A small town finds a unique way to honour a hometown hero, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald.
By Nicola Ryan
From a lookout on the Black’s Brook Trail in Trinity, Bonavista Bay, you can cast your gaze over the community below and out through the narrows that lead to scattered rocky islands. Before resettlement of those small islands, salted fish and capelin dried on flakes, horses roamed free, and hard-working families created a sense of community there, even in uncertain times. We’ve been facing uncertain times ourselves recently, and the town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity (CWT) has decided to name this lookout in honour of a hometown hero who’s been trying hard to keep us all safe.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians came to rely on public health guidance from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. Dr. Fitzgerald’s daily updates were full of expertise and empathy, and she would fortify us at the end of each briefing with her signature words, “Hold fast, Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The tiny town of Trinity, where Dr. Fitzgerald is from, is understandably proud of their native daughter, and now one of the lookouts on the Black’s Brook Trail is about to be renamed “Dr. Janice Fitzgerald Hold Fast Lookout.”
“We’re hoping to get it done this spring,” says former mayor Sam Gibbons, “if things sort of settle down with COVID and that. We’re hoping to get her out here and have a grand opening.”
The amalgamated town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity is located in the well-known hunting and fishing region of Indian Bay. It’s about 45 km from the Trans-Canada Highway at the Gambo turn-off, along the scenic Kittiwake Coast. Wareham and Trinity had at one time been winter sites for logging and boatbuilding for fishermen from the islands in Bonavista Bay. Centreville came into being in 1959 as a planned community for settlers moving from Fair Island.
Black’s Brook Park is the jewel of Trinity. It offers hiking trails, camping sites, playgrounds, picnic sites and a swimming area. The park also often hosts community events, such as a Winter Carnival in February, a “Trunk or Treat” for Halloween, and an Easter egg scavenger hunt in the spring.
The Black’s Brook Trail in the park is a well-maintained woodsy walk suitable for all ages. The main trail is a winding loop with boardwalks and bridges spanning pretty waterfalls where you might catch a glimpse of some wildlife or see relics of old buildings. Interesting interpretative signs along the way offer insight into the area’s logging history. Settlement in Trinity occurred gradually once a merchant named James Brown built a water-powered sawmill there in 1894.
“There’s storyboards all around the park,” Sam says. “Thiswas once a very productive area for cutting wood for Bowater’s, and even before that.” (Bowater’s Newfoundland Paper Mills Ltd. owned and operated the pulp andpaper mill in Corner Brookfrom 1938 until 1984.)
To get to the popular soon-to-be-named Hold Fast lookout, take the challenging side trail that branches off from the main loop.“There’s different sections to the trail,” explains Sam. “The main trail is about 3 km and then there’s a couple of side ones. One of our trails goes to ahead called Sluice. We know it’s about 200 metres high, which is one-quarter the height of Gros Morne. Anyone thinking about trying Gros Morne should probably come here for a practice run,” he laughs.
The other trail leads up Bell Hill. If you brave the incline, the lovely view at the top will be your reward. The lookout is located right above Dr. Fitzgerald’s childhood home. The former inhabitants of those rough islands in Bonavista Bay most likely knew a thing or two about working together and holding fast in the face of adversity - values Dr. Fitzgerald has been encouraging us to share since the pandemic began.
"This is such a kind guesture from my hometown, and I am incredibly honoured to have my name on the lookout," Dr. Fitzgerald says. "This place is particularly meaningful for me. While it has been many years since I have lived in Trinity, I remember those times fondly, and I still love to visit the area whenever I can. Walking, and generally just being outside in nature, has helped me find calm during these difficult times, and I am so looking forward to hiking this trail many times in the years to come. I have received many wonderful accolades in the last two years, but anyone that knows me, knows that this recognition is the most near and dear to me personally."