Throughout Newfoundland and Labrador there’s a pristine interface between land and sea that remains natural and unspoiled. With archaeological sites that predate the pyramids, and 500 years of fishing tradition coexisting with the innovations of today’s society, the folk here hold to their roots with a compelling and unshakeable sense of place, pride and humour.
Walk the historic streets of one of the oldest port cities in North America, St. John’s, circled by the celebrated East Coast Trail, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Signal Hill National Historic Site. Welcome the new day with a sunrise visit to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site, where you’ll be walking on the most easterly point of all of North America.
Keep your camera handy for a myriad of scenic coastal villages, lighthouses, pebbled beaches and gourmet picnics, all framed by epic vistas. Let their thriving culture, cuisine, arts and music fill your evenings.
Be assured that the spectacle is big. With the largest population of migrating humpback whales in the world crossing paths with 10,000-year-old icebergs and a swirl of over 35 million seabirds, you’ll get the feeling. Let the fresh air consume you as hundreds of colourful villages along thousands of miles of coast welcome you. Take the path.
Connections between the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador go back more than five centuries. In 1497, John Cabot — the English name of the Italian explorer and trader Giovanni Caboto — sailed to Newfoundland under warrant from Henry VII and reported discovering fish so plentiful they slowed the progress of his ship.
Newfoundland and Labrador was recognised as Britain’s first colony in 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed into St. John’s Harbour and proclaimed Newfoundland for Britain — much to the amusement of fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal and other nations who witnessed the proclamation.
In 1610, John Guy and investors from London founded a colony called Cuper’s Cove in Conception Bay. The community is today called Cupids and Guy’s colony is the site of active archaeological research. Hikers make the glorious trek to John Guy Lookout at Spectacle Head, where forbears stood watch. And for nostalgia, you can go to the John Guy Flag Site, where a replica of the second largest flag in the British Empire is raised with honour and pride and flown on special occasions.
In The Cupids Legacy Centre, you’ll learn of traditional folklore in the rooftop Fairie Garden. Enjoy the local museum’s storytelling and the treasured display of British school books that were used until Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. Be assured that afternoon tea or a good plate of fish and chips at a local pub will confirm that the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t dilute rich tradition. newfoundlandlabrador.com
Find yourself at one of the four corners of the Earth, in a place that has seven seasons at the edge of the abundant North Atlantic. Those who journey to this remote island find home in its welcoming wilderness. Fogo Island is one of the few places on Earth where you can see the full spectrum of the magma chamber exposed.
Its 420-million-year-old geological history is evident everywhere and includes stunning and fascinating contortions of rock formed by ice, fire, and sea. For much of the year, there’s a geologist-in-residence on the island to guide you through the many secrets the rocks hold.
To learn about other fascinating secrets, you can connect with the locals via a rich array of compelling experiences inspired by their traditions, born of land and sea. From natural history to epic vistas, from the art galleries to the shed parties and creature comforts of the finest cuisine, storytelling and song, you’ll feel the warmth of home at every turn. fogoislandinn.ca
Nigel Richardson’s 5 reasons to experience Newfoundland and Labrador
1. Proximity: With a flying time from Heathrow of just five hours, and a time difference of three, it feels more like a far-flung Hebridean archipelago than North America.
2. Kinship: The fisher folk descending from the British Isles and coastal Europe have a ready smile and a story to share. Celebrated poet E J Pratt summed up their hospitality in a phrase: ‘doors held ajar in storms’.
3. Food: The restaurants of St. John’s and outposts like the Fogo Island Inn offer some of the finest fare in Canada, inspired by rich harvests from both land and sea.
4. Landscapes and seascapes: Marvel at the fjords and peaks of the Gros Morne National Park. You’ll also find the world’s largest concentration of migrating humpback whales plus huge, awe-inspiring icebergs.
5. World-class heritage: Check out the Viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows, the 16th-century Basque whaling station at Red Bay, Labrador, and the newest fossil site at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve on the tip of the Avalon Peninsula.