Friday, 24 April 2015

Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats

2013_NL_F16_0341B-2Twillingate is as tied to the sea as any other part of Newfoundland. As part of my "health check" on how the fishery is recovering, I wandered around the shore in the Twillingate area during my visit to the Fish, Folk and Fun festival. I looked at what boats, wharfs, sheds, and traps I saw, trying to get a feel for whether things were still declining, or whether they were on the rebound. This is not a very scientific method, of course, but a much more visually satisfying process than looking at reams of numbers on paper.

Of course there is the usual "standby" trade in tourism, such as this tour boat tied up at the Federal wharf.

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But aside from this alternative source of revenue, I was looking for signs that the fishery was rebounding. As is the case everywhere in Newfoundland, there certainly are lots of signs of neglect. Even the Federal government is letting things slip into disrepair, although that may be a symptom of Newfoundland's "ABC" politics.

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True, there are also a lot of private properties no longer being maintained, and the sight of weathered wood is everywhere. In contrast to the weathered wood, I saw bits and pieces of brightly coloured plastic, standing out like spring blooms pushing through the snow, hinting that a new cycle of life is about to begin.

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There were sheds being used for actual work, and not shed parties.

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I saw quite a few speedboats tied up and ready to go.

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As I watched one speedboat come back in, I noticed something I have not seen in a long, long time. A motorboat.

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In the photo above, the speedboat is the small vessel with people aboard. The motorboat is the longer vessel in the photo. Motorboats came about when engines were first put aboard fishing boats. These engines were usually quite large and therefore the boats had to be longer and bigger than rowboats in order to have space for the motors. The engines were "make-break" motors, and had a very distinctive sound. You can see and hear one in this Youtube video.

Motorboats are a rare sight these days, as they were long ago replaced by the faster, smaller, and more efficient speedboats and their outboard engines. So I took the opportunity to take a few photographs of this one. It seemed to sit higher and prouder than the other boats around it.

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I came across one more motorboat while I was wandering around Twillingate. This one did not have an engine box, and I could not tell if the engine was still inside the boat or not. But it, too, seemed to ride high and proud.

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I really like the above photo. It has a timeless quality in that it could be a photo from the early 1800's, or it could be a photo taken today. There is nothing visually that gives away when it was taken. So too with this image from a near-by shed. I took it because I could not figure out why there was a white dot painted on the door.

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There were quite a few wharves around the area and they all seemed to be busy with fishermen processing gear and catch.

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I saw a number of stands of lobster pots as well

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This lot seemed to be ready to hit the water.

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As I was taking the above photo, I heard a crow cawing nearby. It seemed to be coming from the stand of lobster pots, so I went and had a closer look. Sure enough, a crow had gotten inside one of the traps and could not get out.

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I freed him and he squawked at me for a bit before flying away. I understand crows are quite intelligent and they can recognize human faces. I hope this crow's squawks were thank-you's, because I heard a lot of crows squawking just after he flew off, and I'd hate to have an angry murder of crows waiting for me in Twillingate!


Here is a list of links to all of the posts in my Twillingate 2013 series
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn



Read more...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and A Lighthouse

2013_NL_F16_0101Part of the reason for heading up to Twillingate was to see if there were any icebergs around. Twillingate bills itself as "The Iceberg Capital of the World", so I thought if there was one place on Iceberg Alley to see an iceberg, it would be Twillingate!

I went up to Long Point Lighthouse in Crow Head, just outside of Twillingate. Since lighthouses are built in places that are easily seen from the ocean, the reverse is also true: lighthouses are great places to look out on the sea. It turned out that I wasn't the only one with that idea, as there were a number of people there already, scouting the horizon for icebergs.

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I left the lighthouse and went over to an adjacent observation platform. As you can see, there were no icebergs in view.

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Or were there? I spied a tour boat heading out to sea and wondered why.

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I looked out through my camera with my long lens, and sure enough, I saw a small iceberg.

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Zooming in, I could see it a bit more clearly.

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It was small, but it was indeed an iceberg.

Having finally sighted an iceberg, it was time to take a closer look at the lighthouse. It was built in 1876. The tower is painted in red, rather than traditional white.

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There were still plenty of people around it looking out for a glimpse of a whale or an iceberg. Of course, this being Newfoundland, there were plenty of outcrops to stand on and use as an outlook.

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I decided to come back a bit later, to see what it would look like at sunset.

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I loved the way the light reflected back in the windows of the attendants' house.

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The light in the offing ranged from purples and blues to oranges and magentas.

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The sun finally went below the horizon. With the colours muted, I made a final image in black and white.

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Here is a list of links to all of the posts in my Twillingate 2013 series
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats

Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:
Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn








Read more...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine

2013_NL_F16_0309Auk Island Winery, named after the Great Auk, makes "wines" from local Newfoundland berries. I had never heard of them until I saw their name in local tourist material while in Twillingate for the Fish, Fun, and Folk festival.

Homemade berry wine is quite common in Newfoundland, and I had tasted many berry wines while growing up. The berries used in those wines were either blueberry or bakeapple. In contrast, Auk Island Winery makes about 30 different types of wine using a variety of berries, so I was quite curious as to the taste of these professionally made berry wines (although technically their products are not wines, as they are distilled and not fermented).

The Auk Island Winery is located right in Twillingate, which makes it very convenient to visit. The whole facility is located in an old schoolhouse, which is quite small, so the tour is quite short. Which of course means more time at the end to taste samples.
 

