Hawthorne Cottage and Brigus

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 37 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #87. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

The beautiful town of Brigus is situated on the Avalon Peninsula, about 70km (43 miles) from the capital city of St. John’s, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Brigus was founded in 1612. The name “Brigus” is derived from “Brickhouse”, an old English town.

While in Brigus, I completed a self-guided tour of Hawthorne Cottage, a National Historic Site of Canada, then took a leisurely hike around charming streets sloping up into green cliffs to explore the town. Brigus’ well-kept old-style architecture, rustic stone walls, lush green gardens, and winding narrow lanes are reflective of its English, Irish, and Welsh heritage.

Here are my pictures of historic structures and scenery in Brigus. Except for the first two pictures, I grouped the rest of my pictures into three galleries. Click on any image in the gallery to see its bigger version and caption.

Hawthorne Cottage National Historic Site

Built in 1830, this charming cottage was the former home of Arctic explorer Captain Bob Bartlett, who took American explorer Robert Peary to the North Pole in 1909. I highly recommend the tour of the cottage. Many artifacts commemorate the family and Bartlett’s achievements as the greatest ice navigator of the 20th century.

Hawthorne Cottage National Historic Site

During the more than 50 years of his seafaring life, Captain Robert (Bob) Abram Bartlett skippered some of the most famous, dangerous, and controversial exploratory expeditions to the Arctic. He travelled further north than almost any other living person, was shipwrecked at least 12 times, survived for months in the inhospitable Arctic after sea ice crushed his ship, and journeyed hundreds of miles by dogsled to reach civilization. Despite these hardships, Bartlett returned to the Arctic whenever circumstance allowed and almost always came back with photographs, film reels, and scientific data that greatly contributed to the world’s understanding of the north.

Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage web site
Hawthorne Cottage
View of Hawthorne Cottage from its gardens

Historic structures built in the 1800s

From top left, clockwise: St. George’s Heritage church built in 1876; Stonewalls line the river; The Tunnel bored through solid rock on Brigus waterfront in 1860; Pinkston’s Forge built in 1889; The Leamon Museum: Ye Olde Stone Barn built in the 1820s.

Brigus Bay and Bishop’s Beach

From top left, clockwise: Steel Sails Monument erected at Bishop’s Beach in 1972 commemorating Captain Bartlett; Directional signs in Brigus; Blue bench at Payne Family Park; View of Brigus Bay; Stone table and bench at Bishop’s Beach.

Brigus Homes and Town Hall

From top left, clockwise: Brigus Town Hall in a beautiful blue; Brigus winding lanes; Birdhouses on a post; Side door at the Baldwin’s; Door with green trimmings; A house in Brigus.

My visit to Hawthorne Cottage and Brigus was informative and enjoyable. I hope to take you on an idyllic island getaway next week.

Shared with #ThursdayDoors, PPAC#64, Jo’s Monday Walk.

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The Charming Town of Trinity

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 36 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #86. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

Trinity is a small town located on Trinity Bay on the Bonavista peninsula in Newfoundland, about 3 hours by road from the capital city, St. John’s.

The harbour at Trinity was first used by fishing ships around the 16th century. The Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real named the location “Trinity” as he arrived on Trinity Sunday, 1501.

Floating docks at Trinity Harbour

Before 1700, Trinity Harbour was mainly a summer station used by merchants and shipowners. After 1700, several major merchant houses from Poole, England selected Trinity as their headquarters and under their patronage Trinity developed as one of the main Newfoundland trading centres in the English fishery.

Trinity Harbour

The waterfront area on which once stood the commercial and fishery buildings of the Taverners, Lesters, Garlands and Lester-Garlands during the period 1700-1906 and in the twentieth century Ryan Brothers is named the Lester-Garland Provincial Historic Site. Some of the buildings were restored or reconstructed and are open for visitors.

The Lester-Garland Provincial Historic Site in Trinity

I picked up a map from Trinity’s Visitor Centre and explored on my own. A walk along Trinity’s scenic harbour and winding lanes lead to houses, museums, art galleries, and other historic buildings preserved from the 19th century. Information boards posted at the historic sites give helpful explanatory notes.

