The Great Northern Peninsula has a network of incredible hiking trails that pull people to explore Gros Morne National Park, Port au Choix National Historic Site and L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage site as anchor areas of attraction. The portion of the peninsula north of Bellburns has more than 80 walking and hiking trails to explore. I set a challenge to complete them all, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of summer I got complete it by finding abandoned Fortune!
The Iceberg Trail is being developed from L’anse aux Meadows to St. Lunaire-Griquet, which connects current community walking trails to create a multi-day trail network. The views and experience is truly remarkable and a gem like the East Coast Trail.
On September 6th we left from Quirpon Tickle and go around the Cobbler to the abandoned community of Fortune. We left 9:30 AM and arrived at noon (8 KM). The trail is well-marked, except at the beginning (you have to go right at Quirpon intersection, passed the community hall and drive to the end of the road and park. The trail is rated as hard on AllTrails, what an incredible experience!
Fortune was a small fishing community nestled between Quirpon and Gunner’s Cove. There remains one family home that is still standing, while others had collapsed. There are some outer buildings and the remains of an old motor in the beach. The community may not have residents currently, but it truly was worth the trek and allowed me to complete my trail challenge.
We picked a spot on a flat rock overlooking the bay and enjoyed our sandwich made with homemade bread and lots of other snacks to refuel our energy levels. There were a few moose, likely looking for their lunch too! After a rest we did a little exploring and even picked up some beach glass before heading to Gunner’s Cove.
We left the abandoned community of Fortune and headed to Gunner’s Cove or Route 436 which was a 5.8 KM trek from Fortune. The trail was clearly marked and skirted along the beach. It would however be difficult to find the beginning from Route 436 as there is no trail marker at roadside. The views along the beach were a lovely contrast to the views of the coastline earlier. There was also one giant rock by a very tall tree, lots of berries, mushrooms and other natural beauty! The rock must have been placed either by giants or glaciers. The trail needs some modest improvements, so that one won’t even get wet feet or bring gear better than sneakers.
The Abandoned Community of Fortune as part of the Iceberg Trail trekking form Quirpon to Gunner’s Cove is 13.8 KM. Without a second vehicle or someone to drop you off or pick you up there is another 3.5 KM of walking back to Quirpon. Thankfully a local stopped and gave me a ride from Gunners Cove back to my car in Quirpon. That type of kindness was the icing on the cake to top off a wonderful day. To celebrate we had Vinland martinis and a Sacred Island Burger at the Norseman Fine Dining Restaurant at L’anse aux Meadows.
We may have even dropped by the Dark Tickle Company in St. Lunaire-Griquet for a sculpin cone and their berry ice-cream for dessert.
The Great Northern Peninsula is full of unique experiences, either in the great outdoors or when supporting a local small business. Be sure to add the abandoned community of Fortune on your list when you plan your journey!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore #NeverStopExploring
When communities come together for a common goal on the Great Northern Peninsula anything seems to be possible. I only have to think about the $100,000 Breath of Fresh Air Playground that was established in Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour with three communities of about 200 people.
The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration saw five communities all with a total population of less than 300 come together to make something unforgettable happen for residents, those with a connection to this special place and some to make their mark for the very first time. The last Come Home Year was in 1997, it was decided long overdue to host another and this time Quirpon would be added. This inclusion of Quirpon also invigorated interest to save their local hall to allow for events and activities to take place throughout the week.
After months and months of planning by a dedicated group of youthful committee members, the day would finally arrive on July 27th and they were certainly ready. Leading up to the event, the Facebook page would keep everyone up to date. A full schedule was also advertised in the local newspaper, the Northern Pen. Not to mention a Twitter hashtag, showing their innovation and adaptation of technology. I was greatly impressed by their organization, what they offered registrants, how they partnered with all their key businesses and community groups to share in the success of this community celebration would bring. There is much strength here – then, now and forever!
The Viking RV Park would be the primary site of activity throughout the week, with the official opening started after people registered at the fire hall. The crowds flocked, enjoying the weather and meeting those returning home as they fended off the flies. After the speeches, the cafe was cut, music was played by our multi-talented Calvin Blake, Adam Randell and Brandon White, mussels were steamed, faces painted and the mood set for a massive fireworks display.
The fireworks display was impressive, it seemed to go on and on and on. There were many awes and an astounding round of applause as the show concluded. A truly successful evening that could not have ended with a bigger bang. Cue the music!
The week would follow with fish frys, hikes, coffee shop visits, exercise programs, kids activities, duck races, memorial events, old-fashioned times, kitchen parties, row boat races, family days and so much more! This was no small feat for a small group of organizers, that should great leadership. So many others would step up and give time in a volunteer capacity to ensure all of these activities could happen. I’m amazed by the generosity and community spirit during these Come Home Year celebrations and always look forward to the next.
A sampling of some of the activities:
I’m confident Skipper Hot’s band was rocking every night, that many screech-ins were had and the conversations lasted into the early morning hours and likely will continue until the planning of the next Come Home Year celebration begins. Be proud of your major achievement for making big things happen in small communities!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year injected a lot of life into all five of these communities as the population likely tripled from a combined 250 to well over 700 throughout the week. The planning of Come Home Year led to a group of community-minded people in Quirpon (population of 70) to step up, fundraise to save their community hall, and save it they did.
A big card game was held on Tuesday night, but one of the most talked about events was the old-fashioned time at the former school house. For some it was returning to a place of their younger days when people from all over would flock to Quirpon for a meal, a dance and a chance to meet a pretty girl to share a kiss or two.
