Last week I returned to the beautiful “Bell Island” on a short ferry run across the tickle leaving Portugal Cove. A year had passed since I explored Lance Cove, Wabana, the craggy coastlines, Dicks’ Fish & Chips, the lighthouse and more with my German and Swiss friend.
On this occasion, I decided to be a tourist and visit a major tourist attraction, the #2 Mine. In fact, my 81-year old grandmother recently took the tour. It is quite an experience. Bell Island was a boom town with an iron ore mine spanning over seven decades of active operations. However, in the 1960’s the mine closed. It would only be re-opened 17 years ago, not to mine ore but tourist :).
Ed, our very talented and knowledgeable tour guide provided exceptional context. His personal connection to the mine was very strong, with his father and grandfather as former employees. I highly recommend him as your tour guide.
The hard hat is quite the change from sitting behind a desk at Confederation Building. It was not my first time underground or in a vacated mine. In 2007, I toured a salt mine in Poland. I like being an experiential tourist. From the highlights of the tour, I certainly could not imagine the working conditions and poor lighting miners faced in the early 1900’s.
I am quite proud of the efforts of those involved in the re-development of a vacant mine into a tourist attraction. It is so important that we tell our stories. On this particular tour we were the only two Newfoundlanders & Labradorians of twelve on the tour. There are likely other assets and unique aspects of rural life that could be developed into burgeoning tourism attractions in our own regions that expand our current product offering.
The tour is 45 mins to an hour. There is also a museum and incredible photography highlighting the island life in the mid-1900’s. The museum has a gift shop and cafe.
Well, it looks like Miner Chris is calling it a day 🙂 Be sure to visit Bell Island on your next visit to the Avalon Peninsula. Be sure to get your Dicks’ Fish & Chips too!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North