Ashbourne’s Wharf, historically Twillingate’s most active fishing port, was said to have been built during the 1800’s. The Ashbourne’s, Arthur and his brother, William, purchased the wharf from its former owners, the Duders, in the year 1897.
Ashbourne’s Ltd. owned many of their own schooners, which would trade goods with areas in Northern Newfoundland as well as Labrador. In the Twillingate area, it was the main supplier of goods of all sorts. Since there were no roads leaving the town of Twillingate, Ashbourne’s Wharf would serve as a dock for small family boats picking up supplies to bring home to much smaller communities in the vicinity. Larger schooners docked there on a daily basis, to trade or sell goods, Portugese ships being common. When fishing schooners would arrive, the fish were cleaned and salted on a portion of the wharf itself, then stored in kegs to be shipped internationally.
The painting depicts the wharf in the spring of the year following the arrival of sealing fleets in from the ice. The seal pelts are piled against the storage building on the right for shipment, and seal oil in the barrels along the wharf’s perimeter. Both would be taken to European countries, the pelts made into fur coats or hats; the oil into perfumes or medicines. The Bessie Marie, the ship at the end of the wharf, was the last three-masted schooner to be built in Newfoundland, and though sometimes used as a sealing vessel, she more commonly supplied coal to outport Newfoundland communities.
The wharf was also fondly remembered by Twillingate citizens as a playground in their childhood years. Boys and girls alike recall romping and playing amongst the action, and laughing as they slid down the slide along the stairs of the left storage building, intended to send down sacks of flour and other goods to be taken to the stores across the street.
Ashbourne’s Wharf continued to be a main docking site for Twillingate until the 1970’s, when its use began to dwindle, until it was eventually taken down some years later. Though now just a memory for some, Ashbourne’s Ltd. still remains a vital piece of Twillingate history.