David Ward’s “Bay of Hope” (ECW Press) is what many readers want in a book. It’s a love story. Of sorts.
Ward first sailed into McCallum on Newfoundland’s southwest coast with Carol, his love of the time. Unfortunately, love between Ward and Carol ebbed, yet at the same time Ward’s love for McCallum’s people and its isolated splendour grew.
Carol left McCallum. Ward stayed.
As did Farley Mowat in Burgeo in a previous century, Ward made McCallum his home — for five years anyway.
Despite McCallum’s friendly folks, Ward was a lonely man. He writes: “Just meeting women in McCallum is a challenge.”
Although an isolated outport, during Ward’s residency McCallum did have a high-tech link with the rest of the world — the internet.
A good thing for Ward, eh b’ys? He could — and did — participate in online dating. Ward went phishing — kinda — for love in the cyberspace pool …
… and hooked a beauty.
Bride welcomed Ward into “her handsome St. John’s home like a friend from afar, and a long-lost lover.”
Ward hooked a beauty but, sadly, like many a hooked beauty, she got away.
Albeit lonely, Ward didn’t pine.
To his mainland friend and to his readers, he sang McCallum’s praises — with purpose: “I actually believe my greatest contribution to this community is that I validate outport people in a way that the world doesn’t.”
He goes on to say outport people are, “wonderful in ways that most of the mainland seldom are anymore.”
Ward does not offer paeans to Newfoundland’s politicians. Not bloody likely! Making no bones about it, he tags them as “dimwitted”.
Regarding political attitudes towards fish farming, Ward claims the only thing that matters is “the wants and needs of politicians and big business — a bunch of like-minded individuals and organizations that I increasingly find impossible to tell apart.”
Quoting writer/environmentalist Edward Abbey, Ward delivers this line: “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
Frequent anger at government and its policies placed aside, Ward always shouts from the mountain top, so to speak, exaltations of the so’west coast’s natural splendor…
… even for such unglamorously monikered natural wonders as the Pissing Horse, a humongous waterfall.
An aside, or two.
I browsed Mr. Google’s geography books for pictures of Pissing Horse falls. I found some, and in addition, also happened across pictures of Pissing Mare Falls in Gros Mourne National Park. Both sets of pictures show copious amounts of water streaming from lofty precipices.
Also, in the hinterland of my bay-boy home, is a similarly-named — kinda — waterworks: Pisser Mare Pond.
B’ys, I wonder why Newfoundlanders have this penchant to name natural wonders after equine urinary functions.
Speaking of shouting from the mountain top — Ward climbs to the summit of a McCallum peak called the Grips Nest and while admiring the view, thinks, “It’s moments exactly like these that I wish I had a woman with me.”
A woman and “a big blanket”, he says.
See, I told you this book is a love story.
We’re all familiar with the pogey, eh b’ys?
Ward puts an unexpected spin on the way many outport Newfoundlanders use it. He believes claiming employment insurance benefits is an act of rebellion: “Because making and spending money is (not) life’s most important priority, they occasionally take a little out of the public pot, to protect their right to live peacefully.”
It drives politicians nuts, Ward says. It “renders townies and mainlanders resentful.”
Listen to this: “Five years in an isolated outport has been an incredible experience for me, but I’m tired of dreaming alone.”
“Bay of Hope” is partly the love story of a lonely man…
…who eventually hears from a former love interest whose plight lures him back to Ontario. Like a storybook hero, Ward leaves The Rock because, he says, “I’ve got an Ontario beauty who needs my assistance, and, in a complicated way that I don’t fully understand, I need her help as well.”
“Bay of Hope” is a many-layered love story.
Ward describes the pleasure of watching pelagic birds: “colourful puffins, gorgeous gannets, elusive turrs” and — in one of the gem-dandiest bits of alliteration, or whatever ol’ English teachers call it, I’ve read since the Devil was an oakum picker — “copulating cormorants.”
Indisputably, “Bay of Hope” is a love story.
Thank you for reading.
Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org