Nfld. & Labrador

'For all of us': Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn accepts Order of Canada honour

Fogo Island's Zita Cobb received the Order of Canada in a February ceremony in Ottawa for her dedication to rural development.

Businesswoman credited with revitalizing Fogo Island says it 'feels really good'

Zita Cobb owns the iconic Fogo Island Inn. (Twitter/@SeamusORegan)

Businesswoman Zita Cobb, from Joe Batt's Arm on Fogo Island, received the Order of Canada in a ceremony in Ottawa this month for her dedication to rural development. 

Cobb says she doesn't feel comfortable with personal recognition, but the honour celebrates everyone who has worked hard on the award-winning Fogo Island Inn and Shorefast Foundation. 

"It's also a recognition about the importance of place, and the importance of small places in particular," Cobb told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.

"So when you kind of look at it for what it is, then it becomes less of a personal thing and more of a thing for our region, then I start to get excited about it," she said. 

It feels like the wolf is at the door all the time.- Zita Cobb

Cobb said the revitalization of Fogo over the past decade builds on the work of people decades before, who gathered to form the Fogo Island Co-operative to rebuild the economy when cod stocks drastically declined.

"What happened on Fogo Island in the 1960s, that gave us courage and a direction to do what we're doing now," said Cobb. "This if for all of us."

The Fogo Island Inn has appeared in a Vogue magazine online feature of the publication's top five destinations for a winter vacation. (Source:

She said their work began at a time when people around the world were realizing rural places were in peril due to globalization and urbanization, and they have become a leading example of sustainable development based on the strengths of the community's people and other assets — particularly landscape. 

Cobb said with three businesses – the luxurious inn, a furniture business and a small fish business – they're not slowing down any time soon. 

"I'd like to think that we've got another half a dozen businesses that we could get going on Fogo Island, and we need to," she said.

"It's scary what's happening. If you look at the census numbers for the little places in Newfoundland, we are much stronger than others because we've been at this 10 years. But it's not done, it feels like the wolf is at the door all the time."

Cobb is not the only person from Newfoundland and Labrador to receive the country's highest civilian honour in Ottawa this month. 

After three decades in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Timothy Borlase was recognized for his longstanding work to engage young people in arts and culture throughout his career with the Labrador School Board, and more recently through the Capital School of Performing Arts in New Brunswick where he retired. 

With files from the Central Morning Show