History of Morell

Morell was named for Jean Francois Morel from St. Malo, France who settled the area in 1720-1721. Previously the area was inhabited by a tribe known as the “Shell Fish Eaters”, followed by the Mi’kmaq who named the local river Pogooseemkekseboo (clam ground river).

The first church was built in 1752, and in 1753 Father Biscaret baptised the first white child ever christened in Prince Edward Island. The godparents named by proxy were the King and Queen of France who, in appreciation of this honor, sent church vessels, vestments, chalices, and a bell. Several of these treasures were buried when the end of the French regime appeared imminent.
By 1759, Morell was the capital of PEI and an active trading partner with France. In 1767, when the Island was divided into lots, Lot 40 was given to companies which had established businesses here. By 1798, Lots 39 and 40 had a population of 211 with 36 families of Scottish, Irish, English, Acadian French, and US Loyalist descent. Lot 40 and surrounding lots were later held by Charles Worrel, Esq., an Englishman who was President of the Island Legislative Council in 1825. His successor, J.B. Cox (father of Conductor Cox of the PEI Railroad) was a farmer, merchant, and shipbuilder for many years employing hundreds of men in the Morell area.

By the 1850’s, the community was prosperous thanks to the lumber trade and shipbuilding. In the latter part of the 1800’s, the agriculture industry greatly increased; cattle were raised, cheese and butter made, sheep breeding was on the rise. Settlers exported produce by sail to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and the railroad were the cornerstones of the community. Both fishing and farming remain important activities in this area today. Both currently and historically, the fishing and fish processing industry is a major employer in the Morell area. Together, lobster and mussels make up 99% of the total value of landings at Red Head Harbour.

The name Morel was adopted in Place Names of PEI in 1925. It was changed to Morell (Village) in 1946. Morell was incorporated as a village in 1953 and later changed to the Community of Morell by the Municipalities Act in 1983.

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