Wood Island reunion

October 1, 2009

[NOTE] Some version of this story aired on CBC’s Maritime Noon about a year ago. I am not sure if this was the original cut or not.

In the late 1950s, residents of Wood Island in New Brunswick lost power and mail services. The island has been deserted since. But the bonds between the islanders and their ancestral home remain strong. Every August, a small group of former Wood Island residents gathers in Seal Cove on Grand Manan and makes a short crossing over to Wood Island. They get together for a church service and a day of shared memories.

The excitement among the people aboard a lobster boat crossing the stretch of water between Grand Manan and Wood islands is palpable. Everyone is talking at the same time. Eyes are darting over the bow toward a low, green island emerging from the fog. Wood island has almost a spiritual significance for some of its former residents. Others get misty-eyed at the sight of green hills and pebble beaches. There are children on board as well. They are here to learn of a different way of life.

You will hear the voices of Walter Wilcox, Pat Hodd, and Nellie Huckins. They all trace their roots to Wood Island.

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Here is the link to a CBC story about the community of Grand Bruit on Newfoundland’s southwest coast. The comments are just as interesting as the story.

Dr. Vodden from Memorial University sent me a link to a great article on island sustainability. This is very much my graduate research interest and I am more than happy to share it here.

Eva Murray is the resident of Matinius (I am pretty sure this is misspelled and it should be Matinicus) Island in Main, USA. Her text Having the right stuff is not enough: Some thoughts on sustainability dispels several myths often associated with island communities in particular and the notion of sustainability in general.

This interview originally appeared on Memorial University of Newfoundland podcast on November 21, 2008. Greg Walsh is the recipient of the 2008 Horizon Award recognizing an extraordinarily successful young alumni. At the age of 33, he is the youngest provincial archivist in Canada and a musician and songwriter coming from a long line of traditional Newfoundland musicians. I hope you enjoy the full interview. It runs at about 8 minutes and in the background you can hear one of Walsh’s songs, The Passing of the Years. I find his story about his community and his commitment to his work fascinating.

The fundraising contest page for the project is up and running. Please consider supporting this project. The amount of funding available for documentary photography is very, very limited and the current media environment is not exactly friendly towards documentary photography either. Websites such as this one are your best bet to see stories and photographs exploring issues and places that often get overlooked. These are the stories of real people and real places, for some of you close to home for others a world away. I believe that this is an honest way of raising money – if you like what you see, read and hear, make a small contribution and have fun with the contest.

Island Doctor

July 1, 2008

A diminutive, wiry man, Dr. Jesus Dapena moves around his small hospital on Grand Manan island with the purposefulness and ease born of almost four decades of service. He is immaculately dressed with the flare of a toreador: maroon pants, elegant leather shoes and colourful tie offsetting his white shirt and a subdued tweed jacket.

“It’s nothing,” he assures one of his patients who complains of pain in her wrist. “It’s a sprained wrist. You did not break anything. Take it easy,” he orders brusquely. The lady he is talking to is well over 70. She says she did not do much of anything except lift baskets of wet laundry.

Read the rest of this entry »

This short radio piece was developed in July of 2007 for the Information Morning show airing weekday mornings at CBC Radio 1 in Saint John. John Hughes Clarke is a UNB professor at the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics.

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