NORTHERN PENINSULA, NL – A Saskatchewan photographer has found a muse and a home away from home on the island of Newfoundland.
As well as having her photos shown in tourism guides and promotions, Wendy Nuttall has given a variety of presentations sharing her images and insights on Newfoundland – particularly the Great Northern Peninsula.
She says her love for the area makes promoting the province an easy feat.
“When the wind’s coming from the right direction, especially in L’Anse aux Meadows, all you can smell is the fresh salt water,” said Nuttall. “It takes over your senses.”
Her first journey
In 2012, on a “curiosity trip” from British Columbia to Newfoundland, Nuttall made her way to the northern reaches of St. Anthony. Her journey there was largely coated with fog until she got to Fishing Point, where the fog dissipated, and Nuttall saw her first iceberg.
It was an awe-inducing adrenaline rush she says she’ll never forget.
In those first days her fascination with the island grew even stronger with a whale watching trip.
“I was so nervous because I didn’t know anything about boats, this tiny thing in this great body of water,” Nuttall said with a laugh. “Then there were whales every which way, under the boat and swimming along looking at us. I was so close to them I could see their eyes.”
Growing up on a cattle ranch, it reminded Nuttall of being close to cows and horses, though they did not compare in size to the humpback whales.
Also, hearing the unique dialectics of the island reminded her of the phrases and words retained through her own family’s British, Scottish and Irish ancestry.
“When I got to Newfoundland I heard all these words my dad would say,” she said. “We’d go chase cows when he said the weather was civil, and then I heard people say, ‘it’s a civil day.’
“My cousin would always pronounce my name like ‘Wen-day.’ When I came down there and heard the same pronunciation on my name, it really brought a sense of familiarity.”
Nuttall eventually settled in the area for that whole summer in Hay Cove.
The following year of 2013 Nuttall was set on establishing herself as a photographer and made her way across Canada to Newfoundland again.
After four consecutive trips, Nuttall was looking back at her pictures at her home in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. Wanting to find a way to utilize the photos, she began putting together a slideshow on Newfoundland, with a sharp focus on her experiences in the Northern Peninsula.
“I also started doing more research into things like Vikings and fishing,” Nuttall said. “The more I learned about Newfoundland, the more I could improve the presentation.”
In 2015, she began giving out presentations at the Maple Creek museums. Her first was at the Oldtimers Museum in Maple Creek.
“The manager had seen my pictures and said it would be fine. He banked on if I couldn’t talk, at least the pictures would be alright,” Nuttall said with a laugh.
To Nuttell’s surprise, the little venue was packed with nearly 70 people.
“I thought it would only be family and friends, but it turned out to be so much more than that,” she said. “There were interested locals, Newfoundlanders who had moved out west.
“There is a curiosity in Canada about Newfoundland, it’s definitely the easiest place to market.”
In a rural area like Maple Creek, Nuttall says locals found some connection to Newfoundlanders’ relationship with their own land and resources.
Nuttall particularly drew on similarities between fishermen and cattle ranchers. One fishes on a boat, one farms on a horse, but the raising and chasing of food is the same.
“It also works on a similar quota system, though Newfoundland is much wilder,” said Nuttall. “The cows are domesticated so they’re easy to manage. With fishing there are so many uncontrollable variables.”
As other opportunities to give her presentation arose, Nuttall decided to branch out further and made separate slideshows on icebergs and the similarities and differences between Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Nuttall says if her presentation can instil one person with the desire to see the island and meet the people, she’s done her job.
Returning this year
Through her many journeys to Newfoundland, Nuttall has gained lasting friendships, unforgettable memories and much more. She now even has her own art gallery at the Viking Village B&B in Hay Cove.
Nuttall plans a road trip back to the island this year, expecting to hit the road in March.
“I have a family and a grandson in Saskatchewan, but it wouldn’t take much for me to live in Newfoundland,” she said.
Nuttall recalls a fisherman who once told her that no one visits Newfoundland just once, and she says she understands why he was so confident in saying so.