Heritage Web Site Search Heritage Web Site Home
Navigation Bar


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

*Steep Gable:
The most common residential house type features a steeply peaked roof.

Figure 1

*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.

Figure 2

*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.

Figure 3

*Victorian Mansard:
This folk house style is usually highly detailed with mansard roof and bay or dormer windows.

Figure 4

*Hipped Gable:
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.

Figure 5

*Salt Box:
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.

Figure 6

(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.

(Figures 6)
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.

Top of Page

Navigation Bar

Partnered Project Heritage Web Site Project
Memorial University of Newfoundland