|St. Alban's is the major service
centre for the Bay d'Espoir area.
Formerly know as Ship Cove, the community's
name was changed in 1915 at the suggestion of
parish priest Father Stanislaus St. Croix, in
order to avoid confusion with numerous other
Ship Coves. The present name of the
community honours an English martyr and was
chosen to reflect the fact that St. Alban's is
one of the few predominately Roman Catholic
communities in Newfoundland where the majority
of inhabitants are of English (rather than
Irish or French) origin.
In the mid-1800s the area was being frequented
in winter by a number of fishing families from
communities from the mouth of the bay, and a
few eventually settled. It is believed
that the Collier and Hoskins families settled
in 1851, followed by the Organ family in
1853. Ship Cove first appears in the
Census in 1869, with a population of 39.
It was described in 1872 as a community of 45
souls, with two schooners trading such items
as barrel hoops, rinds, game and beef to
Gaultois and St. Pierre. "They appear
to be contented and thriving, and not too much
troubled by too much learning" (JHA
1872). There was also a modest fishery
for salmon, turbot, and herring.
It was said that the name Ship Cove originated
with the practice of American banking vessels
mooring offshore in order to purchase bait.
In the 1880's and 1890's other families
settled, many from Great Jervais, a
predominately Catholic community at the mouth
of the Bay. These included Crants (at
Swanger's Cove), Farrells, Howses, McDonalds,
Morrises, and Willcotts. There were 117
people in 1884 and the next year the first
Roman Catholic school/chapel was built.
By 1901 there were 202 people - enough to
warrant the opening of a branch store of
Thomas Garland Ltd. of Gaultois and the
building of a new Roman Catholic church (St.
Ignatius, began in 1902). The community
also received its first resident priest in
1911 when Father St. Croix began 35 years of
service to the parish. The population
doubled between 1901 and 1921 (pop. 437), and
again between 1921 and1945 (pop. 860).
Later in 1964, St. Alban's became incorporated
as a town.
To a great extent this increase in population
was based on a thriving logging
industry. The first sizable sawmill in
the area began at Milltown in 1895, while from
about 1920 there was also some pulpwood
cutting. After 1937, pulpwood cutting by
contractors increased and in 1943 Bowater's
established a major pulpwood operation above
Conne River, drawing much of its workforce
from St. Alban's. Families continued to
move into town from the outer reaches of the
bay, and by 1956 there were 1368 people.
The middle part of the century saw the
building of a new Catholic church (also St.
Ignatius) in the community. The
community suffered a blow when Bowater's shut
down its pulpwood operation in 1958, but in
1964 construction of the Bay d'Espoir highway
and roads to Hermitage, Harbour Breton, and
St. Jacques-Coomb's Cove provided additional
employment in the late 1960's and 1970's,
while solidifying the town's status as a
Since the end of the construction boom, St.
Alban's has experienced periods of high
unemployment - alleviated by further hydro
construction in 1975-1977 and 1981-82.
Many of the younger people left the area,
while others have traveled to work at other
Today St. Alban's and area has emerged as the
centre for the growing aquaculture industry
and hydro generation remains an integral part
of the area's economy. The town is home
to an Aquaculutre Development Centre and
Aquatic Fish Health Laboratory, a 58,000
square foot fish hatchery, aquaculture
manufacturing and service firms, processing
plant, and many offices associated with the
forgoing. The aquaculture
industry in the town and area in 2013 exceeded
a production value of $200 million (nearly 20%
of the total value of the seafood industry of
Newfoundland and Labrador). The Hydro
Generation Site in the area is the largest on
the island of Newfoundland and provides 2,650
GWh annually. The seven generating units
produce a rated output of 604 MW. Both
industries are very predominate to the local
economy. The service and retail industry
including public service organizations are
also a significant source of employment.
The town and area has many public service
organizations, government departments, and
groups including health, education, fishery,
aquaculture, employment, training, business,