MAIN BROOK, N.L.
It’s been 40 years since Barb Genge, homesick for Newfoundland, decided to leave her job with Blue Cross in Toronto and try to make a go of it in her home province.
“I had a terrible case of loneliness,” she said. “It’s like all Newfoundlanders, you can’t tell anyone what you’re lonely for, it’s just Newfoundland; it’s the way of life.”
Returning to the Northern Peninsula, she dabbled with a few businesses before establishing Tuckamore Lodge and Outfitters. Now, 32 years later, she is being inducted into the Junior Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador (JANL) Hall of Fame.
“Through her long-term entrepreneurial pursuits and community involvement, Barb has made a significant impact in her region,” stated a press release from JANL.
Genge, currently mayor of Main Brook, said she was left speechless by the honour.
“I was dumfounded when I received this and I was just honoured to be recognized among Newfoundlanders who have done a lot for Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders,” she said.
One person not surprised by the announcement was Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows.
“I’ve known Barb Genge my entire life and I could not think of a more deserving individual announced to be inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame,” he said. “As the Business Minister and as a friend, I am so proud of her recognition and that she is one of our very own.”
Despite her surprise at this latest award, Genge is no stranger to accolades.
According to the JA release, Genge is also a member of the Tourism Hall of Fame in Ottawa and has received the Sustainable Development Award from Parks Canada and Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador, as well as the Canadian Tourism Commission Award and Entrepreneur of the Year.
Outdoor Magazine named Tuckamore Lodge “one of the six best reconnoitering destinations in Canada.”
It goes beyond her own business, though, according to Mitchelmore.
She has championed many causes, helped so many people along the way and strengthened the region through all her volunteer efforts,” he said. “Her contributions and impact is far-reaching and she deserves this praise.”
Genge has never been in it for praise, however.
“I did it for my business and my community and region and nothing any more than I didn’t want to go back to working in Canada,” she said. “Canada’s not a bad place, Canada’s a nice place, but it just wasn’t for me, okay?”
The most rewarding thing about being in business, Genge said, was very simple.
“Just being able to create employment for myself and to retain the people that put trust in me, came with me and gave a lot,” she said. “We all stuck together and we’re all growing old together.”
Creating local employment was also the reason she eventually got into politics.
“When you work in economic development, because I did that as well, you’re always into the political scene, you’re always dealing with politicians, civil servants, you’re always hammering on someone to get what you need for your area,” she said.
“You hope that if you got in (to office) that you might be able to make a small change, and that’s why you get into it.”
And the reason for her success was just as simple, she said.
“I pulled it off because the people I had working with me, they wanted to stay home, they wanted to not leave just as much as I did.”
That is not to say, however, that she is not grateful for the current honour.
“The reason I’m happy about it is because it lets Newfoundlanders know, if you start something, if you’re persistent, you work at it and you use the system that’s available to you, you can stay in Newfoundland.
“I’d just like to thank the person, or persons, that nominated me and that they saw the value that I could be a part of this group and I just want to say thank you to all the people that work for me making that happen.”
Genge will be inducted into the hall of fame at a gala scheduled for May 23 in St. John’s.