I was pleased to cover a project called Culture of Outports – in which Toronto-based heritage architects ERA, and students from Ryerson University, are helping rural Newfoundlanders build a future for their communities. This summer it was in Port Union.
This union-built town on the Bonavista Peninsula, a three-hour drive from St. John’s, has a long history of mercantile and cultural activity. But like many of Newfoundland’s coastal outports, it has faded, with fishing gone and no industry to speak of. This is why Culture of Outports, a non-profit program run by Toronto’s ERA Architects, landed here. It’s an unusual exercise: part community-building, part city planning, part economic development.
And the program’s founder, ERA principal Philip Evans, hopes it will answer some difficult questions. “After the end of the fishery, what do you do?” asks Evans, who is descended from several generations of Newfoundland shipbuilders. “What would make someone my age, who is thirtysomething, have an interest in living in these communities?”