A Bonus in Bonavista Peninsula

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2011

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Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland and Labrador,
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catalina is where Aunt Ada lives and she is expecting us; however there is one stop that we want to do first - Terra Nova National Park. 

Terra Nova is the most easterly National Park in Canada. There are plenty of opportunities to learn at the Touch Tank exhibit, many walking trails, and over 500 campsites at various locations throughout the park. We primarily came to do some hiking, but since we were here and there is a golf course (Terra Nova Golf Club) - we thought we’d give it a try too. 

Once settled at the Newman Sound Campground we had a bike ride and explored the grounds. The next day we took a easy 6 km hike along the Coastal Trail - it was nice. Then we finally got into the swing of things at the golf course and ended up getting teamed up with Dave and Larisa from Edmonton. They were here on the ‘Rock’ visiting with Dave’s relatives for a few weeks and were keen on golfing when they could. It was a premier course in Newfoundland with beautiful views. Overall, we’d say it was fantastic!

Now Aunt Ada and Uncle Ralph lived in Catalina for over 30 years as they had acquired Ada’s old family homestead from her father. While there, Ralph went to work on the fishing boats until the Cod Moratorium in 1992, which threw most of the fishermen out of work - including Uncle Ralph. A little over 2 years ago Uncle Ralph passed away, but Aunt Ada remains in the old house with their daughter Glenda.

Ada’s son, Graham, and wife Teresa live just down the road. Their daughter, Kim, and grand-daughter, Chelsea live in the community too - while Chelsea’s daddy (Neil) works out in Edmonton. Everyone else (5 others) in Ada’s family have moved away to get work and raise their families elsewhere. 

It really seems to be a typical way of life in the Newfoundland outports with people seeking work elsewhere. The fisheries just aren’t what they use to be and there just isn’t much of anything else to do in the small towns along the shores. Many pack up and leave or, in some cases - like Neil and Tony (from Brent’s Cove), work a distance away and come home from time to time to be with their family

Now doesn’t that remind you of pea soup? Don’t know why, but it just does - wouldn’t ya say!? One day Aunt Ada had a big pot of pea soup and dumplings for us to eat. Its another traditional dish of Newfoundland, but one that we hadn’t had yet so Ada said she’d cook us up a feed. Really just needed to mention it as it was pretty darn good! Or as they say here...'it was some good'!

While out on the Bonavista Peninsula one must actually go out to see Bonavista and do some sight seeing. So that’s what we did. One place we went was the Ryan Premises. This National Historic Site commemorates five centuries of commercial fishing on the East Coast. Ryan was the old merchant in town. His retail store, fish salting and storage buildings, as well as his home have all been restored and now house a museum and many learning opportunities via movies and displays. 

While at Ryan’s place, we shared lunch with the Town Mayor as they were having a celebration at the site. We got to enjoy a homemade feed of fish and brewis, fish cakes and bakeapple cheese cake. Yummy! And we know what you're all thinking...all they do is eat!

It is told that the famous explorer, John Cabot, came to Bonavista over 500 years ago on his ship called the Matthew. There is a statue out on the Cape where he is thought to have landed. Here in town, there is a full sized replica of the Matthew vessel built by local shipwrights as a legacy to the hardy little ship that sailed the Atlantic all that time ago. And even though she was being housed in her storage building, we got to climb aboard and check ‘er out. She was woodsy and ropey...she was a real beauty.

Next stop was what they call ‘the Dungeons’. Its a twin-entranced sea cave with a collapsed roof that has been carved into the cliff face by the sea. Pretty spot - similar to the Arches on the western shoreline, but nicer (so we thought). It kinda looked like a face.

Between here and Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, which is a provincial historic site, we saw several horse and sheep roaming freely in the field and, of course, whales out in the sea. This lighthouse, which was completed in 1843 was manned until 1962 and like many others out this way, was eventually replaced by an automated light system and no longer a location for year-round employment. 

On our way back to Catalina we decided to go to the little fishing village of Elliston to check out some of the old root cellars and the puffins. They claim to be the root cellar capital of the world having more that 135 documented cellars in the community - many over 200 years old. Aunt Ada has one at her place too, but not sure how old it is.

