6/16 & 17/22: Twillingate and One-of-a-kind Fogo Island!

I’m running out of time before Steven and I leave Denver for another extended vacation to Central America in a few days so I decided to combine two days into one post. I had really hoped to finish all the posts on wonderful Newfoundland before we leave next week but I see now it’s unrealistic. Oh well, I plan to get to the rest of them as time permits on our return in late November. Our love affair with Newfoundland continued as we toured the rugged cliffs north of Twillingate, experienced a very good dinner and an entertaining evening of music and wit before heading over to the largest island off the island of Newfoundland, Fogo Island. The island, once desperately poor, was bouncing back thanks to the money and foresight of local woman Zita Cobb who made millions ‘away’ and invested it all to help her local islanders. Read this and you, too, will be captivated.

Fogo Island Inn

After a delicious breakfast, I asked Wavy and Wexton, our Hillside B&B hosts who run it from mid-May to mid-September if they travel South in the winters to escape the sleet and wind. Wavy told me with a straight face they already live in the South as they’d spent decades in Labrador City, Labrador!

Your smile for the day: Newfoundland’s largest lobster trap!

North of Twillingate was Long Point Lighthouse where we came not so much for the lighthouse but for the drop-dead gorgeous views from the cliffs. When it comes to viewing icebergs, Twillingate’s claim to fame is it’s the place to see them. Icebergs travel south from the Arctic every spring and if we’d been here at the end of May or early June, they would’ve been plentiful. But some remain off the coast of nearby Labrador until early August. 

The sheer size of these 10,000-year-old “glacial giants” is difficult to grasp, and that’s not even considering that ninety percent of icebergs remain unseen below the surface! It was an iceberg such as this that sank the Titanic just 400 miles off the coast. 

Since our trip to Antarctica was several years ago, I had forgotten the names of different-sized icebergs. They ranged from growler (up to 16 ft.) to bergy bit to small berg to medium and large (from 200 ft. to 720 ft.). As we’d witnessed on our boat tour of St. Anthony several days earlier, the colors of these magnificent monsters range from snow-white to the deepest aquamarine.

I just read that when birds perched atop icebergs and suddenly fly off, it might be a sign the iceberg is about to roll or break apart. I am glad I didn’t know that when we spotted this bird on the iceberg in St. Anthony! We counted ourselves really lucky that we’d at least seen the biggest one in all of Newfoundland in St. Anthony. 

We saw intrepid hikers making their way toward the rugged rocks well below us.

The closed Long Point Lighthouse:

With Crow Harbour behind me, this was about as close to the edge I wanted to get!

A fishing boat making its way back to Twillingate:

Ellen: This was the magnificent view I had when I called you while Steven went hiking.

Back in Twillingate, we stopped at the historic St. Peter’s Anglican Church which was one of the oldest wooden churches still in existence on the island. The main part of the church was built in 1842 with the tower added two years later. After a bountiful seal harvest in 1862, the tower bell was purchased.

Near the church was the Wooden Boat Builder Museum which sounded interesting but was closed. 

A stone’s throw from the church and museum was Twillingate Museum whose motto was “where the past is always present.” The museum was located in the third St. Peter’s rectory – the first two had been destroyed by fire. This former rectory was built with material from an older building in 1915. 

After the congregation decided the building had outlived its usefulness by 1973, it was decided to use the rectory as a home for the town’s treasured possessions so its history and cultural background from the turn of the 19th century could be preserved.

This was certainly the first time I’d heard of or seen a Hurdy Gurdy. It was some sort of instrument that had been brought from Labrador in 1915 after being damaged when an avalanche crushed its owner’s home.

This dome clock certainly wasn’t old but was of interest as it had been handcrafted by an 80-plus-year-old local man.

At least one of these baby carriages dated to 1893.

I never grew tired of the technicolored homes we saw all over the island. Hope you haven’t yet either! Remember this photo for later.

Twillingate vistas:

That evening Steven and I enjoyed a fun evening at the Twillingate Dinner Theater where the food was the best we’ve had at any dinner theater, a low bar, I know, but it was really good! The entertainment consisted of a group of five entertainers who sang, did comedy routines, and performed on a wide array of instruments.

The entertainers began by welcoming the almost full house who had come from afar. The first song, Home, reminded all of us of the love of place.

The song’s lyrics resonated with our newfound attraction to the island but also pointed to the issues Newfoundlanders have sadly experienced by other Canadians in prior decades when they were the butt of jokes and were referred to as Newfies. Here were some of the lines:

Tell them you’re from Newfoundland,

Walk tall like any man,

Stand up and be proud.

Steven and I agreed that the weakest link in the evening’s program was the skits, in part because the two women couldn’t stop laughing at their own jokes. One was about a ‘Newfie shed party.’

Jody regaled us by playing a traditional Newfoundland musical instrument called an ugly stick. It’s fashioned out of household and tool shed items, typically a mop handle with bottle caps, tin cans, small bells, and other noise makers. The unfortunately named instrument was played with a drumstick and had a distinctive and pleasant sound.