The friendly staff have all the different types of wine lined up on the counter for you, and all you have to do is point at the one you want to try and they will pour it up.

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There were wines made from all sorts of berries; some of which with the addition of traditional Newfoundland rum (Screech). I tried almost all of the available samples, but have to confess I prefer the homemade variety from my youth.

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From wines, it was on to a traditional Newfoundland "time". A couple of musicians were scheduled to play at the local Masonic Lodge. On the way down to the site, I noticed that the Lodge had a very unusual (for Newfoundland) dome-type roof on the tower. Being in Newfoundland, the roof was suitably "baptized" with seagull poop.

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Inside the Lodge, the event staff had set up a makeshift stage in one corner, using tarpaulins to block out the window. Both chairs and tables were put out for the audience, and the fact that tables were part of this arrangement should have been my first clue that the focus of the evening was not just on the music.

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The second clue should have been that a bar was open, and folks were filling up while waiting for the musicians to take the stage.

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The third clue should have been that the musicians were late. A full hour behind schedule before they finally took to the stage.

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So yes, the focus turned out not to be on the music, but on the social aspect of the evening.

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I guess that is not too surprising: it is nice to unwind at the end of the day and catch up with your neighbours. But if the focus of the Fish, Folk, and Fun festival is on bringing in tourists to Twillingate, then the people of Twillingate should do their socializing elsewhere and let the audience focus on the music - and the music should start on time, not one hour late.


Here is a list of links to all of the posts in my Twillingate 2013 series
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn



Read more...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Twillingate Part 1: Getting There

2013_NL_F16_0001Growing up in Newfoundland, I was always fascinated by the mystery of the Beothuk. I guess there were really two things that fascinated me. The first was: who were these people? The second was: where did they go?

It appears that the Beothuk culture in Newfoundland may have started around the same time as Europeans arrived on the island. It certainly ended thereafter, which puts their span at about 200 - 300 years. Since the Beothuk avoided contact with the Europeans, there is little recorded information about them, and we do not know much about how they lived.

On my way to Twillingate, I decided to stop at the Boyd's Cove Beothuk Site and have a look. I had never been there before, and I hoped to learn a bit more about this vanished people.

The Site consists of an interpretive centre and an archaeological site. The interpretive centre is small and simple, which I guess makes sense since so little is known about the Beothuk. But what information there is, can be had here. For me, it was a great chance to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, since it had been some 30 years since I last read anything about these people. I was pleased to learn that current theory has it that they were not exterminated by any direct action of my European forebears, but rather were the victims of competition for the same resources with the Europeans, the Mi'kmaq and the Innu. "Pleased" may be too strong a word, though, since the end result was the same.

It was difficult to really see the archaeological site as we walked to it from the interpretive centre. It was little more than a clearing in the trees.

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There is a little walk-out so that visitors can view the site without actually walking on it; the government restricts access to the site itself. The site is maintained, to a degree. Forest regeneration takes so long in Newfoundland that not much really needs to be done, other than keep the grass cut.


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Even though there was nothing to see that showed anything Beothuk, in my mind's eye I could well imagine their children playing while the adults engaged in chores. I wondered if the kids liked being down at the water's edge doing the same things I did while growing up on the coast of Newfoundland: watching the storm rollers in the winter, copying pans in the spring, or catching fish during summer.

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Leaving the site, I felt sad that so little of their culture survived. I think we are poorer for not knowing more about them.


From Boyd's Cove it was off to Twillingate where they were holding the Fish, Folk, and Fun Festival, and to a happier frame of mind. The festival is targeted at tourists in an attempt to draw them to the area and it seems to be doing a good job at that. When I went to look for a place to stay, I found only two rooms left in the area, and had to quickly reserve one in order to have a place to sleep.

One of the festival events is a parade. It's hard to describe what a parade is like in a small Newfoundland town, other than to say it is very grass roots. I think these sorts of parades are perhaps more akin to the origins of parades as a coming together to celebrate, rather than a large, flashy spectacle meant to entertain and awe (like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City).

Since the roads are not closed off, the parade requires some sort of safety escort and the first "float" is the local police cruiser.

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Following the police is usually the flag party of the local cadet corps.

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With the police running the opening escort vehicle, it usually falls to the local volunteer fire department to run the closing escort vehicle. In this case, it looks like an old fire car was also added to the parade at the front to provide a bit more colour.

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These small community parades are a great opportunity for local businesses to participate and get their name out there. An example is this local wedding service provider.

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Of course this is also a good excuse to get all dolled up...

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... and get the kids out for a walk.

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You don't have to get all dressed up to participate. You just have to make sure there is a lot of colour on your "float".

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The source of the colour is not important. What is important is that you get out there and are seen!

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Any topic or subject is fine; royalty is not off-limits.

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In fact, inventiveness is the key. If you can throw together a few bits and pieces from around the house for a float, then have at 'er.

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Floats based on cultural references are fine as well, even if you cannot spell. In this case, the reference is to the Newfoundland folk song Lukey's Boat, and specifically the Great Big Sea version (watch the kids' version here, or the adult version here).

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You can even announce to people your intentions of getting married later in the year.

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As with all traditions, a sense of participation is instilled at a very early age.

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Everything is designed to optimize participation, and even the closing escort vehicle, while not decorated, allows for "ride-alongs" so kids can enjoy participating.

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With the parade over, it was time to see the other events and sights of the festival...



Here is a list of links to all of the posts in my Twillingate 2013 series
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats

Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:
Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn



Read more...