Located on the northern tip of Trinity Bay in Newfoundland is Trinity Bay North – a relatively new municipality brought together by different histories and identities. Incorporated in 2005 after the amalgamation of the towns of Catalina, Melrose and Port Union, as well as the town of Little Catalina in 2010, Trinity Bay North is a community working to find a balance between valuing the unique attributes of each town’s respective pasts while moving forward together cohesively.
Land Area, km2
Manufacturing, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Trinity Bay North’s central economic activity has always revolved around its fisheries. The town of Port Union is home to the Fishermen’s Protective Union of 1908, and is the only union-built town in North America. In 1957, Fisheries Products International built a large plant in Port Union to process ground fish. At its peak, the plant employed over 1,500 workers – and many of the region’s services and shops revolved around the plant. With its protected deep-water harbour supported by its union-based history of egalitarianism for fishers, it welcomed people from surrounding communities into its workforce.
In 1992, when the Canadian government declared a moratorium on the Northern Cod fishery, the plant closed and the community’s economic activity plummeted. In 1998, the facility reopened as a shrimp plant, employing 200 workers. However, adversity struck again in 2010, when damages from Hurricane Igor resulted in the plant’s closure. Only a year later, the seal tannery located in Catalina announced it would not be processing pelts, adding further economic strain with the loss of an additional 90 positions.
Yet while the Municipality of Trinity Bay North still faces many challenges in terms of industry and employment, there are encouraging signs of renewal. In 2012 the community’s residents came together to mount a successful campaign to save the local school, Catalina Elementary. The Municipality is collaborating with other towns in the region to take advantage of the tourism potential provided by the many historic, geologic and culturally significant sites in the area.
A proposed geo-park in Trinity Bay North would showcase the unique fossils discovered in this community, representing life by the sea some 540 to 580 million years past. Fossil discoveries just this summer promise to attract even more geological interest to the area.
The Sir William F. Coaker Heritage Foundation, dedicated to the preservation and careful development of the Historic District of Port Union, has become a positive force in the community. In 2008, working in partnership with Iceberg Vodka, the Coaker Foundation restored the Fishermen’s Union Trading Company Retail Store and Salt Fish Plant with support from the federal and provincial governments. Subsidiary companies to Iceberg have has since opened up a blow mold production plant on the property, creating approximately 10 jobs for the townspeople. The Coaker Foundation continues to work toward restoring the properties in the historic district to the economic benefit of the region.
Other positive signs for economic renewal include the communities continued effort to explore opportunities for its commercial properties and deep-water port resources. Employment is still a major challenge facing the community, with many residents forced to commute far distances for work or become part of the mobile workforce. But with continued efforts of the people, businesses and the Municipality, there is a confidence that they will persevere and overcome these obstacles and build a brighter future.