He was multi-talented and played twenty instruments that night!

After being on The Rock for about ten days and having experienced incredible warmth from so many islanders, we understood the sentiment when they spoke of Newfoundland as an island “where there are no strangers and everyone is your friend.”

Sunday dinner in Newfoundland was served at lunchtime where there’s always “plenty for twenty” for all friends and extended family.

Being from the Ottawa Valley, I was particularly fond of St. Annie’s Reel as you might imagine.

Steven and I were incredibly lucky that not only had we been assigned a front row table but our evening’s companions were Geoff and Andree, a lovely couple now living in southern Ontario although they met in Andree’s native Quebec City. We were delighted to run into them a few days later and enjoyed dinner again.

Views as we left the theater:

Twillingate, day or night, was as pretty an island community as one could find.

Our last sunset photo in Twillingate was from our B&B.

The next morning, June 17th, we headed toward Fogo Island, an island off the island of Newfoundland. En route, we drove past the very scenic New World Island.

Carter’s Cove on New World Island:

If you’re not yet a fan of Newfoundland after reading my posts or simply seeing the photos, how can the island’s melodious names not bring you around? Just think of some of the communities’ names: Toogood Arm, Black Duck Cove, Wild Cove, Tizzards Harbour, Virgin Arm, and Chanceport.

Stoneville and Dog Bay were two more minuscule dots we passed en route to Farewell to get the ferry to Fogo Island.

We were sort of sad to leave this area of Newfoundland as this was the best stretch of road we’d seen in about the last 1500 or so miles and there were even center lane markings too!

We hadn’t wanted to take any chances and miss the 11:30 Intra-Island Ferry as no reservations were possible so we’d arrived at tiny Farewell with plenty of time to spare. If we’d been late, we’d have to wait another four hours. The price was a very reasonable $22 Canadian return including our rental car. For some strange reason, there was a notice for a funeral home of all things on Fogo Island by the ticket office – not exactly the thing you want to see before getting on the ferry!

Enterprising locals had mostly sports-themed birdhouses for sale by the ferry which would have made another conversation piece back home!

The ferry was much larger than we anticipated.

On arriving at Change Island, just eight cars got off and none got on.

After a 45-minute ride, we reached Fogo Island, the largest offshore island of Newfoundland and Labrador and which was located off the northeast corner of Canada’s northeast province.

Stag Harbour was the first place we came to on Fogo Island which was initially used as a summer home by Newfoundland’s Beothuk people. It was later taken over by Portuguese settlers who had been searching the local waters for new sources of cod in the early 1500s. It made sense then that “Fogo” is thought to be derived from the Portuguese word fuego or “fire,” possibly in reference to the fires in the Beothuk camps. The island is said to appear on a Portuguese map in 1529. French explorer Jacques Cartier dropped anchor in Fogo Harbour in 1534 on one of his voyages. The island is included in detailed coastal charts of Newfoundland produced by Captain James Cook between 1762 and 1767.

We had an insanely cheap lunch of burgers and a ‘small’ order of potato wedges at Vanessa’s in Little Seldom. The burgers were only $3.79 Canadian – I don’t know how they managed to keep the prices that low.

The Fogo Island Marine Interpretation Centre in Little Seldom was unfortunately closed. 

The Fogo Island Airport had a landing strip that was long enough to accommodate Lear jets, important for the very well-heeled guests of the uber-rich Fogo Island Inn. More on the inn later.

We then headed west to the tiny community of Deep Bay as the Courting Trail sounded like an intriguing first place to hike on the island.

The view from the lookout halfway to the top of the trail of Deep Bay made us wonder how much more beauty could we take!

The view from the top of the trail was so utterly peaceful as there had been no one else on the trail or on the lane below. All we heard was the wind – just sublime. 

Newfoundlanders call Deep Bay and other minuscule fishing villages ‘outports.’ Staying on the island is like experiencing a time-warp with no fast-food outlets, only one bank, and no movie theaters or malls on the island. It may be hard to imagine, but while astronauts were orbiting the earth, there was no electricity, telephones, or radios on remote Fogo Island.

There were a few snippets of color on a couple of homes and a garage door but not the Crayola colors that had been popular in Twillingate.

As a reminder if you didn’t see the earlier posts on our arrival in Newfoundland, Newfoundland has its own time zone one-half hour ahead of the mainland and is 1.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. As one wag wrote, “in truth (Fogo Island) feels like it’s hundreds of years behind: when it’s 10 p.m. in New York, it’s 1825 on Fogo Island.”

We joked this should be called camo lichen!

Looking very much out of place in our eyes was what we later determined to be one of the many artists’ studios set up in remote locations on Fogo Island by Zita Cobb, a Fogo Island native who left the island and made millions of dollars that she brought back to invest in the place she loved. 

