A Tour of Fogo Island, The Traditional Canadian Fishing Community That Has Been Infused With Cutting Edge Art and Architecture

A remote Canadian fishing community that over the last few decades has been challenged by a diminished cod fishery and lack of a financial investment but which is now being infused with art and architecture as a way to protect its traditional way of life. A new hotel, a world-class art progam, and six striking artist studios are just part of a major initiative designed to promote entrepreneurship.

The self-made multimillionaire Zita Cobb grew up in a modest family on the island and has returned to mastermind its revitalisation. Having invested $15million of her personal fortune into the project, and attracted a further $10million from the Canadian government, Cobb put together a stellar team to realise her dream: Nicolaus Schafhausen, the artistic director of the Kunsthalle in Vienna was appointed co-chair of Fogo Island Arts; and Saunders Architecture, founded by locally born Todd Saunders, were commissioned to design the hotel and artist studios. Attesting to the strength of its residency program is that fact that one of the first artists to work on the island was Mark Clintberg, who has pieces in the collection of National Gallery of Canada.

Twelve miles off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada, Fogo Island is a stunning landscape of granite bedrock and windswept moors that is home to a permanent population of 2,500. How to get there? From Gander (remote in itself), there is a regular ferry crossing to Fogo Island that takes approximately 50 minutes.

Each of the hotel’s 29 rooms face framed views of the North Atlantic and feature sleek furniture crafted from local spruce, birth and fur, as well as traditional touches such as wood-burning stoves and patchwork quilts. On top of those incredible vistas, hotel guests have the opportunity to meet the artists at work in their studios, make use of the gym, restaurant, library and screening room which features movies selected by the National Film Board of Canada. The money-can’t-buy bonus: knowing that any visitor is part of a unique social experiment that can only help sustain this traditional community.