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Wharf in Gillard’s Cove brought back into shape with protective breakwater

Wallace Gillard steps out to the new Gillard’s Cove wharf on a windy and snowy morning.
Wallace Gillard steps out to the new Gillard’s Cove wharf on a windy and snowy morning. - Kyle Greenham

Restoration complete


Repair and restoration efforts have brought a wharf on Twillingate Island back into shape.

Wallace Gillard of the Gillard’s Cove Wharf Committee says the completed project will not only benefit the boat owners in the area, but also protect neighbouring homes.

“That breakwater will provide a lot of protection for the houses,” Gillard said. “If it wasn’t for that I’d have to run to the top of Twillingate when the storms come.”

Along with the restored wharf, a breakwater of more than 12,000 stones stretches across the harbour, a bastion against the crash of waves. Gillard says this will help prevent past problems with wave damage.

“Many of the boats that tie up here have filled with water because of the waves. Some have sunk and flipped over,” he said. “We’ve had waves large enough they’ve passed over the tops of the stages here. Once a wave brought in a chunk of ice and it cut right through a stage roof.

“The way it’s set up now the waves are going to break before they can come in over.”

The original Gillard’s Cove wharf had been built more than 60 years ago. It’s currently owned by the federal government. With the co-operation of the wharf committee, the government began this repair work in the late summer of 2018.

Now that restoration is near completion, the wharf’s ownership will be handed to the committee members in five years.

“It was the government ownership that was the key in getting this to go ahead,” Gillard said. “They either had to take it out entirely or put something else here. We had several meetings with government and the town and told them it’d be better to put something there. It probably wouldn’t cost you a hell of a lot more money and it’s a major benefit to the people who use it.”

With wharves across Twillingate Island deteriorating and in need of repair, Gillard says there has been controversy around the project.

“People in this community are really pleased with it but there’s people around the island who feel there are places that are more important,” he said. “But there’s a lot of work going on [in Twillingate] now. There’s this wharf, the coast guard wharf, the repairs being done on the fish plant wharf. Next year there might be another couple of wharves getting fixed up, but we can’t expect that it’s going to happen all at once.”

Along with a strong breakwater, the new wharf has a layer of Class A stone for a parking area and can tie up about 12 boats. The nearby wharf in Bluff Head Cove area of Twillingate is in rough shape, so Gillard expects some boats from that area may be tying up in Gillard’s Cove this summer.

The restoration, contracted to the Harbour Breton-based company Dynamic Construction Ltd., involved the tearing out of all of the old wharf’s infrastructure, blasting out of sea rock in order to extend the wharf, and piling up stones brought from a quarry in Gander Bay.

When the committee takes ownership of the wharf, Gillard says it may build a floating dock for the area.

For the harvesters and boat owners of the cove, the new sight brings a sigh of relief.

“They’ve done a good job. We’re happy with what we’ve got,” said Gillard. “This wharf will last a long time now. It will outlive me.”

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