Kean's General Store

From Mercantile to Art Studio: a look at the history of the Job Kean Shop in Brookfield, Bonavista Bay, and its current life as the working studio of visual artist Janet Davis.
To start off our little history lesson, here is a map showing the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, on the north side of Bonavista Bay, where the story takes place...
Job Kean
Of Flower’s Island
Virtue Maria Hann
Of Middle Bill Cove
Captain Job and Virtue Kean, date unknown.
Residence designed by William F. Butler for Job Kean, Esq.
Job and Virtue raised their eleven children in Brookfield
•Maggie Marcella 1884-19??
•Gladys Murray1891 (7mos)
•Hedley Walter 1892 (7mo)
•Baxter Wesley 1895-1976
•Mary Jane 1897 (5 mos)
•Charles 1901-1975
•Job  (13 yrs)
•Alexander Smith 1905 (10mo)
Wesleyville and Brookfield Auxiliaries of the Women’s Missionary Society
August 1905
Virtue is seen here 3rd from the right in the second row, seated.
Virtue had been a school teacher on Flower’s Island, and after marrying Job, became a noted figure as a businesswoman in the community of Norton’s Cove, later to be renamed Brookfield.
Sealing Captains of Bonavista North, 1899
Job is seen here 3rd from the left in the back row.  Abram is seated in front of him.
Job Kean, along with his sister and mother, were taken in by his uncle Abram Kean after the death of his father.  Job and Virtue’s first child was born while still living with Abram, before building their own premises in Norton’s Cove.
Captain Job Kean Mastered vessels engaging in the seal and cod
fisheries including the Daisy Kean, Diana (above), and the Eric.
Unknown Sealer and Baxter Wesley Kean
The Ships That Sailed To-Day (James Murphy)
I watched when they departed, 'twas eight o'clock the hour,
I saw them steaming down the shore with Tom Rose at Cabot Tower;
The echoes of their cheering in fancy o'er me steals,
As our Northern men, so daring, went forth in quest of seals.
The Terra Nova, Captain Kean, with two hundred and three men,
Went through the gap this morning to try her luck again;
While the screaming of the Eagle was heard both high and low,
In charge of a son of Abraham, the sturdy Captain Joe.
There sailed the stout Aurora, commanded by Dan Green,
With Captain Sam Bob Winsor in Bowring's Algerine;
Chased by the bold ice Ranger bound on her sealing quest,
No novice to that danger, with a Bishop she is blest.
Darius leads the Vanguard of Baine Johnston's ships,
Long live bold Captain Blandford to bring in bumper trips;
As soon as one can find them - I know where one is found -
'Tis bully young Bill Winsor who sails the old Bloodhound.
There's Barbour in the Iceland, a bold seal killer, too,
While Bragg commands the Greenland to show what Bragg can do;
Good luck to Peter Carter, and may he meet no loss,
There's not a man much smarter to sail the Southern Cross.
The Adventure and the Grand Lake have also gone to sea,
The first in charge of Harry Dawe, and the last by Jobey Knee;
The Newfoundland with Parsons sent forth her whistle shrill!
Jesse Winsor sailed the Panther he's proud of Wesleyville.
George Barbour in the Neptune, he's good as water wet,
Job Kean commands the Eric, he's a solid man, you bet;
While the lucky ship Diana, she bears a man of fame,
From Newtown, Bonavista Bay, Alf Barbour is his name.
Jacob Winsor sailed the Walrus, supplied by Browning's store,
And my friends, both Baird and Gordon, sent George Hann in Labrador;
While Jacob Kean in Virginia Lake completes the twenty ships,
And the wish of all - may they return filled up with bumper trips.
In addition to the house and shop, the Kean Premises included several other buildings including a horse stable, telegraph office, an ice house, warehouses, stages, and stores, their own wharf, and of course schooners and other boats.
Job’s business included a lumber mill, and there is an area in Valleyfield’s arm
still known as Jobie Kean’s Brook.
Maggie Kean married Baxter Barbour,
shown above with their children Zeta, Alfreda, Alexander, and Helen.
Captain Charlie Kean followed his father’s footsteps.
Baxter Wesley Kean received a Business Diploma at Mount Alison College in New Brunswick before settling in at Brookfield again to work with his parents in the shop and on ships.  He would inherit the family property.
Job and Virtue’s son, Job.
Part of a post card from Aubrey, Carrie’s husband, in 1961 after visiting the war memorial at Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park.
World War I
Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Above: Baxter in the middle- with friends
Below: Baxter at left with his 1st cousin Lester Barbour
Unlike young Job and cousin Lester, Baxter came home from the war, safe and sound.

Captain Charlie Kean’s home next door to Baxter’s.  C.1940s-50s


Clyde Best, a local youth, on the steps of the shop.  Date unknown.
Baxter continued to run the shop until his death in 1976.
The shop remained open until 1979 under a couple of leaseholders.
Kean's General Store was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland & Labrador in 1988.
The shop sank into a state of disrepair with much neglect and vandalism until Janet Davis became the new owner in 1996.
Basic repairs were made and Dory Buff was opened, an art and craft shop which was kept open during the summer months until 2001.  
In 2002, Norton's Cove Studio Inc. was created, operating as a non-toxic fine art print-shop and store as it continues to present day.
Janet, almost ready to open Norton’s Cove Studio in 2002.
With financial assistance from the Heritage Foundation of NL, Service Canada’s Jobs Creation Program, The Department of Innovation Business and Rural Development, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; as well as elbow grease from many friends and relatives, the building was reopened on September 19th, 2002 as Norton’s Cove Studio Inc.

Tracing a pattern onto burlap for the 8x10' hooked mat Clifford's Education Fund in 2006.

Printing the etching Pisces in 2007

Visiting Artist Tara Bryan teaching an oil painting workshop in 2009.

Printing Minke Whales in 2011.

Printing the linocut print Northern Gannet in 2012.

In 2012, Norton's Cove Studio celebrated its tenth anniversary with a party.

Shelves and drawers that once held bolts of fabric and lace, hatpins and other ladylike necessities now hold printing ink and other art supplies.  Here Janet is cutting framing materials for her line of 8x10 framed mini-prints in 2014.

The counters and shelves remain but display artwork and fine craft instead of groceries and hardware.  circa 2012.

Production printing cards, mini-prints, and bookmarks in 2013.

Norton's Cove Studio is housed by the c.1890 J. Kean Shop
A sunset over Kean's General Store in May of 2021.
2022: Our 20th Anniversary!
Also at Kean's General Store, you'll find the office of Norton's Cove Marine Inc., a related company.