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
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
The Burnt Cape Cafe is a wonderful place to dine on traditional seafood dishes, moose meals and berry desserts. Situated in historic Raleigh this business offers an appealing space, with beautiful waterfront views, while listening to the music by local Quirpon native Wayne Bartlett.
This season moose has made the menu, including soup, burgers and cheese steak sandwiches. I ordered the moose soup to start and it surely was a welcome treat, as I’ve not had my grandmother’s version in such a long time. It was a hearty bowl, with chunky vegetables and filled with savouring flavour. A great way to start any meal.
As a main, I had pan fried cod, steamed broccoli. and Parmesan mashed potatoes with coleslaw. The meal was cooked with care, as the vegetables were perfect, the potatoes are out of this world dreamy and the cod just incredibly fresh as it fell gently with each fork full.
No meal could be complete without dessert, so I opted for the bakeapple sundae. This was truly a tantalizing treat! Local wildberries add to the gourmet flavouring of what the dining experience at Burnt Cape Cafe offers to its patrons.
The business, which includes cabins, vacation home, convenience store, gift shop and gas station has a rating of 9.1 from Booking.com which highlights the care and attention to visitors. The owners have put together a nice package to offer an experience to their guests. This may include the walk to the wharf to pick your own lobster for dinner and getting your photo taken for social media to capture the moment.
A Little Free Library has popped up outside their business, where residents and visitors can take a book or leave a book any time of the day. This is a great community economic development concept and initiative that I’d love to see more Little Free Libraries on the Great Northern Peninsula and across Newfoundland & Labrador.
I enjoy conversations with Ted and Marina, the owners of this small business as they are striving to find new ways to create opportunities in their small Town.
Keep up your entrepreneurial spirit Ted and Marina! Rural Newfoundland and Labrador certainly needs more small business to thrive!
It’s not too late to make a booking or drop by this gem on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Visit www.burntcape.com/
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The 2015 Mussel Festival officially kicked off last night at 8 PM in St. Lunaire-Griquet. This is always an amazing weekend in the Town that is showcasing its beautifully grown mussels in their pristine waters at the SABRI mussel farm. I find Mussel Fest is a real celebration of community brought to you by hard working and dedicated volunteers that work with groups and business to further support their town. It truly is community-building at its best, not to mention a fantastic time with good activities, good food and good company.
The festival site is beautiful set-up with appropriate fencing, kiosks for vendors and a great bandstand. The opening saw temperatures dip from the early 20’s to almost single Celsius digits. It may have kept some home, but it was a fantastic evening to welcome everyone to the community, enjoy a fine piece of cake, nice music and have a feed of mussels and enter into great conversations. Later that night a lantern release would happen around 9:30 PM.
Below is their amazing schedule, drop by and participate in any of the events:
Friday, August 7
3:00 Dart Tournament—Fire Hall–$5.00; 2 person team (2 women or 1 man and 1 woman) 12 team maximum
5:00 Craft fair–$5.00/table (or donate a craft for a prize)
Kids’ games–tickets 4/$1; Candy Jar $.50/guess
Music – Barry Elsworth & James
7:00 Boil up $5.00 each, kids under 10 free–all you can eat mussels, hot dogs, lassey bread, fruit drink, tea/coffee
Music – Local talent and Barry Elsworth and James
9:00 Bar opens
Saturday, August 8
10:00 Seniors’ Tea—Sortie Weddings and Tea Room (RESERVATIONS ONLY)
12:00 Lunch – $7.00; kids $3.00–fisherman’s brewis; hot dogs; tea/coffee; cake; pop/water $1.00
2:00 Boat races – White Cape Harbour – $5.00; women and men single; women and men doubles; mixed pairs;
2:00 Seniors’ Tea—Sortie Weddings and Tea Room (RESERVATIONS ONLY)
3:00 Teddy Bear Picnic; kids’ games; craft faire
4:30 Firettes’ Beans and Bologna supper
7:00 Adult 120’s card game–$5.00
10:00 Dance—JASON ROGERS–$10:00/person (receive 1 free bar ticket); Hamburgers being sold (proceeds to Fire Dept. & Silver Linings)
Sunday, August 9
12:00 Lunch—Mussels and hot dogs – $3.00
2:00 Gospel concert. Donation box – monetary donation or grocery item–proceeds to Food Bank
MUSSELS available throughout each day–$3.00/plate
Ticket sales every day—50/50; quilt/painting/ice cream; 1/2 Grand.
FESTIVAL proceeds to Fire Department and Senior Memory Benches
PARKING at Fire Hall or Town Hall. NO PARKING AT MOTEL
You can spread the world and help this locally grown festival by sharing on Facebook and telling your friends. I look forward to events tomorrow! My hat goes off to the committee members and those helping in any way, you truly make very big things happen in our small communities.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (THe Straits-White Bay North)