World Magazine : WORLD - Winter 2017
by the fire in the foyer, totally mesmerised by the constantly changing seascapes that fill floor-to-ceiling windows as sub-Arctic waves crash onto 400 million-year-old rocks below. But as part of the inn’s all-inclusive tariff, guests are assigned a community host whose unscripted tours are entertaining and fascinating and can be customised to include arts and crafts, museums and visits to local cemeteries where tombstones make good reading. The Irish cemetery in Tilting is believed to be one of the oldest in North America. My host is Clem Dwyer, a retired high school special education teacher from Tilting, who says he’s busier now than he’s ever been. So who was Joe Batt, I ask? “Oh, he was a crew member of Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, who jumped ship when they passed by in the 1760s and settled on the island,” he says. In the township of Tilting, home to just 175 souls, lilting Irish accents are as thick as loaves of soda bread. You could swear you were in Dublin. “It’s some 2,200 miles due east,” explains Clem. Families with surnames such as Dwyer, Foley and Bourke are now sixth and seventh-generation Fogo Islanders. Many are descendants of Irish deck hands recruited centuries ago by fishing boats from Portugal, France or England who at the end of the fishing season in the North Atlantic decided to stay – considering life on Fogo Island preferable to repressive Ireland at the time. Early English crew members from the West Country settled in Joe Batt’s Arm. The island has seven official seasons. As well as the universal four, there is also trap berth season, pack ice season and berry season – where some 20 different edible berries carpet the bog and barren ground with vibrant colours. I’m here in berry season and, with executive chef Timothy Charles, forage for red partridge berries, black crowberries and burgundy-coloured marshberries, among others. Even the menus have a keen sense of place: Atlantic cod – “the most superior fish in the world”, according to Zita Cobb – halibut and grass-fed beef from nearby Prince Edward Island being key ingredients. Local berry juice is served at breakfast and the signature salt cod cakes topped with poached eggs are a popular choice. Lunch might include cod and beans or seafood chowder followed by figgy duff – a deliciously decadent Newfoundland dessert akin to English spotted dick or a Christmas pudding. A visit to Fogo Island and its amazing inn is life-enriching on so many levels and the minimum two-night stay is not nearly long enough, although memories of such a unique experience are guaranteed to last a long, long time. www.fogoislandinn.ca Saltbox cottages cluster around the little fishing harbour of Joe Batt’s Arm on rocky Fogo Island.
World - Autumn 2017
WORLD - Spring 2017