One town's Turmoil

Clayton Hunt
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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 -

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."

The Coaster

Organizations: Richard's

Geographic location: McCallum, St. John's, Round Harbour Montreal Newfoundland Hermitage

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Comments

Recent comments

  • My3Cents
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    It's all these Bumble Bee Bites that keep our taxes sky high. Why don't they leave and populate Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, Clarenville, etc. There's just too many Hibbs Holes for the rest of us to support.

  • SoCal-Newfie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    hmmm...Why stop at resettling small Bumble Bee Bites like McCallum? Maybe the entire island of Newfoundland should be re-settled to the mainland to save on the cost of infrastructure. Better yet, the entire population of Canada could probably fit into Ontario!

    I think one need look no further than the mismanagement of resources of NL and other abuses of power by those who govern to find the blame for the high tax rates found there.

  • Nana
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    You know I read that article twice but I did not see anyone asking for a hand out. As for fisherman, I dear say they have held on to the hope that things will improve. I know that there were definite indicators long before the fishery went belly up. I envy anyone who has been able to stay home in Newfoundland and make a go of it. Don't give up! I would love to live back in Newfoundland.

  • Bruce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Wow, what a little slice of heaven. I'm originally from NF and would love to move back sometime if the economy would allow. Ahhh....the simple life

  • Raymond
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Ya me to they always complain about when they don't make any money but they never tell you about the good times. And everyone i know in NFLD that's in the fishery have the sleds the quads and most of them have the nice cabins in the woods that are better then most peoples homes. So stop your whining and do what everyone else does and get another job and stop sucking the system dry like a bunch of leaches.

  • james
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Stay as long as ye can by's, the mainland sucks big time and is gettin worse everyday. Drugs, gangs, heartless, ignorant people, you name it. Dont know what ya got till its gone!

  • Sonia
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Newfoundland was built by fisherman, and perhaps people like Patrick from Portugal cove should remember that. Their lives were hard all year round but they came to Newfoundland to find a better place to live than where they were and they stayed. You are probably a decendant of one of these proud men! I know I certainly am and PROUD of it. This article is about a community not a profession.
    The people who chose to live there and chose to stay there have a sense of well being that few in St. John's have. Don't get me wrong, there are communities for everyone but big city life is not for me. I'd rather spend my september days hiking, picking berries and camping in the wilderness one last time before winter sets in than dodging the traffic in St. John's. My best friend lives in St. Johns and she loves the big city life and good for her (and all the others like her) but that's not for me. I say good on ya McCallum!

  • garland
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    AH,Patrick sit back and have another beer,and scratch your lottery ticket your xmas hamper will be on time again this year.

  • Telling it like it is
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    As someone who has only visited outport communities I can not fully understand the lifestyle and challenges that these people live day in and day out. After all, there has to be a fundamental reason why these people choose to live here. One can only guess that it's comfort, feeling of ''home'' but I am sure there are other logical and not so logical reasons.

    One thing the article fails to identify is the financial support (if any) these families are receiving. Yes, some are receiving EI, but let's be honest, how many St. John's residents are on EI right now???

    It appears that due to circumstances beyond their control (fishery) this community will most likely be deserted in the next 10-20 years, if not sooner based on the small numbers of the current generation.

    If things were to prosper again, you might see this community last another generation if not longer.

    From the article there are 14 kids in this community all in various age groups. These 14 kids will have to decide what their goals and ambitions are and what will be required of them to acheive it. For it is they who will decide what the future of this community is.

    Not Donny Dooley

    Not some self-over-hyped electrical engineering / habitual drug user.

    ----------------------------------------------

    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth - Marcus Aurelius

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    While also having been raised in a similar community, I can appreciate the concerns of the remaining residents. Sadly, many small Newfoundland communities face similar issues which must only be exacerbated in poor economic times.

    What shocked me most by this article was the response of a Patrick from Portugal Cove who instead of commenting intelligently on the article has chosen to fall back to a sickening fisherman stereotype. I am curious Patrick: why the vitriol? Did the big one get away?

    Moving forward, please address the issues at hand. I doubt anyone is interested in your poor attitudes and stereotypical comments.

  • July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Nana Dawson-Bomberry from Castile, NY writes: 'You know I read that article twice but I did not see anyone asking for a hand out.'

    '...while others feel trapped and would like to leave with financial assistance from the government.'

    The third time is the charm ;)

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I hope my tax dollars will not continue to support Portugal Cove and Patrick.

  • Topcat
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    All of the smallest places will never be gone. There's always going to be another place 1st in line to be the smallest, reluctantly facing the same challenges, and most likely, to be suffering the same fate. What part of the map will it be in 20 years time, even 10 years? Will it be Burgeo, Roddicton, Port Aux Basques? Will we all be huddled up in either St John's or Corner Brook in 50 yrs?

