Today’s program is a portrayal in story and song of a far-away place, an island in the cold North Atlantic, molding centuries-old traditions with modern commerce and ways. It’s a gather-round time to learn of Newfoundland’s people and place, over time and now, presented by Tony Oxford, a sixth generation Newfoundlander, fisherman, teacher and former mayor, guitarist and story-teller.
Newfoundland: an almost mythical place in earlier years, now a living laboratory for understanding plate tectonics, recently a refuge for getting through the immediate horror of 9-11. Questions tumble out, like:
- If fishing is gone? Are Atlantic coast-line villages prospering, keeping their quality?
- Is plate tectonics real? How do we know?
- How do we explain the extraordinary response on 9-11 when Gander’s 10,000 residents coped so fully, so quickly, when 38 planes carrying 6800 passengers and crew abruptly landed at its airport . . . and stayed for several days?
Tony Oxford, an expert guide for Road Scholar adventures, uses story, song, and his ever-present guitar to present his home region, past and present. The “national ditty” of Newfoundland says it well:
“The sea, oh the sea, the wonderful sea
Thank God we’re surrounded by water . . .”
Newfoundland was the first European landfall in North America, by Norsemen 1000 years ago. Ironically, the land first discovered was the last incorporated into Canada, along with Labrador, its northern cousin. We walk the same lands today. Sea and land fit comfortably together. Towns and villages cling energetically to rocky shores, the island center largely desolate. Modern cities and towns flourish. Newfoundland culture thrives. Beloved shoreline communities prosper, looking to people, not fish, for sustenance.
Tony Oxford knows well the stories of his land and people, as we’ll find in his story-telling, music-strumming fashion.
Written by Ted Hullar, Academy Village Resident and 2018 Road Scholar to Newfoundland