NEW­FOUND­LAND AND LABRADOR

ANOINTED BY UNESCO

2017 Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY SU­SAN MACCAL­LUM-WHIT­COMB

Lo­cals here are a fa­mously gre­gar­i­ous lot who love to have a good time, whether at a full-blown fes­ti­val, a down-home scuff ’n scoff (din­ner dance) or an im­promptu gath­er­ing in a neigh­bour’s kitchen. Nev­er­the­less, when it came to cel­e­brat­ing Con­fed­er­a­tion, they ar­rived at the party late.

That’s un­der­stand­able when you con­sider how re­mote New­found­land & Labrador must have seemed back in 1867. Even to­day, de­spite fer­ries and planes, it re­tains a far­away feel be­cause the is­land of New­found­land (a.k.a. The Rock) sits alone in the North At­lantic, while Labrador (The Big Land) is tucked into north­ern Québec. Bound by lan­guage, lat­i­tude and kin­dred economies, the two only joined the coun­try as a sin­gle en­tity in 1949. But even though it has been part of Canada for a com­par­a­tively short time, this place isn’t short on at­trac­tions. Four UNESCO World Her­itage Sites at­test to that.

CUL­TUR­ALLY SIG­NIF­I­CANT SITES

His­tory lovers will ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that Canada’s youngest prov­ince is ac­tu­ally very old. The UNESCO-des­ig­nated Red Bay Basque Whal­ing Sta­tion, for in­stance, is proof that Labrador was al­ready an in­ter­na­tional in­dus­trial cen­tre well be­fore our “moth­er­land” made its first at­tempts to set­tle the New World fur­ther south. On-site, vis­i­tors can ogle ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds that re­call the mid-1500s and catch a film re­count­ing the heady days when whalers from France and Spain busily man­u­fac­tured much-cov­eted oil from blub­ber here (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/red­bay).

That seems like only yes­ter­day com­pared to New­found­land’s mil­len­ni­u­mold sis­ter site, L’Anse aux Mead­ows. Leif Eriks­son and his Vik­ing crew ar­rived on the spot in 1000 AD, then pro­ceeded to build shel­ters out of the earth and craft iron from the bog-ore it yielded. Their set­tle­ment was so shrouded in time that its very ex­is­tence was dis­missed as a myth un­til 1960, when Helge Ingstad and his ar­chae­ol­o­gist wife, Anne, un­cov­ered what was left of it. To­day it fea­tures at­mo­spheric sod huts, faux Vik­ings, and an arte­fact-filled vis­i­tor’s cen­tre (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/mead­ows).

NAT­U­RAL WON­DERS

While ex­plor­ing the prov­ince’s coastal wa­ters in sum­mer, you might ob­serve whales like the ones that lured the Basque fish­er­man all those cen­turies ago, or see su­per-sized ice­bergs that pre­date the Vik­ings. The land it­self, more­over, is pos­i­tively primeval. Just wit­ness an­other world her­itage site, pop­u­lar Gros Morne Na­tional Park, where you can float on a fresh­wa­ter fjord sculpted by re­treat­ing glaciers dur­ing the last ice age and ad­mire ge­o­log­i­cal anom­alies formed hun­dreds of mil­lions of years ago when tec­tonic up­heavals thrust the earth’s crust up­ward (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/gros­morne).

Tellingly, the ex­tra­or­di­nary an­i­mal fos­sils dis­cov­ered at the prov­ince’s most re­cently in­scribed UNESCO Site, the 5.7-sq.-km (2.2sq.-mi.) Mis­taken Point Eco­log­i­cal Re­serve dates back fur­ther still. With a dis­cern­ing eye and a knowl­edge­able guide, you can spot 20 dif­fer­ent species em­bed­ded right on the sur­face of the wave-washed rocks. Rep­re­sent­ing the old­est com­plex life forms ever found, they are more than half a bil­lion years old (www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/parks/wer/r_mpe).

Such an­cient at­trac­tions—to­gether with oth­ers that are of­fi­cially pro­tected, pri­vately op­er­ated or pro­vided by Mother Na­ture— are tan­gi­ble re­minders of New­found­land & Labrador’s time­less ap­peal.

WHAT’S NEW?

Fos­sil-rich Mis­taken Point, on the south­east­ern tip of the Avalon Penin­sula, be­came

New­found­land & Labrador’s fourth UNESCO World Her­itage Site last year

org/en/list/1497).

(whc.unesco.

Launched in 2016, the Sagas and Shad­ows in­ter­pre­tive pro­gram at L’Anse aux Mead­ows is a fun evening of fire­side sto­ry­telling that evokes the Vik­ing era (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/mead­ows).

Fly­ers re­joice: the prov­ince’s largest air­port has gained both a Cat­e­gory III land­ing sys­tem and a new ho­tel—the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press & Suites St. John’s Air­port (www. stjohn­sair­port.com).

Air Labrador now op­er­ates direct flights year-round be­tween Goose Bay and St. John's, thereby pro­vid­ing an easy link be­tween The Rock and The Big Land (www.westjet.com, www.air­labrador.com).