Elliston Point also boasts about having one of the largest puffin populations (closest to shore) in North America. Here you are able to see the puffin up fairly close and enjoy their comings and goings. Puffins are the little black and white bird with an orange beak and feet. We were told that their feet turn orange to attract a mate, but later return to their original colour of grey. They burrow about 2 feet into the soft marshy ground along the cliffs and lay a single egg - per season. They mate for life and will continue to come back to the same area to nest for the rest of their days. It was quite a treat to see them. We felt pretty lucky.

And, of course, we can’t come to this area and not go to a dinner theatre. So in tiny little Trinity is the Rising Tide Theatre and that very night they were presenting ‘Shenanigans’ - an evening of traditional music, skits and to top it all off - a mockery of a Newfie-style Wedding. The meal was good, the skits were funny and the music was wonderful. We took Aunt Ada and her sister-in-law Ruby with us and we all had a great time.

One day cousin Graham offered up a lobster trap for us to take home as he thought it would go well with the moose antlers that cousin Randy gave us. He also told us that if we got up early and headed down the highway we’d definitely see some more moose. So early the next morning (5:15 AM) we jumped in the truck to continue our Moose Hunt. It was a foggy morning and even started to rain. Not very pleasant time to be out on the roads, but we’re happy to report that within a half hour we saw 5 more moose to add to our tally (now at 18) and then headed back home to the RV.

It was Saturday, July 23rd - the day that the fishery opened and it was arranged for Norm and I to go cod jigging with a local fisherman. Well, we didn’t end up fishing, but we did end up having a wonderful BBQ Birthday dinner up at Graham and Teresa’s place for Norm’s 55th. Lots of food and lots of fun had by all. It was a good time.

Later that night we were all sitting around chatting about how Norm’s folks use to come up for a visit. So shortly thereafter we got on the phone and called Norm’s mom and asked her to consider catching a flight down. In a flash, brother Ken booked the flight, brother Steve drove her to the Ottawa airport, and we picked her up at the St.John’s airport on Monday afternoon. Ada and the rest of the Seaward clan in the Catalina area were thrilled to see her and welcomed her with open arms. What a Birthday Bonus it turned out to be for Norm and for the Bonavista Peninsula Seaward clan!

Norm and I were pretty well ready to head onward, but we ended up staying an extra day so we could spend some time with Norm’s mom. On our last night we cooked up a lovely dinner for the whole gang, said our good-byes and then headed out early the following morning. 

Bay Robert’s is next on the list. See ya all there! 
Slideshow Report as Spam


madeline and pierre on

Hey you guys sound like you are having a super time. Just think in 3 months you will be back to Four Lakes again. My the time flies. Happy belated 55th to Stormin Norman.
cheers Mads and Pierre

Heather & Randy on

Hey There,
Looks like you are having a beautiful trip...Happy Birthday Norm..wish we were there to help you celebrate:)

Pat and Cathy Cook on

Happy Birthday Norm, looking good for an old guy :))

Keep those photos and stories coming, we enjoy them a lot.

Happy trails

Ann and Steve on

Wow that was quite exciting Norm's mom coming down just like that! What a nice surprise for you guys and I'm sure it was very nice to see her around your Seawards clan. I'm sure there were a lot of old stories told. Can't wait to see pictures when you get back. Keep having fun and keeping us informed. We never knew there was so much to see and do in Newfoundland.

Marc & Lynda on

Happy belated birthday Norm! Looks like a great celebration for you. Great blog guys, rock formation looks like an anteater....
We head for your east coast on Friday, can hardly wait to capture some of that scenery on film.
Have fun,
Marc & Lynda

Jennifer on

XOXO HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG GUY! No need to ask, I see you are having a blast. Kissing the cod, Sharon, now don't forget to get screeched in!! I loved the rock, especially the George St Festival in St.John's. Super pictures, loving it all.

Lori Downey on

Even though I have not commented until now, I have been reading all your blogs. You guys look very happy. Happy BD Norm.

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