She is a lady with a vision to bring mainland tourists to rural Newfoundland.
Torontonian Jane Pitfield has returned to Gaultois for the 2012 tourist season, her inn will be kept open until October this year, and she has created a company for tourism called Experience Gaultois.
However, when Jane dropped into the Coaster office on May 23, she wanted to talk about the water situation in Gaultois first.
The Water in Gaultois
Jane believes that the government should abandon the “fancy purification plant” that was installed in Gaultois, a system that has not worked for the past year or longer. “The town is always waiting for a part to arrive”, she said, “and there has been little or no response from MHA Tracey Perry. It is the right of the people in Gaultois to have clean, pure water and not just for drinking; seniors make up 40% of the population of Gaultois, and it is unthinkable that they do not have good water coming into their homes.”
She wants the government to know that this is unacceptable today. According to Jane the poor quality of water is linked to many diseases including cancer and kidney failure, and she believes the remedy lies in drilling four artesian wells in the town, one in each of the sections of Gaultois. Last year Jane brought in an artesian well driller from Bay Roberts, and the drilled well by her inn yields six gallons per minute (a family of seven would need one-half to one gallon per minute).
“To bring in the company from Bay Roberts and drill four wells would cost $5000.00 per well,” she explained. “An infrastructure grant of $50.000.00 would cover the cost of the travel, the drilling, and the pumps for each well. This can be done; about $300,000.00 has been spent on the present system, and it’s not working.”
Jane has heard that most outport people historically grew vegetables in their own gardens, and she will try to do the same for the inn. “In Gaultois this year I am erecting a plexiglass greenhouse where I can grow tomatoes, cucumbers, spices, and lettuce for use in the inn. We also want to develop a community garden by adding some fill and kelp, and each family could use a portion to grow common vegetables. I would like to encourage others to plant vegetables in containers or their gardens as it will contribute to nutrition and the availability of local fresh food.”
Ten workers have been hired for a Job Creation Partnership Program; five will continue work on the restoration of the Customs House. The other five will be involved in moving the tearoom to Piccaire where at the end of the walking trail from Gaultois to the resettled community of Piccaire, walkers can take photographs of the rugged landscape, view the displayed memorabilia, and have a snack before returning by boat to Gaultois. “This will be a great addition to our tourism infrastructure, “ Jane said, “and it will create seasonal jobs as well.” It is hoped these projects will be ready for the Come Home Year in Gaultois and Piccaire next year.
Jane has discovered that the airstrip is owned by Nalcor which is ending its lease with the crown. After an environmental assessment has been completed, the Coast Of Bays Regional Airport Authority (comprised of Jane Pitfield for the hoteliers, representatives of the three aquaculture companies, and a representative from Conne River) hopes to take over the airstrip. She thinks Nalcor may want to join the authority as well. The Airport Authority is developing a business plan and has already made contact with Evas Air and Provincial Airlines, both of which have expressed an interest in chartered groups. “We need to connect the 8000 residents of the Coast of Bays with the rest of the province, and furthermore opening the airstrip will do wonders for tourism and aquaculture,” she adds. “It will also give us a connection to the French Islands.”
Finally, because Jane know that today’s tourist wants to experience something new and different, she and her tourism committee are developing a number of initiatives to help the traveller have a value-added experience. She brought Celes Davar, a tourism expert, to Gaultois to help them develop some new experiences. “One we are working on is a scram box picnic, capitalizing on the historic use of scramboxes which is to carry food. We have the workers to build the scramboxes, including the miniature ones for sale, we have tartan blankets to spread, and the Gaultois Inn will provide the food. There are many places to hold a picnic so it will be a unique experience for tourists and their need to interact with the locals.”
Another experience will be the Sketch A Story with local artist Rodney Andrews who will take people to the four different areas of Gaultois and to Piccaire. As people listen to his stories of the history of that area, Rodney will sketch, and tourists will be able to purchase copies of his sketch to take home.
Jane ends with details about the mat-hooking experience and the shed party, all experience designed to be a value-added pleasure for the tourists who visit each year. Besides accommodating the needs of the visitors, Jane knows that jobs will be created in the process. “Like Scott Dawe of ACOA and Conrad Collier of the Coast of Bays Corporation, I believe that the sustainability model for the outports is to create a many small jobs as possible,” she concludes.
Pitfield1.jpg: At the Coaster office Jane Pitfield adds emphasis with her hands as she excitedly discusses her plan for a unique tourist experience in Gaultois.