[Itinerary] | [Travelogue] | [Index to Pictures] | [Site Map]

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Simply put, it was a great vacation - we probably surprised ourselves.

And before we get off on the wrong foot here -
it's NewfoundLAND not NEWfoundland or NewFOUNDland - OK?

Here's our itinerary and a travelogue, and then a list of links to all of the different sets of pictures. Susan and Glen took over 30 rolls of 24 print film - over 700 pictures! We have tried hard to limit the number of pictures we scanned and put on this web page (about 30%), so keep in mind that there are lots more where these came from!

Of course, the travelogue is a little l o n g, so you might want to skip right over it and go directly to the pictures. And if you can't find your way to whatever you're looking for, try the Site Map for a little help. Enjoy... horizontal rule

Itinerary

DatesTown B+B or MotelEmail PhoneWeb
Jul.22-25St. John's Banberry House banberry@bigfoot.com877-579-8226 www.bbcanada.com/1780.html
Jul.26Brigus Brookdale Manor earl@purple.iom.net709-528-4544  
Jul.27Harbour Grace Hotel Harbour Grace earl@purple.iom.net877-333-5156  
Jul.28+29Fortune Fair Isle Motel 709-832-1010  
Jul.30Botwood BlueJay B+B bluejay.bb.tours@nf.sympatico.ca800-565-4782 www.bbcanada.com/5139.html
Jul.31Woody Point Woody Point Motel 709-453-2515  
Aug.1+2Rocky Harbour Fisherman's Landing Inn info@fishermans-landing.com866-458-2711 fishermans-landing.com/index.html
Aug.3+4St. John's The Narrows obriens@nfld.com1-877-NF-WHALE www.obriensboattours.com

 

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Travelogue

Our direct flight left Toronto early in the AM on July 22. We got bumped up into Business class - not a bad start to a vacation! The striking thing on the approach to St. John's was the look of the land - green patches going right up to steep cliffs crashing down to the sea - made one think of Ireland, if one had ever been there. We got to St. John's right on time and started adapting to the 90 minute time zone. We rented our car (from National) and headed into town....
 
St. John's
We started with 4 days in St. John's. That let Susan explore the city and get re-acquainted with her camera, and let Glen spend days in the Provincial Archives looking for 'dead people'! Both of us were very successful. Susan's collection of the "Doors of St John's" are a riot of colours and styles, her shots of the gardens at Memorial University hinted at what we would see on the rest of the trip, and Glen's births, marriages and deaths have been added to web sites and family trees all over the web.

We stayed at the Banberry House which was a lovely old home right downtown, just 2 minutes from the Archives, and a few steps from the Moo Moo ice cream parlour! The lady who ran the place, Elizabeth, was great - full of good advice on places to visit and eat, and directions for how to get there. It's a very approachable city, easy to walk around, lots to see and do, and we were right in the heart of it.

One day we went on a Whale Watching tour run by O'Brien's out of Bay Bulls. We saw several whales (Minke and Humpback) and tons of birds (Murres, Turns, Puffins and more).  Our tour guide Michael was both informative and entertaining, singing us a few chanties en route. Back in town we wandered around Signal Hill and the Cabot Tower, had a couple of dinners that couldn't be beat, Susan managed to get some shopping done and we managed to avoid kissing any cod fish.

Marine Drive
We left St. John's and drove north along the Marine Drive through Torbay then over to Conception Bay through Portugal Cove and down around to Brigus passing through every little community along the way. It took us all day (and we somehow missed the Newfoundland Pony Project in Torbay) but the vistas were wonderful. We had lunch in Portugal Cove, watching the ferry to Bell Island come out of the fog. Glen tried Fish 'n Brewis which is a traditional meal that is <ahem> an acquired taste - but it sure sticks to ya!

Brigus
We stayed that night in Brigus at the Brookdale Manor, a new house on an old farm off the main road between Brigus and Cupids run by Shirley and Frank. It was a perfect place since it had a cat and a horse. Of course Glen's Antle family ancestors came from Brigus, so we needed to get right into the family tree search and spoke to John Antle (who runs an RV park right in town) and the daughter of May Antle (93 years old) but really didn't get too far. The Brigus Historical Society in the Stone Barn in town had a file on Antle, so Glen quickly set up the scanner and got to work. Everyone that we asked about Antle said that we had to talk to Ralph Roberts, so we did! He suggested we get together the next morning.

