L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site has always been a fascinating place to visit. I have been privileged to live near where the first Europeans would re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago when Leif Erikson came on Snorri to the Great Northern Peninsula – a place he called “Vinland”. A sign on Route 430, which is named the Viking Trail welcomes you to Erikson’s Vinland!
July 2013 saw the unveiling of a new Leif statue in the very place where he became the first European to set foot on American shores. A special ceremony was held in partnership with the Leif Erikson International Foundation, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade and St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated (SABRI). Leif looks out toward the sea.
I want to thank all the donors, supporters and volunteers, who worked to ensure Leif would be a permanent fixture at L’Anse aux Meadows. This was a remarkable moment, that included an Icelandic Choir, a representative from the Norwegian Embassy, Parks Canada staff, local residents and Benedicte Ignstad.
Benedicte is the daughter of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, the archaeologists who made the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows as the only authenticated Norse site in North America in the early 1960′s.
I have travelled to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to experience more of the Viking/Norse culture. However, Benedicte offered me and others the insight into the process and the way of life in L’Anse aux Meadows, some 50 years ago.
I attended her reading of her mother’s book “The Land with the Green Meadows” by Anne Stine Ingstad. This book was first published in Norway in 1975 and translated in 2006 to English. The Historical Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gained permission from Benedicte to have the book lightly edited and available to a new generation of readers.
I spent multiple hours of a plane and many more waiting at an airport just over a week ago, when I began Anne’s book. I could not put it down, because it told a real story. It described the people of L’Anse aux Meadows and of nearby Straitsview and the struggles they faced. The Decker’s, Blake’s, Anderson’s, Colbourne’s and others are very real people. The book highlights how a community comes together to look after one another, the building of the highway to connect the communities to L’Anse aux Meadows and the shift from coastal boat to air transport saw a dynamic shift for such an isolated place as L’Anse aux Meadows. Over the course of the book, one got to know Anne and Helge, experience the great discovery, as well as the local people and the kindness of others, including those who worked at the Grenfell Mission.
There was much pioneering happening on the Great Northen Peninsula. There always was and there always will be. From the very first sod buildings to the current day residents, L’Anse aux Meadows is a place you want to visit and experience for yourself in your lifetime.
Summer is when the land is green, and the best time to visit. Begin your trip planning today. A Viking Experience awaits!
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
The Giant Ice Island has moved to St. Lunaire, NL. I ventured to the Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet Friday evening hoping to catch a glimpse of the Petermann Ice Island. When driving into the Town at Tip of the Great Northern Peninsula you see the magnificent reams of white ice mountains contrasting with the grey rocky hills in the habour. Most of the images I captured were smaller bits as the larger images were blocked by the hilly landscape and I was unable to find the trail known as the Camel Hump. There was a sign, but I did not see any direction or place for parking. I took my Honda Civic over a dirt road until she was about to scrape bottom. I continued by foot up a steep hill, but had no success in catching an up close glimpse.
Jeffrey Curtis had uploaded a video on YouTube of the “The Petermann ice island, located 4 Miles off St Lunaire harbor” which I’ve embedded below. It is just an incredible intact piece of ice.
I did manage to see some smaller icebergs scattered throughout the harbour from a distance. They appeared to be blocking the harbour.
Imagine being able to look out your kitchen window or sit on the deck and enjoy a cup of Dark Tickle tea or coffee and taking in this view. Another wonder of Life on the Great Northern Peninsula!
The Great Northern Peninsula is the place to be this summer season if icebergs are on your bucket list. They are truly a wonder.
Take route 436 - it will lead you to the bergs, but also Norstead - Viking Village & Port of Trade, L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNSECO Heritage Site, The Dark Tickle Company, Raleigh Historic Village, French Oven and Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. You can dine experience Fine Dining at the Norseman Restaurant & Gaia Art Gallery, sophistication and specialty seafood at The Daily Catch, great food for the whole family at excellent prices can be found at Northern Delight Restaurant and for those on the run, Snow’s Take-Out can serve up some tasty chicken and chips. There are many little shops en route to purchase carvings, jams, preserves, knitted items, hooked rugs and other local lore. There are many B&B’s, campgrounds, motel, cabins and heritage properties available to appeal to any type of traveller.
