Aubrey Matthews


Many changes have occurred in Burgeo as in other Newfoundland outports since the days of the old salt fish trade. The Fishery Products Limited, a distinguished firm throughout many parts of Newfoundland, began operations here in 1941, when they had a floating plant called “The Netherton” moored at the premises of the late George H. Samways. Later, the ship was moored to the site of the present plant where it was burnt November 1942. This was not only a financial loss, but a tragic one too. Joseph Dicks and Gerald Mercer, both of this town, lost their lives in the fire. The first plant was managed by John A. Matthews, a local resident, until his death in 1943. In 1955 Fishery Products sold the plant, completed in 1945, to Burgeo Fisheries Limited. This plant has been managed and directed by Mr. Spencer Lake, who is also the Mayor of this growing community.  To-day there are over 300 persons employed on the plant and on its five steel side draggers. Approximately 100 persons, inshore fishermen, land their catches regularly at the plant. This is quite a small share of fishermen compared to the large number employed at it before and during the plant's first days. Here frozen fish is being shipped to the  U.S.A. markets on the refrigerated ship “CARIBOU REEFER”.


Burgeo has taken on a new look, and the future for it looks bright. The Anglican Church, the fourth one, has had a renewal job done on it. The United Church has also been given a new look, and a Roman Catholic Church was built and completed a few years ago.  A large modern herring plant was completed here in early 1970. This was officially opened with much ceremony after its construction was finished. This plant is operated by Natlake Limited. It was seen necessary because during the past few years Burgeo and its surrounding areas have become a home of the herring. A Public Library was built in 1967 as a Centennial project. This is a great credit to our community, and many visitors say it is as fine as any they have seen. Burgeo, with its population of over 2, 000 people, can now enjoy the services offered by many modern places of business, a supermarket, a branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia, a Federal Building, a dry cleaning and laundromat unit, a barber shop and a beauty salon. Two large schools have been recently built to accommodate the enrollment of over 600 pupils in attendance. Electricity and telephone services have also been installed in our town. An extension is presently being carried on to add to the increasing demand for more hospital space.


The Inspiration Construction Company completed, in 1968, the connection of a fresh water supply to the fish plant. This was done through the Atlantic Development Board. A three mile road and causeway connecting Burgeo with the Newfoundland mainland had to be built to get to Long Pond, the lake that supplies the water. A $1, 500, 000.00 road widening programme and a new water and sewage system was carried out recently by the firm of McNamara Construction Company. At present Goodyear Construction Company is here beginning the initial stages of a long hoped for road to connect us with the Trans Canada Highway.


A ferry service, linking Burgeo, Ramea and Grey Rivers, commenced in 1968. This connection is very important to the people of Ramea and Grey Rivers, as it not only links them with Burgeo but it provides them with a regular access to the hospital here. The ferry is captained by Mr. Leslie Cutler of Ramea. Burgeo has been chosen by the present Government to be a growth centre, and residents from smaller communities along the South West Coast have been encouraged to settle here under the Government Centralisation Scheme. The result is that the whole area between Burgeo and Grey Rivers has been vacated and some settlements below Grey Rivers have also become "ghost towns". These communities were once the homes of some of Newfoundland’s finest fishermen. With the result of this centralisation programme, many new homes have been built and can be classed as some of the best you wish to see. In 1951 Burgeo was incorporated into a town, and since then many of the recent projects done and being presently carried out can be attributed to the foresight and planning of the Burgeo Town Council.


Burgeo, Newfoundland.

October 1970.