History of the Communities of the Peninsula


Marche's Point and Loretto

In 1945 Census records count 10 families with 71 individuals in this area.In the back of Marche's Point, Loretto was a busy little village with a school and general store. Loretto was accessible from both the Red Brook and Marche's Point side. Newfoundland resettlement in the 1950's brought down most of the families and today there are no permanent residents. Most former residents had moved to De Grau, Red Brook and Marche's Point. There are many cabins and cottages, however, in this beautiful area.

Marche's Point was first named Pointe A Luc after one of the first settlers, Luc Benoit, a Mi'k Maq who move from Margaree, Acadia with his family, via Stephenville. About 1848, three sons of Boniface Benoit (Mi'k Maq)and Marie Manet, George, Luc, Paul, (note: a fourth brother Isaaic died in Acadian and his widow who married a Le Blanc came to Bay St George and descendants can be found today in the Codroy area) left Margaree heading for the Bay St George region of Newfoundland. All three were married to daughters of Germain Le Blanc and Madeleine Cormier. George was married to Seraphique, Luc to Helene, Paul to Victoria and Isaaic's widow was Felicite. Staying in Bay St. George Paul lived in Flat Bay while Luc eventually setttled in Pointe A Luc. All Benoits and other families in the area today are Descendants of these Mi'kmaw brothers or of Francois Benoit, Newfoundland's first Benoit and his Mi'k Maq wife Anne L' Official. As in other communities around Bay St George, residents rarely admitted that they were of Mi'k Maq and Acadian ancestry, but would usually say they were English or Acadian.

The area was later named Marche's point after Jean Marche, who arrived in the mid-l900s. The area where Jean Marche settled was known as Jean Marche's Point. Also among the early settlers were the Garnier and Benoit families. Its first mention was in the 1891 census with 32 residents.

The population grew slowly and by 1945 there were 149 residents, the lobster industry prospered, as did groundfish and capelin. There was also a post office in Marche's Point. In a good year, a man and his sons could land more than 100 quintals of fish. It was dried in July and sold to Abbott & Haliburton or "taken up in goods" at $10-12 a quintal. Residents today recall capelin, at least until a few years ago, coming ashore in such numbers barrels could be picked up in a few minutes. They've recently become scarce and no longer roll on Marches Point beach.

Animals, too, now are rare in Marches Point. At one time, nearly every resident kept cattle, sheep and hens and had their own pastures. The closest community pasture now is in Piccadilly, and many have just a horse to help with light farming.

By 1971, 241 people lived in Marches Point, but very little growth has since been noted. The population, in fact, dropped to 220 in 1976, and many people continue to leave to find work since the fishery's dramatic decline in the past few years.

In 1981, male unemployment was as high as 40%, and female 31%. The most jobless, however, were the youth, with 75% unable to find work in Cape St. George or the surrounding area in the 1970s and early 1980s. Of 230 men in the workforce, 75 were in primary industries, 30 in construction trades and 25 in sales. Of the 75 women, 30 worked as clerks, 15 taught and the others worked in the service industry or were professionals.

In Cape St. George area itself (not the whole municipality), the 1971 census listed 338 residents, just one more than in 1976.

Farming continued to be a way of life until opportunities in Stephenville, particularly in the 1940s on the USAF base there, had lured residents from their homes (as had the Corner Brook pulp and paper mill earlier). The subsequent closure of the base and the downturn in both forestry and fishing, has, since the 1970s, brought many back to Cape St. George and back to traditional ways of making a living, but with that return came high unemployment. The area has the feel of a large native reserve. The fishery, logging, carpentry and road construction still provide seasonal jobs.

Places in Marche's Point:

Loretto

Green Head

Marche's Brook

Marche's Point Cementary

Green Head Cemetary

Callis's Gulch

Joe's Mesh

Rosie's Brook

Isaac's Hill

The Cove

Note: additional place names provided by Gary Benoit

Profile: Alphons Benoit

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