Round Harbour - Justin Briginshaw

Round Harbour continues to stand as a reminder of a not so distant past in Newfoundland, where cod was king and fishing communities in Newfoundland were small but mighty. Located on the Baie Verte peninsula in centre of the province, this former fishing town remains frozen in time, with its buildings refusing to crumble under the unforgiving Newfoundland weather. Round Harbour’s history dates back to the early 19th century when a few families made the cove their home. Over the next century, population growth led to the construction of a church and a school. Unfortunately, following a peak population of over one hundred people, young families began to leave Round Harbour due to its isolation and the collapse of the fishing industry. Government incentive for community relocation was the final nail in the coffin of this historic community. Aside from the conversion of a handful of homes into summer cabins and a lone fisherman who refuses to leave, the community lies still.

Wayne Bartlett, a folk singer from the island, has beautifully and hauntingly captured Newfoundland’s tragic history of resettlement in a powerful song called “Man in the Doorway.” While his song is written about a different fishing town of yesteryears, the emotion, message and history is easily applied to Round Harbour. Wayne graciously agreed to collaborate on this project and you will find his lyrics interlaced with photos of Round Harbour. 


THE MAN IN THE DOORWAY  by Wayne Bartlett

Buttercups wave in the breeze on the shore amid the ruins of time

Up on the hill that old house is still as real as the life left behind

Inside there's a dusty old frame that surrounds

A black and white snap on the wall

It's a shame Newfoundland how that old house stands

While the man in the doorway is gone.

Chorus: The man in the doorway was someone I knew not too many long years ago

Different than some though he went along with the promise of riches untold

Did fate intervene or did it just seem that old ways would yield to the new

But the laws of the land dictated to man what the hand of fate couldn't do.

The bedrooms are empty, the pantry is bare, the paper is stripped on the wall

The windows no longer keep out the wind, there's a pile of junk in the hall

A rusty old stove stands all alone like a graven image would be

Just a reminder of what I would find here since Resettlement '63.

Chorus: The man in the doorway was someone I knew not too many long years ago

Different than some though he went along with the promise of riches untold

Did fate intervene or did it just seem that old ways would yield to the new

But the laws of the land dictated to man what the hand of fate couldn't do.

Now time has erased all the traces of tears, anger, frustration and pain

But memories lurk in the shadows at night in an empty house with no name

And the whistling wind is the only thing that now resides in our home

It's a shame Newfoundland how that old house stands

While the man in the doorway is gone.

Chorus: The man in the doorway was someone I knew not too many long years ago

Different than some though he went along with the promise of riches untold

Did fate intervene or did it just seem that old ways would yield to the new

But the laws of the land dictated to man what the hand of fate couldn't do.

The church in the cove is still standing although

The pulpit has long been torn down

The pews have been moved to accommodate nature

No trace of a Bible is found

Of the families that lived here, some still remain in a field overlooking the bay

But the families of Carrolls, the Byrnes and the Bartletts

Have packed up and all moved away.

Chorus: The man in the doorway was someone I knew not too many long years ago

Different than some though he went along with the promise of riches untold

Did fate intervene or did it just seem that old ways would yield to the new

But the laws of the land dictated to man what the hand of fate couldn't do.

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Click here to learn more about Wayne Bartlett's music.

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