Back to Grand Bruit
Joe Billard, Clyde Billard, Jim Billard, Gord Farrell and George Billiard are just a few of the people who come back to the now-abandoned community of Grand Bruit every summer.
The thought of Grand Bruit sticks with you.
The empty houses, collapsed fish stages and the distinct lack of light take ahold of you, hesitant to loosen its grip.
Locally known as “Gran Brit,” it has been seven years since the population resettled, leaving for places like Port aux Basques, Burgeo and La Scie.
It is hard to describe the feeling that comes over you when you’re treading where some people have not been in close to 10 years.
As much as it feels like you’re intruding on their lives, you’re excited about the prospect of exploring their home.
Making our way through some of the abandoned houses, there’s always the sense the front door will creak open and the last resident will come through the opening.
Even with them gone, it is possible to catch a glimpse into their lives. From art on the walls, an empty bottle of scotch on a shelf and VHS copies of “Dirty Harry” and “Gangs of New York” stacked neatly on a living room dresser, you get a sense of what made the them who they are.
Even when standing in a school closed for 10 years, there was the sense your morning slumber would be interrupted by the shrill of the opening bell or the teacher calling her short attendance list.
Time travel is against the laws of physics, but it feels possible on the shores of Grand Bruit.
There’s a sense you’re moving through phases of life as you walk through the community. Well-kept homes sit next to decaying ones, their vinyl siding a stark contrast from the chipped paint and clapboard of the others.
Back home, 2010 does not seem so far away, but here it feels like a lifetime away.
Toilet paper left in the bathroom, split wood waiting for the slow burn of the wood stove and a child’s teddy bear placed in the corner made it seem like you were moving through time and space with each step in the abandoned community.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think people were escaping some life-threatening event and had to rush to grab what they needed.
We were not alone in Grand Bruit. A little over half-a-dozen residents were spending parts of their summer there.
They go back every spring and summer to re-live what they’ve lost.
Some fish, others are just there to make amends. It’s as if they’re saying “I’m sorry” every day for leaving for so long.
Grand Bruit is a special place to them. Like all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, they long for home when they’re away.
I’m like them, in a way. I know I’ll be back.
This house sits on the hill next to the school.
When darkness falls, a lone light shines from this home near the falls.
A pair of crows sit on the front bridge of an empty house in Grand Bruit.
The walkway to this home has fallen after years of being beaten by the elements.
This greenhouse has been beaten by the weather and is overgrown after years of neglect.
A pair of abandoned photos rest on a chest in an empty room inside of the homes in Grand Bruit.
A watch and lantern are just a few of the household items left in Grand Bruit.