Little Fogo Islands and adjacent islands to the southwest comprise about 100 islands strung out in a northeasterly direction. These are the islands that Captain Wadham, in his celebrated sailing directions called “a parcel of dammed rugged isles”.
Some 2700 people live on Fogo Island and 240 people live on Change Islands. Little Fogo Islands are no longer settled.
Fogo Island is home to 11 communities – each with its own distinctive flare and allure.
- Barr'd Islands
- Deep Bay
- Fogo Island Central
- Island Harbour
- Joe Batt's Arm
- Little Seldom
- Shoal Bay
- Stag Harbour
The Change Islands have one small community, the Town of Change Islands.
The isolation from the mainland; the intimate and profound entanglement with the sea and the forces of nature; lives lived at the very edge of a great ocean have created a place of many stories.
It is not surprising that the Flat Earth Society considers Fogo Island one of the four corners of a flat earth.
Endangered rural communities
Fogo Island and Change Islands were among the earliest European settlements in Canada. They are populated by a people descended from immigrants from the west country of England and Ireland. They have always sustained themselves from the resources of the sea and have developed a vibrant culture based on deeply rooted connections to place and community. Located in the Labrador Current, the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland is the only place in the world where people live in moving ice – as the Arctic pack ice and icebergs are brought to their shores by the south flowing current. To live here is to have an indomitable spirit, a deep understanding of the full community of life, of the give and take of living with the sea and no small sense of humour.
People settled on Fogo Island and Change Islands, like most of Newfoundland, to fish for cod. Cod has sustained people in this place for centuries. In 1992, the government imposed a moratorium and the cod fishery was closed. The upheaval throughout rural Newfoundland was devastating with hundreds of small rural communities – outports – losing their livelihoods almost overnight.
Fogo Island and Change Islands have fared better than many other remote fishing communities that have not survived the 1992 moratorium on the cod fishery. Many of the fishermen of Fogo Island have adapted their fishery to other species such as crab and shrimp.
It is a sad reality that many fishing communities are ‘too far gone’ to save. This is not the case with Fogo Island and Change Islands. While the islands suffer from high unemployment, the out-migration of youth and the lack of many of the social and health facilities that most Canadians take for granted, there is no poverty of aspirations. Far from it.
Fogo Island and Change Islands are known for world-class, cultural programming that attracts people from around the world. The Fogo Island Arts Corporation hosts internationally recognized artists and researchers working in a wide range of disciplines, including visual art, new media, design, fine craft, music, writing and film. It also brings artists and local community members together for workshops, seminars, exhibitions and other events. Arts Corporation activities have two intertwined strands – an international Residency Program and a Production Program. All activities focus on locally rooted and site-responsive themes inspired by Fogo Island’s and Change Islands’ unique geography and people, while reaching out to the international art scene at the same time.
The basis for the Fogo Island Artist Residency Program is the six artist studios designed by award-winning architect Todd Saunders. The studios are bold geometric structures that stand in contrast to the harsh, yet beautiful natural environment, while silently complementing it. The main concept behind the layout of each studio is to observe the surrounding environment during its transitions through the seasons. The studios are all oriented towards the sea and elevated above the ground to provide the resident artist with a feeling of being unobstructed and unbound. The materials and construction methods chosen reflect that of the local architecture of Fogo Island. The environment will leave its marks on the studios by weathering the structures over time. The structures are intended to touch the imagination and help maintain a connection between the past and the future.
The closest airport for visiting Fogo Island and Change Islands is Gander International Airport. From Gander, take Route 235, the Road to the Isles scenic driving route, to Farewell. A ferry crossing takes approximately 25 minutes from Farewell to Change Islands, or 50 minutes from Farewell to Fogo Island.
- Fogo Island Taxi, ☎ .
Fogo Island and Change Islands offer stunning natural wildlife and scenery such as humpback whales, caribou herds, soaring seabirds, and towering icebergs.
- 1 Bleak House Museum, North Shore Road, Fogo. Home to some of the most powerful and influential people in the history of Fogo, Bleak House represents the differences between the merchant class and the fishing class in the community from a century ago.
- 2 Brett House Museum, Brown's Point Road, Joe Batt's Arm. The Brett House and Outbuildings were beautifully constructed, and are exceptionally well-preserved. They were designated as Registered Heritage Structures on October 2, 2003, by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
- 3 Experience Fogo Site, North Shore Road, Fogo. Built on the old hospital grounds, view collections of old tools and see how Fogo Islanders grew their own vegetables, raised their livestock, mended their nets, and dried their fish.
- 4 Marconi Wireless Interpretation Centre, Pickett's Road Extension, Fogo. Perched high on the hill above the community of Fogo, get a great view of the community and learn about the early communications history of Fogo Island.
- 5 Marine Interpretation Centre, Harbour Drive, Seldom. Restored Fisherman's Protective Union Trading Company building, cod liver oil factory, Funk Island display, interpretation of the Fogo process & Fogo Island Co-op. Touch tank with local sea life. Craft shop, marina, public shower & coin laundry.
- Fogo Walking Trails, Fogo, ☎ . Walking trails lead to resettled villages of Lion's Den, Shoal Tickle, Eastern Tickle and Locke's Cove. Also, there are trails to scenic Brimstone Head, Fogo Head and Waterman's Brook.
- Growlers Ice Cream, 125 Main Road, Joe Batt's Arm, ☎ .
- 1 Kwang Tung Restaurant, Main Street, Fogo, ☎ .
- 2 Nicole's Café, 159 Main Road, Joe Batt's Arm, ☎ . Using local ingredients in a creative mix of modern and traditional recipes.
- Beaches Bar & Grill, 42 Main St, Fogo, ☎ .
Hotels and motels
- 1 Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt's Arm, ☎ , toll-free: . A cultural destination with 29 guest rooms, each unique, and an art gallery, heritage library, cinema and rooftop sauna. Every detail chosen with purpose and handcrafted by locals. $875-2475 (room only), plus $200/person full board.
- 2 Quiet Cannon Hotel, Man O' War Cove, Fogo Island (near ferry dock), ☎ , fax: . Seasonal restaurant (May-Sep), patio, wi-fi, continental breakfast. Non-smoking, pet-friendly, 13 rooms (incl. 2 efficiency units with kitchens) open year-round. $109 - 164.
Bed and breakfast
- 3 Foley's Place B&B, Kelly's Island Road, Tilting, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Four rooms with en-suite bath in century-old home, non-smoking, patio/BBQ, wi-fi. Year-round. $85/night.
- Peg's Bed & Breakfast, 60 Main Street, Fogo, ☎ . Check-out: 11am. Six rooms, harbour view, wi-fi, full (+$7) or continental breakfast (included). Seasonal (May-Oct). $80-102/night.
- 4 Jigloft, 133 Southside Road, Joe Batt's Arm, ☎ . Restored 150-year-old saltbox home offering clean, comfortable, private self-catering, three-bedroom accommodation in a relaxed & friendly atmosphere.
- The Old Salt Box Co., Various, Fogo, ☎ . Completely renovated, turn of the century, contemporary, ocean front ‘Salt Box Houses’ for rent.
- 5 Quintal House, 153 Main Road, Joe Batt's Arm, ☎ . Restored three-storey heritage guest home accented with antique and modern functional furnishings and local artisan and craft pieces. Three rooms, all with serene harbour front views.
Short of building a ship to set sail for Ireland, Fogo is somewhat of a dead end as it's the northeasternmost point in the area, beyond which is ocean. The only option by car is to get back onto the ferry, same way one came in, back to Twillingate or Lewisporte.