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.

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.