In the morning we spent a few hours wandering through the Brigus graveyards and then headed off to see Ralph.  He is the president of the Brigus Historical Society and has a wealth of information (got to keep in touch with him!). We spent some time just comparing notes but decided that we could probably do that better by email at another time. But the one thing we could not do by email was visit Brigus, and he offered to be our guide. First he made us a great lunch and then we loaded in the car and started through town. Ralph knew where all the bodies were buried, including an old grave marker near the bridge over the 'gut' that said 'OHN ANTL' dated about 1840 on some land the Antles used to own.

We also had a puzzle to solve arising from the description of some property referenced in an old Antle will from the Archives. A little good guessing from Ralph and we ended up in a part of Brigus called Riverhead where a small stream came out into the bay. The land there was referred to as Antle's Beach and Antle's Hill and the Antle family used to have houses there. And it was also just over the stream from the old Wesleyan Chapel, long since gone, where the church records indicate the Antle family attended services. And while we were standing there, who should drive by but May Antle's daughter, so we got plenty of Antle on that trip! We never would have found all of that without Ralph.

Harbour Grace
Did you know there is more than one place called Gallows Cove in Newfoundland? We think there are 3, but might be more. The Newfoundland Pony Project was listed with an address of Gallows Cove, so we thought we'd just drop in. There's a Gallows Cove out on a tip of land near Bay Roberts so we went for a drive. No one that we stopped out there had any idea what we were talking about. Nonetheless, a nice day for a drive and we wandered through a protected parkland out on a tip of land that looks out at Mad Rocks.

Don't go out of your way to stay at the Hotel Harbour Grace - lumpy beds, little rooms and a seedy bar! But that was about the only thing there that we didn't like. The drive to town was quick and easy, just a short hop from Brigus. There didn't seem to be a lot to do in Harbour Grace, so we went over to Carbonnear for dinner and a movie. The local cinema was playing only one movie and a current one at that! "Two tickets for 'GoldMember', please. That'll be $6 each." It's no thespian delight, in fact Susan slowly sank into the seat just in case anyone might come in who would recognize her. The most interesting thing was wondering what the Toronto cinemas do with the other $6 per ticket per person they collect?

Fortune
It's a long drive from Harbour Grace to Fortune, way down on the end of the Burin peninsula. We started out slowly, passing through some small towns on our way back to the TCH (that's the Trans Canada Highway for you folks from 'away'). One town was definitely worth a stop - Dildo - just so we could take a picture and Susan could mail a letter. Once on the TCH we passed by the Come-By-Chance refinery (kind of a rusty old thing) and then the long drive down Burin - about 2 1/2 more hours.

Two of the last 3 towns along that road are Grand Bank and Fortune and we explored both. The Ferry to St. Pierre leaves from Fortune, but there's nothing much else there. Grand Bank at least has some historic homes and a more functional harbour. But there was really no decent place for dinner that we ran into, so we went back to the motel where at least the menu looked like it would be OK. That was one of our big surprises on the trip - quite a good cook at this very plain motel out on the end of nowhere, and a great hostess.

St. Pierre and Miquelon
It's a 90 minute ferry ride to the island of St. Pierre, and it's part of France, so don't forget your passport! The ferry hugs the shore for a long time, then darts out, passes Green Island and you're in French waters. We saw a couple of whales and porpoises along the way. The passengers pass through customs in St. Pierre and then sprint for the bakeries to get the croissants and baguettes before they're all gone. We decided to delay breakfast and have it once we got there, but most of the places were closed or didn't really have petit dejeuner so we soon ended up back near the harbour in one of the hotels.

Then we wandered all over town, up and down little side streets and up the hill to the old fort site. We had a great lunch at the Feu de Braise and slowly made our way back to the ferry dock in time for a mid-afternoon departure. We stopped in a couple of wine stores on the way just to see what was on the shelves and, of course, managed to walk out with a couple of interesting looking bottles. There was quite a selection. After paying the duty, the prices weren't all that spectacular, but still, nice to have something 'less familiar' in our cellar at home. The ferry got us back to Fortune for dinner, at the same spot, and nothing to do after dinner but take our cameras and go watch the sun set.

In retrospect, we probably should have stayed overnight in St. Pierre.  It's an expensive Ferry ride for just a few hours there. But the long drive out to the end of Burin, with little along the way to recommend it, meant that we really didn't have the time to spend given the infrequent ferry schedule.

Botwood
It's another long drive to get from Fortune to Botwood - all the way back up the Burin road to the TCH then up the TCH through Terra Nova Provincial Park, Gambo (birthplace of Glen's cousin, Joey Smallwood) and Gander till the turn off to Botwood. We would have liked to have the time to get up as far as Twillingate to see some 'bergs, but it just wouldn't fit in. The BlueJay B+B is actually just outside town and we found it with only a few directions. Georgina runs a nice house there, and she immediately set about getting us booked for dinner that evening at the best place in town - The Dockside. It's right downtown and the menu was great.

