We spent our first night in Newfoundland at the Blue Haven Bed and Breakfast in a community called Paradise. Our house was on Adam’s Pond and owned by Minne Ann Piercey. We had a lovely room. We arrived later in the evening after picking up our rental car at the St. John’s airport. It was raining and continued to rain all night and the next day. No matter, our hostess Minne Ann was delightful and we quickly made friends with her two collies AJ and Shiloh. Turns out Minnie Ann who was born in Newfoundland, had lived in Winnipeg for many years where she owed a pet store and worked as a real estate agent, and so we had many experiences and places in common. She had even launched a book she’d written at McNally Robinson where my writers group meets on Thursday nights.
I learned about an important part of Newfoundland history from Minnie Ann. She grew up in a place called Pass Island. It was community of 250 people with an Anglican Church and a one room school. Her father ran the store. As part of Premier Joey Smallwood’s plan to modernize the province it was decided to resettle people from small Newfoundland communities to bigger centres. Pass Island was one of the communities resettled. Minnie Ann and her family really had no alternative but to move. The Newfoundland government resettled some 148 communities and moved 20,000 people between 1965 and 1975. Some people left communities where their families had lived for more than a century.