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
St. Anthony hosted its second Come Home Year celebration since 2012. Thousands of people that year registered and flocked to our largest community on the Great Northern Peninsula to celebrate that special place, “Home”. I enjoyed participating in the celebration immensely and meeting residents from all over the province. My colleague Dale Kirby came with his family to participate and engage in a number of meetings with groups and organizations. It was a remarkable nine days of celebration, where I even camped out several nights, as weather was beautiful!
A small group of volunteers worked tirelessly over a couple of years to plan and organize such an event. Some billed the second Come Home Year as “too soon” but I never feel it is “too soon” to come home. However, given the short time lapse from the last celebration, looking back now, it may have been better to plan a shorter four day event from a Thursday to Sunday. I’ve seen weekend Come Home Celebrations happen like this on the South Coast and similarly the Annual Garden Parties of Conche and Goose Cove see residents return home each year to take in a weekend of planned festivities.
Little over a week before the official start, an email circulated that Come Home Year 2015 was cancelled. Several hundreds of people were registered including myself, vacation plans made, bands were booked and many commitments made. Certainly no easy decision from this six person team. However, this decision led to many community organizations and local businesses stepping up with sponsorship and a willingness to see Come Home Year 2015 take off and take off it did!
The opening ceremonies was attended by hundreds of registered guests and more than 1500 toutons were served at the Legion that day as guests registered. It was a pleasure to bring greetings and encourage people to enjoy their week of activities and commended the committee and community sponsors for ensuring that big things can happen in our small communities.
Community organizations like the Legion sponsored dances during the opening weekend, which provided a change on venue and ensured meals were available for the large crowds throughout the week. A condensed showing of concerts seemed to work well under the revised plan and some activities were spearheaded by the others like Monday’s Carnival of Fun and Tuesday’s Grenfell Heritage Day Celebration & Teddy Bear Picnic.
Monday’s Carnival of Fun by the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club was Minion themed (for those of you who didn’t know, I love the Minions). It brought lots of kids out for a fun filled day to support a local organization that offers programming, social and various activities for our youth!
Partnerships work and the St. Anthony Come Home Year, originally partnered with the Grenfell Foundation and LG Health to host the Annual Grenfell Heritage Celebration was promoted as well by the committee. I volunteered at the door for the Teddy Bear Picnic, which saw more than 300 children visit and participate in all the fun. It was quite the afternoon and the most successful to date. Additionally, at night a number of people flocked to the floor of the Polar Centre to help further raise dollars for essential medical equipment by purchase tickets, buying food and listening to local talent of headliner Skipper Hot’s Band. It was great to also hear others share their talents like Calvin Blake, Adam Randell, Brandon White and Jade Gibbons. There may have been others and if I missed them I apologize.
The concerts throughout the week were well attended, my mom and friends were so very excited to hear Johnny Reid – it was a major highlight for her and the close to 1,000 others watching that night. I’ve only heard rave reviews!
I would have loved to watch the lantern release on fishing point. I saw some photos and video on Facebook that showed it was quite the magical experience. As well, the craft fair showcased so much amazing talent of local artist and craft producers! I got many Christmas presents and enjoyed engaging with the artists.
A few volunteers truly engaged community, business and organizations to make great things happen. St. Anthony had a great schedule of events for everyone to enjoy with a balance enabling sufficient time for seeing family, friends and visiting the attractions and loving home. I want to thank you all for your hard work and memories you have given me and the people who call St. Anthony home! I encourage you all to keep making big things happen in our small communities!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet and Gunner’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula are completely picturesque and there is no wonder more than 30,000 visits during the summer season. This place is steeped in history from the Aboriginals, Vikings, French, English and other settlers given the presence of the mysterious markings at St. Brendan’s rock.
The presence of traditional saltbox, biscuit box or two-story homes can be viewed along winding roads with ocean views and craggy coastlines. There are many unique pieces of vernacular architecture you will not want to miss on your visit.
There will be root vegetable gardens near roadside and flakes of salt cod drying in the sizzling summer sun. A host of accommodations are available from motels, cottages, cabins, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals and hotels to meet any travellers needs.
There are unique attractions, a network of walking trails, eco-museums, craft and carving shops, boat tours, festivals and an array of activities in the surrounding areas from the Viking Settlement, Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh Historical Fishing Village, Grenfell Historic Properties, Radio Quirpon, Coffee Shops, Kitchen Parties at the Legion and Screech-ins at Skipper Hots with traditional music by the Skipper Hots band.
People come and are wowed by the icebergs of the Great Northern Peninsula. They are much larger as they snuggle into our harbours and coves. Watch small boat fishers as they bring in their daily catch or have a yarn at the small wharves. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is truly about interaction with out people. The Great Northern Peninsula offers a truly unique and authentic experience.
The culinary experiences are exceptional, with two of the restaurants ranking in the top 10 for the best fish n’ chips in Newfoundland & Labrador. The Daily Catch, Snow’s Take-out and Dark Tickle Cafe are in St. Lunaire-Griquet, with Northern Delight in Gunner’s Cove. L’Anse aux Meadows is home to the Norseman Restaurant, Coffee in the Cove at Hay Cove and Burnt Cape Cafe in Raleigh.
The tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is the perfect get-a-way to be one with nature. Moreover, it has the distinction of being the one place in the world where humanity came full circle – an event more than 100,000 years in the making!
Now that you know there are lots of places to stay, eat and experience – pack your camera and begin planning that trek up the Great Northern Peninsula and start snapping images of the picturesque communities of St. Lunaire-Griquet and Gunner’s Cove on Newfoundland’s tip.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)