Speaker Bio's

John Norman

As a child in the time of the cod moratorium John Norman could see that Bonavista was facing major challenges and felt strongly, from an early age, that he would like to help.

During University years, John returned home to work each summer and moved back full time working in the College of the North Atlantic for 4 years. John was elected to the town council for 1 term and played a significant role in recreation planning, town planning, heritage restoration and healthcare investments. Since then, John launched a group of companies that have invested meaningfully in Bonavista, its people and its buildings. In 5 years, Bonavista Living / Bonavista Creative has created over 50 new jobs, and helped to launch 13 new companies and growing. The result is an increase in town revenue, enhanced community vitality and new families. In late 2017 John was elected mayor of Bonavista.

John Norman

Dr. Gerald L. Pocius is currently Visiting Research Professor at Cape Breton University. He taught for thirty-nine years in Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Folklore Department, where he was University Research Professor. His book, A Place to Belong, examined the meaning of place in Calvert on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore. This study was awarded the international Chicago Folklore Prize, and the Cummings Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Pocius also worked with various levels of governments on UNESCO intangible cultural heritage policy, including the strategic plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. Pocius is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Folklore Society, and since 1982 has owned a house in Keels.

John Norman

Morgaine Parnham is a textile artist from St John’s Newfoundland. She is a graduate of the College of the North Atlantic’s Textile: Craft & Apparel Design program.

She now lives in beautiful Bonavista where she run her own shop and weaving studio, Tree Line Fine Craft. She is currently working on expanding that business into a fibre mill which will focus on processing local Newfoundland wool and fleece.

John Norman

Edith Samson , is the Executive Coordinator at the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation in Port Union. Edith has worked in the not-for profit sector for over 20 years and is an active volunteer in the community. She sits on various committees such as : Co-Chair of the Discovery Geo Park Project; Bonavista Trinity Regional Chamber of Commerce; Post Secondary Advisory Committee for Bonavista Campus and over the years has served on Vista School Board, Bonavista - Clarenville Regional Rural Secretariat and the Discovery Trail Tourism Association and various other boards and committees.

John Norman

PhD Candidate, Interdisciplinary PhD Program, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Brennan is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and is a recent newcomer to Newfoundland. An interdisciplinary researcher, Brennan is working in the Environmental Policy Institute, the Department of Geography, and the Department of Economics at Memorial University, under Dr. Kelly Vodden. His research examines how rural communities and regions can use approaches to define and measure sustainability to support more effective governance for sustainable development. Using an asset-based approach to understanding the sustainability of rural communities and regions, his research aims to identify how rural Newfoundland regions can draw on their existing capacities and amenities to foster new place-based development opportunities. This work has begun by building on research previously conducted in the Bonavista region in collaborative research and engagement with local leaders, and he hopes to also conduct community-based research in other rural regions of Newfoundland.

John Norman

Marilyn Coles-Hayley spent her entire career in the post-secondary education field working for 23 of those years as Campus Administrator at the Bonavista Campus, College of the North Atlantic. In this role, Marilyn was founder and Managing Director of the Bonavista Institute for Cultural Tourism which was a Centre of Excellence in Cultural Tourism Training for Atlantic Canada. Marilyn is also a very active volunteer working within her community of Elliston and the region to promote rural sustainability. She has been chair of Tourism Elliston for the past 20 years and is presently Director for the Discovery Trail region of the Legendary Coast Destination Management Organization, Director of the Aspiring Geopark Committee, member of the Tourism Subcommittee of the Bonavista Trinity Region Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Post-Secondary Advisory Committee. Since retiring from the College, Marilyn assumed the role of Executive Director for the Home from the Sea Foundation Inc., operators of the John C. Crosbie Sealers Interpretation Centre.

John Norman

Born in Toronto; raised in Ottawa; attended university in Montreal.

Moved to Newfoundland in 1983 (and never looked back!)

Moved to Norris Point on the Great Northern Peninsula in 1988 and has worked there as a physiotherapist ever since. She initially worked in the old Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital in the last years of its existence (1988 - 2001) and had the opportunity to experience rural health care at its finest. She worked in the new Bonne Bay Health centre from 2001 - 2008 but longed for “the good old days” in the cottage hospital. So she left “the system” and established her own clinic in the old Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital.

She was one of the founding members of the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation and currently acts as the (volunteer) coordinator of the centre and all of its many functions. The mandate of the BBCHHC is the adaptive re-use of the old Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital for the preservation of culture and heritage, the promotion of health and wellness, and community economic and social development. This is being accomplished through the establishment of a cluster of services in the center, which operates a social enterprise. The center has received a Manning Award and has been designated a site of Provincial Historic Significance.

