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Famous Last Fjords – Western Brook Boat Tour

There’s that famous photo of a hiker trekking Gros Morne National Park that has captivated audiences and brought tens of thousands of visitors to Western Brook Pond Fjord each season.

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Imagine hiking to this magical place and garnering this view and this image with you in the backdrop? It certainly is on my to do list, as this image came from www.newfoundlandlabrador.com.

This season was not my first to the fjord, but it was my first taking the 2-hour boat tour. It was something on my list for a long time and I was thoroughly impressed by the experience.

After taking the Coastal Hike of 6 KM return, I would park at the lot at Western Brook Pond, which was spilling out on the road way. BonTours, which offers the Boat Tour has been offering 5, sometime even 6 tours a day with an average of 300-400 people. The tour begins with a 2.65 KM walk into the pond, which takes about 40 minutes. There is a well developed boardwalk and trail network that is accessible.

I’ve always enjoyed the storyboards and views along the way. If you are lucky you may even get to see an animal grazing, enjoy the flora and fauna, see berries and watching the water flow.

The price tag of a tour ranges from $58-65.00/person and also requires a Park Pass of $9.80/person. I highly recommend a Discovery Pass with Parks Canada as it covers your trail portion.

“The Memories Are Worth It”…BonTours   Visit them at http://www.bontours.ca

I couldn’t agree more.

From moose, waterfalls, natural glacial carvings, faces in the cliffs, commentary and of course the spoons! I’m not musically inclined, but certainly enjoyed playing the spoons with my friend Carter.

BonTours is a tourism icon in the province, providing a unique experience in Gros Morne National Park for over 40 years!

We have some magical gems in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Bon Tours on the Great Northern Peninsula is one wonder you will truly want to experience.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA St. Barbe-L’Anse Aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador

 

 

 

 

 

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

What’s in a Name?….Nameless Cove, NL

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I think it was Shakespeare’s Juliet in a soliloquy, who asked “What’s in a Name?” We’ll let me tell you…

As you leave the paved highway in Nameless Cove and trek onto a gravel route at Nameless Cove point you will be able to have a closer view of Flower’s Island and its beautiful lighthouse. The first lightkeeper was Peter Flower, thus naming the island and became the name of the adjacent community, Flower’s Cove (now Nameless Cove). Here is the background story on how Nameless Cove, came to be: the Municipality of Flower’s Cove was formerly French Island Harbour. After the treaty and the French presence left, the larger community opted to use the name Flower’s Cove, thus, leaving the former Flower’s Cove – Nameless.

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Nameless Cove is where I operated Flower’s Island Museum from 2002-2005, which included a nine-hole Newfoundland themed miniature golf-course. There were development plans for the island at the time that would see maybe a tea room, accommodations and a boat tour. Sadly, this never transpired and made it more difficult to establish the critical volume of tourist needed to advance regional tourism in the Straits. In the past ten years since, much effort has been placed on walking trails and further developing Deep Cove. However, the Straits is just scratching the surface on how it could benefit from tourism, given the number that pass through these communities each season to see St. Anthony and the World UNESCO site at L’anse aux Meadows.

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Since Peter Flowers, generations and generations of Lavallee’s would operate that lighthouse until it became automated. The Lavallee’s are still present today and some continue to fish these adjacent waters. The late Clyde Roberts, was the radio operator on the island. He spent some of his earlier years on this island and continued to pursue community economic development in the region – pressing for co-ops, credit unions and a non-profit personal care home and affordable housing units. In my books he is a local icon, a visionary, that made big things happen!

The presence of the fishery is ever so important today as it was our reason for settling. People continue to earn a living from the sea. This is evident from the small fishing stages, wharves, lobster traps and gear hugging the shoreline.

From old family homesteads to today’s residents, Nameless Cove is a community that is hanging onto its past and looking toward the future. I believe there is opportunity and more can be done to advance both fishing and tourism synergies, Drop by and find out more about What’s in a Name?

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

My Turkish Times – The Real Turkish Delight

During the Easter Holidays, I added Turkey to my travels to experience the real Turkish delight! After a few unforgettable days in the Georgian mountain town of Kazbegi, it would be Istanbul before making the trek to Romania.

