This year is the 30th anniversary of the cod moratorium with its corresponding effect on rural Newfoundland.
But in Petty Harbour on a summer weekend, it feels like the good times never ended. That’s because on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays throughout the summer, Newfoundlanders are once again permitted to fish for cod. It’s called the food fishery and makes adults as giddy as children on Christmas morning.
It’s also Come Home Year in Newfoundland. Sure, it’s a marketing ploy on behalf of the government to kick-start the all-important tourist industry after two lean pandemic years. It’s also a moving testament to the power of a place and how it can live within you even when you are far away.
In July, Liam and I were lucky enough to attend Come Home Queer, an amazing three-day festival celebrating the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Small Point-Broad Cove- Blackhead-Adam’s Cove in Conception Bay North. Organized by our great friend Gerry Rogers (how lucky we were that Gerry and her partner Peg Norman were our first neighbours in St. John’s!), it was entertaining (hello Kelly Loder!), moving beyond words (Denise Cole) and thought provoking.
One of the sessions was about what home means. As Drew Brown of the Independent wrote so eloquently in his account of the weekend, “you can find yourself coming home to a place you’ve never been before.”
Petty Harbour had its own Come Home Year celebrations this month. We took the opportunity to invite members of the community to see our extensive renovations up close (thanks again to Randy Spacklin and HGTV’s Rock Solid Builds).
We had a wonderful crowd come through but Jim Keilley, his sister Patsy and their cousin Bessie Hearn won the party (as my old boss Kim McArthur used to say). Jim and Patsy told us about sliding down the bannister (which is still there) as kids and Bessie roomed for a couple of winters while teaching at Petty Harbour’s Catholic school (1959 and 1960).
God knows how there was room for her with 10 kids in the house.
But back then, before the moratorium, there was always fish for a feed and no one went hungry.