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We are off to Newfoundland so tag-along with us.

Ferry to McCallum an isolated community outport

Friday, June 24, 2011

Today we drove about a half hour from Harbour Breton to Hermitage and took a 90 minute ferry ride to the isolated community of McCallum.
This tiny community of  aprox 75 – 90 people is probably most reminiscent of the typical Newfoundland outport that existed prior to the 1900’s.  McCallum is only accessible by the ferry, which runs once a day and twice a day on Fridays and Sundays.  We talked to a couple (probably our age) that live in McCallum and were just coming home after babysitting for a month in Gander for their daughter and husband who work on the rigs.  Getting around McCallum is mostly on foot.  There were paths and boardwalks with handrails along the side of the hill.

There are no roads, so no cars.  We did see 2 four wheelers, one which met this couple to take all their packages and supplies from the big city up the steep hills to their home. Life in this community is definitely a way of life.  The ferry brings all supplies to this community. Monday’s is fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you don’t go to the tiny grocery store on Monday you basically don’t get any that week.  Bread  usually comes in twice a week and milk and eggs are pretty much always available. You can order your groceries at the little grocery store in Hermitage and for 50 cents they can come across on the ferry, you just go meet the ferry at the wharf.  I don’t imagine they get too much ice cream in McCallum.  Only a small number of households in the community have internet as that is all the Bell Alliant will allow.  All the gas for their fishing boats had to be lugged over in 5 gallon containers from Hermitage. Fishing is the mainstay of this community and while we were there they were packing fish in dry ice to be shipped to the processing plant.   

These fishermen only have the little dorey type fishing boats and can fill their quotas and make their living without the larger boats. These fishermen and women definitely love what they do and their way of life to persevere the elements on those bitterly cold and windy days with no cabin to protect them.  Hats off to each and every one of them!
The one person we spoke to moved to McCallum last year and bought their house for $22,000.  We also passed by a large salmon farm that harvested over one million salmon last year.  When we got back to Hermitage they were loading the salmon fry onto the troller to replenish the pens. 
The rest of the day we had some R and R that ended with a nice campfire. Another very interesting day to add to our Backroad Memories.

Don't Be a Stranger!

Touring Harbour Breton

Thursday, June 23, 2011
When we woke up we were sure glad to see we were still in Harbour Breton and not somewhere out in the middle of Fortune Bay. We sure had a wild night and found out why all of the campsites have a berm around them.  The wind picked up something fierce, we thought Elbroko was going to blow out to sea.  At one point Doug thought maybe he should hook Hemi up to anchor us down better. It was still quite windy in the morning, but oh well off we go. We headed out to explore Harbour Breton.  It won’t take long, you can pretty much see the whole town from the top of the hill.  The sun is actually shining again today!  It is about 10 degrees.  Many of the Harbour Breton residents actually came from surrounding outport communities during a period of resettlement in the 1960’s and 70’s.  The government offered resident’s of the small outport communities $1,000 and moving expenses to relocate to Harbour Breton.  In some cases the houses were actually floated across the bay.  We hiked out to Rocky Point Lighthouse.
I wandered around in an abandoned cemetery, which was very interesting reading some of headstones.  Many people died so young, in their 20’s, and 30’s, some lost at sea, some in the wars.   It was very sad to see there were a lot of babies, some unnamed. 
There were no roads to connect this community with the rest of Newfoundland until 1972, they had minimal healthcare, so I would imagine that problem deliveries were mostly fatal. Many of the headstones were merely wooden crosses that had only a name.  

We wandered around town just trying to take it all in. Lobster season had just ended so lots of pots were piled everywhere. 

I hiked up Gunn Hill which was once used in the 1800’s to practice their cannon fire against pirateers.  I’m not quite sure why I continue to want to hike up these steep trails.  I must have been a mountain goat in a previous life. What a rewarding view!


I could see a salmon farm in the distance, which we found out later that evening harvests approx 50,000 salmon per pen, and this particular farm had 16 pens.  That’s a lot of salmon!  The fellow we were talking to goes out every 4 hours to feed them. That would be one of the reasons for the large fish plant that employs a good number of residents. 
After supper we went down to the beach to watch the sunset and had a lot of excitement.  The capelin were running!  Oh my what a scene.  Thousands of capelin were coming into shore to spawn.  The locals were there with nets and pails and bags and whatever to gather them up. 
The water was just rippling with all the fish.  You could even see them in the waves.  It was so cool.  Everyone made sure we had whatever we wanted to take home with us.
When the locals all left the seagulls had a heyday with the fish that were not scooped up. 
A beautiful sunset on a great day 

Don't Be a Stranger!