A grassy lane
Business signs
Lovely walking path

I created an image gallery of some of the historic sites and community buildings that I visited in Trinity below. For more history details on the buildings, check out the Town of Trinity website here. Click on the top left image and use the arrow to move through the gallery. Brief captions are included.

I thoroughly enjoyed my walk in the charming and historic town of Trinity. I found out after my visit that Trinity was named one of the 12 best small towns in Canada by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2021. I hope to take you to another scenic town next week.

Shared with #ThursdayDoors, PPAC#63, #SundayStills, #WW&P.

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Prime Berth in Twillingate

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 35 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #85. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

Before reaching St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador, from Western Newfoundland, I passed through many small fishing communities and headed north to the town of Twillingate, located on the Twillingate Islands on the north east coast of Newfoundland.

Twillingate gets its name from the French word “Toulinquet,” given to the islands by French fishermen, who compared it to a group of islands off the French coast near Brest also called Toulinquet. Twillingate is known for icebergs, whales, ocean experiences and outdoor adventures. It was a historic fishing community (since the 1500s), but because of the decline of the fishing industry, its economy now relies more on tourism.

One of the attractions in Twillingate is the Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre. It is a private interpretive fishing center and craft studio created by David Boyd, with the support of his wife Christine, as a tribute to his fisher forefathers. Captain Dave also runs boat tours for iceberg viewing and whale watching.

Prime Berth refers to the age old practice of each spring holding a draw, or lottery of sorts, to determine the place, or “berth” where fishermen would set their cod traps during the coming summer. Everyone hoped and prayed that they would be lucky enough to draw the best spot, or “Prime Berth”, as it was called. In David’s case this was personal and special as all the fishermen gathered in his father’s kitchen each May for the annual cod trap draw. In honour of this tradition, and as a tribute to proud people so dear to his heart, David decided to call his heritage centre – “Prime Berth”- meaning literally -“the best spot!”

Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre

The following two slideshows highlight some of the displays that I found interesting at Prime Berth. Click on the arrows or swipe to move through the slides.

Buildings and Doors

These brightly painted buildings house fishing artifacts and tools. There are hundreds of items on display in the buildings and on or above the doors. The last picture shows the jaw bone of a fin whale found at Trinity Bay in the 1950s.

Murals

These murals depict life in a fishing community. Look closely to see fish, icebergs, whales, seabirds, boats, clapboard homes, fishermen and women, the ocean and the rocky coastline. The island of Newfoundland is nicknamed “The Rock” because of its rocky terrain and high cliffs.

I hope to take you on an easy walk in a charming and historic town next week.

Shared with #ThursdayDoors, PPAC#62, #SundayStills.

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Postcard from St. John’s

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 33 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #83. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

Today’s post is my postcard from St. John’s. After a long stretch of beautiful sunny days in Newfoundland and Labrador, I finally experienced overcast sky and brief periods of rain, drizzle and fog in St. John’s. I came prepared with my rain gear and took a long walk to explore this historic, artistic and colourful city.

St. John’s (always abbreviated and with an apostrophe) is the most easternly city in North America and Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital. St. John’s is not to be confused with Saint John in New Brunswick, another province in Atlantic Canada.

Art Works

Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Mile 0 Memorial

“I just wish people would realize that anything is possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”

Terry Fox (1958-1981)

If you don’t know who Terry Fox is, please read about him here.

Our Newfoundland and Labrador Dogs sculptures by sculptor Luben Boykov
Our Newfoundland and Labrador Dogs sculptures by sculptor Luben Boykov
A Time sculpture by sculptor Morgan MacDonald
A Time sculpture by sculptor Morgan MacDonald
A Time sculpture
A closer look at A Time sculpture
Making Fish sculpture by artist Jim Maunder
Making Fish sculpture by artist Jim Maunder

Historic Sites

Cabot Tower at the highest point of Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada
Km 0 marker outside St. John's City Hall
Km 0 marker outside St. John’s City Hall
Km 0 marker of the Trans-Canada Highway that links ten Canadian provinces

Officially opened in 1962, the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) is one of the longest highways in the world. From St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Victoria, British Columbia, the TCH covers over 7821 km and crosses six time zones.

