High Road and Wren's Nest


Chart Color Legend

Documented Settlement - Red | Probable Settlement - Blue | Seasonal Settlement - Green


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 0
8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(O') Brien        


Although many old place-names, and knowledge of their locations, have survived to the present day, no one can recall from memory or lore, the name or location of the area known as the Wren's Nest. This name was used extensively in the surviving voters lists of 1840 to 1859, but sometimes the same area was referred to as the High Road. From analysis of the voters list, it soon becomes obvious that the Wren's Nest/High Road was located on the south side of Caplin Bay. From these same voters lists, we also learn that this area was settled by a number of families, i.e. the Barrys, two Boland families, the Byrnes, Carberry's, Maddens, and a Sheehan family. My best approximation, of where the Wren's Nest was located, places it southeast of the areas known in the voters lists as Road Side (Clancy, Johnston, Rossiter) and Oat Garden (Whelan), and west of property owned by the Kavanagh, O'Keefe and other Sheehan families of that era. In todays terms, this would translate roughly to the area halfway up "The Hill", on both side of the highway (Route 10) leading to Ferryland. Some of the property is still owned by the original families, but other property has long been occupied by other families who claimed it after the original families left or died off.

The Barrys were one of the families living at the Wrens's Nest in the mid 1800s. Although William Barry is not recorded in the voters lists until 1849, there is some evidence that a Michael Barry may have previously owned this property. There was also a John Barry of Caplin Bay (possibly a brother of William), who was drowned at St. Mary's in 1855. We don't know his age and his name never appeared in the voters list for Caplin Bay. Family lore connects this family with Michael O'Brien who married at Caplin Bay about 1877. Michael O'Brien had only one son, Denis, and he inherited the property after his father's death. In an old map of Caplin Bay (circa 1910), this property is shown north east of the public road to Ferryland, in the name of Denis (O')Brien. The location of this property lends some credence to the O'Brien family lore and the supposed location of the Wren's Nest.

Although the Boland surname has long been synonymous with The Cross area of Calvert, it appears that in earlier times this was not the case. The voters lists of the 1840s and 1850s indicate that two families of Bolands were living at the Wren's Nest or High Road, i.e. the road to Ferryland. The exact relationship of these two families is not known, but it appears that John Boland settled there first, possibly in the 1820s. He was later joined by Thomas Boland, of Ireland, who married Johanna from Caplin Bay in 1838. Unfortunately, his wife's maiden name is not legible in the old marriage record.

The oldest surviving map of Caplin Bay (circa 1910) shows that the Boland family still held some property in the area of the Wren's Nest. However, by that time, most of the Boland property is shown near the Old Woman's Pond and The Cross area. While some of these properties were acquired through Crown Grants, it is probable that the land at the northeast side of the Old Woman's Pond and at The Cross, was land that was inherited from intermarriage with the Hearne family. The original homestead of John Boland was probably on the property shown in this old map, adjacent to land owned at that time by Matthew Whelan. It is not known where Thomas Boland homestead was located at the Wren's Nest. Although one of Thomas' sons married at Caplin Bay, it appears he lived at Ferryland before moving to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in the 1880s.

Two more families, who are shown as settlers in this area, were the Byrnes and Carberrys. The Carberry name disappeared from the voters lists in the early 1840s. After a long association with Caplin Bay, the Byrne surname disappeared from Caplin Bay after 1852. It is not known exactly where these families lived or the extent of their properties.

Another family that lived at the Wren's Nest, and the area bordering on it, was the Sheehan family. The spelling of this name also appears as Sheehy or Shean in some of the records. In the voters lists there was three heads of families listed for this surname, Patrick at Wren's Nest, William at Nashes, and Edward at the South Side. It would appear from these lists that the Sheehans may have owned property on both sides of the road to Ferryland extending eastward, down the slope, towards the shoreline of Caplin Bay. The exact relationship of these three families is unknown. In 1859, Patrick Sheehan was still listed in the voters list but some update notes, written sometime later, says "old, dead" after Patrick's name. The Sheehan property appears to have been in the area, a few hundred yards east of where today, the road to the Point meets Route 10. From a study of the Crown Lands maps, it seems probable that the Sheehan property, at the Wren's Nest, bordered on the property of the Clanceys, i.e. northwest of the road to Ferryland.

In the mid 1850s, the Maher or Meagher surname appeared in the Caplin Bay voters lists. Thomas Maher from Conception Bay married a woman (Bridget) from Caplin Bay and settled there about 1854. It is not known where he lived, but they may have been neighbours, or relatives, of the O'Briens who were living at the Wren's Nest. This family name disappeared from Caplin Bay in the early 1900s, and to date I have not been able to find anyone who knows where they lived at Caplin Bay.

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