Off to Harbour Breton

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We were packed up and headed out to drive clear across the island by 9:45.  It was still spitting and about 5 degrees.  We are a little nervous about our next trek, no gas for 130 kms.  There are only a few communities at the end of this road, so hopefully the road is maintained well enough for Elbroko.  We sure don’t want the name to take on a whole other meaning.  We have asked several people about the road and they have assured us we can make it.  They warned us of several steep hills and to be careful of some of the potholes and watch for moose. YIKES!  Well we did make it to Harbour Breton 3 hours later. We did manage to avoid the big potholes, didn’t see a single moose, only a bear, and they were right, there are some very steep hills.  Hemi will have to work to get Elbroko back to the Trans Canada. There is not much happening for the first 130 kms, just like driving through northern Ontario, lots of trees.  It then goes to mountainous and the tops of them are pretty barron with a few scrub trees and lots of little ponds. 

It sure looked like Caribou country to us.  But not a one!  As we got closer to the ocean we were on top of the mountain looking down on some beautiful fjords.  And then one final long, steep hill and we were in Harbour Breton.  It is actually sunny here and about 13 degrees….Yahoo!  I was a little concerned that we did not phone a head to make sure there was a campsite available, especially after driving 200 kms. There are only 9 RV sites and a bunch of tent sites at the one campground in Harbour Breton.  But guess what…we are the only campers in the park.  There was a note on the office window to go to the town hall to pay.  They were so surprised to see campers, they had nothing organized for this year.  They felt so bad they only charged us $15 a night for our site.   Our campground is a 2 minute walk from Deadman’s Cove, and a lookout with gorgeous views over the ocean where you can see the 2 small French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

We are in this quaint little community of about 1500 people surrounded by mountains and water.  We will definitely be happy here for the next 5 days.

Don't Be a Stranger!

Change Islands and Fogo Island

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Of course it was still pouring rain today.  We are thinking of putting pontoons on Elbroko.  But like I said before, we have to take what we get, so off we go to catch the ferry to Change Island.  We have to drive to Farewell about 40 minutes away to catch the 7:45 ferry. There is one car ahead of us and one behind us, that’s it. I went into the terminal to see about a ticket but no one was home!  Figured we would get our ticket on board.  Good thing the fellow ahead of us knew what to do.  The ferry sounded the horn and off he went so we thought we’d better just follow him.  Can’t buy a  ticket on board either, I guess we’ll pay when we get off on Change Island.  It is only a 20 minute ferry ride which would have been beautiful on a sunny day.  You weave through lots of little rocky islands.  Arrived 20 minutes later and just drive right off, still don’t pay, hey we’re liking this!  The island is only 12 kms long and the ferry docks at the opposite end of the island from where the town is.  I guess they want you to see the whole Island.  It was very lovely rock and trees!  There are approximately 250 residents on Change Island, 29 students in kindergarten to grade 12.  The restaurant was closed, the interpretation centre was closed and there wasn’t much else around that could be closed.
But that’s OK this little town reminded me of how I remembered Newfoundland from my childhood days.  The smaller, older wood sided homes right on the water.  Their fishing outbuildings and wharfs were right in front. It was awesome! 

One of the places I did want to check out was the Newfoundland Pony Refuge. We found it with no problem not many places to hide anything on this little island.   The Newfoundland Pony has been declared critically endangered and this refuge was established to carry out a breeding program.  The lady that runs it owns 9 of these ponies and had 3 brand new colts one 3 weeks old, one 2 weeks old and one just one day old. I was in my glory with these little ones.

The owner has received a grant from the Government to help build a new barn on 5 acres of crown land to try and re-establish the herd of Newfoundland Ponies.  She has given so much of her time and money to try and save this important symbol of Newfoundland heritage.  We could not walk away without making a donation to help her efforts.  The ferry leaving Change Islands to Fogo Island did not leave for an hour so that gave us both a chance to have 40 winks in the truck, then onto Fogo, another 20 minute ferry ride. Still nobody to pay!  Fogo is a much bigger island, it even has more than one town!  The weather is still nasty but that doesn’t stop us, we still try and see as much as we can.  Our neighbours at the camp told us there was a humpback whale that had come up on the beach in Joe Batt’s Arm.  I had to see this, it might be as close as I get to a whale even if it is dead!  Doug is the smart one, he stays in the truck while I strike off across the beach in the pouring rain in search of a dead whale!  (I know, I’m not too bright sometimes) 10 minutes into my walk I see it.  It is massive!  
Apparently I am not the only one who wants to see a dead whale there was a worn path.  Doug and I tour around a bunch of the little towns on the island, Shoal Bay, Stag Harbour, Seldom and Little Seldom, didn’t see a big Seldom.  We had to stop in a small cafĂ© to enjoy a cup of coffee and talk to the locals.  Fogo Island has several art studios that are very modern and built right on the water’s edge.  You have to take a walking path to get to them.  I stumbled across one in Tilting when I walked up a trail to watch the huge waves crashing the shore. 
Also along this path was a cemetery that I cannot for the life of me figure out how they dig graves in the rocks! 
Tilting was a lovely little village that had stick fences around their properties and lots of old time Newfoundland images.   

