It's a very rainy day here in Grand Bruit, so I might as well write up the story of how I got here. To make a short story long, it starts with a night of drinking at West 96 in Corner Brook. Shortly after I moved to Corner Brook, just less than three years ago, I was at the pub enjoying a few beverages when some fancy men in suits came in. There weren't many other people around, so we struck up a conversation, and I found out I was talking with two cabinet ministers from the provincial government. One of them was Dave Denine, at the time Minister of Municipal Affairs. I had a connection with him - his son, Mark, was a friend of mine from St. John's and an alumnus of Grenfell College.
Through chatting I learned that he had personally overseen the resettlement of Grand Bruit. I told him I had spent quite a bit of time in another resettled community, Grey Islands, and we had a lively conversation about the topic of ongoing resettlement. I could tell that the resettlement of Grand Bruit had affected him personally, and that he was still ambivalent about the decision to resettle. It was a surprisingly human conversation with a politician. Unfortunately, as the night wore on, the beer flowed and the topic of conversation strayed to the development of Muskrat Falls. At that point the tone changed. Denine became the consummate politician - toeing the party line, reciting its bluster and wiping away all my criticisms and questions with practiced sound bites. Conversation over.
Ever since that night I've wanted to visit Grand Bruit, and this summer's project has provided the perfect opportunity. I pedalled all the way to the end of Route 470 east of Port Aux Basques, caught the ferry from Rose Blanche to La Poile, and then hitched a lift with a fisherman from there to Grand Bruit. You can read my previous post if you want to hear the about the trials of the travel experience.
Grand Bruit is like no other place I have ever been - it is a peculiar combination of desolate, idyllic and improbable that almost has to be seen to be understood. It is in a harbour on a shore that is so rocky and featureless that the entrance is virtually invisible. The harbour itself is small, nearly symmetrical, and well protected behind two islands. It has a large waterfall (from which it gets its name - "grand bruit" translating as "great noise" in French) running down into the centre of the harbour. The paths and houses on the two sides of town tumble down over the rocks on either side of the waterfall and are connected by a bridge spanning the fall on the top. Directly behind the bridge sits a large lake with streams, falls and more lakes ascending into the hills in the background. The entire scene is so conspicuous that it looks constructed, like a set from a movie, or the obscure town in a role playing game from where the mysterious hero originates.
Grand Bruit presented some challenges. There isn't much in the way of a beach, mostly just slippery rocks going straight down into the sea. When the tide was really low I was able to clamber down and pick through the rocks in order to find what I needed.
I found these five perfectly sized and coloured brick pieces, which I used to make this simple structure.
I placed them at low tide on the only little bit of sand in the harbour. After a very windy night I came back to find them like this:
It would be wonderful to watch them all slowly migrate off in their own directions, but over subsequent nights they didn't move much further. I'd have needed either much more time in Grand Bruit, or a bunch more stormy nights in a row to see that happen.
I also used that little bit of beach to make this line of shards standing propped up in the sand.
The next morning, after the wind storm, there was nothing to photograph - all the pieces were just completely gone.
One of the islands in the harbour has one house and the community's cemetery on it. There is a bridge/breakwater leading across to this island which I saw fit to ornament with some shards:
The final seashore piece I made was this little square arrangement. It wasn't affected by the tide too much, but I did take some fun images of it underwater, distorted by the refraction of the waves. (More on that in the next post.)
Of course the real treasure of Grand Bruit is the waterfall, and I just had to make a piece there. I found a stone in the middle of the falls and essentially paved it with shards:
Oh yeah, did I mention caribou?