The Mockbeggar Plantation Fish Store is a large, three-storey wooden structure which has a distinctive appearance resulting from the extension of its west wall to form a lean-to, giving it a “salt-box” style appearance. The building formed the center of the Mockbeggar Plantation’s saltfish operation; it was here that salt fish would have been graded, packed in barrels and stored until shipment. While the exact date of construction is unknown the building still remains one of the oldest extant fisheries buildings in the province and is reflective of the importance the salt fish trade once held for Bonavista and Newfoundland generally. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Provincial Historic Site
The Mockbeggar Plantation Fish Store was designated a Provincial Historic Site because it has historic and aesthetic values. It is historically valuable because according to local heritage sources the building could date to as early as 1733, and while there is no documentary evidence to support this date the building still remains one of the oldest and most impressive fisheries buildings in the province. It’s importance stems from its connection to the Newfoundland salt fish trade and as a central processing center for the Mockbeggar Plantation. The Mockbeggar Plantation Fish Store has aesthetic value because the building reflects a vernacular architecture which was tied to the business of fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and although once very common in Newfoundland and Labrador, this type of structure is quickly disappearing. Its name derives from the fact that it was used primarily as a processing and storage building for the salt fish business. The interior layout, with its large cut timbers and support posts, is a common design used in fish stores, the large open spaces on all three floors allowing for maximum storage area. By the 1930s F. Gordon Bradley’s company, the Bonavista Mutual Traders Ltd., used it to support a number of business ventures. The first floor was used for salmon and berry processing. The second floor of the building was used for salt fish packing and storage; the third was used to dry fish. The sturdy construction was necessary to enable the floors to withstand the weight of the dry fish which was stored there. Bolts, steel plates and rods were used to anchor the structure due to the weight of the fish. These rods, installed prior to 1935, drew the side walls in and provided additional strength to the building during its operational period when thousands of pounds of salt fish would have been stored on its floors. Source: The Newfoundland Gazette, Friday June 12, 1987, p. 175, Volume 62, Number 24, Newfoundland Regulation 108/87; schedule “C”; Bradley Property – Bonavista; Parcels “A”, “B”, and “C”
Character Defining Elements
All those elements that express the functional and vernacular nature of the fish store, including: – placement of building on original site in front of Mockbeggar cove; – steep pitch gable roof with lean-to on west wall which gives appearance of a salt-box style structure; – wood shingled roof; – peaked window on second floor south wall; – wood clapboard; – wide wooden steps leading to second floor; – wide doorways on first and second floor; and -general massing, height and dimensions. All those interior features that relate to the functional purposes of the fish store, including: – cut timber frame interior; – interior layout with large open spaces supported by large timbers; – the hundreds of small nail holes on interior beams where salt fish was pinned by the tails to dry; and -excess wall and floor supports which enabled heavy loads to safely rest on upper floors.
The fish store is the largest of the outbuildings – it was used for Methodist Church services around 1871 and for the Salvation Army’s first meeting in Bonavista in 1886. The exact date of construction is undetermined but local folklore states that it could date to as early as 1733, making it the oldest structure in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Location and History
Town of Bonavista
1733 - 1830