After two days of being in the concrete jungle of a major Canadian city, it was very refreshing to spend a week on holiday in our beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Day 1: Tablelands
There is something magical about visiting the Tablelands, a World UNESCO Heritage Site in Gros Morne National Park. Each step you take, you feel as if you are on another planet. On the opposite roadside there is normal vegetation, but where the Earth’s mantle was pushed upwards and exposed, the pinkish brownish rock and masses are quite barren. This highly educational experience is also a photographers dream. Well, you know, it was a half billion years in the making!
I highly recommend the daily guided tour at 10 AM by Parks Canada staff. However, if you happen to miss it, there is an App where you get an interactive tour along the way from a Parks Canada staff member. With my Discovery Pass good until June 2018, when visiting the Discovery Centre, I was given a tablet with the App pre-loaded that worked by GPS coordinates and proved very helpful on my trek.
Without the App, I would have missed intricate details about boulders being out of place, where the water comes from and many other features of glacial formation along the way.
It was nice to see the provincial flower, the Pitcher Plant on display along the trail. This is a carnivorous plant that is found at the end of every single tourism commercial we run.
Along the two hour return hike, I encountered a range of visitors from the enfant to senior, from California to Ontario to Germany. There must have been 100 people on site, as there was no room for parking in the lot. Its fascinating to see all those with an interest to walk someplace so geological unique where the Earth’s mantle lies naked. It is most likely the best place in the World to see such a wonder and a great place to begin your adventure in Gros Morne National Park.
A few kilometres down the road is a quaint fishing village of Trout River. It boasts a beautiful beach and walking trail and a few years ago have a whale beached along this very coastline. There is a nice restaurant, accommodations and some small shops. There’s a photo to be taken around every corner.
Given my stay in Gros Morne would be very short, I decided to reach Woody Point for a later than normal lunch at the Loft Restaurant, which was full of buzz. I was quite fortunate to get an outdoor table overlooking the beautiful Bonne Bay. While eating the EmmCat Boat Tour came by for a cruise and we waved to those aboard.
I had the fish and a salad with a glass of house white wine, that was generously poured. The fish was perfectly prepared, very moist and flaking apart as you placed your fork into it. This restaurant comes highly recommended and is open until September 30th.
Walking around the waterfront, the downtown of Woody Point, seeing the historic buildings it something that just makes this place a must visit location. The Merchant Warehouse is a lovely place for pub grub and usually evening entertainment. There is a classic diner on site and the Legion is next door. Studios, craft shops, coffee shops and general business seem to keep growing. Including Gros Morne Summer Music, Woody Point Writer’s Festival and the performances that take place as Woody Point Theatre. This Town has a lot going on day or night and likely was a reason there was no accommodations available. Be sure to book early if you wish to stay here and many places on the island of Newfoundland and Labrador. Tourism is growing in numbers!
Norris Point – Overnight
I love Norris Point, it is home to the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, which kicks off the season in early May. I was fortunate to get two nights at Neddie’s Harbour Inn. The view is just spectacular and it truly is the perfect getaway.
The first two images below is that of Jenniex House, a heritage home and the view of Norris Point as you enter. It truly is breathtaking. I love the vibe here, including the Voice of Bonne Bay (VOBB) Community Radio. There are pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, boat tours, adventures, craft shops, Bonne Bay Marine Station and so much more.
The final 4 images are the view from Neddie’s Harbour Inn and some great eats at the Black Spruce Restaurant at the same location. It has a view of the Tablelands and the Appalachian Mountains of either site. The view, atmosphere and food is all of the highest quality. It’s no wonder they were a focus of Air Canada’s En Route Magazine.
I pack a lot in a one-day adventure in Gros Morne. If you have more time, you may want to space out your activities over several days. There are many great walking and hiking trails and places to visit that make for a unique experience.
I look forward to sharing more of my experiences on the Great Northern Peninsula and across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador with regular postings. Follow me on twitter @MitchelmoreMHA
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador
Those who live on the Great Northern Peninsula appreciate the true beauty, the mystique and charm that comes with Northern living.
I’ve spent a lot of time travelling many countries of the world, mainly visits to capital cities. They have their exceptional offerings, but one can not compare the authenticity of culture and place. I remember saying, “I’ve been to Dublin three times to my Irish friends and they would say, you have never experienced Ireland”. So in 2010, I took them up on this comment and rented a car and drove 1,800 kilometres from Kinsale to the Giant’s Causeway and all places in between. I can now say, I’ve truly experienced Ireland from the farmhouse dinners to the rugged shorelines to the nightly sounds at multiple pubs.
