Newfoundland - Coast to Coast

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Introduction

Having completed a Road Scholar tour, The Best of the Canadian Maritimes , Joyce and I took a late flight from Halifax, NS, to St. John's NL, to join a second Road Scholar's tour, The Best of Spectacular Newfoundland Coast to Coast . The following morning we met our tour guide, Eleanor D. a 7th generation Newfoundlander, and our travelling companions.


Signal Hill & Cabot Tower

Photo Collage Signal Hill and Cabot Tower


Signal Hill & Cabot Tower

On the first full day of the tour we visited Signal Hill on a blowin' a-gale day. In the photo above, upper right, Cabot Tower at the highest point of Signal Hill. Construction of the tower began in 1898 and was completed in 1900 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Here Marconi heard the first transatlantic radio transmission, though some disagree. Above, lower left, Cape Spear, the eastern most point of land in North America. In the Battery Neighborhood are the Cape Spear Battery and Cape Spear lighthouse. Upper left, the view of St. John's harbor from Signal Hill.


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Quidi Vidi

Photo Collage of Quidi Vidi


Quidi Vidi

The village of Quidi Vidi lies just north of Signal Hill. Once a thriving fishing port it's reinvented itself, the photo above, upper right, as a center for artists, painters, wood and metal workers, sculptors and more in the Plantation. Photo lower left, Joyce hoists a glass, while beer sampling. The brewery's know for its' Iceberg beer using water from 'bergs that drift to Newfoundland. The signature Ice Blue bottles became collectors items and for a time limiting production for want of something to put the beer into. The view from the tasting room opened up onto the harbor offering the scene in the photo, upper left.


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The Town a Union Built

Photo Collage Port Union

The Town a Union Built

The sea is a cruel master, the life of a fisherman has always been hard. Also in Newfoundland prior to 1908 they and their families were at the not so tender mercies of the company. They weren't page wages rather the company made loans to them to get gear, food and the necessities at the company store. By the end of the season their tab usually exceeded the cash wages they might have received for their catch driving them deeper and deeper in debt, a vicious cycle with no escape. In 1908 in steps William Coaker organizing The Fishermen's Protective Union (FPU) with the then radical proposition that the fishermen would work with rather than for the owners. Coaker and the FPU then founded Port Union in 1916. Flourishing during the WWI years the town later fell into decline, Foreign fishermen began to deplete Cod stocks on the Grand Banks, a major blow was a fire in 1945 that destroyed the waterfront, the Cod moratorium in 1992 and the final, hurricane Igor, in 2010. The resulting damage forced the town's largest employer, the OCI shrimp plant, to close. Citizens of Port Union have banded together to revitalize the downtown historic district into the Port Union National Historic District .

In the photo above lower left, Bonnie S., showed us the Factory Historic District. Photo right center, a view inside the restored factory. For the mechanical buff … pulleys, belt, leavers, gears abound. Lower right, fisherman's Row Houses built in the town but, given the passage of years and absentee landlords, had fallen into disrepair. Photo lower right, The Union Art Project took on the restoration task. Photo, upper left, view of a ship model in The Factory. Photo upper right, brave (foolhardy?) members of our crew begin the “Schreech In” ritual to become honorary Newfoundlanders. Eat a bit of hard bread, drink Schreech, the local hooch, kiss a cod (dead) on the lips and recite a litany of phrases that few of us “Come From Away” folks could fathom. All in good fun and we got a certificate!


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Trinity

Photo Collage of Trinity

Trinity

In the photo above, upper right, every town we visited had a monument to "the Great War", WWI. The war was cruelly unkind to Newfoundland and Labrador. First blooded at Gallipoli casualties were considered small, 40 men, except however to those 40. In France at the battle of Beaumont-Hamel however of the 800 men who began the assault only 68 answered the next day's roll. The rest had died or were wounded within a span of 30 minutes. Families throughout the island lost fathers, sons, brothers, cousins and friends. The monument stands in front of, photo lower left, Saint Paul's Anglican Church. Photo lower right, the Rising Tide Theater where we watched the play Daddy, What's a Train? tells the tale of a perpetually money losing but much beloved train nicknamed, with more than a little irony, The Newfie Bullitt. One valuable lesson can be learned from this fiasco, never have your train and its' infrastructure built by the lowest bidder. Photo upper left, The Green Family Forge active making consumer goods for the general public and, by special order, custom pieces.


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Beothuk Site Boyd's Cove

Photo Collage of Beothuk Site Boyd's Cove

Beothuk Site Boyd's Cove

In the photo above, upper left, a Provincial Historic Site, Boyd's Cove Beothuk Interpretation Centre, is a perfect example of Newfoundland's attention to detail at one of their smallest sites. Photo lower left, the Spirit Garden where I tied a white ribbon in Indy's memory. Upper and lower right, two views of the main diorama in the Centre. Perhaps a Beothuk woman, man and child (out of frame), preparing for a return to the interior as Winter approaches? It's believed the Beothuk lived on the island from around 500 BCE, through the arrival of British settlers who came to stay in 1610 CE until the last survivor, Shanawdithit, a Beothuk woman, died in 1829.


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Twillingate - Wooden Boat Builders

Photo Collage Twillingate - Wooden Boat Builders

Twillingate        Wooden Boat Builders

Twillingate town's located on Twillingate Island on Notre Dame Bay off the North Western shore of Newfoundland. Inhabited by native peoples since about 1500 B.C.E. The first Europeans, French fishermen, worked the fishing grounds in the mid to late 1650's. For a detailed history of the town click here. Twillingate lies in the path of Iceberg Alley. In Spring large 'bergs have entered Notre Dame Bay closing Twillingate inner harbor.

