Tilting National Historic Site

Tilting landscape was designated a national historic site in 2003.

Commemorative plaque: Tilting, Newfoundland and Labrador Footnote 1

Irish settlers began to shape this landscape from about the 1730s, building houses and fishing rooms around the harbour to support the inshore fishery. Influenced by the inheritance customs of their homeland, Tilting's residents subdivided the original land lots, developing clusters of extended family neighbourhoods. They also adapted the Irish tradition of keeping gardens, with those near the home more intensively cultivated and those farther away used mainly for hay or crops for winter storage. Like other Newfoundlanders, they enclosed their fields with wooden fences and pastured livestock on the open commons. Many of Tilting's landscape components, including the harbour, the extensive gardens near Sandy Cove and Oliver's Cove, and the summer and winter paths, are used in much the same way today as in the past. While continuing to evolve, this community retains an unusually complete range of vernacular building types, and the arrangements and interrelationships of traditional buildings and spaces have largely been maintained. Still inhabited by descendants of its early families, Tilting survives as a rare example of a once common Irish- Newfoundland cultural landscape.

Aerial view of coastal village
Kite Aerial Photography on Tilting, Fogo Island, May 2016
© Pierre Lesage, taken from https://flic.kr/p/HEVHdp, some rights reserved
Aerial view of coastal village
Kite aerial photography of Joe Batt's Arm community, Fogo Island, May 2016
© Pierre Lesage, taken from https://flic.kr/p/HvG3E2, some rights reserved

Description of historic place

Tilting National Historic Site of Canada is an outport landscape created by a coastal fishing community on the east coast of Fogo Island in Notre Dame Bay on Newfoundland’s northeast coast. The site includes small wooden vernacular dwellings and outbuildings as well as more modern structures scattered on the rocky island landscape, surrounded by gardens, pathways, the shoreline and the harbour. It is a continuing cultural landscape that encompasses natural, built and living places that together depict traditional outport life. The designation refers to the cultural landscape with its buildings and structures, including Pigeon Island and Tilting Harbour.

Heritage value

Tilting was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2002 because:

  • it possesses a landscape illustrating adaptations of Irish settlement patterns, both in its family neighbourhood clusters around the harbour and its remarkable fenced gardens;
  • it is a rare surviving example of a Newfoundland outport where the use of its landscape components has been very largely maintained from at least the mid-18th century, when its Irish settlers first began to shape them;
  • it is a rare example of an outport that retains both a virtually complete range of traditional buildings and spaces associated with Newfoundland’s inshore fishery, and their traditional interrelationships.


Coastal village during winter
Tilting from Tilting Harbour, March 2017
© Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, taken from https://flic.kr/p/TGQiMV, some rights reserved
General view of coastal village
General view of Tilting
© Parks Canada / Rhona Goodspeed, 2001


An outport community that began to take shape in the 1730s, Tilting is a small community whose residents have long been dependent upon animal husbandry, farming and fishing. The designated site comprises landscape, shoreline, harbour, ponds, small island, one summer trail and portions of two others, portions of slide paths, three cemeteries, gardens, fences, buildings including a church, parish hall, former school, post office, two stores, houses, and a range of outbuildings including fishing buildings, stables, barns, one milk shed, haysheds and root cellars.

The heritage value of Tilting resides in the ability of the cultural landscape to illustrate the outport way of life. Value lies in the nature, diversity and range of the individual resources within its cultural landscape, their complex interrelationships, and the clarity with which their composition, forms and settings reflect the community’s Irish roots and on-going evolution.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, December 2002.

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