Melvin Horwood wrangles with the rope that holds the doors of his old fishing stage together.
It’s the only lock the fishing stage/unofficial museum has known since he opened it to the public some 20 years ago, across the road from his house in Durrell, near Twillingate, NL.
It was built for fishing purposes, but moratoriums on salmon and cod in the early ‘90s prompted his retirement.
Tourists passing through the New World Island area were interested in the fishery, the 87-year-old said, and he would show them what he had and relay a few stories.
His no-charge operation has netted success over the years. Sliding the doors open he moves toward his guest book as proof. He’s amassed more than 27,000 signatures.
“I get them to sign the guest book, if I can find a pen,” he says with a grin.
A well-used but well-placed joke because he’s literally surrounded by thousands of them.
And his documentation of visitors is what inadvertently started the collection.
“One day I was searching for a pen for a lady and her husband to sign the guestbook, I believe they were from Australia. She said she had one and ended up leaving it in the guestbook,” he recalled. “Other tourists would come in and notice the pen and they would give me a pen or send them afterwards.”
Horwood has them all on display but he’s never tallied them up. He estimates there’s somewhere between two and three thousand.
“You name a country, I’ve got a pen from there,” he said. “I can’t say one stands out more than the other because I appreciate them all.”
He also has pins, currency and police patches from all over the world, gifts left behind by visitors.
Horwood said the gestures are a reflection of the pleasant experiences he’s had with tourists over the years.
“I enjoy talking to people, sharing stories, I can’t say I’ve met a stranger in my life,” he said.