Another pretty amazing view from the trail:

Next, we headed up to the Fogo Wireless Interpretation Centre where we had stunning views overlooking the community of Fogo. It made absolutely NO sense that the centre hadn’t yet opened for the season as the ferry had been packed and all the island’s accommodations had been reserved for months. We found that to be the case at several other places on the island we’d liked to have seen. What were they waiting for to open places tourists had come to see?

Fogo from the hilltop: 

A brief hike from the centre was the Marconi Station, from where the first telegram was sent on October 31, 1887, to Henry Duder in the provincial capital of  St. John’s from the Duder family of Fogo. The station which was in operation until 1933 was the one that picked up the SOS signal from the Titanic prior to its sinking on April 14, 1912. The station acted as a link with sealing vessels and for Newfoundland fishermen and merchants working in Labrador. 

Marconi house well:

Marconi house cellar:

The Marconi Station House was located where the gazebo now stood. It was used as a family home for the operators who worked there.

This adorable rock had been left on the table for us all to appreciate little ones.

Driving back to Fogo, we passed a stage, a wooden building that was associated with the island’s cod fishery.

In Fogo was the Cultural Gallery in the former United Church. The church started out as the Fogo Methodist Mission but became the Fogo United Church in 1925 until the last service was held in 1996. It was ‘of course’ still closed for the season!

This public building was once home to the Fogo Court House during the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. It also served as the telegraph, post, customs offices, jail, living quarters, and even hosted social activities!

A sign I could get behind at a local restaurant in Fogo!

Steven and I were profoundly relieved to learn back in March we could rent the owner’s basement apartment at Peg’s Place as it was the ONLY place left on the island.

For a certain price, one of these musical ‘ugly sticks’ at Peg’s Place could have been ours to take home!

After chatting with some fellow guests at Peg’s Place, Steven and I decided to take a chance and head out to the Fogo Island Inn to see if we could get up close as entrance to it was supposed to have been barred for non-guests like ourselves. 

Located in Joe Batt’s Arm, the 29-room inn opened in 2013 with each one-of-a-kind room having furniture made locally and floor-to-ceiling windows opening up to the wild Atlantic Ocean. The hotel was the brainchild of Zita Cobb who had set up Shorefast, “a charity dedicated to securing economic and cultural resiliency for Fogo Island while helping local communities thrive in the global economy.” 

Shorefast also runs a set of charitable programs and businesses that return all surpluses to the charity for re-investments in further community development work. It was a mind-blowing investment for Cobb to make in her Fogo Island community.

I can’t say we liked the inn’s striking architecture as to my admittedly untrained eye, it seemed too stark and at odds with its surroundings. I was in awe of what Cobb had achieved but not of the inn’s ‘cold’ style.

After reading so much about the inn and seeing a segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes about it, we couldn’t believe we had been able to walk right up the road to the inn and then all around it on the outside. No private cars were allowed on the inn’s property. The style of the inn was so avante-garde that we couldn’t even find the entrance if we wanted to!

The most compelling windows were not those in the guest rooms but those in the dining room for some reason. As my mum would have said, to stay there would cost more money than cents (sense) at $2500 a night! Mind you, that was just the base rate as the upper limit was $5,000 a night with a two-night minimum.

There were no paths down to the water – one just had to scramble and try not to fall!

Finally, we discovered the unremarkable entrance. Note the complete absence of any signage.

Adjacent were possibly offices or a meeting area.

Views of Joe Batt’s Arm as we walked down the road from the inn …

and from another perspective as we headed back to Fogo.

One of the ten communities on Fogo Island was Barr’d Island.

If you were looking for a stark, barren landscape, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more to your liking than here in Fogo.

Next post: Exploring the very unusual Fogo Island!

Posted on September 21st, 2022, from our home in Denver as a cold front finally moved in today to give all of us a welcome reprieve from the ten 90-degree and above days already this month. A dubious record, indeed. 


7 thoughts on “6/16 & 17/22: Twillingate and One-of-a-kind Fogo Island!

  1. Peg’s place seems positively bursting with charm Annie, were you tempted by an Ugly Stick? Fogo Island looks like a gem, some really rugged and hairy spots but my word, what views. The Fogo Island Inn is absolutely spectacular but eek that nightly rate.


    1. Not too tempted by the ugly stick, Leighton, but sure got lots of other souvenirs in Newfoundland that will be constant reminders of a fabulous trip! I could never justify staying in a place that expensive – I’d never want to waste time by sleeping.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This has been such an interesting tour of an area which most of us wouldn’t even contemplate visiting, been so interesting to follow along. The hurdy-gurdy was immortalised in a song from the flower power era, the 1968 “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan. It’s a true song of its time. Enjoy Central America guys!!!


  3. The Fogo Island Inn was featured on a TV series over here about amazing hotels. It did look fabulous and the ethos of supporting the local community is great, but so expensive!! The whole island looks wonderful, come to that 🙂


  4. Sarah,

    I was very impressed with how Fogo Islander Zita Cobb decided to reinvest the fortune she made back on the island and its people. The Inn although very grandiose, was very understated with no signage or advertising prior to approaching it. The architecture wasn’t my style but its location was bar none!


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