Located near the end of South Side Drive in Harbour Breton, NL, the Newman and Company Root Cellar site contains the ruins of a root cellar built by Newman and Company circa 1800 as a component of their operations in Harbour Breton. The designation is confined to the footprint of the ruins known as Newman and Company Root Cellar.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
Newman and Company Root Cellar has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Harbour Breton because of its aesthetic and historic value.
Newman and Company Root Cellar has aesthetic value as a good example of utilitarian design and functionality. The two-storey building was located on Newman and Company’s plantation and was partially dug into a hillside. The lower portion was used as a cellar to store vegetables grown to supply Newman and Company employees and clients while the upper storey was said to have been used to house livestock. The cellar had four rock walls and a rock floor. It measured 7.6 metres by 11.6 metres and had a 1 metre wide entrance. The rock walls were about 1.8 metres high, 40 centimetres thick and made of slate and red granite, with slate on the lower courses and red granite on the upper courses. Red granite is very plentiful in Harbour Breton but the slate was probably obtained from nearby Sagona Island. The upper storey had low wooden walls covered with wooden shingles and painted white. The walls were topped with a peaked roof clad in tarred wood shingles that allowed water to run off easily. At the centre of the steep roof was a large vent that allowed air to circulate, regulating the inside temperature from season to season. The cellar was shaded from the sun until early afternoon, which also helped maintain a cool and constant interior temperature.
Newman and Company Root Cellar has historic value as a physical reminder of a way of life once common in rural Newfoundland. Cellars were designed to preserve root crops such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnip and onions, as well as other foodstuffs, before modern day refrigeration. They were usually built below the ground to provide consistent humidity and temperature levels. Cellars were used for winter storage and provided a cool summer storage area. The use of these once commonplace structures has lessened following the introduction of refrigeration.
Newman and Company Root Cellar has historic value due to its association with Newman and Company, one of the largest English West Country merchants firms to operate in Newfoundland during the nineteenth century. Newman and Company did business with fishermen along the south coast, especially those in Fortune Bay. The firm operated its import and export business in Harbour Breton for over 100 years (circa 1790-1907). As the Company grew and expanded its business, which included supplying vegetables and other foodstuffs, it needed more gardens beyond its plantation grounds. In 1849 for example, “Newman & Co. commenced the cultivation of a large tract of land at the head of Harbour Breton Arm. Hay, potatoes, and wheat were planted.” Rev. Philip Tocque also noticed during the same year that some “tobacco grew in the gardens of Newman & Co…which was very good.” Following Newman and Company’s departure from Harbour Breton, Coady’s Limited used the cellar for some time, replacing the wooden walls and roof with a sod and earth covering. Coady’s Limited abandoned the cellar in the early 1950s, as most of their potatoes froze one winter. The cellar is the only remaining built evidence of Newman and Company’s existence in Harbour Breton.
Source: Town of Harbour Breton Regular Council Meeting Motion #10-08 January 13, 2010.
Character Defining Elements
All those elements which represent the aesthetic and historic value of Newman and Company Root Cellar, including:
-remaining rock walls;
-dimension, location and orientation of structure, and;
-association with Newman and Company.
Location and History
Town of Harbour Breton
South Side Drive
1800 - 1800