Constructed in 1898, The Klondyke is a causeway which crosses the harbour in Bay Roberts, NL. It separates the main harbour from a body of water known as The Coish. The designation includes the entire causeway.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building Structure or Land
The Klondyke has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Bay Roberts due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural value.
The Klondyke has historic value because its construction and naming are related to a downturn in the Labrador fishery – an important part of the Bay Roberts economy in the 1890s. Before 1898 people travelled to and from Bay Roberts and Coley’s Point either by boat or by a 5 kilometre overland route around The Coish (an Irish term for part of a river estuary cut off from the sea at low tide). A small ferry also operated between the communities for a period. In the mid 1890s a causeway proposal submitted to government was turned down. Local women circulated a petition to garner support for its funding. The causeway would provide a shortcut across the harbour and provide work for those affected by the collapse of the Labrador fishery. No funding was forthcoming but residents decided to build the causeway themselves during the winter months.
According to local folklore, men, women and children carried rock and gravel from beaches by horse and sled, in wheelbarrows, in handbarrows and by hand. The material was dumped on the ice in the harbour. If the weight of the material did not break the ice, the men chopped channels to allow the material to drop to the bottom. In 1897, with many residents facing destitution, the government agreed to pay the people to build the causeway. Work began in the winter of 1898. The causeway was to be 600 feet long and 10 feet wide. Work on the causeway saw people through the winter. It was reported that local store owner Mrs. Bursell compared the paid work on the causeway to the Klondike Gold Rush that had begun in the Yukon around the same time. Thus the causeway received its name, spelled in the English manner with a “y” instead of an “i.”
The Klondyke has aesthetic value because it has become a well-known landmark in Bay Roberts. The causeway allows people to view the harbour and its two shorelines from a different perspective. Over the years the causeway has been widened to allow two-way traffic. In recent years it has also been developed into a park-like setting with lighting, benches and landscaping elements.
The Klondyke has cultural value as a physical representation of economic and social conditions during a particular time period. It reflects the close economic and cultural ties between Bay Roberts and Coley’s Point. Now part of an amalgamated community, at the time of The Klondyke’s construction they were two separate communities. Shared family and commercial ties were so important that people wanted an efficient way to travel between the communities. In addition, The Klondyke reflects the historical dependence of the area on the fishery. The failure of the Labrador fishery caused such hardship that this make-work program was a much needed economic boost.
Source: Town of Bay Roberts Regular Council Meeting Motion #2018-297 June 19, 2018.
Character Defining Elements
Those elements that embody the heritage value of The Klondyke including:
-location in Bay Roberts Harbour, and;
-the bridge in the middle of the causeway that allows small boat traffic into The Coish.
Location and History
Town of Bay Roberts
1898 - 1898