On Fogo Island, in the town of Tilting, there’s a trail that wraps around the coastal part of the community. Here, yellow hills meet rocky cliffs that meet the ocean. It’s a windy stretch of land, but the trail, exposed as it is, is a fine one to walk. It’s called Turpin’s Trail, a name familiar to everyone in the community. In 1809, Michael Turpin lost his head near here.
Though well-documented in history, the story has become legend. Here’s a local version of the legend told by a resident of Tilting, who didn’t grow up here, but has heard incarnations of the story since he arrived. The tale is told from the settler’s perspective, removed in time, but not in space. We can still imagine the tension between the Beothuks, who called this place home, and those who came to the shores and wanted to stay. The trail is dedicated to the memory of Michael Turpin, but has come to symbolize much more. It speaks of the strife of the people who were here before, the strife of the settlers, and now, how we process those encounters: with fascination, remorse, and in appreciation of the calm trail left behind.
The story is told by Paddy Barry, with music by Gardenia (used with permission).