Walter Torraville's Fishing Stage, Wharf and Boardwalk
Walter Torraville's fishing stage, built on Change Islands in the late 1800's, is a beautiful example of traditional inshore fishermen’s premises. The stage is centrally located close to the Change Islands bridge linking the north and south islands of the town. Today it is a clearly visible landmark to both residents and tourists who cross the bridge and travel on the roads and lanes of the town.
From such buildings a variety of fishing activities were carried out - fishing for cod with traps, jigging, or using hook and line. and catching herring with nets. Inshore sealing 4 to 5 miles out on the drift ice and associated support bait-fishing were additional activities.
This particular stage is also of significant heritage merit because it also functioned as the first ferry terminal on Change Islands. From 1968 to 1979 a ferry ran from these premises between Cobb’s Arm, New World Island and Change Islands. But with the relocation of the ferry and the demise of the fishery, the stage fell into dis-use.
By 2002, when Stages and Stores Inc. bought Walter Torraville's fishing stage, it had fallen into a rather dilapidated state, and the ferry wharf had been destroyed. Under the guidance of the Stages and Stores’ board of directors - Herbert Bown, Maureen Woodrow and Wallace Bown - the stage was restored and the ferry wharf rebuilt. The stage will be used as headquarters for the Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation and the Stages and Stores Corporation. The new wharf will also provide a central docking facility for sailing and power boats visiting the community. One of the first tasks in restoring the stage was to raise it two-and-a-half feet as the surrounding land had been elevated by rock fill during the construction of the town bridge in the mid-sixties. The stage was jacked up with four hydraulic jacks and a large supply of six-inch timber for cribbing. Wooden posts were installed in the foundation to stabilize the structure and an access bridge was constructed around the building. General repairs to the windows, doors, roof, siding and flashing, all in keeping with the basic design and local tradition, were carried out, as well as a fresh paint job. The top floor, impregnated over many years with cod liver oil and otherwise damaged, was completely replaced. Finally, the ferry wharf was reconstructed.
For their thorough and dedicated restoration of Walter Torraville's Fishing Stage and Ferry Terminal the Newfoundland Historic Trust presents a Southcott Award to Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation, represented by Maureen Woodrow and Herbert Bown.
Lara Maynard, Manager
Newfoundland Historic Trust &
Newman Wine Vaults Provincial Historic Site
PO Box 2403,
St. John's NL
The Newfoundland Historic Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of our province's built heritage.
The Walter Torraville Property (Cottage and Fishing Stage), Change Islands was designated a Registered Heritage Structure on May 2nd, 2004 by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
For further information about Stages and Stores heritage awards and designations please see the Heritage Foundation Awards section of our website.