Lore­burn com­mem­o­rates 50 years since re­set­tle­ment

The Packet (Clarenville) - - SPORTS - BY JUANITA MERCER SPE­CIAL TO THE PACKET

For nearly 50 years, the re­set­tled com­mu­nity of Lore­burn sat silent. Head­stones of the dead left be­hind were barely vis­i­ble through the alder bushes re­claim­ing the land.

But to­day, the ceme­tery is well groomed, and the aban­doned har­bour is abuzz with hun­dreds of peo­ple re­con­nect­ing and telling sto­ries about the way things were.

Lore­burn is a re­set­tled fish­ing and lum­ber­ing com­mu­nity in South­west Arm, a short boat ride from St. Jones Within. It was re­set­tled in 1967.

Peo­ple who once lived here, and even more of their de­scen­dants, came for a week­end of ac­tiv­i­ties planned to com­mem­o­rate 50 years since re­set­tle­ment.

“I re­mem­ber the stages and the flakes set out with salt­fish dry­ing in the sun,” re­tired Rev. Si­las Rodgers re­calls in a ser­mon in the newly-built com­mu­nity cen­tre. The cen­tre is built on the very spot where the old church once stood, and where Rodgers gave his first ser­mon at the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer.

Sit­ting near the back of the com­mu­nity cen­tre, and pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the old sto­ries of life in Lore­burn, is Tim Richards.

Richards trav­elled to Lore­burn from Colorado. He was raised in Colorado by his adop­tive par­ents who lived on an Amer­i­can army base in New­found­land in the 1950s. When Richards’ birth mother be­came preg­nant as a young, sin­gle woman, she put him up for adop­tion and moved from St. John’s to Lore­burn shortly af­ter.

“I came here be­cause I thought maybe I could hear some sto­ries of what life was like here back then,” he said.

It is an emo­tional visit for Richards be­cause his adop­tive par­ents are now dead, and he did not find his birth fam­ily un­til af­ter his birth mother had also died.

“You get over­whelmed with emo­tion. I had just about no fam­ily when I met ev­ery­body here, and now there’s, what? Hun­dreds.”

Richards says he’s vis­ited a lot of places around the world, but he feels at home in Lore­burn.

“I know that may sound silly be­cause I didn’t grow up here, but it’s peace­ful here. I came aw­ful close to grow­ing up here, and my mom lived here for a long time, and brothers and sis­ters lived here … and maybe that’s why.”

Oth­ers who grew up in Lore­burn say they have mixed emo­tions while mark­ing 50 years since they left.

Au­drey King was 20 years old when she re­set­tled from Lore­burn to nearby St. Jones Within. A cou­ple of years ago, King built a cabin in Lore­burn.

“It’s some­times sad, and some­times beau­ti­ful to be able to get back,” King said. “It’s sad to think back about how many is gone since we left.”

Hec­tor Meadus was 24 years old when he re­set­tled. He re­calls the move be­ing es­pe­cially hard on his late par­ents.

“When they (were) go­ing out the har­bour here, they looked back at their house, and ‘twas a lot of tears. No­body wanted to go, but you had to. It wouldn’t a party like it was here yes­ter­day … we had to go to St. Jone­ses. We had no land; we had to start all over again. My fa­ther was 60 years old, and he had to start off to day one. So it was tough on him, and my mother when they moved out of here, with seven kids.”

Those kids, now adults, are in Lore­burn for the re­set­tle­ment re­union. While there is much fes­tiv­ity, many con­ver­sa­tions re­flect on those who aren’t here to cel­e­brate.

What might those peo­ple buried in the ceme­tery think about the big crowd in the com­mu­nity this week­end? At its peak, Lore­burn had only about 50 peo­ple. But the small har­bour is burst­ing at the seams this week­end, with about 300 peo­ple there for the event. And to­day, Lore­burn has nearly as many cab­ins as there were once homes.

But Rodgers pon­ders the fu­ture dur­ing his ser­mon.

“Who knows, in 50 years time, there may be a cel­e­bra­tion here of an­other type — dif­fer­ent peo­ple, a dif­fer­ent time.”

MAX­INE KING PHOTO

The old­est and youngest liv­ing Lore­burn re­set­tlers — Calvey Meadus and Diane Spurrell — cut the re­union cake.

MAX­INE KING PHOTO

The sign com­mem­o­rat­ing the re­union this month.

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