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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
For a population of less than 30 people, Hay Cove is a happening place. A tour of the community will set you smiling as you see the water, hills, coastline and traditional way of life still being employed in a small fishing village next door to L’anse aux Meadows which is home to a World UNESCO site. One can take a walk on the trail leading you to a neighbouring community of Noddy Bay, as you pass a flake sometimes with local codfish drying the sun for winter.
The fishing boats are still moored to the wharf, gardens are planted and clothes is freshly drying on the line. There is a home for sale and others that have been converted to Bed & Breakfasts, Coffee Shop or Studio. While in Hay Cove you can stay at Viking Nest, Viking Village or Jenny’s Runestone House (formerly Marilyn’s Hospitality Home), drink heavenly coffee, access free WIFI , enjoy a singing kitchen compliments of singer/songwriter Wayne Bartlett and listen to Radio Quirpon at Coffee in the Cove or find authentic Norse jewelry at the Thorfinn Studio. Whales regularly visit and so do those iceberg beauties. Try your hand at bird watching or berry picking, this place is trendy, traditional and quintessentially rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
This tiny community during the summer season is full of life, laughter and is a thriving place to live, work and experience. When you come to the Great Northern Peninsula, you won’t want to miss this happening place!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.
Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.
The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.
It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.
Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.
Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
Malta is a small island country consisting of a few islands in the Mediterranean sea. The country is 316 sq kilometres and has a population of 416,000, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It’s population is growing and so is its tourism economy, even in winter. I enjoy travelling in the off-season, you get deeply discounted airline tickets from Air Canada, hotel prices are much lower and it is far less crowded providing a more relaxing and authentic experience.
It was quite an amazing weekend in Malta, gaining insight into the significant history of this regions from the Phoenicians, Romans, Moores, Knights of St. John and the French and British influence that established architectural and historical monuments that date 7,000 years, making them some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.
I stayed just outside the historic capital of Valletta. which the greater city area is home to about half the islands’ population at the Hotel Phoenicia. It presented fantastic viewscapes of the harbour and was just outside the city gate to all the historic attractions within the Town, making the destination very walkable and tourist friendly.
The grand piano in the main lounge area attracted hotel guests to share their talents. The dining room hosted a local musician playing guitar and the included buffet breakfasts was incredible. The mix of local pastries, cheese, meats and hot and cold foods were just perfect for the taste buds. The bar was cozy and provided an atmosphere that reminded me of Cuba. I took a traditional Maltese nightcap and enjoyed the conversations. Each night there was an activity, including tango dancing. I wish I knew the art of this dance, maybe someday someone will teach me the steps with my two left feet :).
In the morning, I loved walking the hotel grounds as they had an exquisite garden, fountains, viewing, resting areas, mini-golf and a lovely hot tub and pool overlooking the city. The service was of very high-quality and I would recommend this stay to others wishing to visit the island of Malta.
Malta has established its tourism industry with many guides, maps, options and packages to experience their space. Although I only had 4 days here, it was simply not enough time to go to the other islands, I was able to capture significant highlights and make memories that will last a lifetime. It may be my love for island cultures, or just the magic of what was experience, but Malta is definitely one of the highlights of my travels.
Valletta has UNESCO status, a very common feature to the Great Northern Peninsula, with two sites (Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse Aux Meadows Viking Settlement) and third across the Strait of Belle in Southern Labrador (Basque Whaling Station). A walk through the historic city is maintained by a fort structure to see the architecture, the tiny streets, police of quads, preparation for Chinese New Year, outdoor concerts and more. A tour of the Palace Staterooms and Armory is a top attraction and so was the co-cathedral of St. John. An International Piano Competition was being held on the dates I was there, so an opportunity to hear up and coming as well as current stars play works of Mozart, Beethoven and other legends. Some things did remind me of home though, I ate at the Office restaurant, a car had posted “MHAs” and the Canadian flag was clearly flying at a Demajo House.
As a rural Newfoundlander, I like exploring and visited Floriana. There were many parks, flowers, water towers, churches, monasteries and walking trails. I enjoyed seeing the port and all the activity happening around the waterfront. There were many stray cats around this city and actions have been taken to build homes and provide food and water. After a stroll through Floriana, I visited the Museum of Archaeology, which was just fascinating. The displays were bright, well presented and it was very kid and family friendly. A walk to the another side of the city provided a snapshot into some of the more modern buildings and the pleasure craft of the sea. There is something about having good timing, because en route to the restaurant there was activity at St. John’s co-cathedral and a concert was to happen at 8 o’clock. There is nothing like the acoustics in one of the most beautiful churches in all the world. Another amazing night in Malta!
On Sunday, it was decided to take a “Hop-on Hop-off” bus as the best means of transport to see multiple attractions in and around the region. They had two routes, red and blue. For obvious reasons, I took the red route as it provided the maximum value and took you to the Hypogeum, Temples, Blue Grotto and many more spaces.
The Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni is a subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni phase (3300-3000 BC) in Maltese prehistory, located in Paola, Malta. It is often simply referred to as the Hypogeum, literally meaning “underground” in Greek. The Hypogeum is thought to have been originally a sanctuary, but it became a necropolis in prehistoric times, and in fact, the remains of more than 7,000 individuals have been found. It is the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/130).
The Megalithic Temples of Malta are must see attractions and the 4-D video experience at the museum is simply “wow”. Walking trails, flora, monuments and landscapes also provided a great means to enjoy the beautiful of the island.
It helped immensely that the weather was nice and warm, between 12-18 degrees, undoubtedly this added to the experience.
The Great Northern Peninsula is more than 363 linear kilometres with a population of 17,000 people. This region is a destination for tourists – like Matla, it has an incredible history. All cultures collided on the Great Northern Peninsula from the British, French. Basque, Vikings, recent Indians, Groswater Eskimo, Paleo-Eskimo and Maritime Archaic Indians. In fact, with the only authenticated Norse site in North America, it has the distinction of being the place where the “World Came Full Circle” an event 100,000 years in the making. We have incredible cultural, natural, tangible and intangible assets and have operators that are establishing unique and providing authentic rural experiences. There is an ability to make several connections and draw upon what Malta has done and continues to do to drive tourism as a means for the Great Northern Peninsula to continue to excel.
If you get the chance, maybe you too will find love in Malta or on the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA