When Newfoundland Saved Canada: the 2017 remake
THE MOMENT I READ THE HEADLINE I knew I had to get some of the province’s newest writers on it.
So I typed the headline into an email, hit send, and asked a bunch of writers to do something new with an old magazine article. (Read on to find what they wrote.)
The thing is, history doesn’t have to be about the past, I thought.
Who could resist a headline like “When Newfoundland Saved Canada”? It was first published in the print magazine in December of 1949. It was the beginning of a series of articles linked to the headline that appeared on and off for a couple of years.
Five of the writers with the Port Authority group couldn’t resist. You’ll probably remember their bursting book of short stories, Racket (Breakwater, 2015).
Things have changed since that article was first printed in 1949. These new stories prove that. Flash fiction, five hundred words each: they’re unexpected and hilarious and so fun to read.
The original article was not lighthearted, though. It was earnest. It wanted to prove that Newfoundland once saved Canada’s butt. It wanted to show that Canada needed Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This rugged Island can look back with pride to the time when Canada had to lean on Newfoundland for that support necessary to maintain its very existence.”
-From the 1949 article.
The article was the importance of Newfoundland recruits to winning the Battle of Quebec (against Americans) in 1775. A note of thanks quoted in the article refers to “the splendid help extended to us by Newfoundland.”
What did today’s fiction writers make of the idea of Newfoundland saving Canada?
- Gary Newhook wrote a tongue-in-cheek news story about what happens to a small community after it is inundated by mainlanders buying homes in the area.
- Melissa Barbeau wrote a comedy sketch featuring John Canada and a damsel in distress.
- Sharon Bala wrote an obituary that can’t resist straying from the usual confines of the genre.
- In Jamie Fitzpatrick’s piece, Canada’s dirty urges make it hard to have a healthy relationship.
- Susan Sinnott brings pirates to Conception Bay in a dystopian post-Trump world.
The headline “When Newfoundland Saved Canada” wasn’t meant to be amusing. Battle and loss of life is always serious.
“Canada has never forgotten Newfoundland’s generous help during her hour of need.”
-From the 1949 article.
But today the idea behind that old headline is amusing—a little at least—to our Port Authority Writers. Is it because Newfoundlanders are more confident in their relationship with Canada?
Or is it because, like so many in this province, these Port Authority writers just can’t resist a good laugh at the relationship this place has with the rest of Canada?