Jellybean Houses

There are blocks and blocks of brightly painted houses on the hilly streets that rise from St. John’s harbour.

Jellybean houses
Jellybean houses on Victoria Street in St.John’s
Jellybean houses in St. John’s
Colourful houses at St. John's Harbour
Colourful houses at St. John’s Harbour

Pubs and Music

George Street in downtown St. John’s has some of the best pubs and restaurants in Newfoundland, as well as all types of music – Irish, blues, rock n’ roll, dance, country and traditional music.

YellowBelly Brewery in St. John’s

It was a wonderful discovery walk in St. John’s.

Shared with #PPAC60, #WQW31.

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5 Scenic Walks in Western Newfoundland

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 32 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #82. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

In my previous post I shared a sampling of the delicious meals that I had in Newfoundland and Labrador. I worked them off by taking as many walks as possible. It was easy to do because the province has 29,000 kilometres of pristine coastline and close to 300 hiking and walking trails.

Here are five scenic walks that I enjoyed in western Newfoundland. As always, click on any image in the galleries to see its bigger version and caption.

1. Corner Brook Stream Trail

I was staying at Glynmill Inn and the Corner Brook Stream Trail was steps from the inn entrance so I did two walks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon in opposite directions. The trails are well defined with minimal elevation.

The morning walk took me along the beautiful trail to the wetlands and into the forest. Pretty wildflowers, bright dandelions and adorable chipmunks were part of a wonderful start to my day.

The afternoon walk took me to another beautiful forest, then a bridge that crosses rushing waters and Glynmill Inn Pond with swans before I returned to Glynmill Inn.

2. Trout River Boardwalk

Trout River is a small rural fishing town located on the southern coastal edge of Gros Morne National Park, near the Tablelands. This town is known for its boardwalk and trails that connect to the National Park. I enjoyed the views over the water and a walk through town.

Trout River was settled in 1815 by George Crocker and his family, who were its only inhabitants until 1880. In 2014, a blue whale carcass washed up along the shore in Trout River which attracted international attention. The skeleton of this whale was later put on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

3. Shallow Bay Trail

This 1.3-km loop trail is easy and perfect when short on time. I extended my walk to see St. Mary’s botanical garden, St. Mary’s church, and Dr. Henry N. Payne Museum & Craft Shop (the longest running museum on the West Coast of Newfoundland). I returned to Shallow Bay just in time for a spectacular sunset.

4. The Dorset Trail, Port au Choix

The Dorset Trail winds across limestone barrens and through forest and heathland to coastal archaeological sites dating back 2,800 years. This was one of my favourite trails for the unusual landscape. Although the ground may look bare, when I took a closer look, to my delight, I discovered many plants living and thriving on these barrens.

5. Bottom Brook Trail

Bottom Brook received its name due to its location at the bottom of St. Anthony Harbour. The 1.4-km loop trail is an easy walk on a beautiful morning to start my day. After the walk, I took a boat tour from St. Anthony Harbour to see icebergs, seabirds and whales.

*****

I love the uniqueness of the above walks and their beautiful natural surroundings. They are simple walks that I could fit in first thing in the morning to warm up, or last thing in the evening to wind down. I hope you enjoy the landscape as much as I did.

Shared with Jo’s Monday Walk, Denyse’s WW&P.

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Eating Out in Newfoundland and Labrador

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 31 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #81. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

When I was in Newfoundland and Labrador in June, I ate out every day. It was a great break from my cooking and cleaning routine at home. Since much of the traditional Newfoundland cuisine includes fish and I enjoy seafood, most of my lunch and dinner orders were seafood! I also tried moose meat which was lean and tasted like beef.

Here’s a sampling of some of the delicious food that was on my plate.

Arctic char (a cold-water fish) with wild rice and vegetables
Cod with coleslaw, baked potato and vegetables
Fish cakes with chutney, salad and berry dressing
Grilled salmon with potatoes, carrots and broccoli
Cod au Gratin with salad and a slice of bread

For desserts, pudding, cheesecake and mini jam tarts with blueberries, partridgeberries (lingonberries) or squash berries topped with thick cream were common and delicious.

