From the author: I cannot let the story of Crow Gulch — the story of my family and, subsequently, my own story — go untold. This book is my attempt to resurrect dialogue and story, to honour who and where I come from, to remind Corner Brook of the glaring omission in its social history.
In his debut poetry collection, Douglas Walbourne-Gough reflects on the legacy of a community that sat on the shore of the Bay of Islands, less than two kilometres west of downtown Corner Brook.
Crow Gulch began as a temporary shack town to house migrant workers in the 1920s during the construction of the pulp and paper mill. After the mill was complete, some of the residents, many of Indigenous ancestry, settled there permanently — including the poet's great-grandmother Amelia Campbell and her daughter, Ella — and those the locals called the "jackytars," a derogatory epithet used to describe someone of mixed French and Mi'kmaq descent. Many remained there until the late 1970s, when the settlement was forcibly abandoned and largely forgotten.
Walbourne-Gough lyrically sifts through archival memory and family accounts, resurrecting story and conversation, to patch together a history of a people and place. Here he finds his own identity within the legacy of Crow Gulch and reminds those who have forgotten of a glaring omission in history.
"These deeply engaging poems — courageous, shrewdly observed, disillusioned — give sharp, personal expression to the harsh-beautiful landscape of western Newfoundland and the human community precariously, stubbornly rooted there. A sense of conflict drives through this work, a reflection of the tradiitonal struggle to gain a living from the sea and rocky land but also a raw exploration of the conflict between poverty and privilege, honesty and propriety."
"Bent low and clund to a coast, Walbourne-Gough lets the land shape him. Brilliant and weathered observation interlaces family and archive to render present and necessary the memory of Crow Gulch. Here is a day's labour, a fretting walk along the tracks, a house 'that lets in snow at the seams,' grandmother's kitchen. Hear still 'her peals of laughter against the far shore and all that lives on in this book.'"
"Crow Gulch announces an important poet. The differences Douglas Walbourne-Gough explores between class and ethnicities are as hard as Newfoundland's rock, as shifting as the foundations of a forcibly resettled Crow Gulch. This book is a conversation between a rude landscape, the displaced or dispossessed, and a narrator searching for belonging."