Welcome to our Town
Harbour Breton has a magnificent land-locked harbour and is one of the oldest and largest fishing centres on the south coast of Newfoundland. This land-locked and ice-free harbour is located near the southern tip of the Connaigre Peninsula on the north side of Fortune Bay.
The early history of the old "Capital of Fortune Bay" goes back to the Bretons (from Brittany, France) based at Placentia who fished from Hr. Breton in the 17th. Century. The 1687 French map of NL. shows Hr. Breton as Havre Bertrand and a census of the same year shows that it had no resident French families but it did have 36 fishing servants stationed in the harbour. In 1693, one fisherman, Pierre Germy was a resident of Havre Bertrand. A common French surname in Placentia was Bertrand and hence the French name for Harbour Breton. After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the English dominance in Fortune Bay shows Havre Bertrand as Harbour Briton.
Photo Courtesy of Doug R. Wells
Captain Taverner's visit to Hr. Breton in 1718 describes the community as a "rugged mountainous land, with a good beach, a planters house and stage, and it is about 20 years since the French had fished there."
During the 18th. and 19th. Centuries, Hr. Breton served as a base for English colonial fishing ventures and settlement in Fortune Bay. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Jersey and Poole merchants were impelled to shift their south coast bases at St. Pierre to suitable harbours in Fortune Bay, such as Hr. Breton
Bishop Edward Field, July, 1848 made a visit to Hr. Breton in the church ship Hawk and he wrote: "I was refreshing my admiring recollection of this picturesque harbour, so completely land-locked that a stranger could hardly guess the passage to the sea, and surrounded by hills of a bold and fantastic outline, which, could, I think, be produced by nothing but fire and fusion."
Rev. Philip Tocque (1878) was also struck by the landscape of the harbour, noting that "towering cliffs of sienite, some hundreds of feet in altitude, appear in their wild sublimity, against which the ocean bellows roll, wrapping their base in sheets of spray and foam."
Soon after Clarke & Young had established in Hr. Breton, William Waldren of Poole also established premises there, and eventually formed the new firm of Waldren Clarke & Young, establishing Hr. Breton as the mercantile centre of Fortune Bay.