When I was in Newfoundland and Labrador, it was the beginning of tourist season and the first full re-opening in the province since the pandemic started. Some seasonal staff just began their jobs a few days before I arrived and one place was short-staffed. However, at every single place, I received and greatly appreciated the warm hospitality, friendly service and delicious food.

I chatted with two fishermen who were hauling in their catch of the day at Sally’s Cove. They used their truck and a pulley system to bring the boat to land and unload their catch onto their truck; ready to go to the market or restaurants. Good to know how our food gets from farm to table, or in this case from sea to table.

I worked off my meals on several scenic walks. I hope to share a few walks in my next post.

Do you like seafood? Would you try moose meat?

Shared with Donna and Deb‘s #WhatsOnYourPlate, #SundayStills.

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5 Notable Lighthouses in Newfoundland

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 29 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #79. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

In my previous posts, I wrote about three amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites and my incredible iceberg viewing experience in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today’s post is about my road trip to see lighthouses.

Newfoundland and Labrador has over 29,000 kilometres of twisting coastline, laden with submerged rocks, hidden inlets, and icebergs. The province also has hundreds of lighthouses to guide fishermen and sailing vessels to safety on foggy and stormy nights. To make them easier to spot from a distance, many were painted plain white. Some have red and white stripes.

Lighthouses: A) Point Riche B) Lobster Head Cove C) Long Point D) Cape Bonavista E) Cape Spear

Here are five notable lighthouses that I visited on the island of Newfoundland. As always, click on images in the galleries to see bigger photos and captions.

A) Point Riche Lighthouse

Built in 1892, Point Riche Lighthouse is still active. The structure is 19 metres (62 ft) tall. The white wooden tower is octagonal pyramidal in shape; the entry door and lantern room are painted red. Its location is a windswept landscape with exposed ancient seabeds and expansive ocean views. I saw sea birds and whales here.

B) Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

In the heart of Gros Morne National Park, Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse has guided ships into Bonne Bay since 1897. The tower is of iron, cast in St. John’s. Iron was fireproof, long-lasting and could be shipped to the site in pieces. The light is from England, built by Chance Brothers. All parts were landed below and hauled uphill by cart-and-oxen, overseen by first keeper Robert Lewis.

The setting of Lobster Cove Head Light was carefully chosen. The view gives the light beam a 180-degree sweep from north to south and out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In fine weather, it can be seen over 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) offshore.

C) Long Point Lighthouse

Long Point Lighthouse, built in 1876, is located on a prominent headland at the entrance to Notre Dame Bay, in Twillingate on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. At more than 300 feet above sea level, its location provides an open view of the islands that dot this section of coast, of shipping activities and of icebergs that drift south in the spring.

Along the cliff trails, tuckamores survive. Tuckamores are trees that have been bent and sculpted by constant strong onshore winds. The salt spray kills exposed buds, so growth only occurs on the tree’s sheltered inland side.

D) Cape Bonavista Lighthouse

Built in 1843, the light at Cape Bonavista is one of the few in the world where you can still climb up the stone tower and see the same seal oil fueled catoptric light apparatus that was used in the 1800s. I took the guided tour to learn about the hard life of the lightkeepers and see their quarters that have been restored to the 1870s.

As the place where John Cabot first made landfall in Newfoundland in 1497, Cape Bonavista Lighthouse is one of the most visited Provincial Historic Sites in the province. This is a prime location to view whales, icebergs and puffins. I was delighted to see hundreds of cute puffins fly from the cliffs and a fox family outside the lighthouse.

E) Cape Spear Lighthouse

Cape Spear, Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse and a National Historic Site, has served as the chief approach light for St. John’s harbour since 1836. Constructed by local builders, it consists of a stone tower surrounded by a frame residence, a common lighthouse design on Canada’s east coast.

The light mechanism in use in the 19th century came from Inchkeith lighthouse in Scotland. Modern equipment was installed in 1912 and remains in use in the concrete tower built nearby in 1955. Much altered during the 19th century, the old lighthouse has been restored to its original appearance.

On the day of my visit, it was foggy and windy on Cape Spear, a perfect opportunity to see the light flash from the new tower and hear foghorn sound.

Cape Spear is home to the most easterly point of land in North America. In this place on the edge of the continent, you can watch the sun rise first before anyone else in North America. Pretty cool, eh?

