Flat Bay, Newfoundland

The Mi’kmaq community of Flat Bay in Bay St. George is on YouTube. Below is a 16 minute documentary about the west coast Newfoundland village (Feb. 2017).

You can also download the accompanying report on Traditional Land Use and Occupancy. In 86 pages, the authors give a good overview of Flat Bay’s history, traditions and kinship networks.

Flat Bay is an important historical and political centre of the Newfoundland MI’kmaq. Its people have been central in the fight for official recognition as a First Nation. But if you’re driving across Newfoundland, you’re likely to miss it. It’s well off the TransCanada Highway at the end of a road that goes nowhere else. This has been good for Flat Bay’s preservation of identity. From the conclusion of the report, here’s a bit of the reason why.

flat bay tluos cover photo
Flat Bay, photo from TLUOS cover page

[The Mi’kmaq] settled in Flat Bay, due to its abundance of eel, access to the interior by the “river highways,” and provided isolation while allowing closeness to trading partners on Sandy Point.

…Originally a patchwork community was knit together due to their natural river boundaries. Hundreds of people bound together, through various means, surviving off the bounty of land and water, slowing closing the distance between them through the relationships that established the bloodlines we document in this study. For a time, the communities, Flat Bay West, East, and St. Teresa’s, were divided by the dialogue of outsiders. Divisions [were] drawn along… place name, family name, income and occupation, education, dialect…

As the community began to shrink for these reasons and others, the residents undertook policy, whether they did it consciously is still up for debate, of their community’s regeneration… Flat Bay was not unlike a thousand other small communities… of Newfoundland; the difference was someone else was writing our story. [pp 57-58]

google map flat bay
Google map of Flat Bay (click to enlarge)

Flat Bay History and Families

Flat Bay has been writing its own story, in terms of maintaining a strong Mi’kmaq community, for a long time. They literally write their own story in this study, in its authorship and use of interviews with residents. It begins with a concise history of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and of Flat Bay. The authors then trace the history of industrial and subsistence economic activities, social and trade contact with nearby communities, and the effect of game laws. Education, language and the role of women are discussed in terms of tradition and change. The final section is an easy to follow history of the major Mi’kmaq families in the town: Benoit, King, Webb and Young.

It is an excellent study. Thanks to authors Calvin White, Hailey Burroughs, Mary Elsa (Dale) Young and Ivan White.

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8 thoughts on “Flat Bay, Newfoundland”

  1. Hi Dorothy ,you say you have some history on my mothers parents John and Annie white curious to see what you have
    thanks Craig

    1. Hi Craig, probably you have the same as I have. I’ve got him as John Edward Leblanc, s/o Damos (or Damase) LeBlanc (1843-1897) and Mary Ann Royer (abt 1853-1945). Damos was s/o Etienne LeBlanc (1795 Margaree NS – 1877 Stephenville NL) and Anne Marie Margaret Cormier (abt 1800 Margaree NS – 1877 Stephenville NL). Mary Ann was d/o Charles Royer (b France d Port au Port) and Esther Bourgeois (d abt 1900 Port au Port Pen).

      I have John’s wife as Anne Ellen Hynes, d/o William Hynes (1854 Sandy Point-1927) and Flora Annne Bourdeleau (1872 Port au Port Pen – 1937 Port au Port Pen). William was s/o William (Haynes) Hynes (1822 Port au Port Pen – 1906 Port au Port Pen) and Caroline Marche (1834 P au P Pen – 1927 P au P Pen). So, as you said, there’s loads of information on those families.

  2. Thank-you Dorothy ,my grandfather died in 1989 in Stephenville and his wife my grandmother Mary Ethel died 1991 in Stephenville ,I can’t seem to find their obituary ,maybe I could find some information there.
    I found this
    Newfoundland’s 1935 Provincial Census
    District of St. George’s Bay

    Pages 160 – 161, 164 – 180 & 184 – 193
    WHITE Stephen Head M M 33
    WHITE Ethel Wife F M 26
    WHITE Joseph Son M S 1

    I also found this it seems to match up with my grandfathers family
    White Onziem Head Married 1867 — 44 Stephenville — English RC Carpenter — Farming
    White Cecily Wife Married 1873 Jun 38 Stephenville — English RC — — —
    White Francis Son Single 1891 Oct 21 Stephenville — English RC — — —
    White Mary J. Dau Single 1892 May 19 Stephenville — English RC — — —
    White Elizabeth Dau Single 1894 Oct 17 Stephenville — English RC — — —
    White Arthur Son — 1896 Aug 15 Stephenville — English RC — — —
    White Maggie Dau — 1898 Dec 13 Stephenville — English RC At school — —
    White Stephen Son — 1901 Dec 10 Stephenville — English RC At school — —
    White Sarah Dau — 1904 Nov 07 Stephenville — English RC
    I don’t know if i,m on the right track maybe if I search the people on this list I might find more clues anyway this is getting interesting buy for now Thanks Craig

    1. Hi Craig, it looks like you’ve found them! Wonderful. I’d looked in the 1911 and 1921 census but only in Flat Bay, not Stephenville. And I hadn’t looked at 1935. However, I don’t have any of this family in my database under White or Leblanc. I’m curious too, so I hope someone reading can add some more. Thanks so much.

  3. Hi all My name is Craig Stephen White ,my grandfather Stephen M. White also had 1 other brother Frank living in Codroy Valley they were both born in Flat Bay in around 1897–1903 ,there mother full Mi’kmiq her name Cecil not to sure of her last name ,but I remember her as a small boy living in Stephenville back in the early 60’s and my grandmother calling her names ,for some reason her face has stuck with me all these years .I can find all kinds of history on my mothers ( Jean Dorothy White) side all from west bay centre there parents had the first store and gas station west bay his name was John White,Now with most everyone passed on its getting really hard to find information ,is there a burial site in Flat Bay or is there a place I can find out more .As you mentioned our elders are passing away ,my brothers and sisters are all that we have left on our grand fathers side, even just finding this site helps a lot Thank-you.

    1. Hi Craig, you could contact the Qalipu band office, or phone the Flat Bay Band office (709-647-1370 is the number I found on google). Or readers here might be able to help. What is your father’s name? I have several Stephen Whites but nothing that links them to the others you name.

      1. My fathers name was Joseph Earl white he was born in Stephenville or stephenville crossing in 1933 and passed away in Happy Valley labrador 1969 he was the only child ,I believe there was another sibling but he died at birth .thank-you for helping ,I really do appreciate it.

        1. Thanks, Craig, I have your parents in my database. I had your mother’s parents, but not your dad’s. I’ve googled Joseph and Stephen White and have found nothing. I’ll let you know if I do. Meanwhile, readers, can you help?

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