You have probably guessed by now that I am totally soaked from walking around in the rain, but oh well I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey back in time as I wondered through the villages that brought back some memories.  We catch the 4:00 ferry back to Farewell our starting point, and finally we have to pay.  A whole $22.50 for Hemi and her 2 passengers to tour around these lovely little islands of Newfoundland.

We have another yummy supper waiting for us in the crockpot when we finally get back to ElbrokoAnother great day inspite of the monsoons!

Don't Be a Stranger!

The People of Newfoundland

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today was a rainy, rainy day again!!!!  Climbed to a high of 8 degrees for a second, mostly it was around 6.  We drove into the visitor centre where they had wireless internet and I could update our blog.  The lady in there was so friendly, (surprise surprise)  just talked to us for the longest time.  We are both so totally in awe of the Newfoundlanders.  They are the heartiest, friendly people you will ever meet.  This lady worked on the fishing boats for 16 years, and basically was seasick most every day. When she was on the crab boats they would be gone for 3 days at time, and she said basically she lived on Gravol. That was her life and what she had to do to live, and raise her family. Her husband was a carpenter.  When the fishing industry slowed down she managed to find jobs on land but had to travel 1 1/2 hours into Gander everyday.  She was now lucky enough to get a job at the tourist information close to her home and next year would be working at a B and B in town. 
 From here we went into the Auk Island Winery, yeah I know it’s hard to believe there is a winery in Newfoundland.  We have hardly seen any sun or temperatures above 9 degrees for the past 2 weeks!  The winery was an old high school and renovated to house the winery.  They buy blueberries, partridge berries, bakeapples, blackberries whatever grows on the island and they make wine.  For $5 we had a tour of the winery and wine sampling.  They make about 20 different kinds of wine, and we sampled probably half of them before we decided we had enough, we still had to drive home.  We had to wash down all that wine and found a little tea shop and bakery.  Boy did that tea hit the spot, and of course the fresh baking that went along with it was even better.  The couple that owned the bakery was in their mid 60’s and had started the bakery 7 years ago, renovating their garage and family room.  They work 18 – 20 hours a day but love every minute of it.  They meet so many interesting people and have stayed in touch with people from all over the world.  We chatted with this lovely couple for almost an hour before heading back to camp.  What a nice way to spend a rainy miserable day, by chatting with the people of Newfoundland.

Don't Be a Stranger!

Happy Father's Day from Twillingate

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers that are reading our blog.  Doug was missing his girls terribly, they mean the world to him, so I tried to keep him busy.  We went out for brunch in Twillingate, the iceberg capital of the world. We had a great breakfast at a lovely little restaurant overlooking the bay.  Twillingate an island that was connected to the mainland in the 1970’s by a causeway and the Road To The Isles.  It was once a large fishery, but, as is most of the other villages it is in decline.  We did stop at St. Peters church, which is one of the oldest wooden churches on the island, erected in 1842.

We continued on up the road to the Crow Head Lighthouse that was under restoration. 

While we were there 2 fellows were putting a fresh coat of paint on the main house.  This was one of the largest lightkeeper houses that we have seen so far.  So whoever was the lightkeeper here was very fortunate and probably had a huge family.  We only saw one iceberg which was off in the distance. Apparently they have been scarce the last couple of years. There are 2  really large ones coming down from Greenland that are over 10 mile longs.  They may have to blast it up as the oil rigs are in the path.  Unfortunately, we did not see any whales either.  What we did see was this magnificent scenery.

I hiked down a 2 km trail to get as close as I could to the cliffs. We spent a couple of hours here before carrying on.   

Beautiful painted house in Twillingate
We passed through the little villages of Toogood Arm, Kettle Cove, Black Duck Cove and Herring Neck.  I was headed over to Mortan’s Harbour just because it is in the song I’se the bye that builds the boat.  Mortan’s Harbour was a really neat little village scattered around the bay.  I took lots of pictures here, this village reminded me of my visits to the Island from my childhood days.  It is actually very sad to see these little fishing huts and piers mostly just disintegrating as the little fisherman is getting to be a thing of the past.  

Don't be a Stranger!