For years, Steven and I had fantasized about visiting far-off Newfoundland, so we were like little kids when that dream finally became a reality the day before my birthday in early June and we took the ‘short’ ferry from North Sydney in Nova Scotia to Newfoundland’s southwest coast. Having the next two-and-a-half weeks to explore most of the island together proved to be one of our most rewarding trips but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Come join us for the first part of our adventure!
As we had to be at the ferry terminal in North Sydney by 10ish, Steven and I got an early start from Cheticamp on the west coast of Cape Breton Island so we wouldn’t have to rush. Since we experience very little fog in our home city of Denver, Colorado, the fog rolling in and out off the Gulf of St. Lawrence as we headed south particularly intrigued us.
Cap Le Moine was another small community on the stunning Cabot Trail we’d begun a couple of days previously.
Terre Noire, another hamlet on the Cabot Trail:
Leaving the Acadian, i.e. predominantly French-speaking, region on the western part of the island, we spotted the Merci or ‘Thank you’ sign but wondered why we were being thanked – for visiting perhaps?
Once we reached the Bras d’Or Lake in the center of the island, we’d completed the circular Cabot Trail. The lake was part of the Bras d’Or UNESCO Biosphere which consisted of a salt-water estuary watershed ‘inland sea’ with three passages to the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to return to Nova Scotia one day and actually spend some time exploring the biosphere and its many trails.
I was glad we had a few minutes to take in the striking views from the Bras d’Or lookoff before crossing the bridge and rushing on to North Sydney.
What a particularly scenic location for the lighthouse on the other side of the lake!
It was definitely a case of ‘hurry up and wait’ from the time we reached the ferry terminal two hours before our ‘short’ crossing to Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. I intentionally put ‘short’ in single quotes because the ferry crossing was ‘only’ about 8 hours versus the definitely long 16-hour crossing we’d be taking from the opposite side of the province back to North Sydney in two-plus weeks!
The ship was proudly named The Blue Puttees in honor of the soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment who left for Britain in early October of 1914 to represent Newfoundlanders in WW I. They were called The Blue Puttees because of the color of their leg wraps that were part of their uniform.
Because of the soldiers’ reputation as a “fierce and unyielding fighting unit in several actions,” and to recognize their sacrifice and service, the regiment was the only one granted in the British Empire with the prefix ‘Royal’ by King George V before the war’s end.
We were excited to begin the next part of this very long detour to our final destination of Florida in the southern US as this was the only province Steven had yet to visit in my homeland and I’d only visited the provincial capital close to 45 years earlier on a work trip.
Our last view of Nova Scotia for a while:
Steven and I were lucky to snag a couple of very comfortable chairs and also an electrical outlet beside a window so we could make ourselves tea with the collapsible kettle we take on all our travels. I ventured outside once or twice but the wind was bitterly cold so didn’t stay long. Amazingly, the two-hour wait time and then the eight-hour travel time sped by extremely quickly.
Our first view of Newfoundland aka The Rock!
The deepwater port of Port aux Basques had been used by French, Basque, and Portuguese fishing fleets as far back as the 1500s.
Eyeing the multi-colored sheds in the harbor, I think we were already hooked on Newfoundland.
Immense walls of granite greeted us when we left the ship – no wonder the island of Newfoundland was nicknamed The Rock!
There weren’t a lot of restaurants to choose from in the harbor town of 5,000 but we truly lucked out at Alma’s Restaurant even though it had the most unprepossessing exterior imaginable.
With our youngest diagnosed with autism, we were delighted to see that the Port aux Basques Hotel where we stayed had been recognized as an autism-friendly hotel as we’d never encountered that before. They even had a specially decorated room set aside where local children with autism could hang out and call their own.
Outside our hotel was the Mushrow Astrolabe, an early navigational instrument from Portugal which was dated 1628 and recovered from a shipwreck in 1981.
Newfoundland and Labrador, frequently abbreviated as NL, is Canada’s easternmost province and part of the country’s Atlantic region. It is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the continental region of Labrador located to the west across the Strait of Belle Isle.
The name “New founde lande” was uttered by King Henry VII about the land explored by John Cabot and his son Sebastian. The early Portuguese explorers were reflected in the name “Labrador,” which came from the surname of Portuguese navigator João Fernandes Lavrador.
In 1949, the province became the tenth and last to join the Canadian Confederation as “Newfoundland.” After moving to the United States in early 1982 to be with Steven, I missed knowing the Constitution of Canada was amended to change the province’s name to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001.
Some fun trivia for you: The island of Newfoundland has its own time zone called Newfoundland Daylight Time which is 30 minutes later than the Atlantic Time Zone used by the rest of the eastern part of mainland Canada including Labrador. AND, that Atlantic Time Zone is 60 minutes later than the Eastern Time Zone used in the central Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the whole US Eastern Seaboard! Take a look at a map of North America and you’ll see how very far east Newfoundland is and why it has its own time zone!
Next post: Starting up the west coast of Newfoundland.
Posted on August 25th, 2022, from San Francisco where I came for a few days to visit our grandson, Asa, who will be a month old tomorrow, and the rest of his family!
4 thoughts on “6/7/22: From Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail to Newfoundland”
Nearing the end of this amazing journey!
The end of one and just the beginning of another altogether amazing one actually!
I’m looking forward to exploring Newfoundland with you! That’s a long ferry crossing but already it looks worth it 🙂
We were surprised how fast it seemed especially as we also needed to be there 2 hours in advance. Like you and Chris, we’ve traveled to many places but Newfoundland holds a very special place in our hearts, Sarah. Thanks for reading and kindly commenting!