Stephenville Newfoundland

Very occasionally you’ll take a road less travelled to somewhere that’s not on your schedule, and so it proved with Stephenville, it’s off the highway and away from our route by 49km, but as we were hungry and wanted to look at a little town, maybe find a diner. Had some time to kill…

After Stephenville I looked it up. In 1951 it became an active airbase for NORAD, this was a defensive system of radar and fighter jet bases to counteract the Russia of the Cold War. So they built an airbase, big enough for 2000 active personnel from the US Airforce and over time employing about 6000 local citizens (if there had been that many) From its beginning up to when it closed in 1971 people from all over Newfoundland came to work and live there. Then it closed and the community had nothing much to do for a while. The base buildings that were housing units were turned over to the locals, then the single runway and some more buildings became a regional airport, A board mill factory opened to give more employment, and some people moved away.

This image sums up the place as it is now for me so perfectly. It’s the largest remaining hangar from the military days, it’s falling apart but dominates the landscape, it’s tired, it’s beyond redemption , it’s never going to be useful again, it’s just a matter of time, and I fear the same will happen to the community of Stephenville.

I hope it’s not going that way, but in the town itself it felt like many other places I’ve visited over the years, rustbelt towns where mines or industrial things once flourished, places where agriculture was everything where the soil gave up and nothing would grow.

I don’t know what the answers are here, or the questions, what I do know is that time and time again all over the world people have their lives changed for ever because of decisions taken by people who have no clue of what they do and the consequences. You could say , well those people affected could move away, but where? And with what, they can’t sell their homes, they might be ailing, retired, or not so well educated, the community they are in is effectively a prison and they have a life sentence🙁

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