“The last livyer of Red Island, Placentia Bay”


Archival Moment

“I  did not want her to be left alone.”

September 12, 2013

Jimmy Corrigan (far right)  is going home to Red Island.

Jimmy Corrigan (far right) is going home to Red Island.

James “Jimmy” Corrigan, age 80 years went home to Red Island, Placentia Bay for the final time  on September 12, 2013.  “Jimmy” who died on September 9  asked that he be returned to his beloved Island home to be buried next to his mother.

Jimmy told friends that he wanted to be buried home on Red Island to “keep company” with his mother Mary (nee Barry) Corrigan who was buried there many years ago. He told friends,  “I  did not want her to be left alone.”

Red island is one of the many Islands in Placentia Bay that were part of the resettlement program in Newfoundland in the 1960’s. The program saw families move from isolated, often island communities, to what the provincial government called growth centers.  Families began moving from Red Island in 1966 and by the fall of 1968 it was practically deserted.

He has gone home to his beloved Red Island

He has gone home to his beloved Red Island

Jimmy Corrigan resisted the move. He held title to his land and the right to prosecute the fishery from his fishing premises. To subsidize his income he maintained a small herd of sheep. He was the unofficial keeper of the island, including the guardian of the cemetery where he was buried.

In 1992 with the introduction cod moratorium he became the last livyer on Red Island.

He continued to return to Red Island for most of the summer and part of the fall until 2010 when he was diagnosed with cancer. Since 2010 his deteriorating health allowed him to make  only occasional short visits.

His burial in the cemetery on Red Island  was the the the first since 1968. Many residents of the Placenta area say he will be the last to be buried there.

Immediately following the mass of Christian burial at Sacred Heart Church, Placentia family and friends gathered to take him home. Dominic and Doreen (Dohey) Traverse lead a procession to the public wharf where he was placed in a fishing boat.

Five vessels joined the flotilla carrying approximately 130 friends to bring Jimmy back home to Red Island.

“So, tonight the west moon hangs over the harbour,

Shines down ‘cross the headland and out ‘cross the bay,

Shines down through the trees and rests on the graveyard,

As if lookin’ for the souls of the ones moved away.”

Recommended Museum Exhibit: The Rooms Provincial Museum Division, Here, We Made a Home: The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery, Level 4.  One of the exhibit cases focuses on the official Resettlement Program of the province using artifacts and photographs.

Recommended Song: West Moon : Recorded by Pat Byrne (Towards The Sunset / Pat and Joe Byrne with Baxter Wareham 1983, Pigeon Inlet Productions, St. John’s, NL. http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/01/west.htm

Recommended Reading: West Moon by All Pittman.  Breakwater Books, 1995 – Drama – 63 pages.  West Moon is set in Newfoundland during the time of resettlement in the mid-1960s. Though the play explores some serious social, political, moral, and theological themes, it does so with a unique blend of pathos and humor. Though the characters are dead and subject to different degrees of despair, they come vigorously alive as we meet them, for a brief while, within the confines of their mortality.


Corrigan, James Joseph – Dec 5, 1932 – Sept 9, 2013, Age 80 years. Passed away at the Placentia Health Care Center, surround by love on Sept 9, 2013, Jimmy Corrigan formerly of Red Island, Placentia Bay. Predeceased by his father John, mother Mary (nee Barry), brother- in- law Tom Cheeseman, and nephew Gerard Cheeseman. Left with precious memories are his beautiful sister Elizabeth and her children Terry, Doris (Bill Carroll), Diane (Ron Brewer), Willis and Norman Cheeseman and their families, also cherished by his other family Dominic and Doreen Traverse, and their children Peter and Christopher, where he resided and was loved. Also heartbroken are his special friends Nick Traverse (Janet Jones) , all of the Traverse family and a large circle of friends, too many to mention. Waking at Coombs Funeral Home, Placentia on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:00 – 9:00, Mass of Christian Burial to take place on Thursday September 12, 2013 at Sacred Heart Church, Placentia at 10:00 a.m. Flowers gratefully accepted or donations may be made in his memory to the Sacred Heart Church Repair Fund.