One of the reasons to go to Botwood was to visit with some genealogy on-line friends - Judy and Paul Gill. We went to their house after dinner, and spent a few hours talking with them about all manner of things - genealogy of course, living in Newfoundland, family in Oakville (of all places) - and then we were off, with directions to Netta's house, right beside the place where we had just had dinner!

Netta is an Antle whose ancestors also came from Brigus and Glen had written to her once about the family. Netta was expecting us, but we sure weren't expecting Netta! She was a ball of energy at 88 years old, a going concern. She knew by looking at Glen that he was an Antle, and she told us stories of her ancestors, her youth and her late husband Jack Baker. She brought out photos and family tree charts and treasures. And then we had a 'mug up' - hot tea, bread and jam - a traditional snack. There are still a few links to confirm in the family tree, but it seems that Netta is probably Glen's 5th cousin once removed. She gave us the information to contact her son in St. John's and her brother (who is 91) in Dartmouth, NS.

Woody Point / Gros Morne
Off again the next morning after another huge breakfast. It was a rainy day and we had about 3 hours to drive to get to Gros Morne National Park. There was no way we could imagine coming to Newfoundland and not go to Gros Morne. Please note, even though it is clearly a French word, and clearly should be pronounced 'grow morn', everyone (including French speaking persons) says 'grose morn'. Go figure!

We got to Woody Point on the south coast of Bonne Bay by late morning and everything was hidden in clouds and fog. Every now and then it seemed to threaten to clear up, but never did. We spent several hours in the afternoon at the Visitor's Centre learning about the park (got the T-shirt and book), and also dropped in at a local artist's studio, Christine Koch who makes wood-block prints, in Woody Point. The motel was nothing special, but had the weather been better, the view would have been excellent.

There is probably plenty of Gros Morne to see on the south side of the bay - such as the Tablelands - but the weather kind of suppressed the desire to go walking around outside. We had dinner that night at The Loft down by the shore in Woody Point and discovered, to our dismay, that they were not licensed. But wait - we have wine from France in the trunk of the car and they'd do the uncorking! After that, even the slow service and mist weren't enough to dampen our mood.

Rocky Harbour / Gros Morne
After that we had 2 days over in Rocky Harbour, and thank heavens we had booked into a much more modern and well-equipped inn. The change was very welcome after a few days of smaller or older places. The only problem in Rocky Harbour was the 'boil order' in place because the town had run out of chlorine for the water treatment facilities. Sometimes it takes a long time to get supplies from off-island.

Rocky Harbour seems to be the 'main town' in the park and is pretty well equipped with places to eat, things to see, and a cafe with great coffee. The Ocean View Motel has a restaurant on the upper floor with a great view for sunsets and a decent menu. The liquor store nearby carries native Newfoundland Partridgeberry wine - and we figured we had to come home with some of that, if only to replace the bottle we had consumed in Woody Point. (Note from home - the wine is a little on the astringent side)!

We found a number of good walks in the park to keep us entertained and our cameras clicking: bulletBaker's Brook Pond Trail
It's about 4 hours to get all the way in and back out. Some in forest, some in bog, some on open plains, with boardwalk where required. Such a profusion of wildflowers of all sorts. At the end is a beautiful multi-stage waterfall, and a daring grey Jay that likes apples. We passed a pond where everyone else we passed had seen a mother and baby moose and we saw ... nothing.

bulletLobster Cove Head and Lighthouse
It's about 2 hours in a loop through the beach. There's an interesting old lighthouse on the cliff at the point. It was fairly low tide and the walk along the beach and over the rocks and through the tidal pools was wonderful, full of unexpected rocks and shells and starfish and sea urchins. We did this one morning, and then drove up to Cow Bay for lunch before going to Western Brook Pond.

bulletWestern Brook Pond Trail and boat ride
This is clearly a highlight of the trip. It's a 45 minute walk across the bog over boardwalk to get to the boat launch, and then there's a 2 hour boat ride followed by the reverse walk back out to the parking lot. The 'pond' was formed after the ice age which carved the valley and, when the weight of ice melted, the land rose again and left only a brook to connect this fjord to the sea. Over time the fjord became fresh water - in fact it is so fresh that almost nothing lives in it, it gets refreshed / replaced only once every 15 years and there are so few ions in it that a typical water level gauge thinks there is no water there at all!

