Pardon the silliness of the title, but I’ll be off to Fogo Island on the north coast of Newfoundland. It, after arriving in St. John’s, will be the first stop in my second trip up there. It is there where I hope to find and start to photograph the newly realized core of my book, “Arn? Narn.”
Just what is that core? It’s what I had already known but not realized; then realized but didn’t understand; and now it was a growing awareness of the impact of the fishing moratorium and it’s subsequent long-term effects. It was as my Fogo Island innkeeper was to tell me, “What you see now will not be here in 10-12 years.” That wasn’t prescient; it was fact: one I was still to discover first hand.
Fogo Island is so uniquely Newfoundland. (Where else could you be greeted by The Mouse?) The name was originally Y del Fogo, meaning island of fire. There is speculation as to the origin of the name: perhaps it was the native Beothuk’s (now extinct) campfires or multiple forest fires, but no one is certain.
The island supported itself solely on fishing as had the entire province. Now it was suffering the same fate as that of the larger “mainland” island. True, it had the annual Brimstone Head Folk festival each summer on Brimstone Head, (reputed by the Flat Earth Society to be one of the four corners of the earth!) but that was in early August for only a few days. A week before that is the Ethridge Point Seaside Festival in Joe Batt’s Arm. These bring some tourists in but for a short time, not enough to make much of a difference.
I was to be here for nearly a week in which I would be able to roam and photograph across the island, talk with people directly, and get a better feel for this environment. I would learn that Fogo was the main outport/town on Fogo Island – do not confuse the two. Fogo (the town) is joined by the communities of Joe Batt’s Arm, Seldom, Little Seldom, Tilting, Barr’d Islands, and Stag Harbour. In 2006 they all came together to form the Town of Fogo, while retaining their individual personalities. More to come on Fogo soon.