Thankful for Fogo Island


Since spring I have been spending most of my time on Fogo Island in our little house in Deep Bay. With the installation of some eaves trough, we have a handy dandy water collection system for showers and toilet (and conserving water is a great excuse to let dishes pile up for a couple of days or take out the Royal Chinet).

It was a spectacular  summer for icebergs and sunny days and talking to tourists and and attending events offered on the island. Now I’m starting to work out here for The Old Salt Box Co. and finding it hard to get to work on time without stopping to take a few pictures. Then there’s the days the boss is away and I sit in her chair looking on the ocean and Brown’s Point. I’ll let you know if I get through my probation period.

As the days are getting shorter and the berries getting scarce and I’m learning my job can be done remotely, I can sense my days here are numbered for this year.

One last hurrah was certainly spending Thanksgiving on Fogo Island.

This year was the 10th Anniversary of the Fogo Island Partridgeberry Harvest Festival. Organized by Pauline Brown, it is a two day festival, held at Thanksgiving in the Iceberg Area on Saturday and Sunday.

As a new event, Chefs Shaun Hussey and Michele LeBlanc of Chinched Bistro came from their St. John’s restaurant and prepared an amazing Pig Roast supper. The Festival started on Friday night this year with this amazing meal.

You would have to have eaten at Chinched Bistro to appreciate how excited I was about this news. I’m pretty sure I was in the first 10 to purchase tickets and with 96 people in attendance, I’m glad I didn’t hold off.

We had an amazing vegetable soup and then roasted root vegetables with the roasted pig. It was delicious. Dessert was a partridgeberry bread pudding with Michele’s homemade vanilla bean ice cream. People are already talking about making it an annual event!

In addition to an amazing meal, there was entertainment and it was a real meet and greet as I saw many friends from near and far, gathered for the events of the festival.

Dr. Pam Hall was at the dinner. Here to present her newly published book at both the festival and the Fogo Island Inn, she was also taking in the other events around the weekend. She invited me to her reading, knowing that I’d purchased her book. There were also media folks doing research for articles on a Come from Away theme. I also got invited to a chef’s talk at the Inn on Saturday and we caught up with the local news as best we could between bites and nibbles.

On Saturday, I went to the Inn to listen to the Chef’s Talk about Seasonal Food Insecurity. There was discussion of the methods and needs to preserve foods in the past and how that looks today.  They talked about times of abundance, like the fall when the vegetables and the fish are at their best and also about the Long Hungry Month of March when rations would be low or gone for some families.

It was a great aside to talk about Dr. Hall’s book too with many methods of food preservation and gathering in the Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge.

Chefs Timothy Charles, Hugh Acheson, Shaun Hussey and Michele LeBlanc (with guest panelist, Vivian) spoke about their own experiences with seasonal food and the ability to get food throughout the winter in their restaurants.  Chef Acheson has the advantage in Georgia to access fresh food year round but talked about how methods such as salting cod would not work in the South due to humidity.

I love attending these talks. Always much more interesting than my pictures portray.

Spending the day at the festival was a chance to taste some of the best of the season. Tom Earl and Winston Osmond had helped the Gr. 1 to 4 students to harvest the school vegetable garden and Tom had used some of the vegetables to make a soup for sale by donation. He raised over $200 for next year’s garden with donations for a cup of soup.

Once I had my vegetables in, I went looking for meat. Chef Ian Sheridan was representing the Fogo Island Inn and had a delicious Moose Stew that was served with fresh partridgeberries on top. Hearty and delicious, this was also a by donation booth with proceeds going to the school. Having learned by past events that the Inn is only in site for Saturday, I was quick to buy up some of their partridgeberry dessert  before they left too.

Tom and Olga serving fresh vegetable soup from the gardens of Fogo Island school.
Chef Ian Sheridan serves fresh partridgeberries on top of Moose Stew as a fund raiser for the school on Fogo Island.

The festival continues to attract quality crafters and also has a lot of food products preserved in traditional ways. I met a family from Singapore who were very interested in the jams. I like the wood crafts and various textiles.

On Saturday night there was another event at the Church of the Holy Spirit Hall. A variety concert  sold out with residents and visitors in attendance. So many people give of their time to entertain and set up these activities.

There may have also been a shed party in Deep Bay but what happens in the shed, stays in the shed.

On Sunday, we headed back to the festival at 1 to get lunch. Both charity booths were gone so it was time to support the local vendors. Benny’s chili and bread rolls were delicious as was the partridgeberry cake by Nicole’s Cafe. One cake, two spoons! Having food available allows people to spend the day visiting and also to enjoy the music.

Saturday was traditional music by Jason Hoven, Mark Warwick and Kyra Morgan and others. On Sunday, they were joined by the members of the clergy and others and the concert was a Gospel concert. The music was great and it was interesting to see the fascination of tourists when the Ode to Newfoundland was sung as an opening.

From the stadium, I went back to the Inn to listen to Dr. Pam Hall read from her beautiful works,  Towards an  Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge. Recently published, a book of extracts of her chapters about the Great Northern Penninsula and Fogo and Change Islands was being brought to Fogo Island to be accessible to the contributors and others who were interested. Her discussion of encyclopedias as being documents that change and evolve and become redundant was very interesting. Knowledge changes and we need to make an effort to preserve things we are losing. Her texts do that.

The book is the second format of her research, with the first being a  huge box of placemat sized cards, each detailing local knowledge. The cards are a great resource in a classroom or library but Marie Payne wasn’t content with that nor the fact there were only 10 copies of the cards in existence. She suggested to Pam that another format was needed and I was so excited to pre-order my book of excerpts last fall.

Here, Dr. Hall reads about the mathematics involved in building a punt (traditional Fogo Island boat).


With all of this food, all of these events and and three days of beautiful weather on Fogo Island, I feel recharged and refreshed.

As much fun as this was, I’m most thankful for the beauty of this island and I travel it back and forth trying not to miss a thing.

Night and day. Fogo Island.




3 thoughts on “Thankful for Fogo Island

    1. I had an hour and a sore back but got the easy job of pinning burlap around the glass of the rink. It felt good to contribute in a small way. Hopefully more people will offer next year, whether for an hour or a day. It is a great event for all ages. Thanks for commenting!


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