Saturday, 27 February 2016


There's an old adage that's used across Canada. "If you don't like the weather... wait". It applies in Newfoundland just about as well as anyplace else. We like to visit little museums. We try to schedule them for rainy day activities.

Often the small community museums will be staffed by volunteers who can give you a guided tour. They also know everything there is to know about the community, so often we will pick up tips on trails or other points of interest.

Take The French Ancestors Route around the Port-au-Port Peninsula. It's one of the prettiest drives on the island and it will bring you to Mainland, home of the Sister's Dream Schoolhouse. Many communities on the peninsula have two names and French populations. La Grand'Terre (Mainland) also has a community park next to the museum with a community bread oven.

We visited in June. The museum had not opened yet, but we were lucky enough to run into the curator who gave us a private tour. She is from nearby Black Duck Brook (L'Anse a Canards). The museum has two main rooms. One is a replica of the schoolhouse. The second room is full of community photos and artifacts.

The view from the schoolhouse window is stunning. It's on the Gulf of St. Lawrence looking out to Red Island, which was populated during the time of the French Shore.

As you drive into Norris Point you will see Jenniex House on your right at the top of the hill. It's a traditional salt box house that was moved to this location as a museum and craft shop. The parking lot for Jenniex house is one of those 'Kodak Spots' in Gros Morne. The view of Bonne Bay and The Tablelands is spectacular.

Broom Point is in Gros Morne National Park. It's just north of Western Brook Pond on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Parks Canada staff that did our tour were amazing. They had worked in the fishery before they became park interpreters. There are boats on display along with all kinds of fishing gear. They show you how nets and lobster traps are made. They show you how a lobster trap works. There is also a small cabin that two families lived in during the summer fishery right up to 1975.

Dr. Payne's house was a little larger and better appointed than other homes in Cow Head. Dr. Payne used a generator to produce electricity before hydro arrived in town in the early '60's. Dr. Payne brought the first vehicle to Cow Head, a Chevrolet pick-up truck. The museum also has a craft store with a good selection from local craftspeople.

The Poacher's Lounge Museum is in Selby Parson's backyard. Sharlene our hostess at Aunt Edna's Bed & Breakfast on Little Bay Islands walked us down one morning to check it out. Selby has accumulated all kinds of interesting stuff including my favorite, snowshoes for horses.

Twillingate is one of the top destinations in Newfoundland. If you are putting it on your itinerary, make sure you stop at the Prime Berth Fishing Museum. It's just across the causeway that takes you onto Twillingate Island. The photo above shows the results of a cod splitting demonstration. The cod has been salted and the liver gets thrown in that small bucket by the window.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Newfoundland Waterfalls

Who doesn't like waterfalls? We are pretty thorough when we plan our trips. We did not know most of these waterfalls existed until we got to the area.

You get a nice view of Barachois Falls driving into Rose Blanche. There is a parking area and a great boardwalk trail that takes you to within about a quarter of a mile of the foot of the falls.

We got good advise before we went to the Port-au-Port Peninsula. Drive around the peninsula clockwise. I would also recommend that you take more than a day to visit the peninsula. Sheaves Cove is one of your first stops. Visit our page for details on how to find the Hidden Falls. You have a nice view from the parking area. There is an easy trail that takes you near the foot of the falls. There is a second small waterfall that flows directly into Bay St. George.

If you are eastbound on the TCH, Steady Brook is the next town past Corner Brook. A lot of people stop here, because there is a Tim's right on the highway. The falls is not far from the Tim's. There's an uphill hike and some stairs to get to the viewing platform. There are zip lines running back and forth across the gorge. You can watch as people zip line far above the falls.

When you visit Corner Brook and The Bay of Islands, everybody will tell you to drive the south shore of Humber Arm all the way out to Lark Harbour and Little Port. That is easily one of the most spectacular drives in Newfoundland. We would also recommend that you drive along the north shore to Cox's Cove as well. Stop at Lynn's Takeout for fish 'n chips and ask how to get to the falls. When we were there, the road into the falls was pretty rough. We drove part way in and than left the car and walked down the hill to the falls.

Pissing Mare Falls is not easy to get to. Walk 3 km trail to Western Brook Pond and than take the boat tour 16 km to the far end of the fjord. You'll pass several other waterfalls on the way. The best time for waterfalls is June, because that's when the snow is melting.

With a 140m drop, Rattling Brook Falls is one of the tallest on the island. It's difficult to get a good photo of it. Take the trail and then climb a lot of steps. You also get a beautiful view of Green Bay.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Newfoundland Churches

June 2016 will be our sixth trip to Newfoundland. One of the defining features of almost every community is the white wooden church. I realized over our trips, we had several photos of churches, many in beautiful locations. We have not been very good about recording the names. On future trips, we'll start keeping better records and take some more church photos.

Margaree and Fox Roost is the first community you come to driving east from Port aux Basques on the south coast. The two little communities are right beside each other. The church is on the road that connects the two towns.