Cu­ri­ous epi­cures can savour tra­di­tional flavours by suss­ing out na­tive in­gre­di­ents and then pre­par­ing a feast over an open fire on the new For­ag­ing Tour (www. cod­sounds.ca).

CITY LIGHTS

St. John’s—which has earned a spot on Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s list of “Top 10 Ocean­front Cities”—is a com­pelling mix of old and new. Des­ig­nated her­itage venues and clas­sic Cray­ola-coloured houses blend with con­tem­po­rary of­fice build­ings in this up­beat sea­port. Bou­tiques, gal­leries and restau­rants, many of which give tra­di­tion a mod­ern twist, are plen­ti­ful here. So are bars: jump­ing Ge­orge Street re­put­edly has more per square me­tre than any street in North Amer­ica! The prov­ince’s largest ur­ban cen­tre also boasts its broad­est se­lec­tion of ac­com­mo­da­tions, in­clud­ing busi­ness class and bou­tique ho­tels, his­toric inns and quaint B&Bs. The new­est ad­di­tions—the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press & Suites at the air­port and The Luxus down­town—amp up the lev­els of prac­ti­cal­ity and pam­per­ing, re­spec­tively. (www. stjohns.ca).

Cor­ner Brook, the prov­ince’s sec­ond city, makes a con­ve­nient base for sports and na­ture-lov­ing day trip­pers. Sit­ting in the shadow of the Blow Me Down Moun­tains, it puts vis­i­tors within easy reach of both Mar­ble Moun­tain and Hum­ber Val­ley. An av­er­age an­nual 5-m (16-ft.) snow­fall draws an in­ter­na­tional con­tin­gent of down­hill and cross-coun­try skiers to the for­mer each win­ter, while the lat­ter is a favourite lo­cale for an­glers and golfers. Sail­ing or kayak­ing on the boater-friendly Bay of Is­lands is a mem­o­rable sum­mer­time al­ter­na­tive (www. cor­ner­brook.com).

THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

QUICK FACT

READY TO GET REEL? 60% OF NORTH AMER­ICA’S AT­LANTIC SALMON RIVERS ARE

IN NEW­FOUND­LAND & LABRADOR.

This prov­ince boasts a 17,542-km (10,900mi.) coast and land that en­com­passes ev­ery­thing from daunt­ing moun­tains and dense bo­real forests to starkly beau­ti­ful bar­rens. So, nat­u­rally, it has much in store. For starters, it is home to four na­tional parks, in­clud­ing Mealy Moun­tains—the coun­try’s new­est and At­lantic Canada’s largest—which will wel­come its first guests in a few years. The re­main­ing three—Gros Morne in west­ern New­found­land, Terra Nova in east­ern New­found­land and the Torn­gat Moun­tains on Labrador’s north­ern­most tip—are all stand-outs in their own right. Col­lec­tively, they of­fer ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from snowshoeing and snow­mo­bil­ing to hik­ing, bik­ing and botan­i­cal treks, along with kids’ pro­grams and camp­fire events for all ages. These parks, how­ever, don’t hold a monopoly on out­door fun.

Take the Hum­ber River area: known pri­mar­ily as a skiing and snow­board­ing des­ti­na­tion, it prom­ises warm-weather

pur­suits like hik­ing, rap­pelling, golf­ing and cav­ing too. On-the-wa­ter op­tions in the prov­ince in­clude world-class salmon fish­ing, kayak­ing and white­wa­ter raft­ing. In­creas­ingly, scuba divers and snorkellers are don­ning dry suits for a peek at what lies be­neath as well. If you would rather see the sights from a boat deck, whale and bird­watch­ing trips are widely avail­able, but that’s just the tip of the prover­bial ice­berg. June through early July, berg chas­ing is so pop­u­lar that the tourism board main­tains a web­site to track the move­ment of these moun­tains of ice (www.ice­bergfinder.com).

HER­ITAGE AND CUL­TURE

The past is proudly dis­played at dozens of his­toric at­trac­tions and more than 100 mu­se­ums. Some are mod­est op­er­a­tions; oth­ers, such as The Rooms—St. John’s provin­cial mu­seum, gallery and ar­chives com­plex—are state-of-the-art. Yet the true beauty of New­found­land & Labrador’s strong cul­ture is ev­i­dent ev­ery­where. His­tory and folk­lore, for in­stance, are passed on orally with the num­ber of tales be­ing matched only by the num­ber of en­thu­si­as­tic tell­ers. Mu­sic is handed down as well, so old tunes from Europe sound as fresh as they did when they were first car­ried across the At­lantic, es­pe­cially when per­formed by pop­u­lar bands like The Ir­ish De­scen­dants. Tra­di­tional in­flu­ences are equally ap­par­ent in the vis­ual arts be­cause the mo­tifs that knit­ters, quil­ters and other crafts­peo­ple used for gen­er­a­tions have been adapted by to­day’s cut­ting-edge ar­ti­sans. The provin­cial Craft Coun­cil web­site shows you where to buy the best (www.craft­coun­cil.nl.ca).

MUST SEE, MUST DO

Start your day by watch­ing the sun­rise at the Cape Spear Light­house. Dawn breaks at this east­ern­most point be­fore any­where else on the con­ti­nent (www.parkscanada. gc.ca/cape­s­pear).

