Destiny

(Kathleen Ford)

The path we take today can lead us to any destination. Circumstances beyond our control can force us to relocate to another town, community or city. Not knowing what lies ahead can be a learning experience as well as a place to call home.

My name is Kathleen and I was born in the wilderness of the Gander Valley in a place called Glenwood. Glenwood is located on the Trans Canada Highway, twenty kilometers west of Gander. Until the 1980's Glenwood was a growing community with hopes and expectations for a bright and prosperous future. In 1982 we faced the unexpected loss of our major industry - the logging industry.

The logging industry provided employment to hundreds of men from all over the surrounding inlets and bays. If the outport fishery had a bad season, the lumber woods was the place to go to seek employment.

In 1982 people had to take a different look at their future and decide what would be best for their families. Some had to seek work elsewhere; uprooting and moving became the answer. It became a new way of life for many people.

I was very fortunate to have married a man from Fogo, Fogo Island. His family had moved to Glenwood during the resettlement times. His father found work in the lumber woods and they decided, to make Glenwood their home.

After the logging industry collapsed we sold our home nestled in the Gander Valley and moved back to Fogo Island. The outlook on the fishery was better than ever and modern equipment made it easier than ever. We decided to go back to what my husband's father had done before he left Fogo in the late fifties.

I had no idea what lay ahead of me nor did I have any idea on the fishery. I thought with the ferry being only one and a half hours away from home, I would be able to come and go any time I wanted. I was wrong. Living on an island has it's advantages and disadvantages.

I had pictured Fogo Island as a small island with lots of trees. While there are some trees, the otherwise stark beauty of the island and the openness of the cold Atlantic Ocean was a shock to my system. The harshness of winter made the gentleness of a Glenwood summer only a fond memory.

The weather and wind on Fogo, I soon learned, would make or break a day of fishing. When trying to make a living from the sea, the weather is your survival. So listening to the forecast, looking at the clouds and checking the wind became a daily routine.

The lifestyle of any Newfoundland outport that makes a living from the sea is a lifestyle that is completely different from any other. It was work from dusk to dawn, with never a moment to spare. The old saying 'make hay while the sun shone' was no truer words spoken.

The work began as the month of May and the first sign of fish came. As the season for each species of fish opened we worked, with never a moment to spare, from dawn to dusk. We fished until late October or November, depending on the weather.

I remember one time when our crew were still splitting fish until 2:00 a.m.; everyone were busy, both young and old. Young boys and girls were earning pocket money by cutting out cod tongues. The fish plants were in full force with fishermen coming from the fishing grounds all hours of the day and night.

"Amazing," I thought, "how lucky the people on this Island are. So rich in many ways and so fortunate to have the resource to provide a living for their families. There was no such thing as time for a holiday; this was the time for work."

I have learned to accept the isolation at certain times of the year and the hard work. We have learned that the wind won't blow forever. There's a reward at the end of a good day fishing. The fresh smell of the ocean at five o'clock in the morning makes you take a deep breath and realize how lucky you are to be alive. How fortunate we are; surely we can count our blessings.

Even though the fishery is now on a decline, we have faith in it and are going to continue fishing.

Questions:

  1. What was Glenwood's mayor industry?
  2. When did the fishing start and end?
  3. Do you think Kathleen enjoys working in the fishery? Why?

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