Serenity Sunday: Shoal Point, on the Port au Port Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador

Shoal Point is a strip of land jutting out into Port au Port Bay, not far from the small community of Boswarlos in Newfoundland. Except for the few fishing huts there is no evidence of habitation. I took these photographs in the fall of 2010. Shoal Point is mainly bog but fishers continue to use the area to ply their trade and many local residents enjoy riding a quad to visit the point. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of a moose out on the bog. At one time an oil rig stood at the outermost point of land. I confess to feeling great relief that oil companies never exploited the area, even though oil was found there. The oil rig that once stood on the point was an exploratory venture only. shoal Point is a great place to watch sea birds and water fowl as well as pods of porpoise and sometimes pothead whales.

I hope you will enjoy these photos of the area and gain a sense of how this land has been used and enjoyed for millennia. I have included a short video at the end of my post of the kissing rocks off the shore of the Port au Port Peninsula.

Driving along the highway enroute to Boswarlos we drive through the community of Agathuna, a little further along we come to the quarry which once promised a bright future for the area
Known locally as “Barn Hill” at the bottom of which lays the Agathuna Quarry
Lobster pots are stacked in wait for the next lobster season
One of just a few fishing cabins on Shoal Point
A dory sits in wait for another day of work, taken in the community of Mainland on the Port au Port Peninsula
A small trawler at work out on Port au Port Bay
In preparation for the winter’s cold, logs for fire wood are stacked and ready
Vibrant vegetation in the fields surrounding Shoal Point
One of several huge boulders that provide a place to sit and gaze out to sea
Old pallets a.k.a. skids form a make shift walkway across the swamp at Shoal Point
“Red sky at night, Sailors delight ….Red sky in morning, Sailors take warning”
The hill across Port au Port Bay from Boswarlos is known as Pine Tree

Serenity Sunday: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

It has been a long time since we visited Gros Morne. I don’t know if I have words to describe what a moving experience it was. There is something about being in the mountains with the sea in the distance that is so uplifting and inspiring. I have long wished to share this beautiful place. Unfortunately I have few photos of this magical place, and those are not a very good quality. The landscape is so ancient within the Long Range Mountains and badlands earning it the designation of UNESCO world heritage site. I remember what pride I felt when it was assigned this classification. I am so very grateful to my friend, Selah Robb, who gave me permission to share her photographs here. Although no photographs can take in the full grandeur that is Gros Morne, these images will give a taste of what this park offers. I hope you enjoy them.

taken from the summit
although it may seem to be nothing more than hills, from the highway the mountains reach into the skies
Not for the faint of heart, but for people who enjoy tramping the byways Gros Morne offers spectacular views
Fijords snake through the mountains

I am including a video from YouTube to help give a sense of this place:

Serenity Sunday: Port aux Basques, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Back to the island! Port aux Basques is situated on the southwestern coast of the island of Newfoundland and is the main point of entry when traveling by vehicle. It is a beautiful port city with a small population of approximately four thousand people. As you drive North from the ferry onto the Trans-Canada highway you will reach a section called the “wreckhouse”, near Codroy Valley. Truckers are well-advised to check with Transport Canada for wind advisories before docking at Port aux Basques as the winds in the wreckhouse can be incredibly strong and have, on occasion, flung fully loaded trucks off the road and into the ditch! I hope you will enjoy my photos of the Long Range Mountains and the sunset near Port aux Basques.

On the road to Port aux Basques
a perfect day for the drive with blue skies and green hills
The Long Range Mountains stretch all along the west coast of the island
More hills the tail end of the Long Range Mountains
small shrub and bushes as well as spruce pine are common
the hills grow larger as we neared Port aux Basques
sunset over Port aux Basques
ponds and small lakes are common
Fresh water streams offer excellent and potable drinking water
Officially known as Twin Hills but aka locally as Mae West
Traveling North along the highway you are treated to ocean views on the left while the mountains soar into the skies on the right
The sun going down behind the hills in Port aux Basques

Heavy Days: Remembering 9/11

It was a beautiful day, that day nineteen years ago. I lived in Stephenville, NL at the time. My car had some minor issue that needed attention and I had taken it down to my father-in-law to be repaired. I remember chatting with my mother-in-law and had gone into the living room to fetch something for her. The television was on and I was shocked at what I seen. (I think everyone remembers that horrific film footage of the planes crashing into the twin towers. It is an image that is forever seared into my memories). I remember calling out to her and we both stood and watched the news, deep in shock at what we were witnessing. Like many days that go down in history 9/11 will be remembered forever. People from around the globe worked at one or the other of the twin towers. After Pop had finished working on my care I went home and remained glued to the television for weeks as the horrors of the day was reported: the horrific stories out of NYC and also Pennsylvania.

