NL GenWeb

Historical Information

Conception Bay North

Reproduced from the Daily News July 1965.
Contributed by Carol Walsh.

The Dawes:  A Name Famous in Newfoundland’s History

The name of Dawe goes back in Newfoundland history and is allied with such famous names as John Guy, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and the infamous Peter Cashin.  Legend has it that the Dawe’s were settled in Newfoundland nearly a hundred years before John Guy colonized the small settlement of Cupids; that the Dawe’s actually refused to let Guy land in Bay de Grave, his first port of call.

During this period, Newfoundlandwas beleagured by the notorious press gangs that sailed into the bays where there were communities of any size, kidnapped the men and pressed them into the service of the navy, Easton was infamous for this practice too,

In 1610 the Dawe’s, who wanted freedom from the press gangs and seclusion to live their own lives, thus refused to let John Guy land.  There were Dawe’s at Cupids too but they made no objection to his landing and even let John Guy take a drink from the well.

Legend has it that the first Dawe was left in Newfoundland during the winter of 1515.  The sea captain who had left the man in Newfoundland was ordered to bring Dawe back to England or pay a fine.

There were two Dawes in St. John’s when Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed and took possession for Queen Elizabeth in 1583. Two brothers, Charles and Azariah Dawe formed a business in 1884 and moved from Port de Grave to Bay Roberts because it was a bigger and better port.  The firm of C. and A. Dawe became one of the largest fishery supply firms in Newfoundland, exporting up to 300,000 qtls. Of codfish a year; building on the average of two vessels a year and owned more than thirty vessels at one time.  Some of them were large ocean going brigs and brigantines which carried all their fish to Europe and South America.

The firm owned about 100 vessels in its time, had a big business in Labrador and was prominent in all phases of the commercial life of Newfoundland.  The firm was dissolved at the death of Charles Daw in 1909 and its premises today are occupied by the Bay Roberts Fisheries Ltd., and Fishery Products.

The Dawe’s have branched out and the name is still big in Newfoundland’s business life.  Today, in Bay Roberts, there is the Avalon Coal Salt and Oil Ltd. Downed by Malcolm, Edward and Augustus Dawe.

Wm. Dawe and Sons Ltd. Was one of the largest woodworking firms in Newfoundland employing upwards of 150 men and was the forerunner of the present day birch plant, having manufactured plywood in Bay Roberts up until 1949 when the plant was destroyed by fire.

Because of their knowledge of lumber, the Dawe’s were prominent during the National Convention period.  Wilfred Dawe became a member of the National Convention because Mr. Small respected his knowledge of the lumber industry.  Chester Dawe became the first manager of the birch plant at Donovans.

The Dawe’s were the first to go into veneers in Newfoundland under the guidance of Wilfred Dawe.  They had a thriving business in Hampden, White Bay but sold it to Saunders & Howell of Carbonar, then moved down to Western Arm where they did a big sawmill business there.

It was William Dawe and Sons that originated the veneer butter pail.  They made five, ten and twenty-two pound butter pails and sold them by the thousands to the Newfoundland Butter Company.

Out of Wmm. Dawe and Sons, came the firm of the Avalon Coal and Salt Company, to which was added oil in recent times.  The firm operates the M.V. Dawe Ii in the freighter business.  She is a modern ship of 600 tons capacity, launched last yar from the ship building yards of E.F. Barnes in St. John’s.

Until last year the business was owned by all children of Wm. Dawe, including Chester, Myrtis and Christine, but it went into liquidation last year and was purchased by Malcolm, Edward and Augustus and is managed by Augustus…end.