From the earliest days of European discovery, fishing has been the predominant economy and a way of life in Newfoundland and Labrador. Two sites give keen insights into the province’s fishing culture.
Broom Point Fishing Exhibit on the western coast near Gros Morne National Park preserves the remains of a fishing camp used by the three Mudge brothers and their families from 1941 to 1975.
“They packed up for the summer,” said Shirley, a local guide inside an original wooden building stocked with the Mudges’ hand-built boats and fishing gear. “They fished for lobster, cod and salmon. It was hard work.”
The three families, a total of 10 people, all lived in a small three-bedroom cabin that is furnished with mid-20th-century items.
David Boyd built Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Center near Twillingate in tribute to his fisherman forefathers. In one of the woodsheds at the site’s dock, Boyd demonstrated how to clean a cod. Using a cod he had caught that morning, he showed how to remove the head and then split and gut the fish to prepare it for drying.
Before the demonstration, retired teacher Bill Cooza played an “ugly stick, ” a traditional Newfoundland musical instrument made of a mop handle with bottle caps, tin cans and small bells, while giving a commentary on the fishing industry.
“When we say ‘fish,’ we mean cod,” he said. “If you say ‘fish,’ you don’t ask what kind.”