Arnold's Cove 'Stories of Resettlement' hopes to boost tourism

A Placentia Bay community that mushroomed in size because of resettlement hopes a year-long festival will draw tourists to the area.
As part of the government's resettlement program, people moved from communities like Woody Island, Harbour Buffett, Kingwell, Spencer’s Cove and other communities from Placentia Bay Islands into Arnold's Cove. (Stories of Resettlement website)

The community of Arnold's Cove is remembering its past and resettlement with a year of events and hopes to attract more tourists in 2016. 

More than 50 years ago, as part of the Newfoundland and Labrador government's resettlement program, people packed up their belongings and hauled their houses from Woody Island, Harbour Buffett, Kingwell, Spencer's Cove and other Placentia Bay communities.

Arnold's Cove was one of their destinations. 

Bittersweet feeling

Some families were eager to leave their small isolated communities for larger centres that offered better health care and jobs, while for others it was hard to leave their home behind.

Then I just thought it was the silliest thing ever, we were going on an adventure- Judy Kelly

Judy Kelly, co-chair of the 2016 Resettlement Commemoration Committee, was only 12 when her family left Spencer's Cove. 

She remembers her mother crying as they "turned the point" in the cove leaving their old life behind.

Judy Kelly is the co-chair of the 2016 Resettlement Commemoration Committee in Arnold's Cove. (Submitted by Judy Kelly)

"Then I just thought it was the silliest thing ever, we were going on an adventure, really, but now I realize she was leaving everything and starting out new and having mixed feelings about it," Kelly told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"I think younger people would feel [optimistic, but for] the older people at the time, it might have been bittersweet."

Kelly said that Arnold's Cove population grew from about 100 to around 1,200 in a three-year period.

What was once a small fishing community became a prosperous town and a hub for the area.

Year long celebration

To commemorate this anniversary, the town is looking at how the area changed with the influx of people.

Arnold's Cove's year-long celebration will commemorate the changes that took place to a way of life, a people and a culture because of resettlement. (Bill Perks/Submitted)

They will be hosting several events throughout the year beginning with the opening ceremony on Jan. 27.

"We have a year-long plan. Every month there is a signature event along with smaller community events as well," said Kelly.

"Our opening ceremonies, that's really a teaser of everything that's going to happen in 2016 in Arnold's Cove, you know people will get a sneak peek."

Kelly said the events will have a traditional flare including food, music, poetry and "a little bit of everything."

The committee is excited to be hosting the March Hare literary festival, which will kick off in Arnold's Cove before going across the province and then on to Ontario and New York City. 

Ray Guy to be honoured at festival

There's a Ray Guy literary festival planned as well, that will share the stories of the late columnist and author, and spark discussion about Guy's influence on both local and Canadian literature. 

Ray Guy often wrote about his rural upbringing during his lengthy career.

Guy, whose newspaper columns and television commentaries delighted audiences and often angered politicians, died in 2013 at 74.  

"Ray is our guy and we want to celebrate that," said Kelly.

Also being launched is Stories of Resettlement, a documentary by John Tolson.

"He's gone back to the islands, and had a look around and interviewed older people who came from there," she said. 

Kelly hopes the events planned for the warmer summer months, like the resettlement festival that runs from July 21 to 31, headlining Shanneyganock, will be a draw for those wanting to come home for a visit.

"Part of that is a reunion by the Guy family. There may be some of the original settlers of Arnold's Cove and we're expecting upwards to 400 people for that," she said.

Kelly said all the information people need will be online at

Arnold's Cove, which is located on the Avalon Peninsula, saw its population more than double by the early 1970s. (Google Maps)