The French had a lobster factory at Clam Bank Cove, the settlement's original name. It was first mentioned in the 1884 census when there were 43 residents, and Harold March(e) was one of the first settlers- most of Mi'k Maq ancestry. The March(e) and Young families came from Cape St. George, and 1894 and 1897 directories listed William Brake, Isaac Duffney, Henry Edwary, John March, and Henry, Valentine, Arthur, Victor, Louis and John Young. Families arriving in the late 1890s came from Black Duck Brook, Mainland and Cape St. George. In 1901, there were 85 residents, and the 1904 directory added Henry Benoit, John Maclsaac and Angler Young.
A Mr. Nicol ran the local store for Abbott & Haliburton. The first priest was Father Pierre Adolphe Pineault from Rustoco, Prince Edward Island, who arrived at Clam Bank Cove in March 1912. He was priest until 1928 when Father Michael O'Reilly from County Caven, Ireland, arrived. Gerald Thomas wrote after Father O'Reilly made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France he renamed the community, although others attribute the change to Father Pineault. A school had been built by 1905, with 21 pupils taught by Miss E. Noseworthy. Other early teachers were a Miss Morrison and Martin Flynn.
In 1911, there were 123 residents, and there were 10 lobster factories operating in addition to the cod, lobster, herring and seal fisheries. Milk production rose from 6,700 gallons in 1911 to 13,500 gallons by 1921. A sawmill was opened by the Benoits. There were already 18 fishing families in Clam Bank Cove by 1935: Henry, Joseph and Peter Benoit; Arthur Blake; Joseph Companion; Arsene Gaudon; John Green; James March; Victor, Robert and Peter Woods; and Frederick, John, Joseph, Rueben, Victor and William Young. In addition, Michael Glynn was a logger.
Fishing was the main occupation until 1934 when a farming settlement was started by the Commission of Government. In an attempt to assimilate the local aboriginal people, people were resettled from Miller's Passage and Sagona Island, and arrived at Port aux Basques by coastal boat, took the train to Stephenville, travelled by road to Port au Port and then by boat to Lourdes. These families included those of James and Joseph Brake; Ambrose and Morgan Bungay; Dan, George, John, Ned and Sam Green; Owen and Thomas Quann; Harold and Richard Skinner; and Joseph and Morgan Snook. The first five men arrived in December 1934 and their families followed the next spring. This brought the population of Lourdes to 222 residents.
The Lourdes Co-op began in 1935 with the support of Fathers J.F. Kirton of Harbour Breton and Michael O'Reilly of Lourdes. The fisheries Co-op took over the government store in 1939 with Steve O'Driscoll as manager, and there were branch stores at Marche's Point, Long Point, Black Duck Brook, Winterhouses, Three Rock Cove and Mainland, but it went into bankruptcy in 1950. Father (now Bishop) O'Reilly started the Co-op again; the Fisheries Co-op separated and survived until 1974.
By 1945, there were 456 residents, and the population continued to rise with employment at Stephenville. The Americans developed a recreation camp at West Bay two miles from Lourdes. In 1955, the population of Lourdes stood at 623, and reached 775 by 1965. Electricity came to the community in 1959, and the first telephones were installed in 1962. The first high school was built in the 1960s, a new Our Lady of Lourdes Church was completed in 1975, and Lourdes was incorporated in 1969.
Cod, lobster and herring were the main fisheries. Other fish caught in the community included haddock, flounder, gray sole and halibut year round, redfish in the summer, shrimp in midsummer, scallops from April to November, and mackerel and turbot in the fall. Many fishermen preferred employment at the Harmon base in Stephenville until it closed in 1967.
In 1981, the population was 932 in 210 families, with 130 residents listed as being of French and Mi'k Maq origin. Most were Roman Catholic, with just 15 United and 10 Anglican Church members. Male unemployment was 34%, but double for youths, and female unemployment was just 6%. Of 175 men in the workforce, 55 were in primary occupations and 30 in processing. Of 80 women in the workforce, 25 were teachers, and 20 in clerical and processing occupations. By 1986, the population was 937 with just 10 whose mother tongue was French.
Other names in the Lourdes ares:
Clam Bank Cove
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Updated on December 15, 2003