Precious Blood R.C. Church is in the Codroy Valley community Saint Andrews. The church was built in 1912 by local carpenters. Saint Andrews can be very windy, It is just down the road from Wreckhouse.

Holy Trinity Church is in a stunning location in Codroy, just down the road from Cape Anguille. That would make this the western-most church on the island. This Anglican church was rebuilt in 1913 after the original was destroyed in a wind storm.

This little church and cemetery is right on the coast of Bay St. George. Highlands is about halfway up the coast between Codroy and the Port-au-Port Peninsula.

Our Lady of Mercy is the largest wooden Catholic church in the province. Construction took 11 years and was completed in 1925. Local men donated 1 week of labour per year to complete the project. If you drive up the coast to Point au Mal, you'll be treated to a view of the church across the bay on your return trip.

Burlington is on the Baie Verte Peninsula and you'll find this little white church on your left as you drive into town.

The Fogo United church is now a museum. The church was originally Methodist and dates back to 1877.

The red steeple of St. Andrew's Anglican Church is a prominent feature in the Town of Fogo. A walk through the cemetery takes you through the history of Fogo.

There are only 300 people living on Change Islands. There are four churches.

In Twillingate, the first thing that you will notice is the cross on the hill overlooking town. It's a great hike up to the cross and you are awarded a spectacular view of Twillingate.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Edible Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador

Book Review

We're just starting to plan our June trip. We are pretty excited, this year we'll visit Labrador for the first time. We'll have lots of new information to add to the website and the blog.

One thing we like to do in the winter to get ready for the trip is to order in some books. This blog is a short review on the field guide "Edible Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador" by Peter J. Scott, published by Boulder Publications.

The book covers by my count 64 edible plants. They are organized by where you will find them; heaths, forest floor, peatlands, seaside, banks and shores, disturbed areas.

The book contains beautiful full page photographs. For some plants such as the dogberry shown above, they also have a small inset photo to show what it looks like while in flower. For berries, they'll tell you when they are ripe and what you can do with them in the kitchen.

You could actually use this book if you wanted to forage for a meal. That probably won't be happening for Linda and I. We like to hike and it's just nice to be able to identify different plants. When we see berries, beyond blueberries and raspberries, we are never sure if you can take a nibble. We usually don't carry books on the hike, but you can always take a photo and than identify the plant when you get back to the trailer at night.

The book has an illustrated glossary for some of the terms used in the descriptions. This will be useful, I've forgotten most of my high school biology.

If you are really keen and want to cook something up with your harvest, the book has a recipe section in the back.

You can purchase this book from . Click this link to purchase.

American readers can purchase this book at Click this link to purchase.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Newfoundland Railway

I like trains. I had a model railway as a kid that eventually took over half the basement. For railway buffs, the Newfoundland Railway is one of North America's most interesting rail stories.

Construction began in 1881. The tracks crossed the entire island by 1898. The line was 906 miles long and built in a narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches. It was the longest narrow gauge railway in North America.

It was built this way to save money and to make it possible to build sharper curves to better navigate through the rough terrain.

The Newfoundland Railway quietly became a key strategic asset during the Second World War. After confederation in 1949, the railway was integrated with the Canadian National system. Large car barns were built in Port aux Basques so the narrow gauge trucks (railway car under-gear) could be changed to standard gauge, before railway cars were loaded on the ferry.

Confederation also led to the completion of the Trans Canada Highway across Newfoundland, which would eventually spell the end to the railway. Buses and Trucks were quicker and made more economic sense. The last passenger train ran in 1969 and the last freight train ran in 1988.

There are two railway museums on the west coast of Newfoundland. Locomotive 593 is on display in Corner Brook. The museum is on Riverside Drive and easy to get to from the Trans Canada. You'll see the other museum shortly after you drive off the ferry in Port aux Basques. It's on the left (west) side of the highway right at the main exit for Port aux Basques.

593 was built by Baldwin in Philadelphia in 1920. After 1.5 million miles it finished its' service life as a yard switcher in Port aux Basques in 1957.

Corner Brook has a diesel locomotive on display painted up in CN colours. They also have a snow plow, caboose and passenger cars with the Canadian National paint scheme. The station is called Humbermouth Station. The museum is very close to where the Humber River flows into Humber Arm.

The snow plow below is at the Port aux Basques museum. The diesel engine and passenger cars in Port aux Basques are painted in the older Green & Yellow colour scheme.

Continue east on the TCH about 5 minutes and you'll come to Wreckhouse. Lochie MacDougal who was referred to as the Human Wind Gauge, was paid by the railway to warn them of dangerously high winds. His advice, being ignored one time, led to 22 rail cars being completely blown off the rails.

The Newfie Bullet was nicknamed by American troops. Top speed for passenger trains was 30 miles per hour on the narrow gauge line.

The track bed and bridges are all still in place. It's been converted to a trail that crosses the entire island. It's named appropriately T'Railway Provincial Park. The trail starts at the Port aux Basques museum at the bridge shown below. The concrete bridge on the right hand side of the photo is the TCH.