Newfoundland seems to be all about scale, be it big or small. Massive granite cliffs power from sea level up to 1,000 feet. Fjords with hidden entrances open up to reveal sedate rivers and sheltered waterfalls. The humpbacks are big, the mosquitos are small. One being more irritating than the other. Dave was resting his eyes yesterday afternoon so I headed off for a stroll around Francois, (pronounced Franz-way by the locals). It’s a place only accessible by boat. I wondered if there is a David Attenborough tv series to be made….walking with mosquitos. Perhaps I’ll pitch that one to a tv producer.
It’s a stunning coastline. Newfoundland is spectacular but more than that, an example of how events at an international level impact on local communities. The small towns, they are barely villages in our sense of the word, that occupy the sides of the deep fjords relied totally on fishing. They were expensive to keep up and the government here provided financial incentives to move away to larger less remote places. Then the cod fishery collapsed, and Canada having a longer term vision than most, instigated a moratorium on cod fishing. Overnight whole communities had no work.
We were in Grand Bruit a few nights ago. There are about 50 houses there. 6 people were in residence the night we stayed. Maybe 20 is the maximum over the summer as families visit their old homesteads. The pattern suggest such places will eventually die completely and these fjords and villages will become totally quiet.
We met three of the six residents, friendly folk who come to chat. Gerry and Joe we called the ‘Cod Men’. They gave us 4 massive cod fillets, caught maybe an hour beforehand. We had cod for breakfast and cod for dinner. Thanks boys.
Isle aux Morts is an island which has a similar story to the Northumbrian tale of its local heroine Grace Darling. A link to our boat no less! Ann Harvey was 17 when she assisted her father and brother in rescuing 163 people from the shipwrecked vessel Dispatch. There’s a tiny museum on the island which we visited. I was able to impress the two local ladies who worked there with my knowledge of Grace Darling as she is mentioned in their dispatches. A few brownie points for me there. History in action. I got an E for O level and a B for A level in history from the auspicious Hayden Bridge High School. Work that one out if you can.
Today the fog has returned. Tomorrow it’s supposed to bugger off again. Let’s hope so. La Hune is next for us. More granite and the bag of rope and bits of metalwork may well see an airing if the rock is dry. Dave may have a sleepless night like a kid waiting for Christmas.