Trip to O’Derin, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland
27 Aug, 2009
This weekend past my friends and I visited O’Derin. It’s a small island in the middle of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. It takes about an hour to get there by boat from the near harbour.
O’Derin was once a small collection of fishing communities of Catholics and Anglicans. At its peak there were approxiamately 250 people living on this island. Now there is no one.
The father of one of my friends grew up on O’Derin just prior to the resettlement. His old home is one of the few remaining buildings on this desserted island. Half of those buildings are now summer cabins. The rest are rotting apart.
Many of the old residents towed their homes off the island when they had to resettle. An arial photograph of the area from the 1950’s shows many buildings all round the island. Almost none of those buildings are still standing.
Other buildings have unknown origins. This concrete foundation below may have belonged to a church long since gone. Now there are fully grown trees growing up through it.
The scenary on this island is absolutely stunning.
The island is the perfect size for anyone visiting. It’s just large enough that there’s plenty to do and see but just small enough that you can walk anywhere.
O’Derin has its very own pirate treasure myth. The story goes that in the 18th century pirates landed on the shores of of this island and buried their treasure at the bottom of a shoreline gully. They say the bottom of this minature pond has wooden planks covering the treasure.
About fifteen years ago an ambitious man who was aware of the pirate treasure myth took it upon himself to seek it out. His strategy was to drain the water from the gully and dig from there. He dug a trench that lead from the gully to the ocean, which is about 30 metres. Today the trench remains 4-5 feet deep.
The story goes that he spent years of his life digging the trench and got no where. As quick as the water drained from the pond it filled back up. He retrieved no treasure.
There is another story of grave robbers digging up a set of old 18th century french graves hoping to find the treasure.
There was a graveyard at the top of one of the hills, but it wasn’t your typical graveyard.
All of the graves were scattered amongst the trees in the woods. Some were in some pretty thick bush.
There were even some that had been there so long that trees had grown near them with branches pushing the marble of the headstones over.
Many of the tombstones werer over 100 years old. The average lifespan on this island seems to have been between 10 and 30 years old. Many young kids buried here. It’s not unbelievable when you see some of the dangerous cliffs and the waves crashing in on all sides.
O’Derin is a very beautiful and interesting island and I cannot wait to revisit.