Fogo Island folks were happily surprised to receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his young family as guests out to spend a quiet Easter weekend. En route to Fogo Island of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trudeau was spotted with wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau and the couple's three children boarding a plane at Gander International Airport on Friday, March 25, 2016.
The Fogo Island folks were mostly caught unawares by the visit, with one town councillor telling CBC News how surprised he was by the relative silence around the Trudeau Easter jaunt. Councillor Lloyd Bixby gave his account of the circumstances around the island visitors.
"All I know is that they were down at the inn. Outside of that, I don't know nothing. Haven't seen nobody, haven't heard tell of anybody who saw anybody."The Fogo Island Inn, a luxury destination with 29 rooms for guests, normally has few bookings during the inclement seasons. It is, however, the go-to place for conscientious folks desiring to spend vacation time and money in a meaningful way. Inn owner Shorefast Foundation is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to helping the traditional Newfoundland fishing community on the island, achieve cultural and economic resilience.
Historically, prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau visited the south coast of Newfoundland in 1971. Fogo Island folks maintain the local lore that the elder Trudeau's meanderings also took him to their shore.
Before leaving for Fogo Island, Prime Minister Trudeau issued a message for those looking forward to an Easter weekend like his family. Pointing out that Easter is "the holiest of Christian holidays," he encouraged all folks to reflect on the notions of personal sacrifice and compassion.
"As we gather with those most important to us, let us put into practice what it truly means to love our neighbours as ourselves. On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish all those celebrating a very happy Easter. We hope all Canadians, no matter their faith, find this a time of optimism, renewal, and new beginnings."A 1606 map depicts Fogo Island as one of about a dozen features around the coast of Newfoundland. The island was referred to by local French folks as Ile des Fougues, though the name "Fogo" was attributed to sixteenth century Portuguese explorers, "Fogo" meaning "Fire" in Portuguese.
Resident Diane Davis, who recently bought her house on Fogo Island, told CBC News on Sunday, March 27, that it was her first "winter" weekend in her new home. Observing that most folks consider it spring right now though "it's definitely still winter on Fogo Island," Davis commented on the very few sightings of the Trudeau family.
"When you go to the inn, it's pretty protected and discreet up there... He hasn't made it down to Deep Bay yet. We haven't seen him."Davis also asserted that the only other prime minister to visit Fogo Island was Trudeau's father, if lore is to be believed. This historical point embraced by local folks, has been revived by the young Trudeau's presence.
Davis was quick to cite the economic benefit the Trudeau presence gives Fogo Island and its hardworking folks.
"All the businesses here are pleased because there's an entourage and I think just about every room in Fogo Island is booked this weekend, and that's a good thing for everybody — lots of people working."
"It's an Easter vacation, a private affair for him and his family and we respect that. We're just delighted to know that he'd choose to come to Fogo Island."Happy Easter, folks!
[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]