The fjord walls rise straight up 800 feet above the water, and the deepest point known is 174 meters. The boat motors right into the very end and looking up, we could see the point where the person stands and the shot is taken in that commercial about visiting the Park. Along the way are sudden views of waterfalls and rock slides. The clouds were over us most of the way in, but the sun broke through as we started on the return voyage. The sound of camera shutters was deafening.

Back to St. John's
There was one more long day's drive from Gros Morne back to St. John's - about 8 hours.  Just set it on cruise at 115 and watch the scenery. Around Clarenville we saw a 'berg at some distance, trapped in a bay and melting away. And we finally saw a moose - granted, it was only a baby, but we squealed the tires and backed up on the TCH till we could say for sure that we'd seen one! The Narrows B+B in St. John's was very close to where we had been before, and the lady who ran it, Ann O'Brien, seemed to be a fun lady, always on the go, but we didn't have a chance to spend much time with her. We went out for a rather fine dinner that night at Bianca's down on Water St.

The next day was our last and we had some catching up to do. We started with Cape Spear, the eastern most point in Canada and stood there, looking across to Europe and watching the whales spout and surface. Then we tracked down the Newfoundland Pony Project and met up with one of the directors at the Folk Festival in Bannerman Park where she had brought in a pony for children to ride. They are perfectly formed little horses, not at all donkey-like, descended from Moorland ponies brought over from Dorset in the 1700's. And finally we spent the afternoon in the GEO Museum up on the edge of Signal Hill learning all about the rocks that formed Newfoundland and how they are such a history of the formation of the planet.

After dinner we spent the evening with Glen's cousin John Baker (Netta's son) and wife Wendy. They have a lovely house in the Waterbridge area, a great garden and 2 Siamese cats. It seemed we had quite a bit in common such as cats, wine and music, and hopefully we can get together on John's next trip to Toronto and turn it into a Niagara tour. But, we had a very early flight home the next morning so we didn't stay late.

And in Summary...
There are a few things that we noticed, as overall impressions of Newfoundland. bulletThere's something about fried food - it's everywhere. Everything is available fried, and it all comes with french fries. There were times when we felt like we'd kill for a salad, but it seems that not a lot of salad components grow in Newfoundland.

bulletEverything is a 'pond', no matter how large. There are almost no lakes. Deer Lake, in a land where there are no deer, Gander Lake and Lake Quidi Vidi seem to be the main exceptions. Every other body of fresh water seems to be a pond of some sort. The theory is that this is because the original settlers were from southern England where they had never seen a 'lake' and knew no other name for an inland body of fresh water.

bulletWildflowers are absolutely everywhere. The sides of the roads are covered in blazes of white or yellow or purple or orange. Every shadow had a dozen colours in it. We tried to photograph as many as we could, and got Susan a book to try to identify them all. It felt like the growing season in Newfoundland was about one month behind Ontario in terms of the profusion and types of blossoms.
  bulletThe berries are great. If you visit Newfoundland, there are 3 berries you'll get to know: Partridgeberries (same thing as Lingonberries), Bake-apples (same thing as Cloudberries) and Blueberries. It was enough to get Susan thinking of Danish desserts. We had a culinary treat in Fortune -- the chef at the motel we stayed in produced a wonderful partridgeberry pie made from fresh picked berries.

bulletRocks and water, water and rocks, and that about sums it all up. It's hard to stand anywhere and throw a stone and not hit one or the other. We should have gone to the GEO Museum when we were first in St. John's so that we'd know what we were looking at.

bulletThank heaven for Tim Horton's. We hop-scotched our way across the province from one to the next, stopping just because it was there, always needing another tea and coffee, and maybe a cookie as well. It became a talisman of familiarity in a foreign land, a hedge against a sea of fried food.

bulletEveryone we ran into from 'away' was from Ontario or BC. We concluded that it must be the effect of Random Passage, Shipping News and Rare Birds on the minds of Canadians (plus the US $ exchange) that drove them to seek a vacation down east.

And that's about it. We were 14 days on the island and 10 of them were sunny and clear. The only day it really rained was the driving day from Botwood to Woody Point, so who cared? No one seems to believe us that it really was that nice. But it was, and someday we'll go back.

Happy trails --- Glen and Susan horizontal rule

Index to Pictures

OK, 30 rolls of film is a lot, but relax - we're not going to try to put all of it on-line. I did at least break it up into some thematic areas for you.  But it still ends up being 215 pictures! On each page of pictures there are thumbnail images and a description.  Click on the thumbnail to see the full screen picture.  From there, click on the browser's "back" button to return.


 

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Copyright Glen C. Bodie, 1999-2006
All rights reserved.


Copyright Glen C. Bodie, 1999-2004
All rights reserved.