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.
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.
“O God, Thy sea is so great
And my boat is so small” – author unknown
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:
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….
I hope you enjoyed this little tour. All communities included in this post are dotted along the bay and near Stephenville, NL, Canada.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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!
The following photos were taken on a groomed nature trail that follows the shoreline of Port au Port Bay. Accessible year round, the trail is a favorite spot of both local people and tourists alike. These photos were taken in various seasons over several years. I hope you enjoy them.
It’s been a tough week with so many news stories that are concerning and, frankly, depressing. So, let’s all take a deep breath and go to the park. Bowring Park is so beautiful. I took these photos back in 2014 when we went to visit our daughter who lives in the ‘oldest city in North America’. I love the architecture there and the history. If you ever get a chance to visit St. John’s don’t forget to spend some time at Bowring Park. You’ll be glad you did – at least, if you like green spaces and beautiful surroundings. I invite you to come along, let’s take a little tour of the park.
I hope that these photos will help instill a sense of peace and tranquility. We are all experiencing a fair deal of stress these days and it is so important to take a break from it all, to go on vacation, even if it’s only virtual. Wishing you all the blessings of peaceful calm.
My daughter-in-law sent me a Newfoundland classic for supper today: cod and potatoes with drawn butter. It made me think of back home, the place where I was born and raised. I live in Alberta now and there is much to love about this place that I now call home. Still, I get reminiscing about the island I still love. I do miss the ocean with its constant changes and moods. These were taken at Port Harmon, the deep port in Bay St. George, and part of the town of Stephenville on the island’s west coast.
I was born in Newfoundland and lived there until Dad moved our family to Ontario. Every summer I get homesick for the island. I have so many wonderful memories of playing in the woods or on the beaches. My husband and I would later move back there to raise our own children.
Summer in Newfoundland is beautiful, there are loads of trails to hike, and of course bonfires on the beach as well as swimming. It is a nature lover’s paradise. Recently my brother gave me this wonderful aerial photo of the old house, which, sadly, is long gone. Looking at it takes me back in time. There have been many changes since we were children.
Our house looked over Bay St. George, a wild, tumultuous bay – unlike the quieter Port au Port Bay. This photo was taken on one of the rare calm days. The beaches on Port au Port Bay are mostly sandy beaches whereas Bay St. George beaches are very rocky. It was awesome on a stormy day to watch the waves crash loudly on the shores. It was also the lullaby I fell asleep to.
As a child we often visited our grandparents who lived just a little ways up the road, or to play with our cousins who lived nearby. I also remember going often to Mr. Martin’s house across the road. He had built wooden stairs down to the beach – the steep banks would have been difficult to navigate even for agile children. I don’t know why we addressed him as “Mister”. He was actually our great-grandfather’s step brother – but that’s another story. My husband insists we don’t have a family tree, we have a family forest – easy to get lost in it. But I digress, yet again.
You will see I labeled the photograph. “The old homestead” was built by my grandparents. At that point in time they did a lot of farming, as well as fishing to feed their large families.
“The pond” was formed when Port au Port Bay flooded the area during a storm. After that a breakwater wall was built to keep the bay at bay (pun intended). We used to go skating on the pond in winter – in more recent years it has been used for snow mobile races.
We had a barn on the property where we kept a cow and chickens, and, from time to time, a pig. I remember what fun it was jumping from the hayloft down into the hay below. It was not an easy life for our parents. There were a lot of chores to do from cutting wood for the wood stove to making home made bread to hauling water – we did not have indoor plumbing – that was a task my older brothers especially detested on laundry days. Everybody had chores to do from eldest to youngest. Still, I am so grateful to have been born there and to have these memories to treasure.
The blessings of birds are many from their importance to ecosystems to the joys they bring with their songs. Here is another installment of photographs to help cheer your day. As always I am grateful to Kathy Marche, the photographer and the soul with a big heart. Thanks again, Kathy.
If you ever visit the province of Newfoundland & Labrador you may want to take a walk on the many trails through the woods – you’ll be glad you did!