Quirpon was a prominent fishing community on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula that has historic ties dating back to the 16th century migratory fishery. The French connection in the community name become known due to its resemblance to Le Kerpont near St. Malo, France. Locally, it is pronounced in the Anglicized form – “Karpoon”. I have visited Quirpon many times and had conversations over a cup of tea and sweets at Mabel and Bill Bartlett’s home.
Bill, in my view is the local historian. The wealth of knowledge, photographs and interest he has in the history, culture and mystery that surrounds Quirpon and the surrounding island and communities, formerly known as L’anse au Bauld, L’anse au Pidgeon, Fortune, Grassy Cove and Little Quirpon is worth a conversation or two. There are many unanswered questions and a real need for an archaeology dig to answer questions about the French and Inuit battles, the Vikings and the Land of First Contact. Earl Pilgrim wrote a book about this region and the mystery called the Island of Demons.
Bill’s local knowledge, photos, stories and local lore needs to be place on public display, maybe in the form of interpretation panels, murals or as an exhibit in the new Quirpon Community Hall, which recently undertook an impressive restoration project by community will and support. A special thank you to his daughter Marilyn, for never giving up on this cause and ensuring that Quirpon still has a public space for all residents, current and former, as well as visitors to come and enjoy. It was cooperation and support of everyone that helped see this piece of community infrastructure maintained. You are to be commended and I look forward to a time there in just over a week.
Quirpon is part of the Noddy Bay-Straitview-Hay Cove-L’Anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration, which these five small communities see massive population growth for a week of celebration, as those with a connection to the communities come home. The 2011 census gives all five communities a total population of 289, which no doubt has declined in the past four years. It will be exciting to see the shift and influx of traffic, youth and activity in a community of just a few dozen.
Despite a small population, Quirpon has opportunity.
- The oldest house in the community was built in 1892 which belonged to William Henry Pynn, is a designated Registered Heritage Structure due to its historic architectural and cultural values.
- Quirpon has beautiful walking trails
- A working French Oven and resting area is available to the public.
- Quirpon Lighthouse Inn, a four star accommodation at a light-keeper’s home built in 1922 where one can also experience kayaking, zodiac, iceberg & whale watching, boat tours and authentic rural Newfoundland and Labrador (http://www.linkumtours.com/wordpress/lighthouse-inns/quirpon-lighthouse-inn/).
- Quirpon Radio was also founded by Wayne Bartlett & Cheryl McCarron – you can listen 24/7 online at http://www.radioquirpon.com/
- The Viking RV Park is nestled on the road to Quirpon and just minutes from L’anse aux Meadows
- Lloyd can be found in his workshop making model ships, motor boats, helicopters, snowmobiles and airplanes, while Bill has his miniature lighthouses and dories on display. Quirpon is a great place to pick up a piece of folk art
- There is a photograph around every turn.
There is also prime iceberg viewing, a B&B being developed, local woodworkers and artists, the community hall, high speed Internet, vernacular architecture and amazing waterfront properties. I highly recommend adding Quirpon to your adventure on the Great Northern Peninsula and be sure to engage in dialogue with the local residents, you truly will be inspired.
Maybe you too will call this place home –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)