The Wooden Boat Museum exhibits are well thought out particularly given the limited budgets and resources available. Historically if you needed a boat, and living on the Atlantic coast everyone did, you built you own. Fathers taught sons and sons taught their sons passing skills down the generations. To prevent these skills from being lost the Wooden Boat Museum was established in 1997.

In the photo above left, Joyce dotes on socks and couldn't pass these up. Photo upper right, an model example of a type of ship built in Twillingate's past. Photo lower left, the loft workshop in the museum where authentic copies of small working boats are built and skills taught to aspiring builders. Photo lower right, a boat under construction.


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Gros Morne - Tablelands

Photo Collage Gros Morne - Tablelands

Gros Morne         Tablelands

In the photo above, lower right, Joyce strikes the "Rock Goddess" pose, renowned throughout the world of our travels. Photo bottom center, a Parks Canada ranger led us through a rock strewn field teaching us about the geology and plant life. An uncanny analog, both in terrain and geology, to the surface of Mars the NASA's Curiosity rover was tested here. In the photo, top right, aside from a few growing in thin layers of soil blown in on the wind the Tablelands have little to offer flora. The rocks are primarily the mineral Peridotite with a dose of Iron accounting for the reddish color. Peridotite came from deep in the earth via Plate Tectonics and is void of most minerals traditional plants require. Heavy metal loving types eke out a living absorbing such delicacies as such as cobalt, iron, magnesium, nickel and chromium. In the photo lower right, The TableLands are littered with minerals from the serpentine group. In the photo upper left, the brightly colored mineral is Lizardite, Peridotite transformed by heat, pressure and water deep underground. Does it remind you of a mosaic? Photo lower left, an island of life in a sea of desolation. Kirsten O. of the park describes the plants "You're at the Grey Wool Moss, which goes bright green when wet. The plants growing in it include blue harebells, common juniper, Siberian chickweed and bog rosemary, and I think the basal leaves are balsam ragwort."


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Western Brook Pond


Photo Collage Western Brook Pond

Western Brook Pond

What comes to mind when you think of a pond? Farms have ponds, backyards have ponds, restaurants have Koi ponds and, in Canada, a large fresh water body of water 10 miles long with a surface area of 10 square miles is a pond. After a short hike from the parking lot to the boat house/ concession area we boarded the Western Brook Pond Boat Tours for our cruise.

12,000 years ago retreating glaciers cut a classic 1800 ft. deep U-shaped valley through the Long Range Mountains, a northern extension of the Appalachians in the United States. Over time one end of the fjord filled in isolating the valley from the sea. In the photo above, upper left, one of the many waterfalls tumbling down the steep walls. Lower left, the original rock has been lifted and tilted 90°. the two vertical wide black streaks are evidence of sea floor spreading as hot magma rose to fill the spaces left as two continental plates separated. Bottom right, a view over the stern looking back up the pond. Upper right, along the shoreline the forest is dense. Though individual tree diameters are small they are so closely packed as to be impenetrable.


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Thar She Blows, a Pod of Humpbacks

Photo Collage whales

Thar She Blows, a Pod of Humpbacks

Eleanor changed our schedule advancing whale watching by a day, an inspired choice as the whales cooperated. We left the port of St. Anthony on a Northland Discovery Boat Tours ship with the promise of whales ahead. We weren't disappointed as a pod of seven Humpbacks surfaced and sounded all around us. After a bit I stopped taking pictures. Spotting time and camera lag conspired to return photos of "There they were" rather than "there they are".

In the photo above, lower left, a Humpback spouts an often fatal giveaway in the days of whaling. In the photo lower right, the distinctive "hump" of the specious. Upper left, the whales got this close! Upper right a Humpback begins a deep dive.


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Norstead Viking Village

Photo Collage whales

Norstead Viking Village

As if to instill the Viking spirit the weather turned cold and windy. I wore every bit of clothing I had, except the PolyPro® long-johns left at home, but still looked for any shelter available. I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't stay with the guided walk but snuck off to the shelter of Chieftain's Hall. My embarrassment faded though as more and more familiar faces joined me.

In the photo above, upper left, supper's on the fire and Viking sourdough bread's in the bake oven. Spread with partridgeberry jam, tasty. Upper right, the bake oven's to the left of the fire pit. An authentically dressed docent, who I imagine was warmer than we were, provides details of Viking culinary practices. Lower right, a reproduction of a Viking Knarr, the Snorri, an ocean going ship. Looks small for the North Atlantic to me! Lower center, a docent portraying a Viking storyteller, a Skalds, and court musicians / jesters. Lower left, a blacksmith at work. This skilled man could make a lot of $$$ making for a prime marriage partner. For the woman another reason for marrying one, according to the docent presenting as the smithy, is they tended do die young from black lung disease from inhaling the forge fire's coke dust. If not sacrificed on her husbands funeral pyre, she could inherit his property.


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Faces in the Crowd

Photo Collage Faces in the Crowd

Photo Collage Faces in the Crowd

Photo Collage Faces in the Crowd

Photo Collage Faces in the Crowd

Photo Collage Faces in the Crowd

Faces in the Crowd

I'd like to thank Joyce W. for many of the photos on this page and others, Linda W. for the photo of Eleanor and Paul and Isabel S. for many of the group pictures. May they bring back pleasant memories.


Stray Thoughts

Fourteen days and 1800 bus miles later the tour ended and we newly minted Newfoundlanders were on the way home. I found Newfoundland blissfully free of chain stores and franchised accommodations.


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Updated:October 16, 2018