LUSHES BIGHT-BEAUMONT-BEAUMONT NORTH, NL — Lushes Bight-Beaumont-Beaumont North is a beautiful island community in Notre Dame Bay filled with residents who love their lives here and did all they could to stay.
There is also that French guy.
That’s how some residents on Long Island affectionately refer to their mayor.
The story of how Daniel Veilleux of Montreal ended up on Long Island is a bit peculiar, if only for the fact he is a former racecar driver and businessman who ended up on a coastal island off the country’s most easterly province — also an island.
So, most times, Daniel’s first name is mispronounced. He is OK with it.The French pronunciation of his given name sounds the same as the female name “Danielle.”
His wife Lora Lee Rowsell, a native of Beaumont, says with a laugh that most attempts at his last name are not even close.
He’s OK with that too.
After a five-minute ferry crossing – which would cost three people $18 to get back off the island – on this November day Mayor Veilleux can be found at the town’s recreation centre, preparing for an evening gathering to honour one of its community members.
He would prefer the interview take place at his home, where Lora Lee would be more than happy to prepare lunch.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s the Long Island hospitality.”
Part of the conversation around the table is that many of their older friends marvel at how quickly Daniel’s strong French accent vacated after four years on the island.
The couple met in St. John’s years ago where Lora Lee was working and Daniel was on a business trip. They would fall in love and eventually live in Montreal for 20 years.
When it was time to retire, Daniel said he was looking for a quiet and peaceful place, and Long Island would prove to be just that.
They live in Beaumont on a piece of property owned by Lora Lee’s family. It is a house one resident of the island referred to as the most beautiful there, and it is easy to see why.
“We were coming here twice a year, so it was almost like a no-brainer to decide to come here and retire,” Veilleux said.
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When he arrived in town, there was only one person on council. Always willing to get involved, he said, he decided to lend a hand. They eventually built a full complement of five council members.
He is also an active member of the fire department.
“The quality of life for me is great,” he said. “But, I am actually more busy now than when I was working, and this is all volunteer here with the fire department and council … sometimes I wish I would go back to work. I was making money and I had less to do.”
Joking aside, he is enjoying giving back to the community that has accepted him as one of its own.
Daniel said it is an amazing community with a very active volunteer base. Of the 168 people in Lushes Bight-Beaumont-Beaumont North, there are 21 volunteer firefighters.
Long Island is also known for its parties, he said.
Unfortunately, the population is aging significantly. There are no school-aged children in the town, and Long Island Academy no longer is needed for education purposes.
The mayor is lobbying for a causeway to replace the ferry, and he believes that would entice young families to return to the island. Many are living throughout the Notre Dame Bay area, but off the island because of the ferry.
Daniel also said many former residents and families are maintaining homes on the island, with plans to return when they retire. There is only one house for sale on the island, and over the last four or five years, the mayor said there has been a new house built each year.
He also believes tourism prospects are high, but hindered by the need for a ferry. The town has redone its lighthouse, extended the walking trail on the island, is building an RV park, and the Heritage Society has a Tea Room that is active during the summer months.
“It’s a beautiful little island to live on,” he said.