Joan has a background as a volunteer in community economic development through her involvement with the Bonne Bay Development Association, the RED Ochre Economic Development Board, and the Regional Council of the Rural Secretariat. She worked as a coordinator for the Trails, Tales and Tunes festival in its early years, and also worked as a community coordinator for the CURRA (Community University Research for Recovery Project), a joint research project between Memorial University and the University of Victoria. She has been involved in many professional associations both provincially and nationally and is currently involved in “patient-oriented” health research committees both provincially and nationally.

In her ”spare” time, Joan also enjoys gardening, hiking, skiing and snow-shoeing.

John Norman

A native of rural South Ontario, Jerry came to Newfoundland in 1985 for what was to be a three-year period. That has turned into a 30-year love affair with the province. His work experience includes community economic development, community-based heritage development, a stint as a bed and breakfast owner/operator, executive director of the Association of Heritage Industries, a provincial heritage advocacy organization, and 10 years as Director of Heritage with the Provincial Government. In 2016 Jerry assumed the role of executive director with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, a crown agency devoted to preserving and safeguarding the province’s historic places and intangible cultural heritage.

He studied architectural design and preservation at the undergraduate level and completed a M.A. in Cultural Geography with a focus on the changes occurring in outport Newfoundland communities.

He has been involved as a member of the board (including as chair) on a number of arts and heritage organizations including Perchance Theatre, Newman Sound Men’s Choir, the O’Brien Farm Foundation and the Battle Harbour Historic Trust board. Other interests include travel, family history, gardening and a 140 year-old Methodist Church that he has been restoring as a weekend retreat.

John Norman

Natalie Bull is Executive Director of the National Trust for Canada, a national charity providing proven tools and essential leadership for Canadians working to save and renew places that matter. Through programs like THIS PLACE MATTERS, Launch Pad, Passport Places, and Regeneration Works, and with annual conferences and advocacy action, the Trust celebrates local landmarks that tell our collective story, offers support to struggling downtowns, and works to change the game for historic places in Canada.

Born and raised on Canada’s east coast, Natalie studied heritage conservation at the Université de Montréal before joining the City of Ottawa’s heritage team, and later the federal government’s Heritage Conservation Directorate. A Fellow and former president of the Association for Preservation Technology International, Natalie has worked with project teams at iconic places including the Bar U Ranch, Parliament Hill and the Vimy Monument in France, and led technical training courses on historic window conservation and building envelope issues in historic buildings.

At the Trust, Natalie’s focus is on “watering the grass roots” to build a strong heritage movement, and changing the system to remove the barriers people face in saving places that matter to them. Natalie is happiest when doing porch repairs or glazing sash at her 1850s farmhouse at Bull’s Creek.

John Norman

Sean Cadigan is the associate vice-president (academic) programs, complement planning and development for Memorial University, and has been a history professor there since 2001. He came to Memorial from Dalhousie University, where he was associate professor of history and taught in the areas of maritime labour history, the history of fisheries and Canadian history. Cadigan’s research interests include the socio-economic and environmental history of Newfoundland and Labrador. His first book, Hope and Deception in Conception Bay: Merchant-Settler Relations in Newfoundland, 1785-1855 (1996), received the Canadian Historical Association Merit Award for Regional History (Atlantic). In 2010, His book Newfoundland and Labrador: A History received the J.W. Dafoe Prize for outstanding non-fiction writing about Canada. Cadigan’s latest book is Death on Two Fronts: National Tragedies and the Fate of Democracy in Newfoundland, 1914-34 (2013). A regular visitor to the Bonavista Peninsula, Cadigan has long been interested in the impact of Sir William Ford Coaker on the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Anna is a natural dye and textile artist, facilitator & tea drinker. Her artistic practice is based in dye work, felt & embroidery. Her work is inspired by her many travels & impromptu adventures. Originally from St. John’s, Anna now nests in a beautiful studio space in Bonavista. She is also a Business Development Coordinator/Project Manager with Economusee.

John Norman

Mary Bishop is an urban planner who has worked with many communities across Newfoundland and Labrador for the past thirty years. In the 1980s she was part of the consulting team that prepared the initial master plan for the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland, and later, the Bonavista Historic Townscape Plan, and the Economic Development and Heritage Strategy for the City of St. John’s. She has prepared municipal plans for many communities, large and small, including Trinity, Trinity Bay North, Brigus, Norris Point, New-Wes-Valley and currently Port Rexton. In more recent years she lead consulting teams to preparing regional plans and downtown/mainstreet redevelopment plans for Towns such as Conception Bay South, Glovertown and Port aux Basques. Retired in 2017, she continues to provide professional planning advice to a number of municipal clients.