The Harris House is a wooden, two storey, biscuit box style house with a low hip roof situated on a small plot of land and directly next to the water’s edge. Constructed around 1951, it is located in Burnt Islands, NL. The designation includes both the house and the surrounding land.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
The Harris House has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Burnt Islands due to its historical, cultural and aesthetic values. The Harris House has historical value because it stands as a physical reminder of a way of life that sustained generations in Burnt Islands and along the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Originally owned by fishing captain George Harris, it is an example of the scale of house that would have been built by a successful fishing captain. While perhaps considered modest in an urban setting, fishing crews of between four to nine men lived, or “shipped,” in the home, along with the Harris’ and their six children. Once a thriving centre of the “Western Shore Jackboat” fishery, fishermen from Burnt Islands were well travelled. Captains such as George Harris travelled from the coast of Labrador, to Cape Pine, Cape Breton, the Magdalen Islands and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Their boats fished most of the year along the mainly ice free south coast along with carrying coal, freight and other supplies between Cape Breton and the communities along the southwest coast. With the introduction of longliners in the early 1950s, the way of life along this stretch of coast saw dramatic changes. The days of a large scale hook and line fishery conducted from dories launched from large vessels started to give way to more modern fishing techniques using larger boats. The Harris House has cultural value as it is symbolic of a particular time, place and occupation. The home was built by George and Martha Harris, two well respected and fondly remembered residents of Burnt Islands. Both were very active in the community, as people of their generation were expected to be. Stricken with polio at the age of two and left handicapped, Martha Harris, (nee Chalk) was very active in her community and was known for her volunteer activities. She was a member of the Jubilee Guild, the Anglican Church Women and acted in community plays and concerts. George left school at a young age to fish with his father, as most males of his generation did. In his twenties he joined the Merchant Marines, sailing to Canada, the United States, Europe and the West Indies. In the 1940s he acquired the schooner “Margaret J. Doody” and witnessed the peak of the fishery in Burnt Islands. George was a member of the Loyal Orange Lodge and offered his time in other ways as well, such as transporting sick people along the coast. George and Martha also ran a small retail store in the community, further entrenching the couple in the community’s collective memory. The Harris House has aesthetic value as it is a good representative example of a vernacular style common along the southwest part of the island during the first half of the twentieth century. Lumber for the construction of the home came onboard a coal shipment from Nova Scotia. It is a noteworthy example of the craftsmanship of outport vernacular builders, standing as a testament to the permanence of their construction techniques. While utilizing simple design elements which resulted in plain, neat facades free of ornate decoration, such homes are impressive because of their quiet, refined simplicity. The small, open green space surrounding the house also has aesthetic value as it is typical of the traditional landholding pattern in the community. Source: Town of Burnt Islands Regular Council Meeting February 15, 2006
Character Defining Elements
All those elements which represent the historical, cultural and aesthetic value of the site, including: -low hip roof; -number of storeys; -wooden shingles on main house; -narrow wooden clapboard on porch; -corner boards; -window size, style, trim and placement; -size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors; -original chimney style and placement; -size, style and location of porch; -exterior teal colour common in region; -dimension, location and orientation of building, and; -range of green space surrounding the house.
Location and History
Town of Burnt Islands
020 West Street
1951 - 1951
Rectangular Long Façade