  • t
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    when i lived in rural newfoundland cod fish was king (currancy). we shipped all our currancy(cash) to st johns for 1 1/2 cents a pound. business in st johns had the monoply on our resource. we built homes, schools, churches and an industry that built st johns. nothing came from government. it is those homes my friend, fishing stages and gear that we must leave behind in mccullum. we must go to the city, live in an apartment. in the city we will not have land for anything like growing our potatoes etc. we are used to outport life and we supported gov and st johns more than any other people in the world. we paid our way and we still do even if we have to move to fort mcmurry, we still work and we still pay our way and we do without most benefits from government. if we dry up in total our rural communities it will be a blow to st johns when oil runs out and there is no body left it work our essential industries.

  • lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    6oomillion for improvments to the pearson airport from the feds .hundreds of millions for the outer ring road in st johns .are only 2 of many things .where do you think those tax dollars come from? dumbos..oh i almost forgot billions for the auto leaches.

  • Shelby
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I am a 14 year old who lives in McCallum and I believe that McCallum will become a ghost town in 10 or 20 years. I will definitely move out of McCallum when I get older. I complain about the fact that I only have 3 people around my age to hang around with and that when we have Phys Ed class in school we have to play with people younger than we are. The fish plant is having a lot of trouble this year and I believe that it will soon close down. The people who want to remain here are mostly senior citizens, so I believe that McCallum will soon die out.

  • well
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Well I get up at 5 every morning work myself to death , and i cant afford a half dozon beer on paypay.
    workers in st.John's are no better off then you are

  • Bayman
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Ahhh Patrick, there's the sensitivity and caring that Newfoundlanders are known for. I'm glad the world can see what a wonderful bunch of people we are through your generous comments. I guess you have been living in the city for a long time, because its certainly rubbed off on you.

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I certainly hope my tax dollars will not continue to support this community . I grew up in a small community and moved to find work, at my own expense. If you want to move to St. John's, pay your own way and stop asking for hand outs. Fishermen are all alike!

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    A way of life for so many Newfoundlanders is dead or dying and all people are concerned about is where their tax dollars are going. No need to worry about your tax dollars, my friends... the politicians in Newfoundland are finding new & inventive ways every day to line their own pockets with money from the public coffers, as recent scandals are showing, so I think paying to relocate a few stragglers left over in some of these smaller communities should be the least of anyone's concern. Funny how a story like this, which should be eliciting a sense of sadness for a bygone era, can bring out such hostility in some. If you've ever spent your summers in a small fishing community in Newfoundland, as I did growing up, you'd have some small inkling of what I mean. Pave paradise, b'ys, and put up a parking lot. The fish off our shores should be giving Russian, Spanish & Portuguese crews sustainable income, not enabling fishermen here to earn a living. We have to keep things in proper perspective after all, don't we?

  • Tiffany
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    To Patrick: It's the ignorance that you have that make townies have a bad name for themselves, regardless if you grew up in a small town or not. Please have some empathy for the residents of McCallum as this is their home.

  • My3Cents
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    It's all these Bumble Bee Bites that keep our taxes sky high. Why don't they leave and populate Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, Clarenville, etc. There's just too many Hibbs Holes for the rest of us to support.

  • SoCal-Newfie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    hmmm...Why stop at resettling small Bumble Bee Bites like McCallum? Maybe the entire island of Newfoundland should be re-settled to the mainland to save on the cost of infrastructure. Better yet, the entire population of Canada could probably fit into Ontario!

    I think one need look no further than the mismanagement of resources of NL and other abuses of power by those who govern to find the blame for the high tax rates found there.

  • Nana
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    You know I read that article twice but I did not see anyone asking for a hand out. As for fisherman, I dear say they have held on to the hope that things will improve. I know that there were definite indicators long before the fishery went belly up. I envy anyone who has been able to stay home in Newfoundland and make a go of it. Don't give up! I would love to live back in Newfoundland.

  • Bruce
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Wow, what a little slice of heaven. I'm originally from NF and would love to move back sometime if the economy would allow. Ahhh....the simple life

  • Raymond
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Ya me to they always complain about when they don't make any money but they never tell you about the good times. And everyone i know in NFLD that's in the fishery have the sleds the quads and most of them have the nice cabins in the woods that are better then most peoples homes. So stop your whining and do what everyone else does and get another job and stop sucking the system dry like a bunch of leaches.

  • james
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Stay as long as ye can by's, the mainland sucks big time and is gettin worse everyday. Drugs, gangs, heartless, ignorant people, you name it. Dont know what ya got till its gone!

  • Sonia
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Newfoundland was built by fisherman, and perhaps people like Patrick from Portugal cove should remember that. Their lives were hard all year round but they came to Newfoundland to find a better place to live than where they were and they stayed. You are probably a decendant of one of these proud men! I know I certainly am and PROUD of it. This article is about a community not a profession.
    The people who chose to live there and chose to stay there have a sense of well being that few in St. John's have. Don't get me wrong, there are communities for everyone but big city life is not for me. I'd rather spend my september days hiking, picking berries and camping in the wilderness one last time before winter sets in than dodging the traffic in St. John's. My best friend lives in St. Johns and she loves the big city life and good for her (and all the others like her) but that's not for me. I say good on ya McCallum!

  • garland
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    AH,Patrick sit back and have another beer,and scratch your lottery ticket your xmas hamper will be on time again this year.

