Fogo Island is located off the north-east coast of Newfoundland. One of Canada’s oldest communities, today it is home to some 2800 people.
Fogo is the Portuguese word for fire. The island was likely named by Portuguese explorers or fishermen, who were among some of the earliest Europeans to sail these waters.
The original inhabitants of Fogo Island were the Beothuk. Permanent European settlement by the English and Irish started in the late 16th century. Their settlements centered on the harbours and bays, providing protection from the North Atlantic yet close proximity to its once abundant cod stocks. These settlements grew into the outport communities of Fogo, Deep Bay, Island Harbour, Stag Harbour, Little Seldom, Seldom, Shoal Bay, Barr’d Islands, Joe Batt’s Arm, and Tilting. For 500 years, the cod fishery was the mainstay of the economy of Fogo Island. The global forces that culminated in the cod fishery moratorium of 1992 brought an end to this way of life, significantly affecting the ecological, economic, and socio-cultural structure of our island. Fogo Island is a compelling example of the challenges facing remote, rural communities around the world.
Fogo Islanders have always been an independent and resilient people who have successfully navigated hardships of many kinds over the centuries. With the loss of the cod fishery, they adapted to fish for other species such as crab and shrimp. And more recently, the opening of the Fogo Island Inn has helped add a new leg to the local economy.
The launch of the Fogo Island Shop is the latest initiative in Fogo Island’s adaption to modernity. With these handcrafted objects offered by the Fogo Island Shop, centuries of knowledge in boat building and furniture making has been applied to the making of a brand new line of objects that although contemporary in nature, carry the spirit of the past. They are what has been called “handmade modern”.