Avondale, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada

Discover Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador: A Historical and Tourism Perspective

Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador, is a charming town nestled on the Avalon Peninsula in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Incorporated in 1974, Avondale is situated at the southwestern head of Conception Bay in Division 1. It is conveniently located 59 km southwest of St. John's and 72 km northeast of Placentia.

The History of Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador

Originally known as Salmon Cove until 1897, the community was renamed Avondale to avoid confusion with two other nearby communities bearing the same name in the Port de Grave and Brigus Districts. The name Avondale was suggested by the parish priest Rev John Roe, who found a resemblance to his native area in Ireland. The name was inspired by Thomas Moore's poem, "The Meeting of the Waters".

The earliest record of settlement in Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador, dates back to 1773, with a Fishing Room Grant for John Mahaney. A census conducted in 1812 reported a modest population of 12 inhabitants. The settlers were primarily Irish Roman Catholic, with a smaller number of Jersey French and English. Avondale incorporated the communities of Salmon Cove, Gasters, Northern Arm, and Southern Arm.

The town functioned as a lumbering, fishing, and farming settlement in the Harbour Main District. It hosted a railway station, a post office, a money order office, and a church. However, the population dwindled in the early 1900s as men began migrating to the eastern US to find work. Edward Kennedy, the area's first postmaster, arrived in 1889 after the construction of the railway.

Avondale Railway Station: A Historical Landmark in Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador

In 1863, the Anglo American Telegraph Company established a repeater station in Avondale. The Newfoundland Railway conducted a land survey in 1881 and began planning for a railway to Harbour Grace, with Salmon Cove identified as a convenient location for a station.

Upon completion of the main railway line in 1898, the Reid Newfoundland Company took over the existing railway, and Avondale was one of these stations. It served as a passenger and freight station. In 1923, the Newfoundland Government acquired the railway, coastal boats, and dry dock from the Reid Newfoundland Company for $2 million under the 1923 Railway Settlement Act. The Avondale Railway Station then became a part of the Newfoundland Railway once again.

In 1931, it was decided that the post offices and telegraph stations would be managed by Newfoundland Railway agents. The Avondale office was taken over on December 15. The Canadian National Railway took over from the Newfoundland Railway in 1949 when Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation. The Avondale Railway Station was managed by CN until 1984.

The last train to run in Newfoundland was on September 20, 1988, and less than a month later, CN started tearing up the tracks, finishing in 1990. The Avondale Heritage Foundation applied to keep a section of their track as the museum could greatly benefit from it. The community protested the removal of the tracks, and in the end, the Avondale Railway Station came to an agreement to officially keep a small part of the tracks. Today, the Avondale railway station remains preserved along with a small display of retired railway cars and a locomotive.

Demographics of Avondale, Newfoundland Labrador

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Avondale had a population of 584 living in 286 of its 346 total private dwellings. This represented a change of -8.9% from its 2016 population of 641. With a land area of 29.69 km2, it had a population density of 19.7/km2 in 2021. Avondale has lost approximately one third of its population since 1976 when it numbered 937 residents.