions were added as the family grew. The house is located near the water, giving the family easy access to the wharves and stages to load and unload merchandise.

Now operating as a successful bed and breakfast, the house became a Registered Heritage Structure in November 1989. It was awarded the Southcott Award for heritage restoration by the Newfoundland Historic Trust.


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