Located on Grandy’s Island along the southwest coast of Newfoundland is Burgeo, one of some 365 islands in the immediate area. Some of these islands are quite substantial, up to a mile long, while others rise a couple of hundred feet out of the ocean. The town and the surrounding landscape is rugged, tranquil and thoroughly picturesque.
Land Area, km2
Health Care and Social Assistance, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Prior to the completion of the 146 kms of the Burgeo Highway – or Caribou Trail – in the 1970s, Burgeo and the neighboring south-west coast communities depended for many years upon the coastal boat and ferry service for access to the outside world. This relative isolation provided a shared identification of place that still connects the communities culturally. Burgeo is now connected to the TransCanada Highway, and is the regional hub for neighbouring communities that remain accessible only by boat. A regular ferry schedule connects these communities to Burgeo’s Coast Guard station, policing, shopping and health services provided by Burgeo’s hospital, the Calder Health Care Center.
Suitable housing for the town’s growing senior population is an area of concern for the municipality, and home-care is an increasing source of employment for some residents. Potentially adding to the number of seniors in the community are retirees from surrounding communities, who have indicated their preference to retire into Burgeo.
In the height of the fishing industry, immediately prior to the 1992 cod moratorium, there were between 400 and 500 men employed on trawlers and at the local fish plant. Today a small inshore fishery sells its crab, lobster, and cod catch locally or transports it by road to the plant in Port aux Basques. The fish plant has since been converted into a fish meal plant and employs 12 workers seasonally.
Burgeo also has a wealth of natural resources – local outfitting operations along the Caribou Trail harvest an abundant population of wild salmon, caribou, moose and bear. The development of a National Marine Conservation Area around the town of Burgeo is currently under consideration and could bring new opportunities for tourism. Sandbanks Provincial Park, with its stretches of sandy beaches and island seascapes, is well used and valued by campers and sea kayakers, yet remains largely unknown to many of Newfoundland’s own residents, largely because of Burgeo’s distance by road from the more populated regions of the province.
The current regional initiative to support the maintenance of the mid-island woods road as a summer road would help to address the challenge of distance. Maintaining the road would complete a loop with the TransCanada which would bring Burgeo into closer proximity with the populous Avalon Peninsula Region and with tourists and work-life interests generally.