  • Telling it like it is
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    As someone who has only visited outport communities I can not fully understand the lifestyle and challenges that these people live day in and day out. After all, there has to be a fundamental reason why these people choose to live here. One can only guess that it's comfort, feeling of ''home'' but I am sure there are other logical and not so logical reasons.

    One thing the article fails to identify is the financial support (if any) these families are receiving. Yes, some are receiving EI, but let's be honest, how many St. John's residents are on EI right now???

    It appears that due to circumstances beyond their control (fishery) this community will most likely be deserted in the next 10-20 years, if not sooner based on the small numbers of the current generation.

    If things were to prosper again, you might see this community last another generation if not longer.

    From the article there are 14 kids in this community all in various age groups. These 14 kids will have to decide what their goals and ambitions are and what will be required of them to acheive it. For it is they who will decide what the future of this community is.

    Not Donny Dooley

    Not some self-over-hyped electrical engineering / habitual drug user.

    ----------------------------------------------

    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth - Marcus Aurelius

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    While also having been raised in a similar community, I can appreciate the concerns of the remaining residents. Sadly, many small Newfoundland communities face similar issues which must only be exacerbated in poor economic times.

    What shocked me most by this article was the response of a Patrick from Portugal Cove who instead of commenting intelligently on the article has chosen to fall back to a sickening fisherman stereotype. I am curious Patrick: why the vitriol? Did the big one get away?

    Moving forward, please address the issues at hand. I doubt anyone is interested in your poor attitudes and stereotypical comments.

  • July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Nana Dawson-Bomberry from Castile, NY writes: 'You know I read that article twice but I did not see anyone asking for a hand out.'

    '...while others feel trapped and would like to leave with financial assistance from the government.'

    The third time is the charm ;)

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    I hope my tax dollars will not continue to support Portugal Cove and Patrick.

  • Topcat
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    All of the smallest places will never be gone. There's always going to be another place 1st in line to be the smallest, reluctantly facing the same challenges, and most likely, to be suffering the same fate. What part of the map will it be in 20 years time, even 10 years? Will it be Burgeo, Roddicton, Port Aux Basques? Will we all be huddled up in either St John's or Corner Brook in 50 yrs?

  • t
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    when i lived in rural newfoundland cod fish was king (currancy). we shipped all our currancy(cash) to st johns for 1 1/2 cents a pound. business in st johns had the monoply on our resource. we built homes, schools, churches and an industry that built st johns. nothing came from government. it is those homes my friend, fishing stages and gear that we must leave behind in mccullum. we must go to the city, live in an apartment. in the city we will not have land for anything like growing our potatoes etc. we are used to outport life and we supported gov and st johns more than any other people in the world. we paid our way and we still do even if we have to move to fort mcmurry, we still work and we still pay our way and we do without most benefits from government. if we dry up in total our rural communities it will be a blow to st johns when oil runs out and there is no body left it work our essential industries.

  • lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    6oomillion for improvments to the pearson airport from the feds .hundreds of millions for the outer ring road in st johns .are only 2 of many things .where do you think those tax dollars come from? dumbos..oh i almost forgot billions for the auto leaches.

  • Shelby
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I am a 14 year old who lives in McCallum and I believe that McCallum will become a ghost town in 10 or 20 years. I will definitely move out of McCallum when I get older. I complain about the fact that I only have 3 people around my age to hang around with and that when we have Phys Ed class in school we have to play with people younger than we are. The fish plant is having a lot of trouble this year and I believe that it will soon close down. The people who want to remain here are mostly senior citizens, so I believe that McCallum will soon die out.

  • well
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Well I get up at 5 every morning work myself to death , and i cant afford a half dozon beer on paypay.
    workers in st.John's are no better off then you are

  • Bayman
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Ahhh Patrick, there's the sensitivity and caring that Newfoundlanders are known for. I'm glad the world can see what a wonderful bunch of people we are through your generous comments. I guess you have been living in the city for a long time, because its certainly rubbed off on you.

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    I certainly hope my tax dollars will not continue to support this community . I grew up in a small community and moved to find work, at my own expense. If you want to move to St. John's, pay your own way and stop asking for hand outs. Fishermen are all alike!

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    A way of life for so many Newfoundlanders is dead or dying and all people are concerned about is where their tax dollars are going. No need to worry about your tax dollars, my friends... the politicians in Newfoundland are finding new & inventive ways every day to line their own pockets with money from the public coffers, as recent scandals are showing, so I think paying to relocate a few stragglers left over in some of these smaller communities should be the least of anyone's concern. Funny how a story like this, which should be eliciting a sense of sadness for a bygone era, can bring out such hostility in some. If you've ever spent your summers in a small fishing community in Newfoundland, as I did growing up, you'd have some small inkling of what I mean. Pave paradise, b'ys, and put up a parking lot. The fish off our shores should be giving Russian, Spanish & Portuguese crews sustainable income, not enabling fishermen here to earn a living. We have to keep things in proper perspective after all, don't we?

  • Tiffany
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    To Patrick: It's the ignorance that you have that make townies have a bad name for themselves, regardless if you grew up in a small town or not. Please have some empathy for the residents of McCallum as this is their home.