Rocky Harbour Homecoming
This great country of ours has beauty from coast to coast. I have travelled Canada by car a couple of times to the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. I also travelled the ice roads out of Yellowknife during the month of January one year, over the Great Slave Lake. Living in Inuvik for a time, I also got to experience the Land of the Midnight Sun.
There is no shortage of natural beauty throughout Canada, and our people are known the world over for the great hospitality that we extend to our visitors and those who want to make Canada their home, too.
Home for me now is Thunder Bay, Ont., but I have always called my self a displaced Newfoundlander. Like many Newfoundlanders, I left the Island to make a life for myself somewhere, but never with the intention of staying away forever. It’s something I have heard Newfoundlanders who now live on the mainland say—they always intend to go back. But somehow the years go by, new families start and Newfoundland becomes that great memory for many of us.
My original hometown of Rocky Harbour is situated on the west coast of the Island in Gros Morne National Park, renowned the world over for the natural beauty it displays. When I grew up there, it was a fishing community where seasonal fisherman would come and dock at the local wharf to unload their catch, ranging from cod and lobster to seals and herring. My uncle was a boat builder there, and many fishing boats made their maiden voyage from that local wharf.
The close-knit community with large families provided me with the means of easily connecting with others. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and our playground was the great outdoors. Rather than a structured playground, we had our fun along the beaches, in the woods and, when the workers left for the day, among the fishing boats that were being built.
I remember in 1967, when the Confederation caravan rolled into our community, those big trucks with the trailers loaded with all things Canadian parked in front of our local school. Being only nine at the time, it was something I have etched in my childhood memory. Gros Morne National Park came into being in the late 1970s and, before I left Newfoundland, my summer job was working at the information centre, a one-room building that really didn’t have a lot of material to offer, but then again, it wasn’t a super busy place in those days. I did take a few catnaps on my shifts, but my main interest at the time was planning my trip away from Newfoundland, right after the season ended.