Tilting The Little Town that Helps you Remember

Pictures and Words by Dennis Minty

An island lies off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada named Fogo. As small islands go, it is a big one with eight separate communities each clustered around a cove or harbour. One of these is Tilting.

Keefe's Stage (Photo © Dennis Minty)

History and the fishing life define the place so much that it was declared both a National Historic Site of Canada and a provincial Registered Heritage District.

Tilting's Harbour (Photo © Dennis Minty)

Settled by the Irish in the 1700s, Tilting has a fine, sheltering, inner harbour while being close to prime fishing grounds - the perfect combination. Even before the Irish, perhaps 200 years earlier, the Basque, French and Portuguese likely used the same fishing grounds and found shelter in the same harbour.

Flakes and Stages (Photos © Dennis Minty)

The Irish and English that settled Newfoundland built stages and flakes for preparing salt cod. The flake is similar to a wharf but mainly provides a platform for drying fish. The stage is a shed, usually at the seaward end of the flake, where the fish is off-loaded cleaned and split. Other buildings in the network of fishery structures include a building for storing gear (usually called the twine loft) and another for salting the fish before its carried onto the flake to sun-dry. All around the small harbours and coves of Newfoundland, these structures are disappearing, but not in Tilting.

Dwyer premises with house, flake, stage and twine loft. (Photo © Dennis Minty)
Cart, Fence and Biscuit Box House (Photo © Dennis Minty)

Where many communities in Newfoundland have scattered houses with historic character, Tilting, with its few hundred residents, has them by the score, all full of character and maintained with pride. There have been many a card game played on the sturdy tables of these kitchens.

Gardens of Oliver's Cove (Photo © Dennis Minty)

With only a skim of soil over bald rock, places for vegetable gardens are scarce, but, south of the town, Oliver's Cove has deeper, richer soil. That is where folks established community gardens that for generations provided the staples: potatoes, turnip, cabbage and carrots. Here the soil has been annually enriched with capelin, a smelt-like fish that spawns on Newfoundland beaches by the ton. Newfoundland ponies pulled home-made carts laden with capelin from spawning beach to garden and back again.

Newfoundland Pony (Photo © Dennis Minty)
Flakes are supported by cribs made from stout logs and boulders. (Photo © Dennis Minty)
Shed Door (Photo © Dennis Minty)

Colours are bold but earthy representing a vibrant people rooted to the land and sea.

Originally known as red ochre, this colour, with slight changes in hue, dominantes the fishing structures that ring the harbour. (Photo © Dennis Minty)
A planked boardwalk stretches over tidepools to access a row of stages. (Photo © Dennis Minty)
Meadow in late summer (Photo © Dennis Minty)
Dwyer Premises (Photo © Dennis Minty)

Having spent many of my days around places like this, when the small-boat fishery was in its heyday, I can still hear the footsteps over these planks, feel the saltwater breeze and smell the kelpy landwash. Tilting, alive and well, harkens back to those finest of days.

Pictures and Words by Dennis Minty

http://mintynaturephotography.ca/ ------- https://www.facebook.com/dennismintyphotography/

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Dennis Minty

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