Now, the same is true with Newfoundland & Labrador, if you come and visit the Capital and never make it up the Viking Trail on the Great Northern Peninsula’s tip, you are truly missing a rural gemstone that will provide lasting memories and conversation pieces for a lifetime.
The road to adventure awaits and it can only be found as you travel up the tip! It is the only place in the world, where the human race came full circle for the very first time, which was 100,000 years in the making (Read: Where the World Came Full Circle)
The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the only authenticated Norse site in North America at L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Only a short distance away is the Snorri and a Viking Village and Port of Trade. Norstead gives everyone the opportunity to interact and live like a Viking! Sagas, Stories and Tales and more are part of the original experience.
Multiple cruise ship visits make L’Anse aux Meadows their port of call where they are greeted by a giant statue of Lief Erikson. Restaurants, craft shops, coffee shops, lounges, artisans, economuseums, walking trails, campgrounds to vacation rentals, and story boards make for unique experiences.
The fishing stages, vernacular architecture and sights and surroundings are unique in itself. If you are lucky you will see moose, caribou and other wildlife.
In Spring and Summer giant icebergs come to shore…only the biggest can be found the further North you go.
Lighthouses hunters (Cape Norman, Cape Bauld, Flower’s Island), bird and whale watches and those in search of rare plants will want to trek the Great Northern Peninsula. The Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve has 300 species of plants, thirty of which are rare and one unique to the region.
Images of wildlife and everyday living can be viewed at Town of Englee Municipal Building at their Mat Hooking Exhibition. Also in the building, is home to Glacier Glass, a glass art studio which has handcrafted items that are quintessentially rural.
Main Brook and Roddickton-Bide Arm is home to excellent fishing and hunting experiences and adventure tourism. While visiting these hubs one can visit St. Julien’s & Croque and see the French Cemeteries and Fishing Stages or explore the tapestry in Conche, which is home to the French Shore Interpretation Centre. There is also a French bread oven in Quirpon and Dark Tickle is home to the Granchain Exhibit.
We also have unique thrombolites at Flower’s Cove, or “living rocks” that are between 600 million to 1.2 billion years old.
A boardwalk will take you there, as will a boardwalk take you back to Deep Cove, which is a winter housing Historic Site. In winter the trails are a great place to leisurely ski or snowshoe.
Dr. Grenfell is a larger than life man and his work is reflective of the economy in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador today from the expanse of medical services, co-operatives, handicrafts and economic development – one will not want to miss the Grenfell experience at the Historic Properties. Fishing Point Provincial Park, Polar Bear Exhibit, Northern Discovery Boat Tours, The Great Viking Feast and the Legion Kitchen Parties are also for the to do list.
The Iceberg Festival in June and Mussel Festival in August also draw lots of attention and provide fun for the whole family. Let’s not forget the times to be had at the Conche Garden Party and Goose Cove Garden Party.
Wherever the road takes you on the Great Northern Peninsula, the experience will be unforgettable – as the people, culture and place are just that.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Mayflower Inn is Roddickton’s longest continuous running business, opening its doors in 1974 with just eight rooms. The family business, a key employer in the region is in its second generation, expanding in size and services to include outfitting and adventure tourism operations. This past November, I the privilege of wishing Trevor and Shanna Pilgrim much success on their current milestone and look for all they will bring to the Great Northern Peninsula as they achieve new accolades.
This business has been recognized by its peers and was honoured with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Tourism Business of the Year Award in 2009. The Pilgrim’s continue to be innovative with significant room upgrades and an offer of unique packages and tours, such as the “Iceberg Trails and Teasures Tour”.
Their 40th Anniversary celebration brought local school groups, residents to enjoy tours, teas and an adult wine and cheese. It also was the official launch the opening of their new gift shop with locally produced products, books and other wares. The shop presents a warm feeling that is steeped in tradition with its displays pertaining to the rich forest history of this Lumberjack Town.
The Mayflower Inn can be that perfect escape to relax and unwind, or experience a unique adventure. The Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm offers an expanse of walking trails, interpretation about wildlife, lumbering history and the story of resettlement, as well local attractions like the Underground Salmon Pool. The business is at the heart of the French Shore and a short drive to French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche and the unique glass art studio, known as Glacier Glass in Englee.
