Cabin Tour: On The Water in Baine Harbour


Baine Harbour, on the Burin Peninsula, is the sort of place where the docks are lined with fishing boats, both big and small. It’s the sort of place where people live, quite literally, on the water. Take, for instance, Marie Bishop’s recent renovation project that transformed an old house and store shed into an expansive family retreat.


From the bedrooms at the back of the house, you can hear the ocean lapping against the pilings under the house. Looking out the window, you can see the cliff meet the ocean. At the front of this traditional fisherman’s family home, beyond the wharf serving as a front patio, there’s a clear view of the harbour and the sound of fishing boats as they slowly motor past on their way to the fishing grounds.

What you won’t hear, though, are the sounds of a car approaching, as access to the house from the road above is down the neighbour’s winding driveway, past the neighbour’s house, through an old wooden gate, down a short dirt path, to the edge of the wharf. It’s the ideal entrance to the house, setting the tone for the idyllic outport experience that Marie Bishop created through an extensive renovation.

She wanted to give the family a space that suited their needs, yet felt like the old house that it was – she wanted to keep the heart of the house beating.

“That’s what’s really important, to keep the heart of the old house. The memories are still there, the authenticity of the old house.”

The grandkids had bought the old house, and the three siblings each had families of their own. The goal of the renovation, says Marie, was to be able to accommodate eight adults and four children.

They would need more than the home’s original three bedrooms. In a bit of creative repurposing and spatial reorganization, the old store shed was transformed into a great room.

The old store was shifted to better align with the house, then connected by a breezeway that, as plans changed, came to house the new kitchen. That outsourcing of rooms freed up space in the main level of the house, allowing for two bedrooms to be added on the main floor, with the remainder of the space being devoted to the dining room.

Sitting in the great room, Marie explains how the renovation remained fluid, ebbing and flowing with the recommendations of family and the structural anomalies inherent in old homes built over the water. There was, for instance, the old store. The pilings under it were rebuilt, and after shifting the aging structure, they realized the roof would have to be rebuilt, along with sections of the walls. It’s still the same structure, but now has some new parts.

The main house was given a new roof to add some headspace to the second floor, and to make room under the eaves for the new windows. Access to the upper floor is up the original, narrow staircase, with its traditional look and railings adding to the authentic outport feel of the house that Marie worked to preserve. Part of that preservation meant keeping the bedrooms at the original, somewhat small, size. Each room fits a double bed, a dresser and not much else.

Next door to the house is a large shed that’s owned by the family but wasn’t part of the renovation. It was, however, a source of décor for the newly renovated space. Marie used the ephemera of the fishing lifestyle to decorate the house, mixing found pieces with bought items, and combining it with things she collected from nature. The result is an authentic look that recalls the home’s past while providing a comfortable space for its current residents.

“It’s authentic,” Marie says of the completed house. “They’re all so connected to the space, because it was their grandfather’s house and all the old stuff around is old fishing stuff. It’s the heritage of it, it’s the authenticity of it. To have it there and make it look like it belongs, it elevates it to the place of some history, so you feel more connected to it.”