Having lived in Canada for more than 20 years, I have never gotten the opportunity to travel to the Maritime provinces of Eastern Canada, in particular Newfoundland and Labrador. In my mind, I didn’t know quite what to expect from the distinct places that where described so vividly in my high school textbooks as part of Canada. Rather isolated from mainland Canada because of its easterly location, many people may not know that Newfoundland is actually closer to the Europe than to central Canada. Also, many people may not know that during 9/11, it was the residents of Newfoundland in particular, that toke in many passengers stranded on flights and assisted them. As the last province to join Canada, Newfoundland was named after the English explorer, John Cabot, who first discovered the land in 1497, and later mapped by topographer James Cook. There is so much character to the charm of Newfoundland that can be found in these places of interest in which I will go to detail after. From the majestic coastlines overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to the numerous lighthouses lining the coast, the allure of the land will make you wonder about the mystique that lies in the mist.
Getting there : Renting a car in Newfoundland can be challenging, so be sure to book ahead, or head over from Sydney in Nova Scotia via Marine Atlantic ferry to the terminals of Port au Basques or Argentia near St.Johns. There are also flights to St.Johns airport via Westjet or Air Canada.
This majestic and magnificent land is home to four national parks and various communities and culture that a week or more is required to explore this diverse and welcoming island. From the communities of Gander, which was home to the largest airport during World War 2, to the colourful Jellybean houses at St. Johns and its Irish charm, there is so much undiscovered about this new found land. Vibrant during the 1940s and during the Second World War, this period was one of its biggest periods of industrialization.
Long known as one of the last frontiers in Canada that seemed inhospitable to man, vast lands and frigid temperatures characterized the climate of Newfoundland and still define its way of life. Fishing, especially cod fishing was once the principal occupation here until the moratorium on fishing started. Today, the fishing industry still characterizes a major export business for the economy of Newfoundland, however over industries have began to take flight, such as ocean sciences, mining and the natural resources. Furthermore, what some people may not know is the numerous number of artists that channel their creativity along the murals and streets of this city, along with the music and stories that enchant visitors and and locals alike.
Below is a brief description of the magnificent places located in Newfoundland.
1.Signal Hill - This was the first place that telecommunications signal was received over the Atlantic Ocean and is an important reminder of the role that communications plays in our life. There are various hiking trails to be exposed at this National Historic sight, with trails overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a Visitor Centre with a cafe, and a Geocentre located below. Especially on a clear day, you can overlook the entire city of St Johns, along with its basilicas and buildings. Cabot tower is located on top of the hill too, commemorating explorer John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland.
2.Cape Spear & Cape Race
While many of us may know of Cape Spear as the famous lighthouse that sees that first sunrise in North America, we may have not heard of Cape Race, the lighthouse which among others that received the famous 911 signal that the Titanic ship send when it hit a iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on its way to New York from England.
3. Gros Morne National Park
There are dozens of trails to explore at the western national park of Newfoundland, from Western Brook Pond to Gros Morne, which is a challenging 6 hour round trip hike approximately through the dense forests, however the most alluring is The Tablelands. The Tablelands is more of a walking trail loop which takes around an hour that takes you on a walk through the cultivation of a special geologic preservation, where the rocks resemble Mars and contain traces of chemical origins.
Special Tip : The Oceanview Hotel at Gros Morne Park is highly recommended for its detailed modern accommodation, along with lovely service from the restaurant in the hotel. Plan your itinerary to hike Gros Morne in the morning, which is located a short 5 min drive away, and then relax at the contemporary Oceanview hotel.
4. Terra Nova
Terra Nova National Park is home to one of Newfoundland's most easterly parks and is home to the famous Ochre Hill firehouse, which you can climb to the top to see the view of the Terra Nova mountains. Exploring the trail will lead you on a walk through the ecology of the park and explains why the vegetation is the way it is, along with other information about various geologic formations. Visit the famous Sand Pond Beach right across from Ochre Hill, with is a 10 minute drive, famous for its warm clear waters and picnic nations, and take a. chance to stargaze at the aurora borealis, which is viewable from Newfoundland 30 days in a year. Terra Nova Golf Resort is a great place to relax and unwind after hiking, with a pool, tennis court, and other amenities.
5. Traversing the small towns - Highlight : Cornerbrook, St. Anthony
Besides St. Johns, there are so many many small towns that have their own story to tell. Cornerbrook is a nice pictureestique town nestled in the interior of Newfoundland and is famous for the sculpture of the James Cook memorial and view overlooking the city. It is the second largest city in Newfoundland. St Anthony on the north of the island holds its name to fame for being the famous iceberg viewing location and the home of the Iceberg Alley, where viewers can view icebergs from Newfoundland if they are lucky.
6. St Johns - The Rooms and City
Water Street in St Johns is known to be the oldest street in North America and contains Irish culture with narrow cobbled streets infused with cosmopolitan culture. Explore the Roman Catholic Basicilica and disticnic colourful jellybean houses in the capital city of Newfoundland. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Newfoundland at the 4 story museum, cafe and art gallery “ The Rooms”, located in the heart of Newfoundland. Part museum and art gallery, the rooms effortlessly brings the observer into the world of Newfoundland and brings the culture of the community alive through live art and exhibits.
Hidden Tips :
1.The East Coast Trail & Memorial University
The East Coast Trail is one of the longest trails that extends to over 336 km long, and the location near the Memorial University’s Ocean Science Centre is one of the best. There are various viewpoint parts located on the trail, so you can choose to hike some of the paths, then view the seals at the Memorial University lab after. Memorial University is known for being a pioneer in the ocean sciences, and has the largest flume tank in North America.
2. Mural and History in St. Johns
Art and murals always tell a story of a city that is open to interpretation. One of my favourite murals is that located near downtown St.Johns, with a street scene depicting a old street scene, which is strikingly contrasted with the new high rise building in the background. There are also monuments located all throughout the city that show a testament to the character of St.Johns.
Chelsea Reviews : 4.5/5
Newfoundland is a vast province with more that meets the eye. The people are friendly and welcoming, the culture is courageous and the land majestic. Coming from the West Coast, we may not understand the importance that Newfounland played in Canada’s history, but it is nevertheless a significant role that should be rediscovered. The people are distinct and varied, with a strong Viking tradition located in St. Anthonys and at the first site of the Viking colonization at L’Anse aux Meadows.The grandeur of the portions will surprise some who are not used to large food sizes, and the weather may be quite unpredictable as you drive from coast to coast. Nevertheless, the spirit of perseverance and openness reigns strong in this most easterly province of Canada, and is definitely one to put in your travel books if you ever have a chance.