Category Archives: Landscapes/Geography
A Treasure Map, Sandcastle, S’mores and Double Digit Boxing Day helped wrap up 2020 on the Great Northern Pen
The Great Northern Peninsula is typically “where winter begins and ends on the island of Newfoundland“.
This past December had promise of our traditional white Christmas. However, the days leading up to Christmas would take away whatever snow we had. An even bigger surprise was on the double digit temperatures on Boxing Day that allowed for a nice beach walk, wearing only a t-shirt. In my 35 years, this has never happened before as I felt like I traded my little northern home for what felt like to me a Caribbean Island.
That Caribbean feeling may have inspired my nephew and I, as he devised a treasure map and we headed to the beach to find the gold! We may not have found a treasure box of gold, but the memories we made that day, felt like we had.
There’s something magical about taking an empty plastic tub and using your hands, shells, feathers, rocks and other surroundings to build a sandcastle on the beach in Northern Newfoundland. The possibilities are endless in size and style. As you move your hands through the sand as an adult there is something nostalgic that will reignite childhood memories. The art of creativity just comes pouring back if you have spent any time as a kid on the beach. I recall one summer building a massive sand castle with my two cousins from Alberta that took most of the day. We were so proud of our massive sandcastle complex that included a laboratory, multiple swimming pools and massive protections from outside forces – I know we took lots of photos to capture the memory. Our castle on the 26th of December was lots of fun building, even included a wall, but that was no protection to my “little” nephew who saw the fun as being a big giant in its attack and ultimate demolition. 🙂
Our beach fun continued though, “skipping” or throwing rocks in the ocean, collecting shells and walking along the boats hauled up along the slipway. As I walked along the boards, it brought back many wonderful childhood memories of how this was the best place in the Cove for playing hide and go seek. We would hide along the boats and also try to move around to get to the place of safety without being caught by the person who was the seeker. I guess it was a combination really of hide and go seek and also tag. On many occasions you had to take a risk by walking along a log and hoping you maintained your balance. There was much laughter in those days, growing up in little Green Island Cove. There are fewer children here now, but for a moment with my nephew, it felt like I was back to those youthful days and carefree days.
The magic continued in the afternoon as the weather remained in double digits or near there, creating an unusually warm day. Although, my fire pit and outside furniture had been placed in storage since October, we managed to pull out off a fire in the backyard with a temporary set-up and ofcourse – s’mores. It is a little unbelieve actually, because my co-worker for Christmas gave me a bucket that lights up and says, “S’mores at the Mitchelmores” and included a s’mores kit. I could not imagine that I would get to use it in my backyard until summer. However, when the opportunity presented itself, our family took up the cause and blasted some summer tunes and enjoyed a time around the fire.
I am normally vacationing somewhere over the holidays, but this year gave me an opportunity to spend it at home with family and we certainly didn’t miss a beat on making memories and truly treasuring the moments. 2020 brought significant change and disrupted our day to day lives. A silver lining for me though was that I became more physically active, took time to pursue new hobbies and interests and spent as much time with close family as possible.
It’s not every day you will get a double digit end of December on the Great Northern Peninsula, where you are searching for buried pirate treasure, building sandcastles and indulging in s’mores by the fire – but on days when it is possible, don’t miss your opportunity!
As 2021 is swiftly approaching mid-January, I hope you all have taken note to do something important for you. It snowed since Boxing Day and we have since lost all of it. On snow days I went snowshoeing, sliding and skating and on the no snow days its been walking or running. Don’t worry for those snowmobiling enthusiast, we will have winter before too long. Although, I’m proud to say, it is my first January where I’ve been just as active as I was this past July. Find something to inspire and motivate you in your everyday. The Great Northern Peninsula has this around every corner, so get out and explore! I’ll be sharing with you more places, more adventures and beauty that is life on the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore #NeverStopExploring
One can fall in love, over and over again, especially when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador. As you pass ancient fjords of Western Brook, the flat tablelands that feel like you’re walking on Mars, the natural wildlife and the beauty of the ocean, I must recommend you stop with your love and visit The Arches Provincial Park along the Viking Trail (Route 430).
Ancient limestone carved by the rising tides, have masterfully created the Arches, a natural rock formation worth exploring. The site, contains picnic tables, parking area, washroom and includes a beachside trail leading to the huge rocks. A great place to picnic, take panoramic snapshots and be dazzled by pure natural beauty.