Cape Spear
Cape Spear

Are you road tripping this summer?

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These Icebergs Made My Day

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 28 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #78. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

Iceberg viewing is one of the outdoor activities that I hoped to do when I traveled to Newfoundland and Labrador last month. While late May and early June is the best viewing time, there is no guarantee to see icebergs because it’s up to Nature.

To view icebergs, I headed north and took the ferry from St. Barbe to Blanc Sablon across the Strait of Belle Isle to the shores of Labrador (C in the map below). It was a clear and sunny day, high 18C (64F).

My itinerary in Newfoundland and Labrador
My itinerary

Iceberg #1

As we approached Blanc Sablon, I spotted a ‘dry dock’ iceberg with a U-shaped slot at water level, and three pinnacles or columns. It was a beautiful first sighting.

Iceberg near Blanc Sablon
Iceberg near Blanc Sablon
Iceberg near Blanc Sablon
Same iceberg, different angle

Roughly 90% of icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland, while the rest come from glaciers in Canada’s Arctic. It takes an iceberg about two to three years to reach Newfoundland and Labrador from Greenland – a distance of 1,800 nautical miles.

NewfoundlandandLabrador.com

Iceberg #2

Two days later, I boarded a tour boat from St. Anthony (D on my itinerary map) and headed out to sea. St. Anthony is located in Iceberg Alley, an area that stretches from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of the island of Newfoundland.

Once again, I was fortunate to have a gorgeous, clear and sunny day, high 11C (52F). About fifteen minutes after the boat departure, I spotted two icebergs in the horizon. One ‘tabular’ iceberg had a flat top and one ‘dome’ iceberg had a rounded top. It was amazing to see these magnificent 10,000 year-old giants float silently in open waters. However, they were a bit far for good pictures.

Until we got close to this ‘pinnacle’ iceberg with one main pyramid on it. It was much bigger than the iceberg I saw in Blanc Sablon. Zoom in to see the streaks on its surface. Regardless of size, each iceberg is unique. As are the bluish-green streaks breaking through the bright white ice.

Iceberg in St. Anthony
The back of the same iceberg
Iceberg and small ice chunks
Iceberg and smaller ice chunks

Iceberg #3

As the tour boat rounded the corner, I saw a massive ‘wedged’ iceberg, with steep surfaces on one side and gradually sloping on the other, thus forming a wedge. And when I considered that 90% of an iceberg is actually below the surface, I was in awe to see this iceberg. Just stunning!

The boat captain turned off the engine so we could listen to hear the melting ice, the faint pops releasing the fresh, clean air previously trapped for thousands of years. As we circled around the iceberg, I realized how deceiving its first appearance was and how an iceberg sank the Titanic because there was more behind its massive size.

Iceberg in St. Anthony
Iceberg in St. Anthony
Streaks on iceberg surface
Beautiful streaks on the iceberg surface
Same iceberg, different angle
Same iceberg, different angle

Most icebergs weigh between 100,000 and 200,000 tonnes, and some, though more rare, as much as millions of tonnes. There are bergy bits the size of a small house and smaller ones called growlers that get their name from the sound they make as they plunge into the swelling seas. Icebergs are harvested to produce Iceberg Vodka, Gin, and bottled water in Newfounddland and Labrador.

NewfoundlandandLabrador.com

On the way back to St. Anthony, I saw bergy bits and growlers. I touched and tasted the iceberg ice that the boat captain scooped up using a net. Icebergs are created from pure, fresh water and snow so iceberg ice is safe to consume and is not salty.

Bergy bits
Bergy bits
Iceberg ice
Iceberg ice

Since these icebergs and I have traveled thousands of miles to reach Newfoundland and Labrador, I was so happy we met on two beautiful days. Iceberg viewing is one of the highlights of my trip and a memorable experience for a lifetime.

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3 Amazing World Heritage Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 27 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #77. Come on in for a coffee or tea, and let’s catch up.

In June, while in Newfoundland and Labrador, I explored three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the province:

  1. Gros Morne National Park
  2. L’Anse aux Meadows
  3. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In case you’re unfamiliar with local name and geography, the official name of the province is Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). The Strait of Belle Isle separates the province into two areas: 1) Newfoundland and 2) Labrador.

