Community Spirit Soars in Town of Main Brook

The Town of Main Brook may have a small population of about 250 people, but it soars with community spirit. The Come Home Year Celebration brought hundreds of people back home in 2012 and it was evident that residents and those with a connection to the community are there to support it. It is quite exciting to see the Town, Recreation Committee, Development Association, Come Home Year Committee, businesses, residents and others are pooling together to raise the roof to building a community centre. Working together, sharing resources is the best way to reach a common goal! All the volunteers deserve a big round of applause. The workers are doing a wonderful job in putting together the building in bone chilling temperatures.


It is important for any community to have a meeting place for friends and family to gather. This will piece of infrastructure will certainly help attract more families and retirees to this tiny town that has a K-12 school, service station, meat shop, wilderness resort, accommodations, food services, sawmill, grocery store, fire department, fish plant, post office, liquor store, development association, Town council (water & sewer services), high speed Internet, cell coverage, near airport and larger business centres of Roddickton-Bide Arm and St. Anthony.

Main Brook is a part of the French Shore, with a presence of French before the English settlers. People came to Main Brook because of the rich forest resources. Bowater‘s created a company town in the 1940’s. The population grew to more than 300 and Government appointed a town council prior to confederation. The economy thrived for decades with several expansions, until a downturn in markets and new technologies would devastate this one-industry Town in the late 60’s, early 70’s.

There appears to be such a rich history around the Bowater lumber camps. I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his days with Bowaters. It would be an interesting economic development to re-create the Bowater lumber camps as a new economic driver. One could learn about the forest industry of years gone by, get fed at the cookhouse, sleep in the bunkhouse and also spend some time learning to saw a cord of wood. This would pair well with the outdoor hunting, fishing and recreational experiences this town offers locals and tourists. It may be time to create an open-air museum and re-visit our roots.

The Town has not been sitting idle with an active sawmill that has been in the Coates’ family for generations. In addition, it has transitioned to be an inclusive fishing community, where a number of residents and those from surrounding area maintain seasonal employment at a local fish plant.


There are many unique photo opportunities when you drive around this planned community. Bring your camera!


You will find no homes for sale, but land is available and there are planned sub-divisions. Get yourself a view of Hare Bay, bring your ideas and be a part of a community that has a lot of spirit.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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  1. Too bad the originall buildings were sold out to a rich American. I guess the government of the day couldn’t see the future profits of our community history. I went back home a few years ago with the intentions of showing my son the old buildings only to find out that they had been demolished to make way for selfish people. There were hundreds of hard working men with great stories to be told and the original buildings to back them up. I guess u have to be from roddickton in order for the government to shell out the money. Lets see. A wood chip power plant that were given 5 million and lasted 3 years. A partical board plant that was given millions and all of a sudden burned down. Then u have the latest waste of tax payers money. Wood pellet plant. 15 million and wouldn’t ya know it it didn’t work out. Should I say more?

    1. Thanks Brian for sharing your views. I always appreciate comments. I find it interesting how few heritage buildings exist on the Great Northern Peninsula. It seems we have not placed a focus on saving some of our oldest buildings and structures. It is never too late to do something though to commemorate the rich and vibrant logging history of Main Brook. The company camps, outer buildings, storefront and area could be re-created. It may spin-off various forms of employment through wood work, crafts, interpretation and more. Is there a means to capture the stories of these men and women involved to produce a book or documentary? We should look at the options and where to go from here. We must look at alternatives to diversify our economy. I would love to see more employment come from our forest industry. It is disappointing that tax dollars are not returning net benefits to the local and provincial economy. The pellet plant, kiln and sawmill re-fit received around $9M. This integrated model was to look at using waste to make and export pellets. The turn in the global marketplace has driven up transportation costs. It is similar to the crisis that hit Main Brook when Bowaters closed up in the late 60’s. A pellet plant could work if public buildings were converted or a key piece of infrastructure was in place to ship direct from Roddickton. If this operation was making pellets, there would be a significant increase of jobs. We certainly need to see that to advance our regional economy.

    1. What could be done to re-vitalize the Heritage of lumbering in Main Brook? Murals? Book? Documentary? Re-constructing the buildings? Website? Wood workshop? Panels? etc… I’d love to hear people’s ideas.

  2. It’s awesome that Main Brook has a festival that draws back hundreds who have left. It sounds like there is some wonderful energy and community spirit.

    1. Thanks Sheryl for the comment. There has been lots of positive energy in this Town in recent years. A number of people who moved away are returning or making plans to return.

  3. Still lots of nostalgia surrounding Main Brook, and great memories too. As a young fellow growing up in Main Brook in the 50’S and 60’S I well remember the great times we had entertaining ourselves outdoors all year around, in all kinds of weather. That was before television and telephones or even electricity. Everyone could drop in at any house they wanted to at almost anytime and you didn’t need an appointment or invitation. Life was hard by today’s standards but much simpler, people helped each other back then. How many remember the little red (yes red) schoolhouse where some of us began our education. Later, after the two room school then two more were added to it was built next door, the little red school was used to store the fire pump and equipment. I began school in September 1950 and was forced to leave in October because a new family moved into town with a seven year old and there was no more room for desks I was only five and I had to give my seat up to the new kid. I remember our fathers bird hunting in the fall and all the ducks and turs we had to help pluck. The bringing home water with buckets and hoops, barrels on komaticks in the winter, Hauling firewood on dog sleds long before the advent of trucks, snowmobiles and ATVs. Hiking in the woods, beach walking, long walks to half way hill on Sunday afternoons in the Summer, playing pirates on the harbour in our father’s punts, no life jackets then and many of us couldn’t swim, but we looked out for each other. As a young boy spending a few days at Bowaters woods camp where uncle Ned Bridger cooked, oh the food. Then as we got a little older earning our spending money doing things like stacking up drift pulpwood for Bowaters, unloading freight from the schooners and coastal boats with Dolphy Rice in charge and storing freight for Mr. Cooper. Later Summer jobs were loading rafts of lumber on to schooners for Coats’ down in the arm. Its a wonder nobody drowned, I still couldn’t swim, and still can’t even though I spent ten years in the navy. There were no work safety standards or unions to protect us then and we had fun doing what we did, Yes life was good for a young person growing up in Main Brook back then. It gave us great memories, lots of great trout fishing, and shooting bull birds in the fall. Those of us who remain from that generation could collectively write a great book of memories.

    Time to go but first a great big thanks to all those involved in organizing the 2012 come home year activities and the fireman’s dinner. We greatly enjoyed it.

    Submitted by Warrick Patey

    1. Hi Warrick –

      I can not thank you enough for taking the time to share briefly some of your experiences about life in Main Brook in the 1950’s and 60’s. You really give readers a flavour of what it was like to live rural. I do believe we need to do more to document our history, share our stories, experiences and photos. We all have something to share, no matter what our age. Maybe it’s time to get a collection of people together to write a book of memories. I really like that idea.

      I agree, Come Home Year was quite the experience. The organizers of both events are to be commended. It was positive to see that the funds raised at both events were well invested back in the community for all to enjoy. Hope to hear from you again sometime. Feel free to share a thought about life in Main Brook anytime.

  4. How many remember old Mrs. Boyd’s flower garden in Main Brook and their store? How about helping yourself to Aunt Mary Simms’s rhubarb and beats or helping yourself to uncle Ron Ollerhead’s smoked salmon.

  5. Dolphy Rice was my great uncle. I have memories of him visiting with my family in Botwood when I was a small boy. He was a very nice man.
    I would like it very much if I could find other references to him.

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