I also remember the planes that had to land at our small, but international, airport. Newfoundland received planes from many places, all of them redirected from original flight plans that had been scheduled to land at American airports. It was a time of great stress and anxiety, especially initially as nobody knew where the pilots were from or why they had committed such atrocious deeds.

Stephenville, Gander, St. John’s. Goose Bay, among others had been home to many Americans during the Second World War when air force bases were built in these communities. Needless to say, many links were created during those times. Many Americans bought summer homes in the province and visited annually. My father worked for many years at the base in Stephenville and made many American friends there. Many would visit and join us for Sunday dinners. .

Besides our American friends, there were many Canadians who also died on that terrible day. So, yes, this is a heavy day. Here is a rundown of planes landed in airports across Newfoundland and Labrador:

There is a second reason this date is forever burnished into my brain. On this day in 2012 my nephew died from cancer, after a heroic battle. His brother had died suddenly in March of that same year from a brain aneurysm. So, today I honor my brave nephew as well as all those who perished on this day in 2001. May all souls Rest in Peace.

Serenity Sunday: Bell Island, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Bell Island is situated off the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland’s east coast. It holds special significance for me as it was this island where my paternal grandfather’s family first settled when they emigrated from Ireland. My grandfather worked in the mines there before eventually moving his family to Harbour Grace where my father was born. I have never been to Bell Island.. These photos were taken by my daughter, Anastacia, who visited Bell Island a few years ago. I am grateful to her for giving me permission to share her photographs. I hope you enjoy these rugged images of sea, surf, and coastline.

Cape Spear, Newfoundland & Labrador

My sister shared this beautiful photo (not mine) taken by Gerald Lamb. I think it is so serene and beautiful I wanted to share it with all of you. Light houses for millennia kept sailors safe from rocky shores during the darkness of night and in foggy weather. At this time when so many of us are ‘lost in the dark’ so to speak I am reminded of the light shone by the Creator, if we have eyes to see. Be safe my friends and be well.

taken at Cape Spear in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada photo credit: Gerald Lamb

“O God, Thy sea is so great

And my boat is so small” – author unknown

Canada Day 2020: so many conflicting emotions

I am always somewhat conflicted about this day. It is Memorial Day in Newfoundland & Labrador today as well. It is the day that commemorates Beaumont-Hamel and the deaths of so many during the battle that saw the Newfoundland Regiment all but wiped out during the First World War. Both my grandfathers fought in that war, one in the navy and the other in the army. So, yes, I am conflicted. On one hand there is so much to celebrate about this country we call Canada. On the other, it is a somber day as I reflect n the loss of life that terrible day in 1916. Some years ago I learned of my Miꞌkmaq heritage. My great-grandmother was a Mi’kmaq woman. Yet another reason to be somewhat somber as indigenous peoples across this land continue to fight for such things as potable, clean water, for autonomy, and respect. There is lots to consider as our country marks its 153rd birthday. It is a strange year as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc and social gatherings are still limited. There will be no parades this year, nor any big celebrations. So I sit here reflecting and looking at photos taken over the years. Here are a few photos I have chosen to commemorate the day:

The Canada Goose – no explanation needed.
Taken at the Pow Wow in St. George’s, NL as Miꞌkmaq people celebrate our heritage
Flags fly at half-mast today in Newfoundland & Labrador
The cenotaph in Stephenville, NL, Canada
RCMP march in the Parade of Heroes, July 1, 2016
The Parade of Heroes, as it was called, honored all the first responders that came to the aid of Fort McMurray during the wildfires of 2016
(Photo credit: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) That was a very emotional day as the people of my community turned out in large numbers to celebrate Canada and to give homage to all the groups that helped us through the wild fires. This group is the Alberta Wildfire Crew and they did a phenomenal job! July 1, 2016
A double rainbow over the community of Fort McMurray on July1, 2018
Car show in Stephenville, NL 2012 and with that I bid you adieu

Serenity Sunday: Back to Newfoundland

These photos were taken in communities near Stephenville, Newfoundland, on the island’s West coast. Rugged beauty is everywhere with trails to hike or bonfires to enjoy on each and every beach, if you choose. Or, if you are fortunate, local fishers will take you out fishing on the bay. The sturdy and the brave may even enjoy a dip in the ocean….

