Tourism Bell Island was formed in 2009 in an effort to develop a new economy for the island that lost its main industry in 1966. The loss of iron ore mine on Bell Island decimated the island and over the years the island’s population dropped from 15,000 people down a little under 3,000. Since the closure of the mines in 1966, many schemes have been hatched to develop Bell Island and to give it a future that will resemble the economy and livelihood once had. Projects from opening up the mines for iron ore mining to storing toxic garbage and oil in the shafts have been dreamt about and eventually discarded.
Tourism Bell Island Inc. has taken a very different and unique approach to the re-development of the island. This organization believes that the way to bring Bell Island back to its prosperous past was to develop the future in three distinct areas.
- Tourism is an industry that is growing world wide by leaps and bounds and Newfoundland and Labrador is no exception. Bell Island is strategically located in the middle of the most populated area of Newfoundland. It sits in the middle of Conception Bay, just a short 20 minute ferry ride from St. John’s. The ferry terminal is located in Portugal Cove and a schedule is attached under the heading (FERRY SCHEDULE) on this website. You will see through this website, the history, folklore and culture that are unique to Bell Island and the island’s historic place in North America and Europe.
- Agriculture is an industry that is being vigorously pursued by Tourism Bell Island Inc. Originally Bell Island was settled in 1740 as a farming community. Iron Ore mining did not come into being until 1895. At that time Bell Island had over 1,100 residents and was known as the Bread Basket of the Avalon Peninsula. Farming and fishing were major industries here. With the advent of mining: farming started to until finally it became just small back yard vegetable gardens. Ultimately, the saddest part is that Bell Island possessed and still possesses some of the most fertile farmland in the province as a whole and with urban sprawl taking place in St. John’s, the island is now positioned to regain its place in the farming industry as the bread basket of the Avalon Peninsula. Small ventures into farming by Tourism have just begun and there are larger initiatives planned for immediate future.
- Marina Development is a high priority for Tourism Bell Island for Bell Island because it will decrease its reliance on the public transportation system while at the same time allowing visitors who are private boat owners to come and go as they choose. The beginnings of a marina development which includes a baot launch and soon to be cribbing have already taken place in the area of Dominion Pier, which at one time was one of the main piers used for shipping iron ore. The pier itself is a deep water port with a depth of 200’ just meters from the beach. It is strategically located with one road in and one road out, making security for the marina a much easier job to police when the time becomes necessary.