LUSHES BIGHT-BEAUMONT-BEAUMONT NORTH, NL — Cassie Croucher is the only child on Long Island.
She is three years old and full of life. It’s a life different from many toddlers for obvious reasons, but it will be one her parents, Lee and Jane Croucher, will strive to make as normal as possible.
Cassie is a very active child, says Jane, and she will not be lonely or devoid of youthful companionship if her parents have anything to do with it.
Lee is an offshore fisherman, making his home port in Notre Dame Bay. Jane is a fish and wildlife technician by trade. The only life the high school sweethearts know outside of Long Island was getting an education in Corner Brook from 2005-2009 and working in St. John’s from 2003-2005. Even then, Lee was fishing out of Long Island.
“There was absolutely no better place to grow up,” Jane said.
Long Island Academy rests on a hillside overlooking one of the many coves on Long Island. There are no students to attend school there now. The last student on the island graduated high school last year, but she finished up at Dorset Collegiate in Pilley’s Island.
When Jane went to school, she said there were about 50 students. She graduated with three others.
Jane secured employment with the Department of Natural Resources in Springdale after she finished her training. She commuted from the island to Springdale for the job. However, she was laid off when the provincial government went through a rash of cutbacks.
The Crouchers have owned their own home in the Town of Lushes Bight-Beaumont-Beaumont North since 2010. Jane says it wasn’t really the dream to always live in their hometown, but it sort of happened.
Now, they are quite content with their lives there.
They welcomed Cassie to the family in 2014.
Although it is two years away, the Crouchers are exploring Cassie’s schooling options now. She suspects she will enroll at one of the elementary schools in Triton or Robert’s Arm.
Once a week, they attend a playgroup at the family resource centre in Robert’s Arm to help Cassie socialize with other children.
“Even though we are on an island, that is not stopping us from getting her out,” Jane said. “In my opinion, I take her to more stuff than some of the people who live in those communities … Robert’s Arm and Pilley’s Island include us in a couple of kids’ activities. That is really nice.
“I think I have the best of both worlds.”
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Family is very important to the Crouchers. Living on Long Island, they have that in spades. Unlike many young families who had to move away for work, family surrounds them.
“Cassie has two nannies, but also has three great nannies,” Jane said. “She has so much family that it is just wonderful. She has two poppies and one great poppy. She is surrounded by love everywhere.”
It’s not just family – Jane said she has noticed the community showing their affection toward Cassie.
“A lot of the residents are proud to have her here, and see her grow up,” she said.
The short ferry crossing across to Pilley’s Island that connects them to the rest of Newfoundland can be a hassle at times. However, Jane said that is all they have known throughout their lives.
There is a bit of sadness in the fact their daughter is the only child in Lushes Bight-Beaumont-Beaumont North, but Jane doesn’t believe that will always be the case.
In fact, she said two families with small children have recently come back because they lost their jobs elsewhere.
“It is not dead yet,” she said with a laugh. “In the summer time, this place is booming with kids. Everybody comes back home.”
Owning their own home and being surrounded by family is very important to the Crouchers. Living on an island would not stop them from being a family, she said.
“I wish more people would move back,” she said. “It is just not a reality because they are no jobs. It’s not because we live on an island.”