Bonavista Folk Architecture
Bonavista, Newfoundland's largest fishing community, was first
settled in the late 1600's. While fishing was the
principle occupation of the people of Bonavista for four centuries,
fishermen also built houses, flakes, boats, and furniture.
The fine buildings and unique architectural features of this town
provide a great example of the skills and creativity of these craftsmen.
Bonavista is unique in that it has a large range of styles and features,
many of which are unique to the town. Finely detailed
houses and notable institutional and commercial buildings all form a part of the town's landscape.
The folk architecture of Bonavista is rich in interesting details which is in
contrast to most Newfoundland towns,
where construction methods were simpler. Quality craftsmanship and attention to
detail is evident in the construction
of most buildings in Bonavista.
Features of Folk Houses in Bonavista
The most common residential house type features a steeply peaked roof.
*Double Front Peak:
Particually unique to Bonavista, this type of house with its twin steeply peaked
dormers is attributed to builder Ronald Strathie who constructed many fine houses
and buildings in Bonavista.
*Low to Mid Slope Gable:
These homes, featuring a lower sloped roof style, in many cases, are steep
gabled houses that have been cut down for ease
of roof maintenance.
This folk house style is usually highly detailed with mansard roof and bay or dormer windows.
Also rich in design, these houses were constructed with dormer windows and a steep
gable roof as well as a small hip roof at each end.
A traditional folk house type all over Newfoundland, the Salt Box style, named for
its shape, which resembled the boxes
used for shipping salt to Newfoundland, was one of the earliest forms of house
construction. The Salt Box traditionally had
a shorter steep roof line in front and a longer steep slope in back. The house,
therefore, looked bigger from the front than it actually was.
(Figures 1 - 5)
Reproduced by permission of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, St.
John's, Newfoundland. From Dale Jarvis, ed., Heritage Inventory of the Bonavista
Peninsula: preliminary Inventory report of selected pre-1920 structures in the
Bonavista Peninsula area, vol. 1 (St. John's, Newfoundland: Heritage Foundation of
Newfoundland and Labrador, © 1995) 112, 215, 383, 105, 229.
Reproduced by permission of David Mills. From John J. Mannion, ed.,
The Peopling of Newfoundland: essays in historical geography, Social and
Economic Papers series; No. 8 (St. John's, Newfoundland: Institute of Social
and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland, © 1977) 89.