Supporting locally owned and operated small businesses are key to maintaining and growing sustainable rural communities. The Mayflower Inn and Adventures has been a pillar in the community for 40+ years and a place you too can experience in 2015. Congratulations!
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Raleigh Traditional Fishing Village is a unique rural experience. You can experience life as a fisher with an overnight stay in a bunk house. These hostel-style rooms have bunk beds for eight with feather mattresses and a wood stove for heat. There are no modern luxuries of television on site, but real rustic comfort. I hope to overnight there before the season ends, if not there is always next year.
Raleigh is a place where you can get away from it all and truly enjoy some serene rest and relaxation. This traditional fishing village operated by the Raleigh Historical Society offers guided tours of the “fishing rooms” and provides opportunities to make a net, craft your own oar or prepare the boat. The society also teaches traditional rug hooking, offers boat tours, hiking tours, provides traditional meals and crafts. One can purchase a package at: http://www.raleighhistoricvillage.com/accommodations.php.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael & I toured the offering at the fishing village on July 28th. It was evident that new marketing and cross-promotion needs to happen to see this site fully utilized within the season. This type of adventure and cultural tourism is a unique product offering on the Great Northern Peninsula. It has potential to be enlarged, create further employment and lasting experiences.
Last September on a visit to Iceland, they offered a package of “You can be a fisherman”, which consisted of living at a fishers home, eating traditional meals, touring a fish plant and also having the opportunity to spend a day or two out in boat with a fisher.
People are coming to rural communities craving authentic experiences. The people of the urban world are flocking to rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as they want to relax and learn something on their travels. We must find a way to reduce barriers that limit tourist from having a fishing experience, with real fishers in rural NL. There are mechanisms to make fisheries-tourism synergies work. This can create a win-win situation for Raleigh fishers and tourism operators in the region. Let’s work together to find the solutions. This is one of the many things to experience when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula! Be sure to add Raleigh Fishing Village to your list!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve needs Interpretation restored. (liveruralnl.com)
- Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, worth saving from Government cuts (liveruralnl.com)
- Calling on Minister Hedderson to Reverse Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve cuts (christophermitchelmore.com)
- French Shore Historical Society adds vibrancy to Conche (liveruralnl.com)
- Mat Hooking Exhibition at Englee Worth the Visit (liveruralnl.com)
I’m not sure how many politicians can say this, but I certainly enjoyed free falling from an airplane in 2007
I just got off the telephone with my former room-mate while I was studying in Prague, Czech Republic. It is always nice to hear from old friends.
On a such a cold day on the Northern Peninsula, it gave me the opportunity to revisit some of my travels and adventures in the Fall of 2007. It’s always nice to take a stroll down memory lane…from the Nation2Nation celebrations, drinks at the Academic Club, $1 slices of pizza en route to the university, Tram #9, dancing at the 5 floor disco, Palac Flora shopping centre, booking one of the two washing machines in a building of 16 floors with no dryers to eating at “steakie”.
One of the biggest highlights was my experience “free falling” when I jumped from an airplane some 4,000+ metres over a rural village in Prague. A group of students from England, America, Canada and parts of Europe took the train and then piled into this little airplane to experience skydiving for the first time.
After getting all suited up we were very enthusiastic about the thrill we would were about to get. I decided to capture the memory with a video. I’ve watched it a few times since. The words of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck plays in the background. From my last post, you know I’m a fan of The Beatles but I also like Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and also AC/DC.
I can not describe the experience of just falling at over 130 KM per hour from the sky. I will say I do not think I’ve ever felt so alive. It’s also a great feeling when the parachute pops open and you gently float and make for a safe landing. 🙂
My time in Prague had a significant impact on my life and I have returned three times since 2007 to this beautiful central European city that has a rich culture and history, that combines with modern flare.
Life is all about experiences. At 27 years old, I reflect on the times before me and look forward to my next random adventures – because life was made for living. If you have a “bucket” list you may want to add experiencing the Great Northern Peninsula where the Norse were the first Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago. It was a place where the Basque, French, English, Irish, recent Indians and Maritime Archaic Indians lived before us dating back more than 5,000 years. There is a rich legacy of co-operation and advancing health care under the leadership of Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, a natural landscape that includes the last of the Appalachian Mountains, unique lifestyle and incredible people you have yet to meet.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North