Saturday, 29 August 2009

Irish Loop & Caribou

The Irish Loop is the only road that goes from St John's all the way round the Avalon Peninsula and back to St John's, and it's a full days drive. It took us through countless fishing outports built on scenic bays... small communities with delightful names like Tors Cove, Cape Broyle, Ferryland, Aquaforte, Fermeuse, Renews, Cappahayden and Trepassey.
The interior of the Avalon is bog, scrub, bushes and swamp.... the home of moose, beaver and fox, and also of the most southerly herd of woodland caribou in the world.
The first time I drove the Irish Loop about 14 years ago, there were caribou everywhere, grazing on the edges of the road, walking down the middle of the road, even laying down on the road, in fact so many that we couldn't get past them.

(Caribou picture borrowed from the internet.)

But this time, as we got closer to the area where the caribou are normally seen, this was our view...

There could have been a couple of dozen caribou lurking 15 feet either side of the road and we would have missed them. Note to self: never drive the Irish Loop when the wind is from the southwest.... it's ALWAYS foggy.

A day or two later I visited The Rooms, the Provincial Archives, Art Gallery and Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are three art galleries, each showcasing Newfoundland artists, and five museum displays, all different, one of them being a wonderful exhibition of boats, canoes, kayaks, and how these small but important vessels were made and used, and how they are still a part of the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

But I was still hunting the caribou....

... and here they are. These are the George River Herd carved in pine and bone by Chesley Flowers of Hopedale, Labrador, on display at The Rooms. I believe he is the father of Ross Flowers who carved my two caribou. (Update: Brian of Nain Bay says Chesley was Ross Flowers' uncle.) I posted about them here.

“I remember I cut me twenty-two sticks, 10 feet long, green stuff. I hauled it so far. The dogs were tired. Not me. And there was nothing faster than dogs and snowshoes. First, I cut the large caribou green. Then I let them dry for two or three days. There’s lots of cutting on the big ones. They’re hard to do. I use a small axe to cut off all the big stuff. Then I blesses my saw. That’s all I use.”
Chesley Flowers, Catalogue for “First: Aboriginal Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador” 1996.

For more pictures of Newfoundland, scroll down to the previous 4 or 5 posts. And there's a couple more to come, so stay tuned!


  1. I remember seeing those caribou at the rooms too.
    Chesley was Ross Flowers uncle, Chesley was a good boat builder too, he had his own saw mill and used to raft his logs back to Hopedale. One of Chesleys sons was reminiscing about that on the Northern Ranger last week.

  2. I love that first picture of The Caribou....They are BEAUTIFUL Animals! I remember when you posted your Caribou...They were very beautiful....
    The Rooms look WONDERFUL....So colorful and as if they grew right out of the ground....

    To answer your question....All the people who 'dress up' and walk around that Block where Grauman's is DO get money every time someone takes a picture of them---with their child or someone they are with while visiting Hollywood. It is supposed to be for Charity....but, it turns out THEY are The Charity...!
    And most of them are would be actors and or/ working extras. This is a good way to make some extra money---And I understand some people do very well, if they put in the hours......

  3. I like so much caribou! I only see them on Discovery Channel! You are very lucky seeing them in person!

    Have a nice Sunday!

  4. i visited the rooms back in june. been there a few times over the years but somehow i don't feel impressed with the inside. sort of just can't figure out why???

  5. Cool! I love the caribou too! Oh, I hate driving in the mist. I don't know how you managed to get through it.

  6. i've never laid eyes on a caribou in my long life--not even these wonderful little carvings! your blog is so enjoyable!

  7. Sorry it was so foggy but the carved caribou are lovely. I loved the quote from the catalog.
    This was a wonderful holiday for you with great photos.

  8. Those first two sentences. I read them and re-read them slowly, soaking in all the details. Wow, that must have been a beautiful drive. There are parts down here, where you can drive for hours and it looks like you're frozen in a painting because there's no change in the scenery.

    That fog is beautiful and mysterious. I am a big chicken when it comes to driving through it, though. In March, I white-knuckled a long drive through a dense fog in the mountains. (brrrr) It still gives me chills!

  9. What a wonderful post! And what a wonderful area. Beautiful animals, too.

    Will you show some photos of those neat little towns you wrote about?

  10. That sure is some thick fog.

  11. I love native (or is it folk?) art like those caribou by Mr. Flowers. Thanks for posting this.

  12. I have loved reading about this trip, Sham, and all your escapades. So glad you found your caribou again!

  13. Last year when we drove back from Fortune after our trip to St Pierre et Miquelon, it was so foggy we could hardly see the hood of the car, let alone the lights of the car in front of us – it was very stressful. We never saw any caribou, just moose. It is beautiful country as you say and quite big, we only saw a little part of it.

  14. I've been in Maine for 2 months already and I haven't seen any caribou yet. :-)

    Maybe I need to venture north into the woods.


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