The Eastern and Avalon Regions of Newfoundland

And the French Islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon

 

Clockwise from upper left: The Village of Trinity; Lighthouse in Saint Pierre; River along the Baccalieu Trail; and Picnic Lunch at the Ferryland Lighthouse

 

            This is our third visit to the Canadian Province of Newfoundland/ Labrador...and it continues to hold a very special place in our heart because of its simplicity of life, the warmth of its people and the beauty that has been left relatively pristine as it is yet untouched by tourism and growth.   In fact, Newfoundland will probably not see a lot of growth because it has not been very successful in attracting new business since the loss or decline of their fishing and timber harvesting industries   Further contributing to the problem of attracting new business to the island is the long winter season and the  fact that the commutation to and from Newfoundland is quite arduous.    

            But for the months including and surrounding summer as well as the fall season, it is a most ideal place to visit.   During this trip, we concentrated our travel to the Eastern and Avalon Regions of Newfoundland, revisiting the village of Trinity that we wanted to explore further and to travel to the Irish Loop, a spectacular trail located in southern part of the Avalon region.    

            Also, of particular interest on this trip was a planned visit to the French Islands of Saint Pierre and Michelon …islands that lie just off the coast of Newfoundland.   Getting there is straightforward….a fifty-five minute ride on a new high speed catamaran took us from the village of Fortune in Newfoundland directly to the island of Saint Pierre just twenty kilometers (twelve miles) away.  Entering Saint Pierre is essentially no different than entering any other foreign country, in this case France.   We passed through immigration and customs at the dock and had our passport stamped ….a process repeated when we once again reentered Canadian territory on our return trip.   But more on that later! 

            I will attempt not to repeat discussions that are included in my earlier reports concerning Newfoundland and will refer you to appropriate sections in the Newfoundland/Labrador trip report from the year 2004. 

Getting there…..and around…..

Traveling to Newfoundland is not direct, but flights are available from most U.S. cities which connect through Toronto or Montreal and in some lesser instances through Halifax, Nova Scotia.   Flights arriving in Newfoundland, land in Deer Lake in the western part of the island or in St. John’s, the provincial capital in the eastern part of the island. 

            For this trip we arrived in St. John’s, and stayed the night at the Banberry B&B the same place, which we visited last year.  The next morning we left for the four hour drive (I made it a little sooner than that) to the village of Fortune, on the Burin Peninsula.  We had a reservation on the 2:45pm ferry and after arriving in Saint Pierre and checking into the Hotel Robert, we visited many of the small shops that line the quaint streets of this little town. 

            After a too short two day visit, we returned to Newfoundland from Saint Pierre and then drove to Trinity (about a three and one-half hour drive).   Our route was via the Discovery Trail on the Bonavista Peninsula to Port Rexton, where we stayed at the Fisher’s Loft Inn …the very same place we stayed during our visit last year.   While in the Trinity area, we visited the Bonavista Lighthouse, the Dungeons and the Matthew, a replica of the ship used by John Cabot when he sailed and landed in this area of Newfoundland.    

            From Trinity, a short drive took us to the small fishing village of Dildo just across Trinity Bay, traveling on the Baccalieu Trail in the Avalon Region of Newfoundland.   We toured the peninsula visiting small villages that are nestled along the shores of both Trinity Bay to the west and Conception Bay to the east.  

            We then returned to St. John’s and the Banberry B&B, which became our home base as we visited the very new Rooms Museum in St. John’s, Cape Spear, Quidi Vidi Village, Signal Hill and Ferryland on the Irish Loop and.

 

Saint Pierre Harbor

Saint Pierre's Quaint Streets

Saint Pierre

            Unfortunately, we did not get to the other French island of Michelon because of the boat schedule from Saint Pierre.   Had we had just one more day on the islands we would have taken the trip to Michelon.   Nevertheless, our experience was quite enjoyable as well as educational for few people even know about the existence of this French vestige in the new world and even less have ever had the opportunity to visit the islands.   (Click here for..) Saint Pierre has all the culture, tradition and cuisine that such a small community can bring from France.   

            It was extremely worth the time that we took getting to as well as being in Saint Pierre.   The warm weather was uncomfortable for me, but the locals loved as a respite from the long and dreary winters.   The people were indeed friendly and warm which only further enhanced the charm of Saint Pierre.  

 

Bonavista Lighthouse

Collapsed Dungeon Sea Cave

Trinity

            As I mentioned, Trinity was a second visit for us and one we especially looked forward to …and the time that we spent there did not disappoint us at all.   We drove out to the end of the Bonavista peninsula, where we visited the lighthouse and learned in some detail about the life of the early lighthouse keepers and their families.    It was an extremely hard life and required the hard work of each member of a large family to tend to the multiple tasks that they had to cope with each day…..rain or shine, stormy or calm, warm or cold. 

            We then visited a site called the Dungeon part of the Dungeon Provincial Park, which is a collapsed sea cave that today reveals two openings to the ocean and through which sea water surges with each wave.   It is an amazing site that is bordered on all sides by steep cliffs to the rocky and watery surface below.    

            Also on display not far from the site of the Dungeon is the ship, Matthews, which is a replica of the ship used by John Cabot when he traveled here and “discovered” this part of the new world in the 15th century.    There are yet many other wonderful sites to see in the village of Trinity and trails to hike along the cliffs above Trinity Bay and I would refer you to my discussions of this area in my report of Newfoundland 2004. 

Baccalieu Trail

            Here in the Avalon Region we visited Dildo, Carbonear and other small fishing villages that lie along the edges of Trinity Bay and Conception Bay.   These quaint villages are quite old and while some have lost their luster due to the moratorium on fishing that has effectively scuttled the whole industry, the surrounding scenery is quite spectacular.  

 

Signal Hill Trail to St. John's Harbor

St. John's Houses

Back in St. John’s

            Back in the capital city of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, this largest city in the province is filled with wonderful places to eat, hotels and B&B’s to stay and many activities to learn about the history of this island province.    The people are fantastic and their enthusiasm with their home and heritage is quite addictive.  

One of the great experiences during this visit was a hike down from Signal Hill (See our report Newfoundland 2004) that circled around the point at the entrance to the harbor. The trail is approximately 1.7 kilometers long and descends about 700 feet to the edge of town along an unpaved trail and boardwalk steps.   We also had a special treat when we traveled to (Click here for..) Ferryland on the Irish Loop and visited the archeological digs at the Avalon colony site.

We visited the brand new museum called; the “Rooms” which consists of rooms filled with art, antiquities and sculpture that tell the story of Newfoundland’s heritage.  We also went to an old time fishing village called Quidi Vidi, which also has a cannon battery mounted high on the bluff over the village and pointed toward the entrance of the harbor to propel invaders of an earlier era from entering the harbor.    

One evening in St. John’s, we attended a dinner theater where we took in an excellent musical revue….very enjoyable.   We also revisited the eastern-most land point in North America and had the pleasure of watching three Fin Back whales playing just off the shore.    The city is filled with exciting places to get involved with and this time of the year provides a respite from the cold long winters that lie ahead. 

Again, check out my report entitled Newfoundland 2004 to read more about the activities in St. John's.