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!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's a Small World...

I was being a typical tourist with camera in hand.
"It's a fine view, isn't it?" The man sitting on the steps enjoying the sunshine spoke to me.

We chatted for a while and then he asked me what part of England I was originally from.
When I told him, he said he was born on the Isle of Wight.
"Oh," I said, "I've been there many times, I used to live in Southampton."
"So did I," he said.
"When I lived there, I worked at the Ordnance Survey" I said.
His eyes widened. "So did I," he said.
"I worked at the London Road office," I added.
"So did I," he said.
We compared notes and it turned out that he probably left just as I started, so our paths had not actually crossed on the other side of the Atlantic 40 years ago, although we had shared experiences and remembered the same people.
But then I asked him where he lived in Southampton.
"Oh, I lived in a boarding house run by an elderly couple known as Mom and Pop," he told me. "Pop did all the cooking and cleaning, and Mom did nothing. It was full of young men from all over the country who were employed by the Ordnance Survey."
"Was it by any chance known as 'Pop's Palace'?"I asked.
"You know it?"
"I had a boyfriend who lived there."
So it really is a small world....

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Signal Hill

It's a long trudge to the top of the hill, especially on a hot day, but every time I go to St John's I just have to do it. Signal Hill dominates the entrance to the harbour, and there's a fantastic view over the city of St John's in one direction and the Atlantic Ocean in the other.

At the top, the sandstone Cabot Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Inside is a small museum detailing the first transatlantic wireless signal, the letter "S" in Morse Code sent from Cornwall, England, and received here by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901.

A winding narrow staircase took me to the very top, where there's a stunning view over the harbour, but my visit was cut short by swarms of flying ants, so I didn't stay up there long.

The small stone building in the foreground is the 18th century Queens Battery, built for defence of the harbour. The French-English struggle for Newfoundland ended here in 1762 with the last shot fired on the hill.

The French may have been vanquished back in1762, but the cannons remain.... just in case!

There have been harbour defences for St. John's here from the 18th century to the Second World War. As early as 1673, a heavy chain was stretched from across the Narrows from Pancake Rock to Chain Rock to protect the harbour from incoming enemy vessels. During WWII, an anti-submarine boom was attached to prevent the entry of German U-boats.

Across the entrance to St John's Harbour is Fort Amherst. The WWII gun emplacements down near the water are still there, but no public access any more. ('Elf'n'safety rules, no doubt.) On previous visits we have been able to walk through the bunkers and actually climb on the rusty guns.

The Fort Amherst lighthouse was built in 1952, replacing former structures built in 1813 and 1852. The lighthouse keepers house has been converted to a delightful tearoom with a spectacular view of The Narrows.

And in the far distance is the lighthouse at Cape Spear, the most easterly tip of land in North America. Start swimming.... next stop.... Europe.

For more pics of Newfoundland, see my three previous posts. As always, click on any pictures to enlarge.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

I'se the B'y that builds the boat...

The island of Newfoundland has depended on it's coastline for it's existence for generations. Sadly, the cod fishery is almost non existent now, and fishermen concentrate on crab and lobster.
Boats are everywhere, from little put-puts, to seagoing naval vessels.

And of course, seagoing men love to sing traditional seagoing songs... listen here and sing along with Ryan's Fancy (also recorded by Great Big Sea). Can't understand the words? Here they are....

I'se the B'y that builds the boat and
I'se the B'y that sails her
I'se the B'y that catches the fish and
Takes 'em home to Liza

Hip-yer-partner Sally Thibault
Hip-yer-partner Sally Brown
Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton's Harbour,
All around the circle

Salts and rinds to cover your flake
Cake and tea for supper
Cod fish in the spring of the year
Fried in maggoty butter

I don't want your maggoty fish
That's no good for winter
I can buy as good as that
Down in Bonavista!

I took Liza to a dance
As fast as she can travel,
And every step that Liza took,
Was up to her knees in gravel.

Sarah White she's outta sight,
Her petticoat needs a border,
Old Sam Oliver in the dark,
He kissed her in the corner!

I'se the B'y that builds the boat and
I'se the B'y that sails her
I'se the B'y that catches the fish and
Takes 'em home to Liza

More pics of Newfoundland in the previous two posts.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Bauline, NF

The road down to the tiny fishing community of Bauline is steep and narrow. At the bottom, there's a harbour, a few houses, a church, and a population of just under 400.

Not so long ago, there were no roads, and the only access was by fishing boat.

In the fall of 1942, five men from Bauline saw a man bail out of his fighter over the Atlantic. They immediately launched a boat and went to the man's rescue. The manwas Flight Sergeant Guy E. Mott of 125 Fighter Squadron RCAF who had been forced to bail out of his Hurricane Fighter. A plaque in Memorial United Church honours the rescuers and the people of Bauline.

It was a little misty out over Conception Bay, but I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a lone humpback whale making his way along the coast.

Later in the week, we saw a group of at least 25 humpback whales feeding in a bay near Cappahayden on the Avalon, but they were all too far away for pictures.

Bauline is on the Killick Coast.

A Killick is a homemade anchor, constructed by encasing a large rock between pieces of wood which have been bent, shaped, and bound together to hold the rock in place.

The people of the fishing and farming communities on this coast continue their rural way of life in spite of being so close to the city of St. John’s.

For more pictures of Newfoundland, see previous post.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Stay where you're to till I comes where you're at....

.... is just another way of saying "Wait there!" in Newfoundland English.

I've spent the last week on "The Rock", the large island of Newfoundland, part of Canada's most easterly province of Newfoundland and Labrador, situated in the North Atlantic off the east coast of Canada.

I was mostly in St John's, the capital city.

What a great place, it has a magic that draws me back again and again. It supposedly got it's name when explorer John Cabot became the first European to sail into the harbour in 1497 on the feast day of St John the Baptist, and has been a busy commercial harbour since the 1500s.

The streets are narrow and steep, and the wooden houses are painted every colour you can imagine.

Newfoundland weather is renowned for it's rain, drizzle and fog, and I was told that there's even been a sighting of snow in July, but it was sunny and warm most of the time I was there. But my umbrella did come in useful a couple of times.

A week is never long enough, is it?

Stay tuned for more pics....

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Now We're Cookin' with Gas!

My Kitchen is finished! Well, almost finished.
There's still some caulking to do, and a few last minute adjustments, and of course there's the painting of trim and walls, but that can wait for a week or two.

I've spent a whole day moving plates and cups and pots and pans from the dining room and the basement which has functioned as a sort of make-do kitchen for the past month. Thank goodness I don't have to survive using the microwave and the toaster oven and wash dishes in the tiny basement sink any more.

It went from this....

.... to this.....

.... to this.

And of course, nothing ever runs according to plan, even on the best of days there's always some kind of major hitch. The sinks, faucets and drains were connected and running smoothly, then the drain pipe clogged up SOLID! It took Dave and his buddy most of the next day to clear the clog using a scary combination of plumbers snakes, the shopvac, the garden hose and a generous helping of brute force. Just an accumulation of crud in the pipes, they said. Very nasty stinky black crud. Especially nasty when it spurted all over the basement floor.

The other end of the room started out like this.....

.... to this....

.... and the finished product. Still more to do... some sort of window treatment, not sure what yet, a new light fixture, and the old fridge is still there, the Hydro One people were coming to pick it up last week, but their truck broke down!

Thanks for all your hard work Dave.... the kitchen is awesome, I'm going to enjoy using it so much. YoungerSon says he's looking forward to some fabulous dinners now.... little does he know that I can burn food in a new oven just as easily as I could in the old one.

I'm away for a week.... off to The Rock.... pics when I get back.