Fogo Island And Change Islands

Fogo Island and Change Islands are a world apart. They lie between longtitudes 53 degrees 50 minutes and 54 degrees 30 minutes west and latitudes 49 degrees 30 minutes and 49 degrees 50 minutes north, off the northeast coast of the island of Newfoundland. Fogo Island has an area of about 110 square miles; Change Islands has an area of about 10.5 square miles. Little Fogo Islands and adjacent islands to the southwest comprise about 100 islands strung out in a northeasterly direction. These are the islands that Captain Wadham, in his celebrated sailing directions called “a parcel of dammed rugged isles”.

Spread among 11 distinct communites, some 2700 people live on Fogo Island and 240 people live on Change Islands. Little Fogo Islands are no longer settled.

The isolation from the mainland; the intimate and profound entanglement with the sea and the forces of nature; lives lived at the very edge of a great ocean have created a place of many stories.

It is not surprising that the Flat Earth Society considers Fogo Island one of the four corners of a flat earth.

Outport Communities

Fogo Island and Change Islands are what are called outport communities. If you’re in Newfoundland, this is how you’ll hear the small coastal settlements referred to. They’re not towns, or hamlets or villages; they are, in the unique language that has developed in this place over the centuries, outports.

“I’d be a Newfoundlander, outport born, outport bred, of outport strength and tenderness of heart, of outport sincerity, had I my birth to choose.” said Mr Coaker in 1909.


Fogo Island first appeared on early mariners’ and explorers’ maps of Newfoundland in the sixteenth century. In the early days it had a variety of names; Aves or Birds Island, Penguin Island, Ansphat or Isle d’ Oiseaux. Its current name appears on an early sixteenth century map as Y de Fogo, later anglicized to Fogo Island.

Fogo Island was a part of the Poole Empire and thus directly or indirectly settled by persons from regions not far from Poole, Dorset in England. Other settlers also migrated from the Southern Bays of Newfoundland including Trinity Bay, as well as from England and the South West of Ireland. The earliest reported settler on Fogo Island was one Pere Baudein, who reported in his 1697 journal one hundred and fifty men living on Fogo Island, Twillingate and other scattered populations in the northern part of Newfoundland. Captain Vanburg reported in 1738 journal that Fogo Island had two hundred and fifteen inhabitants. By 1865 the population of Fogo Island had drastically increased to two thousand four hundred and sixty inhabitants.

England based firms such as Slade and Company were well established by the late 1700’s on Fogo Island. Eleven men worked directly for Slade in the community of Fogo. Many residents of Fogo Island are direct descendants of these eleven men.

They came for the cod and they stayed for the cod. Fogo Island inhabitants have always fished cod for a living and the fisheries are still a cornerstone of life on the island. Today, however, the Fogo Island fisherman fish for a greater number of species as well as use different methods to catch them than their forefathers.

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