The Strait of Belle Isle is a geographic region on the northwest coast of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. Colloquially know as ‘The Straits,’ this coastal strip runs from the community of Plum Point in the south, to Eddies Cove East at the northernmost tip. Between these two locales, several small communities dot the coast. Some of these communities include Green Island Brook, Pines Cove, Bird Cove, Black Duck Cove, Anchor Point, Sandy Cove, Bear Cove, and Flower’s Cove. Each community has it’s own history and sense of identity, but considering the proximity of these small villages, they tend to have a collective story too.
Families first arrived at The Strait of Belle Isle in the 1880s, to exploit the salmon fishery and set up bases for the fur trade. Early inhabitants were there seasonally, but by 1884, permanent settlers arrived to fish for cod and herring, and to begin sealing practices. Although resources may have shifted in value, abundance and importance over the years, the local drive to work the land and sea has remained consistent. While the cod fishery ultimately saw its demise in the 1990s, forms of this industry continue to fuel the local economy today. In Anchor Point, for instance, many of the residents continue to work as fish harvesters, or alternately in the shrimp plant, which employs upwards of 150 people each season. The sealing industry too, has ceased to operate along The Straits, but despite this, some residents still maintain sealskin boot making practices. This tradition is one that speaks of a past wherein climate, isolation, and resources dictated what people would make and wear. Although it is no longer necessary to make sealskin items, some people choose to do so in order to pay tribute to this tradition.