Friday, June 22, 2012

Echoes from the Past

On the eastern edge of Newfoundland's Bonavista Bay lie a trio of communities accessed by a single turn from the main road. They are Open Hall, Red Cliff and Tickle Cove; each has its own beauty, but in Red Cliff there's a scene of great poignancy that for me illustrates an important aspect of today's Newfoundland and Labrador: abandonment. More and more the small communities of the province's rural areas are being abandoned for the city of St. John's or for areas further afield. There's an economic necessity behind this move, but while that reality makes the move understandable there's an underlying sadness in it all. Houses are abandoned because there's simply no one to sell them to. Not every
snug, comfortable little house by the water can be turned over to new occupants; there's little work to be found in the area, so what were once beloved family homes now stand empty, with vacant windows staring out to sea. Boats were hauled up from the shoreline after their last day of fishing, turned over to shed the rain, then never returned to the water. The houses and boats make beautiful and haunting images, but they speak volumes about a society in which not only buildings and boats but an entire way of life have been abandoned.

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