2013 trip to Newfoundland, Canada travel blog

On board a replica of John Cabot's ship the Mathew

Mockbeggar plantation house

puffin in flight


view from Cape Bonavista Lighthouse

Dungeon Provincial Park, Bonavista, NL





Rough Road for-'ever' sign

Port Union factory (left) and housing (right)

William Coaker house in Port Union

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Killer whale

August 2, 2013 travel day to Bonavista, NL

Sunny and warm. 189 miles to Bonavista, NL. Stopped at Irvin station for fuel; $5.18/gallon. Paradise trailer park was anything but paradise! Dry camping. Some spots with 20 amp but were taken up by a group of French. We parked on an undeveloped portion of a hill overlooking the lake; down a muddy ‘road’ (road was a kindness. The jacks with pads sunk 4 inches in the grass. One MH tweaked the frame and cracked the passenger side windshield and pop out one corner of the driver’s side. Another’s generator didn’t work so they were without power.

August 3, Bonavista, NL

It was raining this morning; another tour day in the rain. We caravanned in the rain. First stop was Ryan Premises Historic site which is a fish merchant ( five building including the house)retail store, salt house, fish store, retail shop and house. The merchant traded with the fishermen for goods (fishing supplies, food, clothing, etc) in exchange for the dried cod that the fisherman caught and processed. We had a mock demonstration of the process the fishermen used to process the dried cod fish for market. We stopped for lunch at the café next door. I had the sea food chowder which is always a good choice on a rainy day. Next stop was Matthew Legacy tour of a full scale replica of John Cabot’s boat, the Mathew (92 feet long). Under contract with the King of England, Cabot sailed the Mathew in 1497 in search of a western passage to the East Indies. What he discovered was Newfoundland rich in another treasure, Cod fish. What followed was a mass immigration of Irish, Scotts and English to develop the cod fish industry which lasted for almost 500 years. Next was the Mockbeggar Plantation (large house with large yard that was used as a garden). Next was Cape Bonavista lighthouse (1842). We saw puffins on the rocks but I had left my telephoto lens in the truck. I borrowed the wagonmaster’s 400 mm lens and got some nice pictures of the puffins. Next was a drive through Dungeon Provincial Park which has some interesting rock formations on the shore. What we saw there was a killer whale off shore breaching the water. Unfortunately it was some distance from the shore and even with my telephoto lens the pictures were not very good but I will include a sequence as a move in this post. Next was the murals on the town water tower.

August 4 Bonavista, NL

Raining again this morning. We caravaned to Ellison, the root cellar capitol of the world! With the town’s population dwindling from about 1000 before the collapse of the fishing industry (starting in the 1950s) to less than 150 today, they needed to attract tourists to save the town from bankruptcy. The only assets they had was the root cellars and the puffins. They have 136 root cellars; some have been restored and open for viewing. We attended a slide presentation on root cellars which contained details on root cellar types, design, internal environment, use, efficiency and performance; more than I could absorb or ever wanted to know. Besides, the presenter was standing between me and the projector screen; which was ok since he read every slide word for word. There are four different designs of root cellars depending on the terrain on which they are built. The slide show was followed by a visit to see the puffins and root cellars. The rain started to clear as we stopped for brunch at about 11 am at Nanny’s cafe. After brunch we drove to Port Union Historical site. William Coaker organized the fishermen in order to bargain a better price for their fish with the merchants, some, if not all, were cheating the fishermen by grading their fish at a lower grade and selling it at a higher grade. Coaker also started a newspaper, wood shop (manufacturing siding, gutters, doors and molding among other items), shipping and the power house to name a few. He had his ‘bungalow ‘ built (a very nice house) which was open for tours. Back at camp, our wagonmaster took four people (including Cherie) back to see the puffins again.

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