Red granite sea stacks (“friars”) mark the entrance to Friar’s Cove, along the western shoreline leading to Harbour Breton, Newfoundland. The cove, located about 1.5 kilometres south of Rocky Point, is only accessible to small craft, as the water is shallow with a narrow entrance to a small sandy beach below a towering cliff.
Friar’s Cove was the site of a shipwreck on August 29, 1905. A two-masted sailing vessel, Resolute of Jersey, was sailing from St. John’s to Belleoram in Fortune Bay to
load fish for one of the European ports when it was caught in a violent hurricane.
While trying to reach the safety of nearby Harbour Breton, she was wrecked at Friar’s Cove. The Evening Post of Saturday, September 2, 1905 reported that “the ill-fated Resolute was completely broken up and in less than 24 hours the ship’s timbers were practically reduced to matchwood.”
According to the Half-Yearly Agreement and Account of Voyage and Crew, there were five registered crewmembers on board: four from Jersey, Channel Islands, and one from Russia. The crew consisted of P.F. Mission, 33, master from Jersey; Albert Blackmore, 44, mate from Jersey; George Dufeu, 24, AB, from Jersey; Sidney Hotton, 17, cook, from Jersey; and Fritz Klutz, 18, OS, from Russia.
Unfortunately, the young cook drowned in the mishap. The Resolute was the first ship he worked on.
W.J. Ivey, Acting Registrar at the time, stated that “this ship became a total wreck at Friar’s Cove, Harbour Breton, Newfoundland on August 29, 1905. Certificate of Registry lost with ship. Registry closed 27th September, 1905.”
The Resolute was built in 1877 on the Island of Jersey for Captain George Noel. The schooner-rigged vessel was 80 feet long and 19 feet wide, with a registered tonnage of 82. The Resolute had undergone extensive repairs at Jersey in1904 and work was completed on November 28 that year. The Resolute was no stranger to the Harbour Breton area, and a Customs record shows that she cleared Customs in Harbour Breton on June 29, 1903.
Besides documented evidence of the shipwreck, there is physical evidence as well. The Resolute’s brass bell was found at Friar’s
Cove several years ago. The inscription on the bell reads, “Resolute 1877 Jersey.” A nearby rock, treacherous to boaters and sometimes referred to as Whaleback Rock, is also called Resolute Rock.
Friar’s Cove has a colourful history that extends beyond shipwrecks. The cove was frequently visited during the late 1800s by Dr. Conrad Fitz-Gerald of Harbour Breton, a Newman & Co. doctor. He regularly dove from the lower friars there.
It is also said that Friar’s Cove was a convenient place for bootleggers to bring their liquor around midnight; local buyers would meet them there to get their illicit supply.
Today, Friar’s Cove is a Municipal Heritage Site, designated by the Town of Harbour Breton.