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Alpacas of Newfoundland closing down after 20 years

Ed Hutchings and Cathy Whitehead, the Felix Cove couple who operate Alpacas of Newfoundland, are shutting down the business at the end of this month. Here, they pose for a photo with some of the alpacas that remain on the farm but have been sold.
Ed Hutchings and Cathy Whitehead, the Felix Cove couple who operate Alpacas of Newfoundland, are shutting down the business at the end of this month. Here, they pose for a photo with some of the alpacas that remain on the farm but have been sold. - Frank Gale

There comes a time in people’s lives when they feel it’s appropriate to make a major decision.

That time has come about for Cathy Whitehead and Ed Hutchings, a Felix Cove couple who operate Alpacas of Newfoundland — a farm and gift store.

It’s not a big surprise that they are giving up the business as it’s been up for sale since 2014 as a package deal.

While there was some interest, in the end people didn’t want to take on the animal part of the enterprise.

The couple felt the 20th anniversary of the business (which actually took place on Sept. 26) would be a good time to call it quits and have recently been selling off their animals.

The last day of operation for the farm is Sept. 30, the same weekend as the 45th Annual Port au Port Agricultural and Craft Fall Fair.

Hutchings said it’s fitting since they have had their alpaca and stained-glass products in the fall fair since 1999 and will have them there again this year.

He said closing Alpacas of Newfoundland will be a blow to tourism on the Port au Port Peninsula, but it’s time.

Two of the alpacas sold were picked up from the farm on the anniversary of their start and have been shipped to the Bonavista Peninsula. All the rest of the animals, including 10 more alpacas, two goats and two barn cats will all go to central Newfoundland and will be leaving the farm by Oct. 10.

“We know all of them are going to good homes, we so pleased about that,” Whitehead said.

The couple said their business has been a good journey, especially meeting all kinds of wonderful people. It was also very different from the Mountie careers both of them had.

During his career Hutchings, who is from Corner Brook, started out in Stonewall, Man., had postings in Fort Smith, Snowdrift and Yellowknife in the NWT, and spent the rest in Newfoundland at Fogo Island, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Deer Lake and Piccadilly, retiring as a corporal back in Stephenville 10 years ago.

Whitehead, who is from Quebec City, started her RCMP career in Piccadilly and had postings at Burgeo, Stephenville and Port aux Basques and a UN tour in Haiti in 1995, retiring as a sergeant from her 27-year career four years ago.
The two met in Corner Brook and moved to Felix Cove in 1995.

Whitehead speaks French so it was a good fit for her on the Port au Port Peninsula, a place she fell in love with and is proud to make their home.

Whitehead said if family members were around she and Ed would be glad to remain living in Felix Cove; however, none of her family are in the province and both Ed’s sons – Brent and Greg, who are in the Navy — live outside the province.

The couple will continue to live at their residence until their property is sold and next year they have plans to travel and visit family. The plan is to move to Nova Scotia if they do sell.

Remaining attendance by Alpacas of Newfoundland

Port au Port Agricultural and Craft Fall Fair – Port au Port West – Sept. 29-30

Aguaculture Expo – Corner Brook – Oct. 12-14

Christmas at the Glacier – Mount Pearl – Oct. 17-21

Christmas at the Forum – Halifax, NS – Nov. 2-4

Halifax Guy Show – Halifax, NS – Nov. 9-11

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