Sheaves Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
Sheaves Cove is a small Port au Port Peninsula community along the shore of St. Georges Bay. There is a small tourist alcove just off the highway where views of the waterfalls and the ocean are visited often.
The first reference in any census was in 1891, when "Charley Sheaves Cove" was listed with 21 residents. It was named for one of the first settlers, Charles Sheaves, who arrived in the mid-19th century. Longtime resident Isaac Jesso says the very first settler was his grandfather, Peter "Pierre Jesseau" Jesso. a Mi'kmaw who was married to Elizabeth Barry, and he doesn't know why the town wasn't named for him instead of Charley. Local residents say Charley came from Cape Breton, but other sources say he moved from Port aux Basques.
Both accounts may be correct, as many people living on the Port au Port Peninsula arrived via the south-west coast of the island. The tiny community promised good fishing and a ready supply of lumber, so Peter and Charley and their families stayed. Peter, had what would be considered a small family in an area where having 15 children was not unusual-probably not more than five or six- including at least two sons, one of whom was Isaac Jesso's father, Peter Thomas Jr. At least, he was called Peter in Sheaves Cove. When he visited his mother Philemena Perrier's home in St. George's, he was called Tom.
By 1901, 38 people in nine Roman Catholic families lived in Sheaves Cove where they were fishermen-farmers. Residents processed 46 cases of lobster, and caught 144 quintals of cod and four tierces of sair in a fishery worth $1,135. The large beach at Sheaves Cove was considered exceptional, and until recently as many as 10 fishermen used it on a regular basis.
About one-quarter mile from Sheaves Cove there was a second beach in the community called Red Cove because of the ochre which could be found there, it was there for more than 30 years that Isaac, his father and two brothers fished together in just two dories. None of the 10 children was in school in 1901 although a school was built early in the community history and later became the church. The current church seats about 80.
By 1911, 50 lived in Sheaves Cove, and by 1935, 92. A small lighthouse operated in the community around 1900 until about 1925. Any evidence of its existence has long since disappeared, and the site is unmarked. Everybody fished and most grew their own vegetables and kept some livestock.
In 1945, 40 residents were counted, and about five years later, Joe Rowe opened the first general store. Joe, whose mother, Maggie Jesso, was Peter Jesso's daughter, later gave the business to his son Clifton and wife Bertha Bruce from Abraham's Cove. It was closed when they retired.
In 1971, 240 people lived in Sheaves Cove, with little growth since, with just 36 families year round in the community. Among them are the Jessos, descended from the first settler, along with Felix, Rowe and Young families.