50 Centuries or 5,000 years of cultures connected to Dog Peninsula, Bird Cove, NL

Bird Cove is a tiny town of under 200 residents that may not always be on local residents and visitors vacation list – but it should be as it has more than 5,000 years of indigenous history and artifacts found from early European contact. A timeline of history, artifacts and experiences of the Great Northern Peninsula’s first people can be found at the 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre (50centuries.ca).

Captain James Cook cairn, circa 1764

I fully appreciate the pure beauty of the Great Northern Peninsula, even more, after a year of staycations and in-depth hiking adventures. Bird Cove has a couple of beautiful trails. One begins at the Town Hall and Community Centre along Long Pond and takes you to registered archaeological sites. Another option for the hiking enthusiast is spending a day at the Dog Peninsula. I did more than 11 KM, the trek can be shorter or longer depending the route you take.

First, getting here: take Route 430 to Plum Point, turn to Town of Bird Cove between the Irving and the Motel. It will be a scenic 5 kilometre drive through Brig Bay. You keep on the main road through Bird Cove until you see the wharf and take that gravel road until you come to the bridge and can park in the designated area.

The journey to Dog Peninsula in Bird Cove truly hit another chord, showcasing the incredible nature we have in our own backyard. This is truly a special place, as these lands were inhabited by the Maritime Archaic, Dorset and Groswater cultures dating back 50 centuries. It is a surreal and tranquil feeling as you take the steps along the pathways you know the earliest indigenous people on the Great Northern Peninsula also took. There are numerous archaeological sites registered in the area. I took the trail through Meany’s Point and travelled along the Beach Point and Kelpy Cove across the Isthmus to Dog Peninsula, you also have the option of going straight through on several boardwalks or take the left along the shore and an old factory site. My route was taking the right along the coastline to get to Dog Peninsula where Captain Cook’s cairn rests. You can follow my route through the photos below:

I made this solo trek and fell in love with my natural surroundings, from birds, whales, butterflies, mussels, flowers, fossils, gardens, coastlines and more. Recent upgrades to the trail make for a very welcoming experience including all the signage, picnic area and washroom facilities. I have to say I was a little startled when I reached Dog Peninsula and saw this beautiful horse grazing with the Highlands of St. John in the background. The horse wouldn’t be the only wildlife I had the pleasure of encountering.

As you continue the hike you pass by archaeological sites and continue to be drawn in by unique rock formations. The wind may have destroyed the interpretation panel but Captain Jame Cook’s Cairn, circa 1764 is still standing on Dog Peninsula, Bird Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula. I even captured it in a frame.

The journey was like a gift that kept on giving as two young caribou were hanging out around the cairn. As I walked closer they decided they weren’t interested in meeting and jetted as caribou often do.

From Captain Cook’s Cairn, I circled the Dog Peninsula, reached the isthmus, and returned to the bridge via the forest trail which also includes the old cemetery of Bird Cove. As I said you can also go the other coastal trail back to the bridge, which I hope to do in 2021!

The Dog Peninsula is one of the most incredible trail experiences on the Great Northern Peninsula for multiple reasons. If you are a local and haven’t been, you should go and if you are interested in visiting our region – add Bird Cove to your list. It’s about time!

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s more than 80 trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore


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