Per capita, a small coastal community shows the highest population increase in Trinity-Conception-Placentia area, according to 2016 census data.
Along the shoreline of Route 80, approximately 117 kilometres outside of St. John’s, sits the picturesque town of Whiteway. While it only has a population of 373, it’s seeing steady growth compared to neighbouring rural communities.
Mayor Craig Whalen says it’s not a big surprise to him. After all, he said, Whiteway is a beautiful community.
“If I was looking for a place to live, I want to think about some key things, like what’s there for the kids and what kind of activities are there for us,” said Whalen. “It seems that Whiteway has something for everyone.”
Whiteway is most known for its infamous Shag Rock, nestled in the centre of Whiteway’s harbour. Shag Rock was once primarily inhabited by shag birds, hence the name.
Although many small fishing communities in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia area have been decreasing in population, the 2016 Canadian Census data shows that Whiteway has grown. In fact, it has seen the highest increase in population per capita with a 27.3 per cent increase since 2011.
Whiteway is home to 16 businesses, including Pitcher’s Pond Golf Course, Brown’s Restaurant and Drover’s Convenience Store. Whalen says Whiteway is growing and, if the businesses in the area all hired town residents, has the ability to be self-sustaining.
Although 67 per cent of the community’s residents are above the age of 55, younger families are continuing to move in. A rare sight for most rural communities in the province.
Leanne Brooks and her family moved to Whiteway in 2014. Her husband’s job required them to move from Ontario to Newfoundland, so the next step was to find a community where they’d settle down.
With no former ties to the community, Brooks said they chose Whiteway because it was a small town that was far enough away from St. John’s, yet close enough to drive there for the day. The scenery, walking trails and parks made the decision easy, and having water and sewage was a definite plus.
“I was originally from a rural community,” said Brooks. “So, it made me feel at home.”
Elaine Drover grew up in Whiteway, but like many Newfoundlanders, after she married, life took her away from her hometown. She and her husband longed to return.
“We chose to retire in Whiteway because it’s such a beautiful place to live,” said Drover. “Jack and I wanted to live here since we were married, almost 46 years ago. It’s so nice to be back near family and friends.”
With a mix of stunning scenery and the amenities of a small town, Drover says it’s a great place to retire.
Residents in Whiteway pay 5.75 per cent of their property worth in taxes annually. But, Whalen says, it’s a small price to pay for the services that are provided such as snow clearing, garbage collection, street lights, and an abundance of recreational activities.
Pitcher’s Pond Golf Course, one of the province’s most picturesque courses, is also nearby.
The town is financially strong, said the mayor, and plans are currently in place to create a swimming area by Jimmy Rowe’s Walking Trail. The council is also pushing for government to make more lots available through Crown Lands to allow for future growth.
“People are spending more and more time here,” said Whalen. “With all the things this town has to offer, people seem to stick around rather than just stopping to take a picture of The Rock and moving on to the next community.”