This post includes the highlights of my visits to the three sites. The first two sites are along the Viking Trail on Newfoundland’s west coast and the third site is on Labrador’s south coast. I included links to Parks Canada and UNESCO official websites for more information. As always, click on photos in galleries to see a bigger version and read their captions.

1. Gros Morne National Park

In 1987, Gros Morne National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its unique geological history dating back 1.25 billion years and its exceptional scenery. Gros Morne French meaning is “big lone mountain” or more literally “great sombre.”

The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed. More recent glacial action has resulted in some spectacular scenery, with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and many pristine lakes.

UNESCO Gros Morne National Park

I visited the majestic Western Brook Pond, a fresh water fjord which was carved out by glaciers. The photo below shows the Long Range Mountains where the fjord is located. The steep escarpment on the right marks a crack (or fault) in the Earth’s crust. The fault was created when continents collided about 400 million years ago.

Western Brook Pond
Western Brook Pond
Western Brook Pond
Western Brook Pond photo in my hotel room

I took a boat tour on beautiful Bonne Bay. It was a clear and sunny day so the 806 m high flat-topped Gros Morne Mountain and the Tablelands with a dusting of snow were visible.

I also visited the park’s informative Discovery Centre and hiked the picturesque Tablelands Trail. The landscape is so spectacular that I can easily spend two weeks here to explore more hiking trails.

***

2. L’Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows was designated a National Historic Site in 1975 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. It is the only authenticated Viking site in North America and the earliest evidence of Europeans in North America. It comprises 80 square kilometers of forest, bog, coast, bay and islands.

L'Anse aux Meadows reconstructed sod huts
L’Anse aux Meadows reconstructed sod huts

Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine, were searching for Norse landing places along the coast of North America. With the help of local resident George Decker, they would uncover the only Norse encampment ever to have been discovered in North America. Following excavations, they determined Leif Erickson and crews of Norse explorers arrived here and built a small encampment of timber-and-sod buildings over a thousand years ago.

My visit started from the Visitor Centre to watch a short documentary for an overview and to see the authentic artifacts that proved the site’s origin. A tour guide took visitors along a beautiful boardwalk to the Meeting of Two Worlds sculpture, created by Luben Boykov and Richard Brixel and unveiled in July 2002. This sculpture symbolizes the meeting of human migration from the east through Asia to North America and from the west through Europe to North America. The two groups met when the Norse landed at L’Anse aux Meadows. Anse French meaning is “cove“.

Meeting of Two Worlds sculpture: Viking ship (left) and Aboriginal sword (right)

We continued to the actual site to see the fascinating archeological remains of three halls and five smaller buildings where the Vikings lived and worked have been carefully preserved as they were when discovered by the Ingstads. We then followed the boardwalk trail to the reconstructed sod huts and met costumed interpreters.

***

3. Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station is the earliest, most complete and best preserved 16th-century Basque whaling site found anywhere in the world. Red Bay was listed as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1979, and designated a World Heritage Site in 2013.

Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

For about 70 years beginning in the 1530s, whalers from the Basque region of Spain and France used the harbour at Red Bay as a seasonal base for hunting whales and producing the whale oil that lit the lamps of Europe. Each spring as many as twelve ships and upwards of 2000 men arrived after a dangerous voyage from Europe to set up operations at Red Bay, one of about a dozen seasonal whaling stations along the south Labrador coast.

To visit Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, I traveled from Newfoundland to Labrador by ferry. Labrador means Big Land. At the Visitor Centre, I viewed a remarkable collection of original artifacts, archaeological remains, videos, models and the restored 16th century Chalupa, the oldest known whaling boat in the world. Behind the Chalupa exhibit is a stunning ‘whale and mariners’ mural created by Newfoundland-born artist Lloyd Pretty in 1999.

***

I’m grateful to be able to visit these three amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador. I hope you enjoy them through my lens.

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Agawa Canyon: From Rail to Trail

After enjoying a nice family hike along the Attikamek Trail in Sault Ste. Marie, the next day we took a rail excursion from Sault Ste. Marie to Agawa Canyon Park. Agawa Canyon has been on our list of destinations to visit for a while. We were so glad to make it happen.

