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

Those look­ing for ur­ban plea­sures will feel no big city buzz in West­ern New­found­land. Trac­ing the shore­line for 683 km (424 mi.), this edge of the is­land doesn’t boast gl­itzy mega-malls or a late-night club scene and sky­scrapers here are no­tice­ably ab­sent.

But a pair of sig­na­ture at­trac­tions—one a su­perla­tive na­tional park, the other a haunt­ing her­itage site—plus am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for out­door ad­ven­tures and cul­tural in­ter­ac­tions—make it a nat­u­ral choice for many dif­fer­ent types of va­ca­tion­ers (www. new­found­land­­ern).


Al­though the prov­ince is fa­mous for cam­era-ready vis­tas, those in gor­geous Gros Morne Na­tional Park, roughly half­way up the coast, are truly un­par­al­leled (­morne). More than a year-round play­ground for na­ture lovers, this ruggedly beau­ti­ful 1,805-sq.-km (697-sq.-mi.) lo­cale is a nat­u­ral won­der al­most 500 mil­lion years in the mak­ing. The Table­lands, which helped earn Gros Morne a UNESCO World Her­itage Site des­ig­na­tion in 1987, is one case in point. Cre­ated eons ago by a mas­sive tec­tonic up­heaval, the red-hued, flat-topped moun­tain is al­ways ready for its close-up.

The scenery of West­ern Brook Pond—a fresh­wa­ter fjord formed dur­ing the last ice age—is equally com­pelling. Most peo­ple are con­tent to view its glacier-carved gran­ite walls and dra­matic 610-m (2,000-ft.) water­falls from the pho­to­genic board­walk or the deck of a tour boat; how­ever, en­er­getic types can launch out from here on the Long Range Tra­verse, a hik­ing route which ranks among the world’s most mem­o­rable.


Back in 1497, when John Cabot dubbed the is­land Terra Nova (or “New Land”), this re­gion al­ready had a long his­tory. The Vik­ing Trail (­, which starts just below Gros Morne and ex­tends the length of the Great North­ern Penin­sula be­fore cross­ing into Labrador, lets you ex­pe­ri­ence life in the past lane. Re­mains of three an­cient Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures can be seen at Port au Choix Na­tional His­toric Site (­tau­choix), while ev­i­dence of the first Euro­peans to ar­rive in the New World lies fur­ther north at L’Anse aux Mead­ows (www.parkscanada.gc. ca/mead­ows).

Con­trary to what Colum­bus fans pro­fess, it was ac­tu­ally Leif Eriks­son who “dis­cov­ered” North Amer­ica in 1000 AD, and the Vik­ing set­tle­ment he erected here has it­self been rec­og­nized by UNESCO. Open from late May through early Oc­to­ber, the site in­cludes a com­plex of sod huts and a vis­i­tor’s cen­tre show­cas­ing arte­facts used a mil­len­nium ago. For an en­ter­tain­ing vari­a­tion on the theme, con­tinue on to nearby Norstead, a metic­u­lously recre­ated port of trade pop­u­lated by faux Norse folk (


If it’s fresh air fun you’re af­ter, head for the area around New­found­land & Labrador’s sec­ond largest city, Cor­ner Brook (www. cor­ner­ The Bay of Is­lands, for starters, is a mag­net for whale watch­ers and boaters. Pre­fer fish­ing? Cod, squid, and more can also be caught here. Of course, there aren’t just lots of fish in the sea—they fill other bod­ies of wa­ter, too. In fact, this prov­ince is home to most of North Amer­ica’s At­lantic salmon rivers, a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of which are right here. The Hum­ber, which sees tens of thou­sands of fish swim through dur­ing its an­nual run, is a par­tic­u­lar hot spot for tro­phy-sized salmon.

Back on dry land, other warm-weather ac­tiv­i­ties in the Cor­ner Brook vicin­ity in­clude hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, and golf­ing at Hum­ber Val­ley Re­sort’s highly-re­garded 18-hole cham­pi­onship golf course (www. hum­ber­val­ In win­ter, pop­u­lar Mar­ble Moun­tain prom­ises skiing, snow­board­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing, snowshoeing, dogsled­ding, and even zip-lin­ing (www. ski­mar­; www.mar­blezip­


Trav­ellers in­creas­ingly crave cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences these days, and West­ern New­found­land de­liv­ers in this re­gard as well. The sim­ple fact that folks around here are so friendly means op­por­tu­ni­ties for authen­tic in­ter­ac­tion are plen­ti­ful. To meet lo­cals en masse, try at­tend­ing one of the re­gion’s an­nual events. Not sur­pris­ingly, many of them fo­cus on food. The Ex­ploits Val­ley Salmon Fes­ti­val, the Cow Head Lob­ster Fes­ti­val and the Deer Lake Strawberry Fes­ti­val are, for in­stance, all peak-sea­son favourites. But oth­ers, like the Ice­berg Fes­ti­val held each June in St. An­thony, prove that res­i­dents can al­ways find a rea­son to cel­e­brate.

Artsy al­ter­na­tives, in­clud­ing the Gros Morne Theatre Fes­ti­val which breathes new life into vin­tage songs and sto­ries through its sum­mer reper­tory lineup, of­fers a dif­fer­ent way for you to im­merse in lo­cal cul­ture (www.the­atre­new­found­ gmtf.html). The same is true for the en­gag­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tive pro­grams spon­sored by the park it­self, sev­eral of which ex­plore tra­di­tional out­port life in a fun and in­for­ma­tive way.

Such a rich range of at­trac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties make West­ern New­found­land al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­sist.


Board a Marine At­lantic ferry (www.marine at­ from North Syd­ney, Nova Sco­tia, to Port aux Basques at the is­land’s south­west tip (www.por­ This his­toric town, founded by 16th cen­tury Basque fish­er­men, is a fine place to stop be­fore or af­ter the six-hour cross­ing. If you’re ar­riv­ing via Québec or Labrador, take the Blanc Sablon to St. Barbe or Cor­ner Brook ferry in­stead ( fer­ry­ser­vices/in­dex.html). If you’d rather fly, land at Deer Lake Re­gional Air­port (www. deer­lakeair­ The tit­u­lar town (­, 35 min­utes north of Cor­ner Brook and 35 min­utes south of Gros Morne Na­tional Park, marks the start of the Vik­ing Trail, oth­er­wise known as Route 430.


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