Fortune: Salute to Nfld Communities
Fortune is located on the Western tip of the Burin Peninsula, on the toe of the ‘boot’. It lies in a shallow valley, along the shore of Fortune Barasway, between gently rolling hills and ancient shale cliffs.
The name Fortune, derived from the Portuguese ‘fortuna’, means ‘a place of good fortune, or luck’. Incorporated in 1946, the current population stands at just under 2000 persons.
Records show that Fortune was home to the first furniture factory (1907 to 1917), and the first artificial fish dryer (1947 to 1953) in the province; and the first bakery (1949 to mid-1960's) on the South Coast.
A narrow inlet from the sea meets the mouth of Fortune Brook, forming a sheltered harbour. Here you will find Fishery Products International fish processing plant; a new Customs and Immigration building; and a fully-equipped Marine Service Centre.
In the vicinity of the Fisherman’s Wharf, you can step back in time. This is the only place on the ‘Boot’ where fishing sheds and stages (built with ‘lungers’) look just as they did in the late 1800's.
Fortune has two major attractions which are unique to all of North America. The town is known worldwide as ‘The Gateway to St. Pierre et Miquelon.’ Fortune Head Ecological Reserve, meanwhile, contains the first geological boundary on the continent — the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary of 500-600 million years ago.
The connection between Fortune and the French islands is very strong and centuries old. Down through the years, illegal trade and intermarriage have forged steadfast bonds between the two communities.
Fortune Head Ecological Reserve, located about 1.6 kilometres west of the town, is world famous for its fossils. Chosen as the ‘Global Stratotype’, it is an international reference point for determining the earth’s age. Its layered shale cliffs contain more trace fossils than any other place.
One of the oldest buildings in the community is the Masonic Lodge (1883). Heritage Fortune Inc. (HFI) is working on establishing a museum, Victoria Hall Museum, scheduled for opening in 1999.
Horsebrook Trailer Park, on the outskirts of town, has 40 full-service, seasonal sites. Its nature trail takes you past dogwood, nut and apple trees, crystal clear brooks, plus many types of native plants and berries.
The Community Historyboard, unveiled on July 19, 1998, was sponsored by The Johnson Family Foundation. It stands on the site of the former South Coast Bakery and highlights many aspects of the town’s rich history.
The quiet, picturesque town of Fortune is worth visiting. The scenery is unique and the hospitality superb. Standing on the cliffs of Fortune Head, you have a spectacular view of Fortune Bay which includes Brunette Island, St. Pierre et Miquelon — an inspiration for artists, poets and photographers.
Published in Newfoundland Herald, Oct 1998
© F. Herridge
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