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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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.

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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.