I always enjoy walking under the Arches to experience the roar of the sea. This past trip, was my first on top of them, as the wind blew through my hair, the strength of the ocean could be felt at every turn.
There is something immensely special about this place. Maybe you too will share in the magic, find that perfect heart and experience that perfect moment. It’s all about love – the Arches Provincial Park.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Imagine, L’anse aux Meadows, Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada is the land of first contact in North America by Europeans. Home of the only authentic Norse site in North America, where the Vikings came over 1,000 years ago and worthy of World UNESCO Heritage status.
A population of just a couple dozen residents today, this tiny community is truly Where the World Came Full Circle. It is the place where humanity met for the very first time, an event more than 100,000 years in the making. When the continents broke apart, people went left and people went right. Europeans reached Iceland and then Greenland and finally settled at L’Anse aux Meadows. It was there they met those who went right, our indigenous population of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have documentation of 5,000 years of their presence, only to connect for the first time 1,000 years ago with those who went left. This is the much bigger story of this ancient and meaningful place that must be told.
L’Anse Aux Meadows UNESCO Site
Annually 30,000 people flock to L’Anse aux Meadows from May-September. The Parks Canada experience is truly something that should be on your bucket list. The interpretation centre offers guided tours in French and English, a film in the theatre, artifacts and storyboards are on display, there are walking trails, get up close and personal to where the ancient mounds were and lets not forget the art and encounters with Vikings along the way. Also, the very talented local, Loretta Decker, has handmade Viking troll dolls available at the Heritage Shoppe. If you have time, take in an evening of Stories and Sagas.
Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade
This social enterprise is the ultimate hands on experience of how to live like a Viking. A fascinating open air museum, boasting the Snorri replica that sailed from Iceland to Greenland to L’Anse aux Meadows in the year 2,000 in the boathouse.
The local re-enactors can read you fortune using ruin stones, cook up a meal by the fire, make nails at the forge, teach you axe throwing for entertainment and skill, play nine man mill, or show you how to weave or knit with one needle. They have animals, a potter’s studio, gift shop and more onsite. Visitation increased by more than 2,000 additional people last year, which is no surprise to me given their exceptional public offering.
Norsemen Restaurant & Gaia Art Gallery
Fine dining with lots of local offerings and fresh ingredients at the Norsemen. It is one of the many exceptional restaurants along Route 436. An offering of musical entertainment during dinner meals and a perfect view if you are lucky during lunch. I recommend a martini with local berries and iceberg ice to start.
I enjoy the Art Gallery, lots of handmade and local products, especially the carvings. Exhibition space and direct sales for our artists is complimentary, providing another unique experience when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula.
There are five additional food offerings on/along Route 436 that come highly recommended:
- The Daily Catch, St. Lunaire-Griquet – profiled in the Globe & Mail for exceptional seafood offerings
- Café Nymphe, St. Lunaire-Griquet – located at Dark Tickle Company, a wildberry economusee that has an exceptionally sampling of teas, berry drinks and more
- Snow’s Take-Out, St. Lunaire-Griquet – home to Herb’s famous chicken. For the traveler interest in something fast and to take-a-way.
- Northern Delight Restaurant, Gunner’s Cove – a large family restaurant, with broad menu offering. They celebrate their Viking burgers, seafood and entertainment – don’t miss Mummer’s Night!
- Burnt Cape Café, Raleigh – a local flavouring of moose burgers, sandwiches and also gourmet experience, with Chef seafood specialties.
Skipper Hot’s Lounge in Straitsview is also a must if you want to experience the music at our local watering hole. The Skipper Hot’s band is performing Thursday-Sunday throughout the summer. They do Screech-ins and host kitchen parties and special events.
Along Route 436/37 there is ample choice for accommodations that include Provincial and Private RV parks (including tent sites), Raleigh Historical offers bunkhouses to live like a fisherman, there are cabins, cottages, chalets, b&bs, motels and a short drive to St. Anthony, there are additional accommodations including hotels.
The Viking Shop
Norman Young has been carving whale bones for many years. I highly recommend visiting his Viking Shop. As well, Taylor’s Crafts in Raleigh, has 4th generation carvers. Their soapstone products are phenomenal. Viking art can be found at Thorr’s Studio, Hay Cove. For a great souvenir shop on route to L’Anse aux Meadows, drop into the Hut in Noddy Bay! There is also Labradorite jewelry and youth entrepreneurs selling jams, pies and crafts.