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Istanbul with a population of more than 14 million, is a crowded city of Turkey that is located between Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. There are many unique architectural pieces and cultural influences that highlight the history of the Sultans, the Roman-era, Egyptian influences and also Christian mosaics.

One of the highlights was shopping at the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, which spans 61 streets and over 3,000 shops. I purchased some Jasmine and natural teas, items for my shisha and an ornament for my International Christmas tree. It was also nice to stop for Turkish tea and a traditional sandwich. During the afternoon or mid-day while I was there, most patrons closed up shop for one of their daily prayers. If my sister was with me on vacation, I’m sure she would still be there perusing all the shops and their wares.

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I spent the day touring the major attractions, such as Sultan Ahmet’s (Blue) Mosque, Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeology Museum and other surrounding sites.

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The Aya Sopha was the emperor’s statement to the world of the wealth and technical ability of his empire. Tradition maintained that the area surrounding the emperor’s throne within the church was the official centre of the world. The Aya Sofya has remained one of Istanbul’s most cherished landmarks.

Topkapi Palace has many highlights including the Harem, Palace Kitchens, Council Chambers, Sultan’s private rooms, safekeeping room and treasury. You’ll need at least a half-day just for this one spectacular site.

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is just a short distance from the Palace. It has multiple complexes including the Museum of the Ancient Orient; the Archaeology Museum and the ceramic collection at the Tiled Pavilion of Mehmet the Conqueror.

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The Blue Mosque was Sultan Ahmet I’s grand architectural gift to his capital, built between 1609-1616.

I spent time walking the streets, enjoying the blue skies, flowers and vibes of Istanbul. There were many enjoyable moments of consuming culture, including the food and dining with the locals. It was truly a unique experience.

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My time in Turkey was short, but I was ambitious and covered much ground. Even the return to the airport was hurried as the taxi driver by-passed all traffic by primarily driving on the shoulder of the road. Despite all the efforts of locals, I did not return with a rug. I did buy lots of Turkish delights and brought back memories that will last a lifetime. I highly recommend Turkey to your travel list.

One of my favourite purchases was this t-shirt “Experience: On the Road Again – 1985”. Given my birth year being 1985, my love for travel and the experiences my time of the road has given me, it was only fitting! I’ll wear it proudly.

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Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

A Viking Experience that is only found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland & Labrador

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L’Anse aux Meadows is where the world came full circle, an event 100,000 years in the making! When the super-continent Pangea broke up, people had the choice of going left or going right – they did not meet up until  just over 1,000 years ago when the Norse crossed the Atlantic met Aboriginals in L’anse aux Meadows on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a story that is completely untold and undersold as a reason to visit this community of 37, which is home to a World UNESCO site.

I love going to L’anse aux Meadows, to see the only authentic Viking site in North America, to enjoy the views of the islands, walking trails, visit Leif Erikson statue, dine at the Norseman Restaurant and of course, visit my favourite open air museum “Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade”.

Norstead is just 2 KM from the UNESCO Viking Settlement and was established in 2000 as part of the millennial, celebrating 1000 years of the Vikings’ arrival to the New World. During it’s inaugural  year it saw 28,000 visitors, making it a top destination for visitors.

At Norstead you get to join costumed interpreters in the dim light of a lit fire at the Viking-style Chieftain’s Hall and listen to mysterious Viking tales. One can step aboard the Snorri, the Viking replica ship that sail across the Atlantic, marking the journey of the Vikings from Iceland to Greenland to Northern Newfoundland. An active pottery studio, enables workers to shape clay into pottery the way the Vikings did. The workers also proudly spin sheep fleece into yarn using ancient drop spindle technology, dying the yarn bright purple, pink, or rusty yellow using local plants and berries and weave it into cloth at the loom. You can watch workers make nails and other items in the forge, throw axes at the woodpiles, play nine man mills and tour other buildings such as the Church and visit with the animals. You can also get your Runes told, by the Runes Teller, visit the marketplace and even conduct trade at the trading station if you bring something to exchange.

Truly this is a unique hands on experience that offers something for all ages! Even I enjoy being a Viking for a day 🙂

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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