Nfld. & Labrador

Even Captain Dildo is over the jokes. Dildo's history is the real story, he says

Dildo has a rich Indigenous history. It was home to the world's first cod hatchery and it's where Gordon Pinsent's family comes from.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel's sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez will be in the town all week

Gerald Smith is a Dildo history buff and hopes people will look beyond the puns. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Gerald Smith was a proud Dildodian long before comedian Jimmy Kimmel made the term a household name across North America poking fun at the town of Dildo on his late-night talk show.

He even posed for the portrait of its mascot, Captain Dildo, and screeches people in as Captain Dildo himself.

Smith fields all kinds of calls from media looking to spin a cute story about the town's name, and says he always tries to steer the conversation toward the town's history instead.

"I've had calls from people from all over the world with regards to the name of Dildo. I always say, 'Look, you come to Dildo for the name, you talk to 'em about all the heritage and everything we got, and then you soon forget the name,'" Smith told The St. John's Morning Show.

"The day is not long enough to tell you about how much is going on here in Dildo that's more valuable than the name itself."

It's fantastic to have all this attention on Dildo, Smith said, but he hopes people will look beyond the joke and see the real story: that Dildo has long been a proud, innovative town making an impact on Newfoundland and Labrador.

And it's no stranger to celebrity, either.

"One of the greatest actors in Canada, his family belong here," he said. "That's of course Gordon Pinsent."

There was even a cod farm…

A few kilometres offshore from the town, Dildo Island is an officially designated place of historical significance in the province.

Archeological records show it was home to four Indigenous groups, including the Beothuks, and it was home to world's first cod fish hatchery, opened way back in 1889.

But what really puffs up Smith's chest is the way the town rebounded after 1992's devastating cod moratorium. He helped pull together a group focused on reinventing the economy and they came up with a plan or two.

Dildo has a thriving local economy, and Smith hopes it's not overshadowed by those Jimmy Kimmel campaign signs. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

There are now tour operators taking people out to watch whales and spot icebergs, there's a brand-new brewery and there are bed and breakfasts now blocked with tourists.

"Right now there's businesses all along the shore," he said.

Week-long campaign in play

But for the next week, it'll likely be the name — and its many possible puns — that makes the headlines.

On his show Monday night, Kimmel's trusty sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez was patched in from the town for some name-related banter. Kimmel said Rodriguez would be there all week, leading the campaign for Kimmel to be elected mayor.

"I love Dildo!" Rodriguez said, wearing a Dildo sou'wester, surrounded by people from the town in Kimmel's campaign T-shirts.

Back in Dildo, Smith is taking it all in stride.

"It will run its course," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Adam Walsh and The St. John's Morning Show

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