Taking A Chance: The First 25 Years of Fishers’ Loft Inn by John & Peggy Fisher and Roger Pickavance

Taking A Chance is a visually gorgeous object of art. The cover begs to be opened, whereupon doing so, many splendid gifts are there to behold. The book’s subtitle is “An Urban to Rural Journey” with a foreword by Dame Judi Dench. Yes! The one and only Dame Judi Dench. She stayed at Fishers’ Loft during the filming of The Shipping News, a film set in Newfoundland based on a novel by author Annie Proulx. This introduction by Dame Judi Dench is a delightful “story” all by itself and is not to be missed.

But it only gets better. Reading on, I discovered why Peggy and John Fisher decided to write this book.

The couple goes on to say they moved from urban Central Canada to a remote coastal area, but this is just the tip of the iceberg of their early beginnings. Taking A Chance is bursting with the story of the Fishers. From their relocation to Newfoundland – Port Rexton, Trinity Bay, to be exact, and then onward to the creation of Fishers’ Loft Inn with one question at the root: “… was there more to life?” Looking back at the early stages, the Fishers claim their move was “neither an act of courage or vision … in hindsight, it was likely a mild form of desperation.”

And now, 25 years later, what a story the Fishers have to tell! Their book is a stunning celebration of family, friends, food, and community. But above all, Taking A Chance is about just that – taking a chance on oneself, with no safety net in sight. With over 80 recipes held within this impressive collection, they share space with breathtaking pictures and fascinating descriptions of scenery, hiking trails, Newfoundland life, staff members, community folks, and family. All of these hold a prominent place inside the book covers, but also within the hearts of those involved with this establishment. Digging into this book, I felt a part of this microcosm, held within the grand commonwealth of this corner of Newfoundland.

Taking A Chance is about just that – taking a chance on oneself, with no safety net in sight.”

Much of the area and the people in it are the source of life at Fishers’ Loft Inn. For example, the napkins are “made by a local seamstress, Lilias Hookey. And, they have their own characters … “(p. 152) The labyrinth at Fishers’ Loft Inn is on the property and “many of our guests simply take a leisurely contemplative stroll” even though it was designed as a racing labyrinth where two runners can start at the same time, and run to the centre using different routes. The Fishers’ Loft Inn is also committed to the arts. “Newfoundland and Labrador writers and publishers also partner with the Inn, through a reading series offered each season. … Literary journals provide young and emerging writers with an opportunity to have their work published and recognized.”

The recipes are clearly recorded and appropriate for even a novice household cook, like me. But preparing for a feast of fancy made me feel every bit of the professional. Every recipe I flipped to had me book-marking it for re-creation in my kitchen. From muffins, breads, soups, appetizers, mains, and desserts, to Inn Essentials, Useful Techniques, and Useful Equipment, one could truly not ask for more. I felt like I was being groomed to be perfectly set up for recipe success. Taking A Chance is co-authored by Roger Pickavance, “a retired professor at Memorial University who has devoted his life to the study of Newfoundland cuisine”. He has authored four cookbooks and was a finalist for the 2018 Heritage and History Book Award. Pickavance’s extensive expertise has been undoubtedly infused within the pages.

Taking A Chance is a showstopper of a book, not just for recipes but also as an encouraging look at where life’s course can lead. Peggy and John Fisher jumped into the abyss and came out on the other side, creating a community in the process. Taking A Chance is like a magnet, it will draw you in – again and again. It is truly a spellbinding approach to a destination location in book form. You will be transported to Fishers’ Loft Inn at any time this book’s cover is opened, and once cracked, the immersion will begin. My planned personal first stops will be to meet the chefs (p. 62), the Carrot and Ginger Soup (p.108), followed by Salmon in Phyllo Pastry with Parsley Sauce (p.185). As this fills my space with heavenly scents, I’ll stroll through the pages of Walking Through Time: Trails on the Bonavista Peninsula (pp. 140-144), and an ending of Gingerbread with Carmel-Rum Sauce (p.204) is perfect.

Taking A Chance is utterly fulfilling on many sensory levels and a heartwarming inspiration from beginning to end. It is not only a deeply generous book but also, simultaneously, a love letter and an invitation.

About the Author

John and Peggy Fisher met in 1977 while working on the launch of the Adelaide Court cultural centre in Toronto. In 1989 they bought a small saltbox in Port Rexton as a summer home, and by 1990 they had moved to Newfoundland permanently. They opened Fishers’ Loft Inn in 1997, originally as a B&B extension of their home before expanding with additional buildings. Today the inn consists of 33 rooms and suites, an executive conference centre, dining room, bar, and library/sitting room.

Roger Pickavance is a retired professor at Memorial University who has devoted his life to the study of Newfoundland cuisine. He is the author of four cookbooks, including From Codfish to Kippers: Creative Recipes for FreshSmoked and Salted Fish and The Traditional Newfoundland Kitchen, a finalist for the 2018 Heritage and History Book Award.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Fishers’ Loft Inn (July 4 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 260 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1778350720
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1778350726

Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere.  She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.