The hotel was built by the Shorefast Foundation (a 'shorefast' is the line which secures a cod trap to the shore apparently), a charity to help the island communities. It was set up by one woman who grew up on the island and then moved away to Ottawa, but never forgot her roots.
Fishing - primarily cod - used to be the income of the locals, but with the depletion of stocks in the 1950's/60's, it became even harder to make a living on the island. The provincial government recommended a resettlement program to the eleven communities, but they fought back. Before then, the communities had lived independent of each other; but they came to realize if they worked together, they would be more likely to be heard. Some people were resettled, but other communities managed to remain put and they formed the Fogo Island Co-operative Society Ltd, a community-based fishing enterprise which took over from the private enterprises which had controlled the island fishing beforehand.
Despite this growing business, young people continued to leave to find jobs, and the island's population continued to dwindle.
The Shorefast Foundation built four artist's studios around the island, aiming to attract artists from around the world and place Fogo on the map. They then built the hotel, with an aim to provide jobs to the young members of the community and breath life - in addition to the important fishing heritage - into the island once more.
It took three years to build the hotel, employing local craftspeople, and obtaining all materials as local as possible. Items which couldn't be sourced from the island or Newfoundland were bought from ethical manufacturers. Everything, even down to the screws, was given special attention as to it's origin.
I could go on and on about the Shorefast Foundation and the hotel, but I fear it may be one of those things in which the finer details aren't too interesting unless you have been to the place, smelt the air, felt the passion. If you do want to learn more about the fantastic project, please go to the website: shorefast.org where you can read the story from start to finish.
Fogo Island lies North East of the coast of Newfoundland.
25km long and 14km wide, it is home to approx 2,395 people (and 500 caribou, which, to be totally honest, was the one thing I was desperate to see...)
But they did....
Then the next morning we chatted to the receptionist, who also sounded Irish, as was the lady who bought the breakfast to our room...hmm..a little strange.
Soon, it finally dawned on us that that was just the dialect of the island!
These talented people made all the soft furnishings in the hotel; from the patchwork quilts on the bed, runners depicting stories with special meaning for the islanders, throws, rugs, to the cushions on the chairs...