From fish markets, retail, boat tours, ecological reserves, icebergs, cruise ship visits, outdoor art and more. One can see fishers at the wharves, eat locally grown mussels and interact and embrace community en route to L’Anse aux Meadows! Plan your 2017 visit today and you too can say you were where the World Came Full Circle!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development
At the end of summer, I took what would be my third Northland Discovery Boat Tour in just over a decade. It was my first without an iceberg (given the lateness in the season this was to be expected), but was I ever surprised by the number of whales I would see and the show the orcas and humpbacks would put on for me!
Located at the Grenfell Historic Properties Dock, St. Anthony, NL – Northland Discovery Boat Tours is the place you can see more whales, more icebergs and have more time on the water. It is an experience one will want to take if iceberg and whale watching is on your bucket list on the tip of Great Northern Peninsula!
Departing scenic St. Anthony harbour, one gets a warm feeling of the significant fishing history of this community – the presence of wharves, fishing rooms, a state of the art shrimp plant, cold storage, port facilities for fishing vessels and so much more. As you get to the end of the harbour, Fishing Point Park’s lighthouse, walking trails, Lightkeeper’s Café, Fishing Point Emporium and the Great Viking Feast are the last dwellings you see before hitting the open water.
As we travelled past neighbouring communities of St. Anthony Bight, Great Brehat and St. Carol’s we would see boaters and fishers jigging for cod fish on the last days of August. It was clear there was lots of fish in the water, making our likelihood of seeing whales that much more possible.
Three humpback whales were working together to push fish near the rocks and become a feeding ground for the whales. It created an opportunity for some lovely photos. On the return we would capture some impressive coastline.
The biggest surprise was the 7 orcas (killer whales) we were greeting with again near the mouth of the harbour. It was my first time seeing orcas, so it was quite memorable and the perfect summer surprise. I captured many up close photos and videos of the whales.
The 2.5 hour boat tour was highly educational, offered hands on information about barnacles, birds, whales and bergs (icebergs). It also at times includes a trip to a sea cave called “the oven” and includes some local folklore.
As we steamed back in the sun was beaming and shrimp draggers were returning to port. There was a comforting feeling knowing all the amazing beauty and economic potential that is garnered from the sea. It is our reason for why we settled permanently on the Great Northern Peninsula and businesses, such as Northland Discovery Boat Tours shares a little bit of that with the world. If you are interested in a tour check out – http://www.discovernorthland.com/
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows
There’s that famous photo of a hiker trekking Gros Morne National Park that has captivated audiences and brought tens of thousands of visitors to Western Brook Pond Fjord each season.
Imagine hiking to this magical place and garnering this view and this image with you in the backdrop? It certainly is on my to do list, as this image came from www.newfoundlandlabrador.com.
This season was not my first to the fjord, but it was my first taking the 2-hour boat tour. It was something on my list for a long time and I was thoroughly impressed by the experience.
After taking the Coastal Hike of 6 KM return, I would park at the lot at Western Brook Pond, which was spilling out on the road way. BonTours, which offers the Boat Tour has been offering 5, sometime even 6 tours a day with an average of 300-400 people. The tour begins with a 2.65 KM walk into the pond, which takes about 40 minutes. There is a well developed boardwalk and trail network that is accessible.
I’ve always enjoyed the storyboards and views along the way. If you are lucky you may even get to see an animal grazing, enjoy the flora and fauna, see berries and watching the water flow.
The price tag of a tour ranges from $58-65.00/person and also requires a Park Pass of $9.80/person. I highly recommend a Discovery Pass with Parks Canada as it covers your trail portion.
“The Memories Are Worth It”…BonTours Visit them at http://www.bontours.ca
I couldn’t agree more.
From moose, waterfalls, natural glacial carvings, faces in the cliffs, commentary and of course the spoons! I’m not musically inclined, but certainly enjoyed playing the spoons with my friend Carter.
BonTours is a tourism icon in the province, providing a unique experience in Gros Morne National Park for over 40 years!
We have some magical gems in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Bon Tours on the Great Northern Peninsula is one wonder you will truly want to experience.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA St. Barbe-L’Anse Aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador