Traveling the Great Northern Peninsula on Route 430 (Viking Trail Highway) en route to L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site or to Quebec or Labrador via the Strait of Belle Isle Ferry crossing, Black Duck Cove presents the perfect stopping point.
The Black Duck Cove Seashore Day Park provides a picnic area, play ground, viewing binoculars, open air museum of Newfoundland vernacular architecture. walking trails, bbq area, miniature golf and basketball courts. It’s a great rest stop to enjoy life by the sea.
The concept of an open air museum is not new, as I’ve visited many on my European travels. I’m impressed that this economic development project is a step back in time of what the small outport community living looked like – from the one room school, church, wharf, hall to homes. These handmade buildings replicate our rural life and are wonderful to view and take a snap or two. This concept could be taken a step further and explain the building process, tell the stories of who owned these homes and the pioneers that built and shaped the community.
This area needs better directional signage to guide you to this almost hidden space. It’s almost a locals know kinda of gem. Since location is less than ideal, this fantastic space needs to be further promoted and expanded upon.
As you take the paved road and drive pass the Black Duck Cove wharf and shrimp plant, you will encounter lobster traps neatly piled, fishing gear and boats sitting on the grass. Our history, our heritage, our culture and life from the sea is well on display – both past and present at Black Duck Cove Seashore Day Park.
It is an experience in itself.
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
A friend, travelling from Quebec City to the island of Newfoundland for the first time had scheduled a visit. Prior to waiting for the Ferry Service to dock at port in St. Barbe, I decided to take a “Look Back in Time”.
Black Duck Cove Seashore Day Park was my first visit. This rest point’s highlight is a collection of miniatures that represent the architecture-styles of rural communities of the past. There are two saltbox homes, slightly modified; a church, schoolhouse, wharf, fishing rooms and lodge. There are beautiful & well-marked walking trails, captivating views of waterways and binoculars to view sights of Labrador. There is a small playground and picnic area for you to stay for a while. However, many travellers would not easily find this place, at it is not well-marked in terms of signage or on any main highway route. If you can, take the time to ask for directions. I’d recommend a fresh coat of paint to the replicas and some minor repairs, unless the organization responsible is going for a more rustic look of the past. Just moments away, you can see neatly stacked lobster traps, two adjacent graveyards and piles of unpacked wood for winter stoves.
These replicas made me realize that the vernacular architecture styles are fading from local communities in the Strait of Belle Isle region. Vernacular architecture is a term that categorizes methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances, as defined by Wikipedia.
I decided to drive the area in search of the traditional folk house type, found commonly all over Newfoundland & Labrador, which is the Salt Box style. It is named for its shape, which resembled the boxes used for shipping salt to Newfoundland & Labrador and was one of the earliest forms of house construction. The Salt Box traditionally had a shorter steep roof line in front and a longer steep slope in back. This gave the impression that the house was much larger than it actual size.
Talking to residents and elders, they noted that logs were sawed into lumber using a “pit saw”. The simple design of a two-story “salt-box” used simplicity of design and maximized space and limited the amount of resources required. This saltbox home depicts a more modern-style where the rooftop peak is central to the home for even distribution.
Today, Live Rural NL sees a more modern home, split-level, bungalow, two-story, pre-fab home, mobile with an array of designs and styles. I’ve suppose we have gone modern, with very few residents living in this traditional home design with bright vibrant colours. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect changes of culture and society. I certainly hope that these homes do not disappear forever entirely in the region.
There is much charm in an older traditional home. I had to stop for a moment as the structure to my left continues to tilt to its demise as it lacks an apparent caretaker. The field is quite large as the water it in the background. For this place, we can only stop and “Look Back in Time” at the memories that were made by the people who lived here before us.
A Rural Reflection –