Nfld. & Labrador

Seasonal residents breathe new life into relocated N.L. community

Electricity, water and other essential services were shut down in the once-bustling community of Little Bay Islands after permanent residents voted to relocate — but two years later, the town is far from abandoned.

Little Bay Islands was shut down at the end of 2019

The population of Little Bay Islands dwindled from 500 down to just 55 residents by 2019. Now, a bustling community of seasonal residents is revitalizing the town. (Submitted by Carolyn Strong)

On New Year's Eve, 2019, the daily ferry made its final crossing from Little Bay Islands to mainland Newfoundland.

Electricity, water and other essential services were shut down in the once-bustling community after permanent residents voted to relocate — but two years later, the town is far from abandoned.

Seasonal residents are breathing new life into the outport and working together to live off the grid.

"Everybody's helping everybody else," said seasonal resident Carolyn Strong in an interview with The St. John's Morning Show.

Little Bay Islands was first settled in 1825, and was a thriving fishing village up to the 1980s. The 1992 cod moratorium spelled the beginning of the end for the community, and the 2010 closure of a crab-processing plant also saw the departure of most working-age people.

The population dwindled to 55 residents, who voted to accept the government's offer of relocation in 2019.

Now, life in Little Bay Islands hinges on the cooperation of seasonal residents, many of whom, like Strong, have roots in the community.

"It's a real homecoming," she said.

Carolyn Strong, right, said Little Bay Island residents help each other navigate life without essential services like water and electricity. (Submitted by Carolyn Strong)

Since the ferry is no longer running, residents with boats give rides to other community members. She said one resident gave her a rain water pod, while another one set it up — and three others deliver drinking water to her.

Strong uses a generator and solar panels for electricity, and has satellite internet and phone. She uses buckets of water to flush the toilet.

"This summer's really a learning experience," she said.

Far from isolated

Without a ferry and with limited access to the outside world, Little Bay Islands is more remote than ever, but Strong said she's far from isolated.

"You can't go very far before you meet somebody," she said. 

Although the community is isolated, Strong says Little Bay Islands is far from boring. (Submitted by Carolyn Strong)

Strong said she enjoys taking her dog for walks, and visiting friends for a cup of tea. She bakes bread for her neighbours, who will often return the favour with a bottle of moose or pea soup.

Strong said early in the summer, the community even held a music festival on the wharf.

"We had voices and music and instruments and just a wonderful evening," she said.

The residents of Little Bay Islands watch out for each other, even after relocating, she added.

"It makes all the difference, you know? You're all friends."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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