From St. John’s drive west on Portugal Cove Road, Route 40 to Portugal Cove where a 20-minute ferry ride takes you to Bell Island, a reddish rock in Conception Bay.
The island was first settled in the 1750s. John Guy, who founded a colony at Cupids in the early 17th century, and was the first to notice the iron in the island’s rocks, but mining operations didn’t begin until 1895. Very quickly, the farming community of 350 boomed into a mining community with a peak population of 14,000. During World War II several boats were sunk by German U-boats while loading ore.
The mine was phased out between 1959 and 1966 when its low grade ore no longer met he needs of the international steel industry. The main ore shafts (inaccessible to the public) continue for miles underneath Conception Bay. Today, the town now sports several huge murals that depict events and people from Bell Island’s past.
The steep cliffs give you a panoramic view of Conception Bay, particularly Little Bell Island and Kellys Island. Legend holds that Kellys Island was the rendezvous spot of a 17th century pirate, Captain Kelly. Conception Bay was also the headquarters of privateers Peter Easton. The legends are supported by a 1901 story of a British naval officer who hired a fisherman to row him to Kellys Island, and presumably retrieved a treasure, paying off the fisherman with a golf coin.
Bell Island Attractions
Bell Island Community Museum & Mine Tour, Bell Island Seaman’s Memorial
Bell Island, Lance Cove Beach
Contact: Gordon Skanes, Clayton King
P.O. Box 1229
Bell Island, Newfoundland, A0A 4H0
709-488-2025, fax: 488-3181
These waters saw the first enemy action in Newfoundland waters during World War II,
when on September 5, 1942, U-513, a German submarine, sank the S.S. Saganaga and the
Lord Strathcona in the dock, waiting to load ore from the island’s iron mines.
Then on November 2nd another U-boat sank the PLM-27 and the Rose Castle.
A monument to the sailors who lost their lives and the Bell Islanders who rescued
the survivors stands at Lance Cove
Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve
Portugal Cove South, Route 10
33 Reid’s Lane
Deer Lake, NL, A8A 2A3
709-635-4520 Fax 1-709-635-4541
Home to the oldest multi-celled fossils in North America and the only deep water marine fossils found in the world from 620 million years ago.