Reasons for vacationing in Newfoundland and Labrador
Spring has sprung, and it isn’t too early to start thinking about vacation time. My peripatetic life has afforded me the privilege of living in a baker’s dozen of communities in this province, including Clarke’s Beach, Carmanville, Twillingate, Hampden, Port aux Basques, Shearstown, Deer Lake, Makinsons, Labrador City, Roddickton, Howley, and now Bay Roberts.
However, I still have a dream of someday spending weeks at a time traversing the width and breadth of Newfoundland and Labrador, veering off the beaten track and checking out yet other venues of the natural beauty found in our province. The next time I head out, I plan to take as my guide Janice Wells’ recent “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts.” Dubbed the “ultimate insider guide,” it’s a compilation of 100 places she believes every Newfoundlander and Labradorian must see or, rather, experience.
“I use the word ‘experience’ rather than ‘see’ deliberately,” she says. Our “ history and places are so integral to our sense of self that anyone who just sees a place, drives through it, without a guide, written or local, or without taking the time to explore it, is really missing its essence.”
She divides her book into seven sections: St. John’s (sites 1 through 14), the Avalon Peninsula (15-39), eastern (40-49), central (50-69), western (70-84), Great Northern Peninsula (85-96), and Labrador (97101). In recent days, I’ve been reviewing what she believes are the places here on the Avalon Peninsula I should experience.
I invite you to accompany me as I visit some of these unforgettable sites and sounds.
Karl Wells, former CBC weatherman, declares, “ You’ll not find a better-tasting blueberry anywhere in the world” than in this province. Perhaps Brigus is the place to start. I personally have often visited this town of blueberries and Bartlett, and I always experience something new.
Janice Wells writes about Brigus’ “ beautiful stone walls, narrow winding streets, shady lanes, and wellmaintained centuries-old houses (that) make for a distinct old-world village feel.” Sherry and I often brought our children to the “80-footlong tunnel blasted out of solid rock in 1860 by a miner imported from Cornwall. A Bartlett ancestor had the work done to provide easier access to his wharf.”
“ The newly opened Cupids Legacy Centre, a state-of-the-art facility billed as a place ‘ Where the Present Meets the Past,’ offers an innovative and interactive museum experience that celebrates this milestone,” the birthplace of English Canada. What else can one say about historic Cupids that was not already said last year, the four hundredth anniversary of the founding of the town?
Frank D. Moores (1933-2005), the second (Progressive Conservative) premier of this province, called the Port de Grave fishermen “the best of the best,” adding the caveat, “even if they are Liberals.” Naturalists, photographers and geography enthusiasts love the so-called “Newfoundland Rock,” deposited by glacier action in an area known as Foxes Rock.
At Winterton, the men “acquired a reputation years ago as outstanding boatbuilders. Using only hand tools and local timber, they built skiffs, punts (or ‘rodneys’), motor boats, and schooners. These vessels were fine of form and made for work, not idling about.” Check out the wooden-boat museum. Where else, but on the second floor, will you experience such “an array of artifacts, including the oldest English headstone in the province, a magnificent horse-drawn hearse, farm tools, and vintage military, domestic and transportation-related items?”
Heart’s Content is “world-famous and it has nothing to do with love or romance.” The Cable Station Museum celebrates “ the beginning of instant communication between Europe and North America.” You can see, among other attractions, “an original cable operating room, a replica of the original Victorian cable office, and displays and artifacts.” The sense of history is palpable.
In 2001, Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine named Dildo one of Canada’s 10 most beautiful communities. Though talk-show host Jay Leno once referenced the community, it has its own claims to fame, including what Janice Wells calls “the proliferation of whale bones in the area.” Be sure to check out “a replica of a giant squid caught in Dildo in 1933.” On a lighter side, “Dildonians are accustomed to remarks about the name, but they have no intention of changing it, so you can still get your picture taken under the famous Dildo sign.”
If you already think you know Newfoundland and Labrador inside out, then perhaps reading this informative guide to the province will change your mind.