Tag Archives: Dockyard

WWII Dockyard for Bay Bulls

Archival Moment

WWII Dockyard for Bay Bulls

Property of Martin O'Driscoll, Bay Bulls, 1942. Note the parish church in the background.

Property of Martin O’Driscoll, Bay Bulls, 1942. Note the parish church in the background.

Throughout WWII St. John’s had become the strategic naval hub for ships travelling across the Atlantic. With limited capacity in St. John’s harbour, repair facilities in the harbour quickly became overcrowded and a search began for another harbor.

A decision was soon made to construct a dockyard at Bay Bulls; the town was close to St. John’s and offered a deep water bay opening to the Atlantic. In Bay Bulls it was decided to build a dockyard that could accommodate smaller ships that required repair allowing the larger vessels to be serviced in St. John’s.

Construction demanded access to water front property.

In order to build the dockyard and supporting infracture the properties of local residents in Bay Bulls were expropriated by the Newfoundland Department of Public Utilities, Commission of Government, to provide sites for the installations under the Leased Lands Agreement and American Bases Act (1941).

The process of expropriation was documented and is now available at The Rooms Provincial Archives. This new online collection consists of 37 photographs relating to claims for remuneration for expropriated property in the community. The images illustrate houses, fences, shops, sheds, farms, farm animals, vehicles, buildings, and household items.

Some of the Bay Bulls families included in the process were: Coady, Gatheral, O’Driscoll, and Williams.

Construction of the WWII infracture in Bay Bulls began in July 1942; the first operation began in the spring of 1944. The construction included a marine railway with anchorage facilities, barracks, administration buildings and its own power supply in the form of a hydroelectric facility.

Recommended Archival Collection: Department of Public Works Newfoundland Board of Arbitration records Expropriations claims: Photographs: GN 4.3, Series (Bay Bulls) Click to view the Bay Bulls photographs: https://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/Action?ClientSession=-526741c6:158b8fb21c3:-7f98&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&PromptID=&ParamID=&CMD_(DetailRequest)[0]=&ProcessID=6000_3363(0)&KeyValues=KEY_38634

Recommended Exhibit: From This Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea Where:   Level 4, The Husky Energy Gallery, The Rooms: This exhibition showcases how the province’s peoples connected and are connected, and how different cultures shape this place. See in particular the exhibit cases “The Friendly Invasion.”