John Whitt's Stage (Change Islands)
John Whitt's Stage is centrally located on the main tickle of Change Islands. It sits on the northeast shore of the south island, approximately 500 feet east of the causeway that links the north and south islands. The building is a beautiful example of traditional inshore fisheries premises where numerous fishing activities were carried out. These included work related to cod (traps, hook and line, and jigging), herring (nets), salmon (nets), lobster (traps), inshore sealing and associated bait fishing.
According to local tradition, an inshore fisherman named John Whitt, born in Change Islands in the 1850s, constructed the stage in the 1880s. Arch Hoffe, born in Change Islands in the 1870s and his wife Ada purchased the stage in the early 20th century. He fished off Fogo Island and the Little Fogo Islands in his fishing boat the "Little Seeker", a craft of about 40 feet long.
The third owners of the property were Carl (1933-1987) and Margaret Diamond. Carl started fishing in the 1940s in a family business with his brothers and his father Robert. In 1955, Carl bought the stage from Ada Hoffe. A store constructed alongside the existing stage deteriorated and was taken down in the late 20th century.
The Fisheries Heritage Preservation Program of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador recognized John Whitt's Stage as an important part of the province's fisheries history in 2002. Funding was made available to the Change Islands Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation to restore the building. The Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation was established to help restore, preserve and maintain the traditional fishing structures (stages, stores, wharves, flakes, etc) within the community of Change Islands.
While the building was in stable condition, it did require considerable work, including the replacement of sills on the south and east side, the replacement of underpinning posts, and repairs to windows, doors and clapboard. The Change Islands Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation completed the restoration of the John Whitt Stage in the summer of 2002.