McCallum has a proud past, but does it have a future?
McCallum has a population of about 80 people. Photo by Clayton Hunt/The Coaster
McCallum may be isolated, but it has a long and proud history.
The south coast community somehow escaped the infamous provincial resettlement program of the 1960s and, in fact, fishermen there benefited from the good fishing grounds left behind when communities like Pushthrough, Round Harbour, Muddy Hole and Richard's Harbour were resettled.
In the 1970s and '80s, McCallum was booming and its population was around 250.
Things are very different today.
The population has dwindled to about 80, mainly due to the downturn in the fishery and the younger generation's desire to live in larger centres.
It's hard to know what the future holds. Some people want to stay in McCallum and live out the rest of their lives, while others feel trapped and would like to leave with financial assistance from the government.
Residents' perspectives tend to depend on factors such as age, employment status and general attitude about living in isolation. The nearest community is a 90-minute ferry ride away.
Hayward Durnford, 71, has lived in McCallum since he was 14 when he moved there from Mosquito, a small community just up the coast.
"I feel very comfortable here now," he said. "I feel very safe here - it's a great community and I'm content to live out the rest of my life here."
Howard Fudge, 71, owns a business in McCallum and feels the same way about the future that Durnford does.
"I've lived here pretty well my whole life," Fudge said. "Three of our four children and one of our two grandchildren are here, so I'm happy here now and see no reason to leave."
Kevin Wellman is 49 and single, and loves life in McCallum.
"I'm content to go to work, go home and not have to lock my doors at night," he said. "I enjoy the outdoor lifestyle of camping with my buddies and the freedom that it brings. I'm certainly not thinking about leaving the community at this point in time."
Terry and Margaret McDonald, both in their early 50s, are at a point in their lives where they would like to leave the community and live in St. John's.
"I have a number of serious health issues, which means I have to travel to St. John's several times a year," Margaret said. "The isolation here, especially in the winter, is very worrisome for me and my husband."
See 'I DON'T', page A2
"I don't really see a future in McCallum," added Terry. "I'm only 50, but I don't see living out the rest of my life here unless the fishery comes back, and I don't see that happening in my lifetime."
He said 2009 was the worst year for him of his 35 years in the lobster fishery. With his catch rate down 20 per cent and the price for lobster low, it was not a good year.
"The prices for other species are down as well," he said. "We get up at 3 a.m. every morning to go out and work ourselves to death for no return - who's not going to get fed up with that? I've only made $5,000 so far this year and I don't see myself earning enough in the fishery to qualify for top EI payments this winter. I'm so fed up with the fishery it's not even funny anymore. They're picking away at our quotas every year and pretty soon we just won't be able to go at it. I've got a brother and a sister in St. John's, and both my wife and I would feel very content living in there right now."
John and Sherrie Feaver, 48 and 38, respectively, have two young children. They say their family is well aware of how isolated the community is.
"It's getting harder and harder to make a good living in the fishery," John said. "A number of us have gone to work for Cooke Aquaculture in the area. My wife is not working at the moment. There isn't much of a social life here for our age group, with our population being down to about 80 people. It's a lonely place and the feeling of isolation can really get to you at times, especially during the winter."
Sherrie said she'd like to leave the community for the sake of her children. She grew up in McCallum and enjoyed it, but said there isn't much of a life in McCallum for teenagers, and their 14-year-old daughter reminds them of that regularly.
"She comes home every day from school complaining about having to compete in sports with children much younger than her," said Sherrie.
"There's no hangout here for teens, there's no teenage dances, and she spends a great deal of time in her room on her computer. … There's nothing else to do here for her age group.
"Don't get me wrong about our school - she is getting a good education, but with only nine students from grades K - 12 this past school year, there wasn't much room for socialization. She has to do four online courses next year, which is good, but again, there's no real classroom interaction in that."
Nina Crant, 63, grew up in McCallum, worked in Montreal for 28 years and came back to McCallum in 1989.
"It's very lonely here, especially during the winter," she said.
"Our isolation leads to other concerns, too, as we went seven weeks without seeing a doctor last winter. We have a number of people requiring better medical attention than that. We don't mind the summers here so much, as we can get out to enjoy our boat and cabin, but yes, it's bad here during the winter.
"When my husband retires in 2010, we're probably heading to central Newfoundland to live for at least part of the year. However, I do hope the community survives so we can come back to visit during the summer periods."
Everett Durnford, 59, is the chair of the local services committee in McCallum. He said he's at a stage in his life where he's content to stay and work in the fishery until he's 65.
"Several families have moved to Hermitage in recent years and come back to fish from here in the spring and summer, but I'm content to stay," he said. "However, I can understand why some younger families might want to leave. As the older people pass on and the younger generation keeps moving away, it's going to be more and more difficult for the community to hang on. I think the writing is on the wall for McCallum and I think it will be a much different place in 20 years or less."