The Gatherall Family
The Gatherall Story is a continuation of the history of an iconic Newfoundland family from the outports Bay Bulls & Bauline whose ancestors emigrated to Newfoundland in the early 1700’s. These hardy seafarers departed their lovely hometown of Bouley Bay in the Chanel Islands to participate in the lucrative in-shore cod fishery of the “new founde land“. Our Gatherall forefathers gathered the bounty of the seas for three centuries until the cod fishery collapse in the 1980’s. It was in the dying days of this fishery that our family – Mike, Rosemary, Al & Michael – began to really appreciate the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve as an economic generator. A need for safe and reliable transportation to and from that magical place began to emerge.
Our family decided to embrace our collective skills; seized the opportunity; launched our enterprise; and went fishing – not for cod this time – but for a new and under utilized species. We knew we could and would succeed. Geographically, we were well positioned.
We had LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
We were embodied with a strong attachment to the sea along with a profound sense of place. The family, individually and collectively, had so many attributes necessary for success including a strong work ethic. We are ambitious and industrious, creative and innovative, strategic and efficient. We had our grandparents’ reputation – a tv reporter referred to the Gatherall’s as “a family to whom hospitality comes naturally“.
We believe that the overriding factor leading to our success is the fact that we are well-grounded, realistic optimists.
For almost forty years, we have drawn upon our many capabilities.
We relied on Mike’s knowledge & respect for the sea as well as his great carpentry skills. Rosemary drew upon her knowledge and experience gleaned from her Masters Degree in Administration. Apart from his nautical skills and knowledge, Captain Al’s creativity is our inspiration. For a company which has always built its own vessels, Michael’s education as a Naval Architect has been invaluable.
To use a genuine Newfoundland colloquialism, Al & Michael can “put an arse in a cat“. The ultimate cat being the Gaffer VI – a modern, custom designed and constructed catamaran passenger vessel.
Gatherall's first tour boat circa 1984
The original Gaffer circa 1988
Gaffer II circa 1991
Gaffer III circa 1993
Rebuilding the original Gaffer
Gaffer rebuilt and back in service circa 1993
Gaffer IV circa 1997
Launching Gaffer VI circa 2001
Gaffer VI and Gaffer V circa 2002
The family realized very quickly that it was cruicial to be known in the international travel trade market to create an awareness of Newfoundland as a destination of note. We then charted our course to successfully navigate the currents and tides to land our catch. Almost forty years further on, it is generally agreed that Gatherall’s has – and continues to – playa significant role in the development and growth of the Newfoundland Tourism Industry.
Truely, we sometimes get a little overwhelmed on occassion when we stop and think that a small company perched on the rocky cliffs of the northside of Bay Bulls has and continues to be so incredibly well received by so many explorers be reside locally, nationally or internationally.
Over the years we have had many wonderful experiences and have so very thoroughly enjoyed sharing our hospitality, our family’s seafaring heritage, our love of nature along with our humour, stories and songs with so many wonderful guests & friends.
Yes, at times we have had to navigate stormy seas and rocky shoals – the collapse of the fishery, several recessions, fall out from tragic, world shaking disruptions such as 9-11, SARS, and of course COVID are but a few.
On occasion our resilience has been tested but never has it been broken.
We’ve also enjoyed many incredible and joyous events – most especially the opportunity to raise our families in the same safe, secure and rich heritage – as well as the opportunity to work and share our passion with so many incredible, spirited individuals with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout the years.
Our family believes it is a fitting tribute to our forefathers that we continue to operate our business on the exact same site as earlier generations of our family fished from. And we, like them, “as sure as the seas ….” will rise again through our children Jack, Luke, Claire, Bridget & Jane Gatherall.
A few snaps of the crew throughout the years.
The Gatherall Story would not be complete without a chapter (or several) about the many incredible, knowledgable, hospitable, entertaining, engaging, professional, caring folks who have been a part of our team for almost forty years! We owe ever so much of our success to their efforts.
From construction of our vessels and facilities, to selecting and arranging our special mix of crafts and souviners, to ensuring guests are checked in and attended to, ensuring the safety of our vessels’s passengers, and of course, providing the high standard of interpretation and entertainment to guests on each and every tour, we cannot thank these fabulous people enough.