Blow me Down

Taken from Decks Awash, May – June 1986 addition.

This small community on the shoreline cliffs between Ship Cove and Hibbs Hole is now part of the larger community of Port de Grave. It was settled some time in the late 1700s or early 1800s, although it wasn’t mentioned until 1857 when the population stood at 169. A Church of England school in Blow me Down had 40 pupils in 1855. By 1874 there had been an increase to 209 as new buildingspace was limited at both Ship Cove and Hibbs Hole.  All the residents were Church of England members until the Methodist Church listed seven members in Blow me Down in 1921.

A letter from Franklin Arbuckle dated May 29, 1945, published In the St. John’s Telegraph, told the story of “Lover’s Leap”, hallway between Ship Cove and Blow me Down Head.  Two lovers regularly walked along a path at the cliff’s edge at Blow me Down, and before they said goodnight, would lean against a railing at the edge of a sharp drop of sixty feet to the sea. On the evening of November 23, 1864, while they were leaning against the rail, it broke plunging both of them to the rocks below.  The fall seriously injured the man, but because of her hooped skirt the woman escaped
death. She carried her lover to safety, and she lived to a ripe old age. Later investigation
showed that the rail had been partially sawed off by her jealous brother. The woman’s name was Bridget Warford, and that of the man, Charles Dawe. They married shortly after this but Charles was drowned whilst out fishing

Both Warford and Dawe were common family names in the area in the 18005, and another early family name in Blow me Down was Porter. In 1891 there were 187 people living in Blow me Down, third only in numbers to Port de Grave and Ship Cove on the peninsula. In 1911, 26 families were involved in the inshore fishery, 17 in the
Labrador fishery, and two families depended on mining and carpentry work. Most families also did some farming.

By 1968, there were seven fishermen, six laborers, two tradesmen and one office clerk in Blow me Down. The fishermen had six small boats and set 11 cod traps and 10 gill nets. Most of the fishing was carried out in Conception Bay and fishermen caught 1,350 quintals of cod in traps and 250 quintals in the fall fishery. Current population figures are not available for Blow me Down, which is part of Port de Grave, but fishing continues to provide most family income for local residents.

Many of the houses in modem Blow me Down are new, but there are a few buildings remaining referred to by R.A. Parsons in the 1950s:

And thus they duly found and raise and roof Substantial houses wind and weather proof
Until at length they establish as they’re bent a durable and lasting settlement

-from Salute to Port de Grave by R.A. Parsons, published
in 1975, used with permission.

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