Boswarlos is a small community on the Port au Port Peninsula and features sandy beaches
On the way to Stephenville from Boswarlos, this is Barn Hill in the community of Agathuna
A boat slip where fisherman pull their small dories ashore. This one was in the community of Fox Island River.
Larger fishing vessels are a common sight on Bay St. George
A river in the small town of Stephenville
Heading toward the community of St. George’s passing through Stephenville Crossing
Driving through Stephenville Crossing the “new” highway runs parallel to the old roadway where this old bridge still stands
Approaching St. George’s is a stand made for the Osprey a.k.a. fish hawk, where, if you are lucky, you can see these birds on their nest
Osprey nest
Another old bridge crossing a river near the community of St. George’s
On our way back from St. George’s we stopped at a beach where this jelly fish was stranded on the sand. Many of these fish are pink in color, but there are also clear jelly fish which are very hard to see when you’re out for a swim in the ocean. My mother always warned us about jelly fish because they can sting.
Loons are common to see out on the water. This one seemed to be injured and did not move as I approached. A call to wildlife once I got home sent help for this bird.
A broken dory is a sad reminder of the strong fishery that had made life on the island possible
Another shot of the river through St. George’s and a more modern bridge
Pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea L.) are a common sight on the marshes. It was adopted as the provincial flower in 1954
Little Port Harmon is part of the charm of the town of Stephenville where people walk, bike or roller skate along side of the roadway.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. All communities included in this post are dotted along the bay and near Stephenville, NL, Canada.

But where’s the Water?

When Dad moved our family from Newfoundland to Ontario when I was a child it was a bit of a shock. We moved from a very rural area to a small town in Ontario and the question we children kept asking was, “But where is the water?” All these years later I have moved back to Newfoundland (twice) before eventually moving to Alberta where I now live. Alberta is a beautiful province, actually, Canada is a beautiful country, no matter where you live. But there is something about spring and summer that has me yearning for ocean breezes and the scent of brine in the air. Forgive my nostalgia for simpler times and the sweetness of childhood memories. Allow me to share with you a few of the things I miss about the island.

First of all, the view of the ocean from atop the hill where our house was situated, as well as the woods where I often played as a child. As spring turns to summer I still miss the water.

Port au Port West, NL, Canada – photo by Barra Studio

Can you see why we asked, where is the water? No matter where we went there was always a view of the bay, and depending where you were, you could watch big waves crashing along Bay St. George or enjoy the calmer waters of Port au Port Bay. In any case we were surrounded by water – no wonder we looked for it and were happier once our parents found a few lakes to take us to.

Mr. Walter Martin’s house, down the hill and across the road from where I lived as a child

Mr. Martin, as we called him, was actually related to us. He was our great grandfather’s step brother. I don’t know why we addressed him as Mister, but we did. I loved going down the hill to visit him. He was a dear, sweet man. He had built a stairway down to the rocky beach. If we were going down to the beach it was the safest way to get there as the cliff was quite steep below his home. Once on the beach there were large overhanging sheets of slate that formed a natural shelter from the elements. This house is long gone now, so I am very glad to have this photograph of it.

Mayflowers are a springtime delight, my thanks to Kathy Marche for kindly sending me this photo

Picking flowers in the woods, especially Mayflowers in spring, is another favorite memory. I have never seen them in any other place I’ve lived. Sometimes they were hard to find, particularly early in the season as they tend to hide under their foliage. As the season progresses they are a bit easier to see. I remember the delightful scent of these flowers and how often we would gather them for our Mom.

As the season progresses the pink hue fades to white
Wild roses are prolific along roadsides and on the edges of forest paths all across the island of Newfoundland. Although most are pink from time to time you may see white as well.

The rose pictured above also grows wild here in Alberta and out here it is aptly named the Alberta Rose. Every time I walk in the woods I am reminded again of my childhood home by these sweet-smelling flowers. Their scent is so much stronger than their domestic cousins.

I am happy here in Alberta. The people here are wonderful and it is a beautiful province. One of the things that also remind me of “back home” is the ring of hills surrounding the city. Newfoundland is very hilly, so in addition to the roses, I feel like a little bit of Newfoundland has been transplanted here. And although I do miss the ocean I am gratified to have several water sources nearby from the small pond behind the building to rivers and lakes within a short drive from here. It may not be quite the same as Newfoundland but it is home – even if there is no brine in the air!