Subject: St. John's Newfoundland travelogue Part 2
St. John's, Newfoundland March 2001

March 22-27 Part two Sunday March 25.

Had to watch Coronation Street of course this morning and we set out for another drive around noon. It was snowing when we left, big fat flakes that gently floated down. No wind. It's not supposed to amount to much. We headed for the trans Canada highway west out of the city with the requisite stop at Tim's for a takeaway coffee for the road. The turnoff we want is about 75 km. From St. John's. We are heading north to the village of Dildo. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the infamous Dildo, Newfoundland. There's also a South Dildo. The mind boggles. It's a small fishing village and i have no idea how it got it's name. There is an interpretation center there (honest!) but it was closed for the winter season. There is also a bed and breakfast overlooking the bay so there must be some tourist traffic even though it's off the main road. There is a fish processing plant nearby too, providing much needed employment. It's on an inlet at the back end of Trinity Bay. Even on a gray overcast day, fog over the water and a bit of rain falling, it's still picturesque with it's square houses and buildings scattered along two or three winding roads and up into the surrounding hills. The fishing boats are tied up at the pier and there is one in the process of being built on the small beach. There are a couple of derelict dories alongside of the road near the beach head, paint peeling, wood rotting, abandoned.

Back on the road cross country to the Conception Bay side of the peninsula, and a stop in Bay Roberts at Tim's for a loo break and a lunch of coffee and bagels. We then followed a narrow winding secondary road. There is a mention of a Hawthorne's Cottage, a national historic site on the road map. We were pretty sure it would be closed for the season but thought there might be a photo in it at least. It's in a village called Brigus and the village is very pretty in a touristy quaint way. Gayle thinks they do get a bit of tourist traffic in summer because of it's beauty. Seems like it because there are a few little tea rooms and craft shops (closed) there as well. The house belonged to a sea captain, Bob Hawthorne.

Back to the main road and along the shore until we come to the turnoff back to the Trans Canada and back home. It's been a gray foggy day but not windy for a change and not very cold. One thing i noticed along the roads were these small painted structures about the size of an outhouse. But they were frequent and alongside the road, an odd place for one. And also, they had no doors so i knew the weren't what they looked like. Were they perhaps there for storage? But nothing seemed to be in any of them. I asked Gayle and what d'you know? Shelters for the children waiting for the school bus! I'd never seen that before on my travels on country roads. What a great idea!

We're having Chessy's fish and chips for supper and tonight CBC is airing the Coronation Street 40th anniversary special. We watched it with permanent grins on our faces, thoroughly enjoyable.

I was looking at the road map of the province. 95% of the settlements on the map are on the coast and some still quite obviously are only accessible by water as there are no roads on the map. The whole of the province is a spider web of lakes and rivers and most of the places in off the shore are on a lake or river with very few others scattered through the interior. Most of the interior settlements are based around the logging and pulp and paper industries or the city of Gander where the town depends on the airport for it's survival. The rest of Newfoundland looks empty thought there are lots of provincial parklands and ecological reserves, the two largest being Gros Morne and Terra Nova national Parks. There are two wilderness reserves marked on the map, Avalon which takes up a good chunk of the southeast of the Avalon peninsula and Bay du Nord just west of the same peninsula along with a handful of smaller coastal reserves.

A look around the map is a delight of place names too, giving loads of speculation as to how the names might have originated. In addition to Dildo, some of the more fanciful ones include: Witless Bay, Tickle Cove, Plate Cove (East and West), Gooseberry Cove, Heart's Delight, Little Heart's Ease, Heart's Desire and Heart's Content. Goblin, Tea Cove, Fogo, Twillingate, Seldom, Little Seldom, Farewell, Virgin Arm (coincidentally near Dildo Run Provincial Park but nowhere near Dildo and South Dildo). Luke's Arm, Comfort Cove, Leading Tickles, Lushes Bight, Sop's Arm. There are lots of duplicate names and four Little Bays and three more with Little Bay in the name. Oddly, not many names that seem to be based on Native/First Nation names and only a small percentage of French origin names which is uncommon to find in Canada.

Geography lesson over :)

Monday March 26

Gayle has to work today so Jocelyn and i are going to drive around the city a little bit. Gayle had a bit of trouble with the car today so she took the company car to work and the man that lives in the basement flat gave the other car a jump start. Jocelyn and i decided to drive to the old village of Quidi Vidi which is within the city boundaries, on the other side of Signal Hill on an inlet. There's a few old buildings and houses, a very old pub, again closed and a brewery at the mouth of the inlet. There's also a very old heritage house that now houses a craft shop. We took a few photos around the harbour but avoided capturing the brewery, a new building that sort of took away from the atmosphere.

We were hungry by this time, late in the morning and drove around looking for a cafe or something. We spotted a bakery called Bread Pig, which is at Rawlin's Cross and Queen Street. It's just a working bakery selling a small rack of goods with coffee and sweets available, mostly for take out thought there is a little counter and three stools in front of the window where there were vases of bulrushes decorating the sills. We each had a big fat cinnamon bun filled with cinnamon cream cheese icing! Divine!

Properly sustained, we decided to have a bit of a browse in a couple of clothing shops and later drove to Bowring Park, a large natural park in the city. There are lots of water fowl and little streams with gurgling falls flowing past the gentle inclining paths we took. A couple of times we gingerly made our way down the bank over packed but somewhat soft snow, still a good three or more feet deep if the half buried trash cans were anything to judge by and down to a bridge or clearing by the water to take pictures. Today is the first day it stayed sunny most of the day and though the wind could be a little chilly the sun felt warm and energizing.

We had to leave and do some grocery shopping as Jocelyn had to go to work for 3. I was planning to make a big pot of spaghetti sauce for everyone for supper tonight so i bought the fixings with fresh bread from the bakery we stopped at earlier.

So the trip was over, with a family night in. Jocelyn drove me to the small airport in the morning and i arrived home on time, refreshed and ready to face the rest of the winter and early Nova Scotia spring (which isn't often a whole lot better weather wise LOL)

Diane Johnston