Portuguese fishermen were said to have first visited the area of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s in 1500, when Gasper Corte Real landed in Portugal Cove to bury two of his men that had died during the voyage from Lisbon. It is also believed that fishermen settled around the same time, as they used the cove to land and dry fish. St. Philip’s(then known as Broad Cove) was settled over two hundred years later with the first permanent residents being the Tuckers and Squires from England arriving in approximately 1750. Many Squires and Tuckers families still live in the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s today.
The community of Broad Cove was changed to St. Philip’s in 1905, upon the recommendation of Reverend Canon Smith. This name change took place due to mail confusion with a second community in Conception Bay called Broad Cove, and took the name of St. Philip’s, after the community church.
Newfoundland is renowned for its many curious stories and superstitions. Variations of stories may exist in a variety of communities, while other stories or superstitions are often unique to a specific area. An interesting example of such superstitions is the common belief that there are many “signs” of death, such as dreaming of a wedding, a clock which hasn’t worked for years suddenly beginning to tick, or window blinds falling for no apparent reason. In Portugal Cove, it was (and is) believed that if the church bell rang once without reason, death or tragedy was about to occur. On the morning of November 10, 1940, the St. Lawrence Church bell rang out once. Later that evening, the historical tragedy between the Garland and the Golden Dawn occurred in which more than 20 people lost their lives.