About Fogo Island

The largest of Newfoundland's offshore islands, Fogo Island lies off the northeast coast near the towns of Lewisporte and Twillingate. There are eleven separate communities on our island, which has a total surface area of 254 square kilometres, and a population of about 2,500 people. The original settlement of the island took place during the 18th century, and the area remained isolated well into the 20th century. The English and Irish descendants of the first inhabitants retained traces of their Elizabethan English and Old Irish dialects, which can still be heard on the island to this day.

Fogo Island, like most other Newfoundland outports, was built upon the fishery. With the decline of the cod stocks in the 1990's, crab, shrimp and lobster fisheries have largely replaced the cod fishery, and today there are still processing plants in operation on the island. Fogo Island has in recent years begun to actively promote its tourist attractions such as museums, hiking trails to abandoned settlements, icebergs, whale watching, and the outport way of life. Each year, tourism is playing a larger role in the local economy. Just a one hour ferry ride from the mainland, Fogo is the perfect place for holiday travelers, with incredible ocean vistas, clean air and rugged beauty, and many summer festivals steeped in Irish heritage.

Fogo Island is one of the oldest named features on the coast of Newfoundland. On early French maps (1500's-1700's) the island is referred to as "Ile des Fougues." The island may have been first named by Portuguese explorers and early fishing crews in the 1500's. Until 1783 Fogo Island was on an area of the coast called the "Silly Sleepy Head." Though English and Irish were not supposed to settle there, under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht they did settle, and by 1750 Fogo was a thriving part of the British mercantile system of fisheries, based out of West Country English towns such as Poole, in Dorset.

The town of Tilting is a National Cultural Landscape District of Canada, and is also a Provincial Heritage District. Tilting is unique for its Irish culture and, some people say, its Irish dialect. The Irish Cemetery in Tilting may well be the oldest in North America. The first Irish settled in Tilting in the 1750's and evolved into an exclusively Irish and Catholic town by the 1780's. Beothuk Indians traversed Fogo Island for many centuries before Irish and English settlers arrived. They pursued the seal and salmon fisheries in the area. The Beothuks also traveled out to the Funk Islands to collect feathers from the birds there. In the early years of European settlement at Fogo, there were incidents of violence between the Beothuk and the Europeans. This contact ended around the year 1800 when the Beothuk became extinct.


In the 1960's, attempts to resettle Fogo Island were countered by a movement toward rural development aided by the National Film Board of Canada, whose short documentaries helped to unite residents, crossing traditional social, cultural and religious lines. The "Fogo Process," the interactive use of film and videotape to foster community awareness and identity, is now used for the same purpose in underdeveloped countries. On Fogo Island, resettlement was abandoned, a fishermen's cooperative was founded, educational facilities were integrated, and a near-shore, longliner fishery was developed.


The population of the communities of Fogo Island are as follows:

Stag Harbour – 223
Seldom and Little Seldom – 444
Island Harbour – 185
Deep Bay – 141
Fogo Island Central – 15
Fogo – 748
Joe Batt's Arm (incl. Barr'd Islands & Shoal Bay) – 778
Tilting - 248


Set in a picturesque seaside location on Fogo Island, Island Harbour is an artist’s and nature lover's paradise. Island Harbour covers almost two miles of shoreline, and got its name from the abundance of small islands situated within the harbour. Visiting Island Harbour is like stepping back in time to see an area of the world like no other. You can see many original "salt-box" homes, fishing stages and wharves, and several scenic look-out points. The friendly residents are always happy to inform a sightseer of the rich history of their community that they hold with such pride. Be sure to ask about Black Head Cove, a former community which was resettled in the 1960’s, and walk along its trails.

Established in 1857, and incorporated in 1996, the community of Island Harbour has an 18 member volunteer fire department , 2 churches, (Anglican and Roman Catholic) a general store, and a Canada Post outlet. Nearby, in Fogo Island Central, there is a new well-equipped hospital with 2 physicians. Also in Fogo Island Central, is an RCMP detachment, Fogo Island Central Academy, (elementary and secondary school) arena, gas station, restaurant and pub. Other retail services such as grocery, hardware, pharmacy, clothing, furniture, etc are all within a short drive from town.