I would highly recommend spending a few days on this part of the Peninsula. A few hours simply is not enough to experience the sights, sounds and wonder of it all. This was my 6th visit on Route 436 this summer season!
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
- Massive Icebergs on the Loose in Goose Cove, NL – Draw Crowds (liveruralnl.com)
- Deep Fried Ice-cream – A must have treat at the Daily Catch, St. Lunaire-Griquet, NL (liveruralnl.com)
- 25,000 Year Old Iceberg Water Makes the Perfect Brew (liveruralnl.com)
- A Small Iceberg in Green Island Brook (liveruralnl.com)
- Icebergs Again in Goose Cove, NL (liveruralnl.com)
- St. Anthony, NL Boasts Largest Concentration of Icebergs! (liveruralnl.com)
- Happy Anniversary Norstead – Eleven Years and more than Tens of Thousands of Visitors (liveruralnl.com)
I have included the schedule listed below:
If you have further questions visit www.theicebergfestival.ca and complete the contact form. The festival should have something that appeals to just about everyone from hiking trails, boat tours, French bread making, iceberg water, entertainment and boat tours.
Before the expeditions of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot, 1497), Christopher Columbus and Captain James Cook - we had visitors and inhabitants. More than 1,000 years ago the Norse (often referred to as “Vikings”) were the first Europeans to re-discover Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Norse established a settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows (translated “Jellyfish Cove”) which consisted of eight sod houses. This site was officially discovered by two Norwegians in 1960-61, after a local resident Mr. George Decker directed them to this site. In 1978, L’Anse aux Meadows was declared a World UNESCO Heritage Site. For more details visit Parks Canada’s website: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/index.aspx.
On June 28, 2010 I had re-visited the site and experienced a feeling of re-discovery. This is a place I had not returned since I was a little boy almost 20 years ago. Some aspects I remember clearly, other elements are more vivid. At first, the replicated sod houses and all the artificial artifacts were real to me, thinking in the mind of a child. I remember the interpreter vividly in much different clothing. A butterchurn that was on display intrigued me since it must have been a difficult process to make butter all those years ago; that it simply did not come pre-packaged at the local general store. Growing up in a lovely home with all the modernities of electricity and indoor plumbing of the 20th century (at the time), I could not imagine what life was like for these people more than 1,000 years ago. But, I certainly thought it was cool and would loved to have spent a night or two there, just for the experience! Hey, it couldn’t be that much difference from camping, right?
The Norse had stayed only for a short period of time (circa 8-10 years). Why did these people leave after only a short time and never return?
Significant findings give evidence that their was a blacksmith shop with forge for iron work, workshop and boat repair facility. The simple answer is that these industrious explorers established a site at Jellyfish Cove to repair their vessel and continue with their quest to find “Vinland”. Others have written accounts that there was much conflict with Natives, painting the Norse to be violent warriors. Although these people may be seafaring, they were also agriculturalists (farmers). We can not travel back more than 1,000 years ago to ask these questions and know the answers. However, when you read pieces of history or historiograhy (the writing of history) or an article, take a critical viewpoint of who is the writer, what is his/her motive and remember that most history is written from the viewpoint of the victor, possibly skewing events that actually occurred.
The Norse culture had strong tradition of retaining oral history through storytelling, which later became part of the written sagas. The fact that this group of people had made a written account, enables historians to better piece together history with their findings. It is evident that Rural Newfoundland & Labrador for more than 1,000 years has been home to many cultures and should have many pages in our history books.
Rural Retrospect – when viewing the impressions in the ground left from the Norse settlement, I felt somewhat sadden. Overtime these impressions will become less visible, but I believe their mark is forever left as part of our heritage and will be preserved. It is up to us to keep written accounts of our history, our people, traditions and experiences. It is a way to define who we were and who we are today, where we have been, where we are and provide insight into the future as to where we are going.
On my 1,000 Places to See Before you Die calendar (thank you Karrie), yesterday’s page had a quote I liked:
“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way” – Colette
Enjoy her beauty -