Get a bird’s-eye view of gan­nets at Cape St. Mary’s Eco­log­i­cal Re­serve or pretty At­lantic puffins at Wit­less Bay Eco­log­i­cal Re­serve (www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/parks/wer/in­dex. html).

Twill­ingate is the place for va­ca­tion­ers want­ing to go with the floe. This old-school out­port on Notre Dame Bay calls it­self

“The Ice­berg Cap­i­tal of the World” (www. twill­ingate­tourism.ca). At the John­son GEO CEN­TRE in St. John’s, vis­i­tors can go below ground to ex­plore the earth’s in­te­rior and its ori­gins. Tours, talks and in­no­va­tive ex­hibits make learn­ing fun (www.geo­cen­tre.ca).

A se­ries of ar­chi­tec­turally ad­vanced stu­dios turned tiny Fogo Is­land into a big art-and­de­sign des­ti­na­tion. Now a stun­ning inn pro­vides five-star lodg­ings (www.townof fo­go­is­land.ca).

Norstead, a recre­ated Vik­ing vil­lage near L’Anse aux Mead­ows, fea­tures cos­tumed in­ter­preters, authen­tic-look­ing struc­tures, and a full-scale replica of a pe­riod ship (www.norstead.com).

SCENIC DRIVES

Moose alert! New­found­land’s 120,000 moose can be a ma­jor haz­ard for mo­torists. So be es­pe­cially care­ful when driv­ing high­ways at dusk and dawn.

The Vik­ing Trail, 489 km (304 mi.) on New­found­land’s west coast, paves the way to a pair of world her­itage sites—L’Anse aux Mead­ows and Gros Morne Na­tional Park—pro­vid­ing a crash course in his­tory en route.

The 230-km (143-mi.) Dis­cov­ery Trail winds along New­found­land’s east coast. The am­ple cod stocks John Cabot ob­served in 1497 have been de­pleted, yet fish­ing vil­lages, fer­tile farm­lands and tall timber stands re­main.

The Kit­ti­wake Coast—Road to the Isles Route, 172 km (107 mi.) in the prov­ince’s Cen­tral Re­gion, stretches from Notre Dame Provin­cial Park to Notre Dame Bay where ice­bergs, whales and coastal hik­ing trails await.

FAM­ILY FUN

If you dream of hav­ing your kids help with the house­work, sign up for “Yaf­fle of Chores,” a fam­ily-ori­ented add-on pro­gram at Gros Morne Na­tional Park. Tra­di­tional du­ties your off­spring might be in­vited to do in­clude gath­er­ing fire­wood, hang­ing laun­dry, or even gut­ting fish (www. parkscanada.gc.ca/gros­morne).

WEST­ERN BROOK POND FJORD, GROS MORNE NA­TIONAL PARK • NL TOURISM

530,100

St. John’s

www.new­found­land­labrador.com

St. John’s In­ter­na­tional Air­port, 8 km (5 mi.) from down­town

VIC­TO­RIA ST., ST. JOHN’S • NL TOURISM/BAR­RETT AND MACKAY

SPE­CIAL EVENTS MAY

• TRAILS, TALES AND TUNES FES­TI­VAL,

NOR­RIS POINT

MAY – OC­TO­BER

• SEA­SONS IN THE BIGHT THEATRE

FES­TI­VAL, TRIN­ITY

JUNE

• THE ICE­BERG FES­TI­VAL, ST. AN­THONY JUNE – SEPTEM­BER

• GROS MORNE THEATRE FES­TI­VAL,

COW HEAD

JULY

• EX­PLOITS VAL­LEY SALMON FES­TI­VAL,

GRAND FALLS-WIND­SOR

• FISH, FUN & FOLK FES­TI­VAL, TWILL­INGATE • MIAWPUKEK POW WOW, CONNE RIVER • NORTH WEST RIVER BEACH FES­TI­VAL AU­GUST

• BRIGUS BLUE­BERRY FES­TI­VAL

• FES­TI­VAL OF FLIGHT, GAN­DER

• GREAT LABRADOR CA­NOE RACE,

HAPPY VAL­LEY-GOOSE BAY

• MUDDY HOLE SCUFF ’N SCOFF,

MUS­GRAVE HAR­BOUR • NEW­FOUND­LAND & LABRADOR FOLK

FES­TI­VAL, ST. JOHN’S

• ROYAL ST. JOHN’S RE­GATTA

• THE GATH­ER­ING: FOOD + MU­SIC FEST,

BURLING­TON

OC­TO­BER

• FOGO IS­LAND PARTRIDGEBERRY

HAR­VEST FES­TI­VAL

DE­CEM­BER

• NORTH AMER­ICA’S FIRST NEW YEAR,

ST. JOHN’S

www.new­found­land­labrador.com/

ThingsToDo/Fes­ti­val­sEv­ents

ICE­BERG OFF QUIRPON IS­LAND • NL TOURISM

TORN­GAT MOUN­TAINS, LABRADOR • NL TOURISM/BAR­RETT AND MACKAY

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