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It’s Like Walking on Mars – Tablelands of Gros Morne

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.

Trout River

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.

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Woody Point

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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PASSING TIME IN TROUT RIVER, NL

Trout River is a small fishing town on the Great Northern Peninsula that continues with the tradition of rural living, evident from the many fishing boats, lobster traps, wharves, stages and even cardboard signs selling salt cod. It is a quaint place that is snuggled in a gentle cove surrounded by hills that extend to the Tablelands, which is a World UNESCO Heritage Site. If you would like to know more about Trout River, please visit their website at http://townoftroutriver.com/.

Those who continue to earning a living there, do so from the land and sea. Fishing communities are vibrant places, they are steeped in tradition and rich in folklore. It is wonderful to see the establishment of regular gatherings in this town, called “Passing Time in Trout River”, where local talents and musicians gather and share music, jokes, and stories. Every communities has a remarkable story to tell. In fact, my hometown of Green Island Cove utilized its gear shed to host a community kitchen party. It was quite a night of coming together and celebrating our song and dance. It was an incredible experience that could be replicated. Community is stronger when it embraces the talents of the people that live there. We must continue to share our knowledge and teach others our traditional ways, so that our rural living remains a very vibrant part of the future in a very fast past, technological modern-day world.

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Trout River also has the fortunes of the Tablelands, World UNESCO site at its doorstep. It is quite the place to visit, you certainly feel like on Mars, or maybe Arizona? Certainly not the Great North of Newfoundland & Labrador. If you haven’t been, add it to your bucket list.

Further north is L’Anse aux Meadows, another World UNESCO site, an event 100,000 years in the making where the world came full circle 1,000 years ago. Also across the Strait of Belle Isle, a short distance away is a third World UNESCO site, in the Basque Whaling Station of Red Bay, Labrador.

We have incredible assets on the Great Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador that illustrate how meaningful these places are in the world in terms of geography, history to people. We have an incredible connection to the land and sea, and always will. When you come to Newfoundland & Labrador, be sure to pass some time in Trout River and make your way to the gems at the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

New Opportunities for Northern Peninsula, Labrador & the World….Sept. 8,2010

Canadian Geographic Magazine ran a feature on the Northern Peninsula in its October 2009 issue under the headline, “Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula is a region of depleting human and natural resources. Just the sort of place for a fisherman to be reborn as Bjorn the Beautiful.” (For the article visit: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/oct09/northern_peninsula4.asp).

It is certainly true, the Northern Peninsula’s population has been reduced drastically since the closure of its primary industry; the cod fishery in 1992. The statistics speak for themselves as a number of communities and towns saw sharp declines as the world attempts to become more urban. However, our population decrease has slowed with signs of greater stability as more younger families build homes and lives around rural economies. I am proof of another young person that chooses to live rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Although the economy has yet to rebound to levels prior to 1992, I disagree with the author that the region has depleting natural resources. 

Nearly 20 years later, the fishery still remains the backbone of the rural economies, with the forestry a close second. Moreover, today, the rural economy has diversified – the Northern Peninsula is engaged in various sectors, including secondary-food processing, value-added manufacturing, biomass fuels, oil & gas exploration, agriculture, aquaculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism, services, retail/wholesale, craft/gift/apparel, information technology, healthcare, education and transportation.

The article states, “An optimist will say that, through all the ups and downs, residents of the Northern Peninsula have always looked after themselves. After all, their connection to the rest of Newfoundland did not come until 1962, the year Route 430 opened, so they have a long history of living in isolation” (Russell Wangersky).

Imagine, it was not until 1962 in a country as rich as Canada that we as Canadians were isolated from the rest of the country. Yet, we overcame these obstacles and our communities adapted to change. Can you imagine that it took nearly 50 more years before the Trans-Labrador Highway was open!!! This highway now connects Red Bay to Goose Bay eliminating a long ferry run. Now visitors can drive from Montreal, QC – Labrador City, NL – Goose Bay, NL – Blanc Sablon, QC and take a 1 hour 30 minute ferry ride to St. Barbe on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and drive Route 430 to Deer Lake, NL and then take the Trans Canada Highway to the Capital, St. Johns, NL or to Port Aux Basque to take Marine Atlantic to Nova Scotia. This is an incredible achievement that presents a number of opportunities for not only residents, organizations and business owners of the Northern Peninsula and Labrador, but the entire world!

The recent completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway has already had a significant impact on business on both sides of the Strait of Belle Isle. The M.V. Apollo has adjusted to increased demand to ferry traffic by adding an additional run on Friday and Sunday during peak tourist season. There has been large increases in commercial traffic using both the service and the highway. The opening of Hotel North (former Vinland, St. Anthony) on September 1, 2010 which will include a Jungle Jim’s adds much-needed accommodations to the region. Although, not all businesses are ready for the spike in demand. For instance, if you wish to rent a car, make sure you book well in advance, or you may find yourself in a crunch when it comes to transportation.

On September 8, 2010 the Nordic Economic Development Board and Red Ochre Regional Board, among with its many partners are hosting a Transportation Forum at the St. Barbe Arena to reveal key findings of a study completed as a result of this new transportation link. The impacts it has had on road, marine and air transportation routes and what this has meant for business will be discussed. There are new business opportunities and areas of improvement that we all have a stake. If you are interested in attending please contact Mr. Andre Myers, Economic Development Officer at Nordic Economic Development Corporation via email at amyers@nf.aibn.com as soon as possible as space is limited, registration is free.

We no longer live in isolation and we are open to the world to see what we have to offer! We have in my view the best concentrated and diverse group of cultural assets that can rival any region. This includes two WORLD UNESCO Heritage Sites- L’Anse aux Meadows (First known Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago) & the Tablelands), Gros Morne National Park, archaeological finds and discoveries noting Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo, Recent Indians (Beothuk, Innu, Inuit, Metis), Basque, Portuguese, French, British and others, a number of provincial and national historic sites, ecological reserves, abundance of natural resources, wildlife and natural beauty, high-speed internet access (in most regions), airports, ferry services, shipping/trucking, low business tax and low-cost of living. These highlights complimented by the Northern Peninsula’s strategic location to enter markets of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, New England States and Europe presents excellent opportunities for a company to export.

I will dismiss Wangersky’s Canadian Geographic article written just 2 months prior to this road opening, as the highway simply does not end at Route 430, The Viking Trail – but begins. We are now a pathway to the rest of North America.

Don’t miss out, as this could be the best investment you ever make.

Live Rural Newfoundland – CCM

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