During the 1950’s and 60’s, a government resettlement program attempted to persuade the most remote outport settlers around Newfoundland’s coast to relocate to more populated, centrally located towns. The decision to accept this attractive offer caused conflict in the hearts, families, and communities of many people. In most instances, nearly everyone in the community left their ancestral homes. I know of only one case when a family stayed. Richard Wells of Exploits Island refused to leave and still lives on Exploits today. In the painting, Watching Them Leave, a couple who are reluctant to move watch sadly from the potato garden as yet another family pulls their house from the island’s shores. The painting does not depict a specific place, but is, rather, a typical Newfoundland outport community.
The Resettlement issue is still important for Newfoundlanders today, not just because people remember those times, but because they are symbolic for all people who must leave the home they love. Resettlement continues today. But as long as we have those who, as then, refuse to leave, outport Newfoundland will not die.