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Off the beaten path

Newfoundland-born geographer produces tome highlighting island’s forgotten and out of the way nooks and crannies

by Patrick Newhook/February 17, 2022

A Newfoundland-born author wants to encourage a new type of tourism with the publication of his book, ‘Hidden Newfoundland: 120 + ghost towns, natural wonders, and other off-the-beaten path destinations.’

Resettlement was a government program that aimed to move people from small towns into growth centers. From 1954 to 1975, some 119 communities were resettled. Even today, some towns are still being resettled, like Little Bay Islands back in 2019.

To this day, resettlement is a topic of great controversy, sparking songs, legends, paintings and stories, and still dividing some small towns that are wrestling with whether to hold out or move on to bigger places.

Scott Osmond, who holds a degree in civil engineering and a Master’s of Science in geography, grew up in Corner Brook, but currently lives in Ontario compiled the book.

“It was based on a website I created a number of years ago,” he said. “Essentially, it tells the story of the hidden places on the island, places outside of your typical touristy area, places you won’t really find on a map or won’t find in a tourism brochure, to say a cliché. It tells these unique histories of these obscure places, whether that’s an abandoned mill or if it’s a shipwreck or if it’s a natural wonder that’s a little bit too far off the beaten path to become publicized like some of our tourism areas.”

For Osmond, part of the motivation for writing this book is to encourage people to explore resettled or abandoned towns. Newfoundland has always been known for its scenic beauty, and in recent years ‘staycationing’ has been heavily advertised. Osmond sees this as an extension of that.

“There’s definitely an interest in people to explore their backyards, to find something new, to go somewhere where people don’t typically go to,” said Osmond. “There’s a lot of places in my book that were historically very significant but yet nobody really knows the story about them or knows of them… Just being able to share that idea and share that story is pretty critical. I also hope that it might drive how communities look at these places in the sense that these places, no matter how fallen down or small they are, can offer a new form of tourism.”

The initial purpose of resettlement was to move people out of small, isolated towns into larger areas. Nowadays if a town is resettled, the citizens must vote on it. With more and more people moving out of Newfoundland and an aging population, it’s possible that more towns may face this choice sooner than they’d like.

Osmond feels that by promoting the already abandoned areas, it might help attract new visitors, which will help the existing smaller areas overall.

“It’s a tough one, because there are more and more people moving out,” Osmond said. “Maybe the key is, just as my book is trying to do, is trying to appeal to the adventurous (spirit) of those outdoor people. Maybe that’s where we need to be pushing it. It’s an outdoor person’s paradise. Maybe that’s a little channel that we can pull people in through.”

Osmond intends his book to be enjoyed by everyone, active hikers and armchair adventurers alike.  

“It definitely will come off as a hiker guide, as a travel guide type thing,” he said. “It definitely is, there’s no doubt. But I think when I was writing it, and even till right now, I thought of it more as an encyclopedia, maybe an atlas, a collection of places that you don’t need to go out and see. It’s a collection of places and a collection of stories that I don’t think many people think about or know about.”

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