THE unusually-named – some may say, unfortunately-named – town of Dildo on the shores of Trinity Bay in Canada’s Newfoundland province, has resisted numerous attempts over the centuries, including as recently as the 1990s, to re-name itself.
And as far as the majority of the 1,200 folk remaining there from one-time thriving fishing and whaling industries are concerned, they’ll continue to oppose any change. Because as well as its history, they’re enjoying the benefits of a nicely growing little tourism industry, as more-and-more visitors discover their quiet little retreat to snap pictures of anything with the moniker Dildo on it, and to join flourishing whale-watching cruises (primarily through mid-June to mid-August) on Dildo’s picturesque little harbour.
Plus spend-up nicely in the few local stores, cafés and souvenir shops.
Just how Dildo got its unusual name is unclear, some locals saying that it was after a Spanish explorer who spent time in the area several centuries ago, while others speculate it came after the discovery in the 1700s on the site of the now-town, of an antiquated test-tube used by early mariners and known as a “dildo glass.”
The town’s 400-year reliance on fishing, whaling and seal-hunting began to die with tough competition on international markets and a Canada-wide moratorium on whale-catching in 1972, so Dildo turned to its tourist appeal – including creating a colourful Dildo Days Festival every July with a harbour boat parade and evening fireworks.
And the town, 60 kilometres west of the provincial capital of St Johns, won an award in 2001 as one of the ten prettiest small towns in Canada, with descriptors in various publications ranging from “really beautiful,” to a more bizarre “bleakly pretty.”