Several hundred attended the event with 250 bowls of soup served. There were games, grabs and good conversations as the old school house was bursting at the seems. It was my first time and I was impressed by the set-up. I heard my grandmother and others talk about the old-fashioned times and how they would pay 10 cents for their meal and look forward to the music and square dancing. The games presented the opportunity to win a sack of potatoes pending the dart score, a log of bologna was up for grabs at the bean bang toss, and kids were trying their hand at balloon darts. For a coin, you could buy a wrapped up present called a “grab”. These were certainly popular and did not last long. There were raffles, line sales and guess cakes. There was some fun to be had by all. Especially when Quirpon local Wayne Bartlett stepped in and sang his song “Old Fashioned-Time in the School House tonight”. I got to talk with Bill and Mabel Bartlett, who told me there was fine crowd on, it may not be the biggest in the history but certainly the most people Quirpon has seen in years!
Community thrives when people get together and support a cause. Quirpon residents and those with a connection to this place should be proud of the initiative taken by the Save our Hall Committee. All your contributions and support is to be commended and celebrated. I hear the time last well past one and that maybe this may become an annual event. I certainly hope this continues!
Also, former Quirpon resident Marilyn (Bartlett) Earle who was part of the committee shared her talent by painting the old school house. If you would like a print that captures childhood memories for you or that connection to home, she has them for sale for $20. You can reach her at +1-709-623-2069.
This may be the first old-fashioned time in the school house in years, but let’s hope it is not the last.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
Quirpon was a prominent fishing community on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula that has historic ties dating back to the 16th century migratory fishery. The French connection in the community name become known due to its resemblance to Le Kerpont near St. Malo, France. Locally, it is pronounced in the Anglicized form – “Karpoon”. I have visited Quirpon many times and had conversations over a cup of tea and sweets at Mabel and Bill Bartlett’s home.
Bill, in my view is the local historian. The wealth of knowledge, photographs and interest he has in the history, culture and mystery that surrounds Quirpon and the surrounding island and communities, formerly known as L’anse au Bauld, L’anse au Pidgeon, Fortune, Grassy Cove and Little Quirpon is worth a conversation or two. There are many unanswered questions and a real need for an archaeology dig to answer questions about the French and Inuit battles, the Vikings and the Land of First Contact. Earl Pilgrim wrote a book about this region and the mystery called the Island of Demons.
Bill’s local knowledge, photos, stories and local lore needs to be place on public display, maybe in the form of interpretation panels, murals or as an exhibit in the new Quirpon Community Hall, which recently undertook an impressive restoration project by community will and support. A special thank you to his daughter Marilyn, for never giving up on this cause and ensuring that Quirpon still has a public space for all residents, current and former, as well as visitors to come and enjoy. It was cooperation and support of everyone that helped see this piece of community infrastructure maintained. You are to be commended and I look forward to a time there in just over a week.
Quirpon is part of the Noddy Bay-Straitview-Hay Cove-L’Anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration, which these five small communities see massive population growth for a week of celebration, as those with a connection to the communities come home. The 2011 census gives all five communities a total population of 289, which no doubt has declined in the past four years. It will be exciting to see the shift and influx of traffic, youth and activity in a community of just a few dozen.
Despite a small population, Quirpon has opportunity.
- The oldest house in the community was built in 1892 which belonged to William Henry Pynn, is a designated Registered Heritage Structure due to its historic architectural and cultural values.
- Quirpon has beautiful walking trails
- A working French Oven and resting area is available to the public.
- Quirpon Lighthouse Inn, a four star accommodation at a light-keeper’s home built in 1922 where one can also experience kayaking, zodiac, iceberg & whale watching, boat tours and authentic rural Newfoundland and Labrador (http://www.linkumtours.com/wordpress/lighthouse-inns/quirpon-lighthouse-inn/).
- Quirpon Radio was also founded by Wayne Bartlett & Cheryl McCarron – you can listen 24/7 online at http://www.radioquirpon.com/
- The Viking RV Park is nestled on the road to Quirpon and just minutes from L’anse aux Meadows
- Lloyd can be found in his workshop making model ships, motor boats, helicopters, snowmobiles and airplanes, while Bill has his miniature lighthouses and dories on display. Quirpon is a great place to pick up a piece of folk art
- There is a photograph around every turn.
There is also prime iceberg viewing, a B&B being developed, local woodworkers and artists, the community hall, high speed Internet, vernacular architecture and amazing waterfront properties. I highly recommend adding Quirpon to your adventure on the Great Northern Peninsula and be sure to engage in dialogue with the local residents, you truly will be inspired.
Maybe you too will call this place home –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
I woke up this morning to find out about this exciting new community development endeavour of Radio Quirpon. Wayne Bartlett and Cheryl McCarron are the creators of something wonderful for Newfoundlanders & Labradorians everywhere to enjoy a little piece of “the Rock”. Radio Quirpon is available at www.radioquirpon.com.
And ofcourse, others too can enjoy our unique culture and our music. I especially love the local tunes from the creator, Wayne Bartlett and Straitsview’s own Skipper Hot’s Band. Little Bo Peep was one I’m looking forward to hearing again :). It is also nice to hear the personal commentary, it gives each song a special meaning when one listens.
Radio Quirpon has a selection of local photos from the the Great Northern Peninsula, as well as videos and a blog. I encourage you all to visit their site and share your thoughts.
I would like to thank the creators for sharing their talents with the world. It is these types of initiatives that will build a much stronger community, one that reaches well beyond our small populations. I look forward to spreading the word! Let’s keep historic Quirpon with a population of 75 people on the map!
Cheryl operates “Coffee in the Cove”, located in Hay Cove (population 32) which is just minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Experience where the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago. Coffee in the Cove offers a selection of freshly brewed coffees, espressos, lattes and has a singing kitchen. On Facebook, visit their page called Coffee in the Cove.
The Great Northern Peninsula, where big things are happening in very small communities. Help spread the word!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North