“Theater Of Fish!” Terrific Memoir Of Newfoundland, Labrador And The Collapse Of Cod!

Welcome To Newfoundland!

Yes, it’s a country that many people don’t know much about, and yes, it has icebergs that drop in all the time, providing amazing pics like these!

It’s OK if you aren’t quite sure where you are, here is a map that shows you this province of Canada, which lies north Of Maine, and just south of Labrador:

Newfoundland is 42,031 square miles, the world’s 16th-largest island – and for centuries it was home to the world most popular fish: the legendary cod.

However, in a disastrous decision for the fishing industry, Canada abruptly shut down all cod fishing off of Newfoundland in 1992, destroying a livelihood forever. the reason was simple: overfishing had finally depleted the stocks, and cod were never to recover…

Why do I know all this? Because of a fascinating book that mixes the history of this country with a modern day tour to see what is left:

“Theater Of Fish” by John Gimlette.

In 1893, Author Gimlette’s great-grandfather traveled through Newfoundland and Labrador and kept a journal – and took incredible photos like this one, showing the harshness of life there:

In 2002, the Author used that journal to help him chart his own course across the land…a wild wild place still today, with moose and even polar bears!

Here is how Amazon describes the book:

Newfoundland is one of the most intriguing places in North America, a land of breathtaking but cruel beauty, populated by some of the saltiest, oddest characters you’ll ever find. In Theatre of Fish, John Gimlette vividly describes the dense forests and forbidding coastlines and recounts the colorful and often tragic history of the region. He introduces us to the inhabitants, from the birds and moose to the descendants of the outlaws, deserters, and fishermen who settled this eastern edge of North America. Leavened with irreverence and affection, this is an irresistible portrait of life in extremis.

The historical photos that Gimlette shares are fascinating, and they reinforce the narrative of life in Newfoundland – a country that existed for one reason only: cod.

This fish was so plentiful, and so important that money wasn’t even used in this country – instead, everything was paid for in fish – in fact, they even had the fish on their stamps!

Gimlette is a terrific Writer, mixing his own journey with the history of this desolate, dangerous land…and soberly describes life after fishing – a catastrophe for those who live there…

Around 500,000 people still live in the region, but it’s been twenty-five years since the fishing ban, and their way of life will never return to normal – and the Author is unflinching is showing what life is like there today…a really great book.

By the way, I posted a previous story about the giant iceberg that posed off the coast of the island, and how it became a tourist attraction – you can check that story out here:


I’ve also posted stories about the fish and made, then broke, Newfoundland:

There is a great book about the fish, and also a great book about the man who invented the TV dinner – yes, there is a connection – see it here:


Let me know if you decide to read this great book!

Categories: Books / Media, Exotic Travel, Food, Memoirs, nature, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. How fascinating, John you always find such great subjects for posts and much of it I don’t know but it is a wonderful learning curve for me…Thank you 🙂

  2. Wow–so interesting. And beautiful photos!

    • It’s a rugged, remote country that was devastated by the loss of their only industry – fish. A fascinating and sobering story, but you are right – spectacular scenery – thank you for the comment as always!

  3. This sounds like a really interesting book, Really interesting to learn more about something that I don’t really know anything about!

    • I share a LOT of books – some that would resonate more with your life than others, but I found it fascinating…I also love travel books that capture what it would be like to visit a foreign land…this wouldn’t be the first on the list for sure! Thanks as always for your comments!

  4. Flew over but would love a real life visit. Many Irish came here and PEI during the mass emigration in the fifties- trying to skip over the US border. I love to think of how their lives were- so different

  5. It does look interesting, John. And the historical photos are fascinating.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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