51% Show #1262

Sep 19, 2013

  Visiting a Canadian ghost town... A now-abandoned village is a metaphor for another way of life; a way of life that's disappearing.

Summer vacation season is over, but let's take the next half hour to slow down, just one more time.

I haven't spent a lot of time by the sea this year, but I've been doing a lot of reading, immersing myself in stories of the sea and the people who made their living there. It's a world that's vanishing. This week we're going back to hear the story of one small Canadian village – a village whose residents voted to leave.

Despite its geographical isolation the community of Grand Bruit had been home to many Newfoundland families since the early 1800's. Now the ferry no longer runs, no roads lead there and the place is empty.

Following the collapse of the cod fishery in 1992 life in fishing communities across Newfoundland began to deteriorate. Survival in Grand Bruit proved increasingly difficult. It was cut off from the world – there were no roads, no cars. It was only accessible by boat and ferry. The town's school closed in 2007 when the last elementary school aged children graduated. The Canadian government offered a financial incentive for people to move – and the community voted to resettle in larger towns at the end of June 2010.

This is a story about a rural world that is disappearing: a story about an increasingly urbanized world and a tender story about the meaning of home.    Here is part one of producer Jiri Slavicinsky’s documentary..Last Summer in Grand Bruit.

Up next, part two of an intimate look at a disappearing world. 

In 2010, the fishing village of Grand Bruit in Newfoundland officially closed. The power was cut, the homes were abandoned, and the few families who still lived their boarded the ferry for the last time and left. The cod fishing industry that had sustained them had collapsed. There are no roads, no way to access the outside world except by boat. The Canadian government offered to pay for them to move and the town voted to resettle. Their friends and neighbors are scattered to the winds. And their ancestors were left behind in the wind-swept cemetery.  Let's continue with Jiri Slavicinksy's documentary, Last Summer in Grand Bruit. 

Grand Bruit is now an abandoned village on the southern coast of Newfoundland. The only way to get there is by boat.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme  music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.