Matthew R.

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Avalon Regional Heritage Fair

Silver Fox Island

My project on Silver Fox Island explores the resources available and the determination of the people who struggled to survive on a small island in Bonavista Bay, NL. They depended upon the land, sea and the air for the necessities of life. When the opportunity was presented from the government, they uprooted their families and moved to larger communities in hope for a better life. These people are my family!

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I learned about Silver Fox Island is how I am connected to the people that lived there. It will no longer just be a place that I enjoy going to catch cod fish in the summer, it is the place where my great grandparents lived with their family—including my grandfather. When I go fishing, I will be going to the exact same spot as my great grandfather, grandfather, and father have fished before. I am their legacy to keep some of their traditions alive!

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I have learned the importance of “my heritage.” Although I have read a lot of information about Silver Fox Island, there are so many stories that only exist in the hearts of the people who lived there. It is important for the younger generations to learn about the way of life, the stories of hardships, survival and also the fond memories, if not, they will be lost forever. Take time to visit your family roots!

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Life for me in the city seems so much easier than life was for the people on Silver Fox Island. I have the opportunity to go to school and play sports, whereas my Grandfather Rogers started fishing at age 11 to help the family survive. I can go to the store to buy everything I need, instead of having to cut my own wood to build a house or to grow my own vegetables for food. I do not need to wait for a boat to come to the island with a doctor; I can go to the doctor’s office or hospital if I get sick. I have the modern conveniences of electric heat, lights, running water, TVs, telephones and even my computer. These are all things we take for granted, but it did not exist for the people who lived on Silver Fox Island.