Dildo Island

Designated in 2010 as a Unique Place.

Nominator: Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation

Dildo Island is the largest of three islands located at the entrance to Dildo Arm at the bottom of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland.

While Dildo Island is not inhabited today, it is clear that people have been drawn to this remarkable place for thousands of years. Representing many cultures extending over a 3,000-year span, Dildo Island has played an invaluable role in our province’s prehistory and history.

During the prehistoric and early historic periods, the fish and sea mammals in the waters around the island and the seabirds that nested on the island drew aboriginal hunters and gatherers. To date, the archaeological record has revealed the presence of both Groswater and Dorset Paleoeskimo, Recent Indian and Beothuk occupations. Today, it is home to one of the largest Paleoeskimo archaeological sites in Newfoundland and Labrador and substantial Recent Indian and Beothuk artifacts have also been uncovered.

Dildo Island also played a role in a number of highly significant events in the European history of Newfoundland including John Guy’s and Henry Crout’s exploratory voyages into Trinity Bay in 1612 and 1613. During Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713), 204 Trinity Bay men spent the winter on the island defending themselves against French attack. The Lester merchant family based in Trinity had fishing premises on the island in the 1700s. Over the nineteenth century, the commercial cod fishery expanded into the bottom of Trinity Bay and in 1889 the first cod hatchery in what is now Canada was established on Dildo Island. This was a world-class facility – one of the most modern and largest of its type at the time.

It is because of this remarkable abundance of significant archaeological and historical resources that Dildo Island was designated in 2010 as a Place of Provincial Significance.