Getting There

The Agawa Canyon Park is only accessible by hiking trail or the Algoma Central Railway, and is located 186 km or 114 rail miles north west of Sault Ste. Marie. We take the Agawa Canyon tour train that departs from Sault Ste. Marie at 8 am and arrives back in Sault Ste. Marie around 6 pm.

Agawa Canyon Park location
Agawa Canyon Park location (red marker)

About Agawa Canyon

Agawa Canyon was created more than 1.2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield. A series of ice ages subsequently widened and reshaped the Canyon over a period of 1.5 million years with the last ice age retreating about 10,000 years ago. The word Agawa is native Ojibway for “shelter”.

The Sault Ste. Marie visitor guide provides a map of three nature trails in the Agawa Canyon Park. They are the Lookout Trail, River Trail, and Talus Trail. We hike the River Trail and the Talus Trail for the three waterfalls in the park. The Lookout Trail is closed on the day of our visit. The trails are well maintained and are covered in fine gravel.

The Train Ride

Rarely is the journey as rewarding as the destination, but the Agawa Canyon train ride is truly an exception. The train is outfitted with large tinted windows and comfortable seats to watch the ever-changing and breathtaking Northern Ontario landscapes. The train ticket includes a $10 voucher that we can use for food and drinks in the dining car.

Spruce Lake
Spruce Lake

We drink in the beautiful scenery as the train hugs the shores of northern lakes and rivers, crosses towering trestles, and passes by mixed forests that turn red, purple, gold and yellow in the fall.

Autumn foliage
Autumn foliage towards Lake Superior

We also listen to a GPS-triggered audio commentary about key points of interest and the rich history of the region. When we can peel our eyes away from the window, the train has locomotive-mounted cameras that provide an engineer’s “eye-view” via flat screen monitors installed throughout the coaches.

A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train
A view from our window on the Agawa Canyon train

The Weather

The weather changes frequently during our train ride, from overcast, to partly cloudy, to light snow flurries at high elevation, to partly sunny as the train starts its descent into the canyon at Mile 102 and full sunshine by the time we reach the canyon floor at Mile 114.

Light dusting of snow
Light dusting of snow at high elevation
Train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park
Full sunshine upon train arrival at Agawa Canyon Park

The River Trail

Upon arriving at the Agawa Canyon Park, we start our hike on the River Trail which gently rolls along the banks of the Agawa River. The strong sunlight quickly melts the thin layer of snow. The trail glows and smells fresh as if it just received a spa treatment.

Autumn colours by the Agawa River
Autumn colours by the Agawa River

We walk about twenty minutes, enjoy the trail and the vibrant autumn colours along the river before reaching the beautiful Bridal Veils Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park.

View along the River Trail
View along the River Trail

We see many white birch trees with their golden leaves and mountain ash trees with their red fruits that accentuate the landscape.

Mountain ash
Mountain ash

The water flow at all the falls in the canyon is contingent on runoff from snow and rainfall. We luck out that Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5m (225 ft.) are running strong. The Agawa River is the calm and reflective barrier that holds us back from getting closer to the falls.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls at 68.5 m (225 ft)

The Talus Trail

From the River Trail, we walk about fifteen minutes to reach the Talus Trail which follows along the base of the west canyon wall. This trail leads us past lichen covered talus slopes to the viewing platforms at North and South Black Beaver Falls.

The Talus Trail
The Talus Trail

We can hear the rushing sounds of water before reaching the viewing platforms. Black Beaver Falls at 53.3 m (175 ft) are also running strong and look so beautiful with the surrounding autumn foliage. We respect the Caution sign to keep off the rocks.

North Black Beaver Falls
North Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls
South Black Beaver Falls

Clouds roll in and out while we pass bridges, creeks and waterfalls to return to the train. Altogether we walk 5 km and enjoy every minute of the hike in Agawa Canyon Park.

On our way back to Sault Ste. Marie, we get to see the spectacular landscapes again from our train windows. Everyone is wide-eyed to take in as much as possible the pristine beauty of Canada’s rugged wilderness.

Copyright © 2022 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.