We begin the last part of our trip to Newfoundland and Labrador in the Avalon Peninsula. Avalon forms the South East of the island of Newfoundland and the most easterly point of North America. It is connected to the rest of the island by an isthmus width of 3.5 mi thus forming a peninsula. It includes the provincial capital, St. John, and 50% of the total population of the province.
The peninsula extends into the Atlantic Ocean to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland which are a set of submarines trays constituting one of the most important fishing areas in the world. Several bays are located around the peninsula. The region has a diversified economy in the petroleum, fisheries, culture, tourism, technology and health.
It is a place of breathtaking beauty and a place full of natural wonders such as drifting icebergs along the coast, groups of whales that play there, migratory birds nesting in the cliffs, and even caribou roaming.
Our first visits on the peninsula are in South River, Bay Roberts and Cupids. Unfortunately, it rains and there is fog. We stop at Tim Horton check our emails and the weather for the coming days. We decide to continue our road until Butter Pot Provincial Park where we will spend the night.
This morning the weather is good and we leave early to visit St. John the capital city and the oldest British colony in North America. We stop at the tourist information center to take information and a map to visit the Historical Downtown District an incredible cultural experience. The historic city center is located in a beautiful environment. We walk up the steep streets, and admire the colors of aligned wooden houses.
We then visit the two most beautiful cathedrals of the city; the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The first, founded in 1699 as a parish church and consecrated as a cathedral in 1850, is the oldest Anglican institution in Canada. The Cathedral is a magnificent example of neo-Gothic architecture.
The second, erected and consecrated in 1855, was at the time one of North America’s largest churches. Symbol of the influence of the Catholic Church in Newfoundland, it is classified as a National Historic Site since 1983. An arch in front of the church is also the subject of a classification.
We continue our historic district walk in the direction of Terry Fox Monument. The many components incorporated in the Terry Fox Mile 0 Site pays tribute to the spirit, determination and the heritage of Terry Fox. At this place, on April 12, 1980, he dipped his artificial leg before starting his Marathon of Hope, a 3,350 mi race across Canada that he was not able to finish, to raise funds for cancer research. He ran an average of 26 miles a day through six provinces. Terry Fox had lost much of his right leg to bone cancer as a teenager. He died on june 28, 1981.
We also made a stop at the Newfoundland and Labrador dogs Monument. Those dogs were used by cod fishermen to retrieve fish which escaped from the nets.
We end this city center tour on the street along the harbor where there is beautiful buildings of the time.
After lunch, we head to Signal Hill National Historic Site, the most popular attraction of St. John’s. This site recalls the historical past of the city and the glory days that communications have known there between the eighteenth century and the Second World War to defend the port of the city. This is also where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.
Cabot Tower located atop Signal Hill, an excellent example of late gothic revival architecture, was built between 1898 and 1900 in order to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
Finally we walk the many hiking trails along the coast that offer panoramic Atlantic ocean views.
We head to Quidi Vidi Village a unique neighborhood in Saint John. This charming and picturesque fishing village is easy to explore by foot. It was active after World War II for the construction of Pepperrell Air Force Base. The village is also home to Newfoundland’s largest microbrewery, the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company where you can buy the local famous «Iceberg» beer.
We take a trail to the summit where we have a beautiful view of the village and surrounding area.
We then stop at the brewery to buy the local beer that we will take on the quayside while watching two friendly fishermens just cleaning their catch of the day and making filets. So I approached them to talk about fishing, cod quotas etc. and just before I left they graciously offered me 4 cod fillets they had just fishing. Wow that is nice of them and we love fresh fish.
We return to St. John to fill up with food and fuel and prepare our next trip.
The next day we head towards Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. Perched on a rugged cliff at the most easterly point of our continent is Cape Spear lighthouse – the oldest lighthouse in the province and iconic symbol of the of Newfoundland and Labrador history of the sailors. Built in 1836, the Cape Spear Lighthouse represents the unique architecture of lighthouse construction during this era. The structure consists of a stone light tower surrounded by the lightkeeper’s residence. A foghorn was added in 1878.
In 1955 a new lighthouse tower was built on the site using the active light from the original lighthouse. The latter is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and the location has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
We also walked about 6 mi in the various trails around the lighthouse. The landscapes were beautiful.
We head later to Maddox and Petty Harbour where we stopped to take some pictures.
After lunch, we go to La Manche East Coast Trail where we cross a suspension bridge and walk along the cliffs. Very nice hike with great views.
We settle down for the night at La Manche Provincial Park. The next day we continue on road 10 to complete the tour of the peninsula. Along the way we visit some small villages. Our first stop is at Ferryland Head Lighthouse which is southeast of the village of Ferryland. It is located at the end of a long peninsula that juts into the sea. This lighthouse is accessible only by a 1.5 mi footpath . We discover beautiful views.
We continue our road to Trepassey where we will have lunch. Then we go to the other side of the peninsula and stop at Salmonier Nature Park a unique nature reserve of its kind. We take the 1.5 mi boardwalk trail that makes us see different animals in their natural habitat. Interesting and informative.
We spend the night at Butter Pot Provincial Park and the next day we begin our rway back to Port aux Basques where we take the ferry toward North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Here ends our trip. We were greatly surprised by the wild and arid beauty of this island and very impressed by the warm welcome of the locals.We would do, without hesitation, this trip again we liked so much what we saw and experienced.
We hope you enjoyed the entire blog on Newfoundland & Labrador.
Ginette & France