Cupid must have let a lot of arrows fly on the Avalon Peninsula when he was aiming at this province.
With such sweet town names like Heart’s Delight, Heart’s Desire and Heart’s Content on the southern part of Trinity Bay, and Cupids on the north part of Conception Bay, you can’t help but fall in love with them.
And while Valentine’s Day is a time for romance around the world, for residents in these tiny, rural towns, their hearts are always in the right place.
“It’s a lovely community with very friendly people with good hearts,” longtime Heart’s Desire resident Evelyn Clarke said when asked how it feels to live in a town with such a sweet name.
“Everybody is there to help each other … and we like to see lots of visitors. I see them all the time taking pictures by the (ocean).”
All four are located on what’s been pegged the Baccalieu Trail. The towns of Heart’s Delight (population just under 700 with Islington, amalgamated in 1973), Heart’s Desire (population just over 200) and Heart’s Content (population 400) are on Route 80, just under 15 minutes apart, while Cupids (population 750) is located on Route 70, about 80 kilometres west of St. John’s.
Each year, thousands of people from around the world flock to the towns, which were settled in the 1600s. Many come for the scenery and breathtaking views, some to explore the history and others to enjoy the hospitality.
"People from around the world come here and they’re in awe of its beauty." — Heart’s Content Mayor Fred Cumby
But some are attracted by the names alone.
“The name is certainly a draw,” said Heart’s Content Mayor Fred Cumby, who noted the town’s harbour is heart-shaped. “But the community, itself, leaves an impression on people. You leave here with a good feeling. You do feel contented.”
Cumby said there are plenty of things people adore about the town, including its colourful flower displays, walking trails, and town square, not to mention the heritage lighthouse and the town’s cable station provincial historic site, the location of the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable, connecting the Trinity Bay community to Valentia, Ireland, in 1866.
The cable station was recently added to Canada’s list for UNESCO World Heritage Site consideration.
“There’s always something to do or see here,” Cumby said. “People from around the world come here and they’re in awe of its beauty. They’re really impressed. People who leave are always drawn to come back.”
Heart’s Delight-Islington Mayor Clayton Branton said it’s common for people to express interest in the town name.
“Because of our name, we’ve met a lot of interesting people from far away,” he said. “They come here to visit and many come to stay.”
Branton said in the last seven years, the town has seen significant growth, with construction of about 40 new homes. Many of the older homes are also being bought and renovated, he said.
“We’ve got a lot to offer,” said Branton, also pointing to the town’s many attractions, including walking trails and restaurants. “And there are good, loving people here.”
Branton, who is chairman of the area’s joint mayors’ association, said each of the towns usually have Valentine’s Day events every year. The towns work together to help each other, he said.
Meanwhile, there’s also lots to love about Cupids.
As the first permanent English settlement in Canada, settled by John Guy, a British merchant from Bristol, England, and 39 planters in 1610, it’s steeped in history.
Whatever the allure of these sweet-named towns, visitors are sure to fall head over heels.
FOR THE LOVE OF TOWN NAMES
Heart's Delight/Heart’s Desire
There are two stories about the origin of the name. One is that it was named by a traveller who arrived in the cove and found his "Heart's Delight" there. The second says that Heart's Delight, Heart's Desire and Heart's Content were named after fishing vessels, the Heart’s Delight, the Heart’s Desire and the Heart’s Content, which fished out of the surrounding harbour in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Heart’s Delight was settled in the late 18th century. The earliest reference to Heart’s Delight in the Trinity parish records is the birth of Elizabeth Wolfrey, daughter of William and Elizabeth, in 1785.
Although the origin of the name is just speculation, a variation of it (Hartes Content) was recorded by John Guy in 1612. Originally a summer fishing station, by the late 1600s it was a year-round settlement populated mainly by English West Country fishermen, who also later developed a shipbuilding industry. Besides being one of Newfoundland's oldest enduring fishing settlements, it is prominent in the history of international communications. In July 1866, the Great Eastern, the largest steamship then afloat, made the first successful landing of a transatlantic submarine telegraph cable at Heart's Content.
Earlier variants: Cupers Cove (Guy 1612), Cupurts Cove, Cubitts Cove, Coopers Cove, Cupids Cove (English Pilot, 1689). The exact etymology of the name Cupids is at present unknown, although Seary (1971) offers a partial explanation that the name Cupers Cove possibly indicates that coopering was practiced on the site or that the name might be a possessive derived from the surname Cowper or Cooper.
Source: Larry Dohey, director of programming and public engagement, The Rooms Corporation