Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Burlington, Smith’s Harbour, and Middle Arm

I was planning to continue along Route 414 and write about each community in order along the road, but since The Gathering is happening this week (August 25-27), I’m going to jump ahead and share what we found when we visited that area.

Several people we talked with on our travels recommended we visit Burlington, so as we headed back south from Baie Verte, we took a side trip to the home of The Gathering, Shaun Majumder and Rex Goudie.  The town was originally called Northwest Arm, but because it was being confused with another town of the same name, in 1915 the residents chose to change the name to Burlington.  It's not clear if the name is modified from Bridlington in England or is taken from Burlington, Ontario (More Than Just a Name, Byron A. Brooks,

Burlington is a small community, fairly spread out with houses nestled into tall trees.  There’s a picturesque boat launch along a road that leads to a pretty little lookout point with what seems to be a small picnic area with seats and a stage overlooking the ocean.  I believe that some of the activities for The Gathering take place in this area, while the campground is actually a little outside the town itself.  You can read more about The Gathering and see pictures from past events on the website linked above.

Welcome to BurlingtonColourful fishing sheds
There are fishing sheds on both sides of harbourSuch a peaceful place
Picnic tables, seats, and what looked like a stageWhat a place to have your lunch
Beautiful place

Across the harbour from the boat launch, you can see the wharf of Smith’s Harbour, another quiet, linear town.  This town was originally named John Smith's Harbour, after what may have been one of the earliest settlers (More Than Just a Name, Byron A. Brooks, The wharf at the end of town overlooks a small island on one side and a sheltered harbour on the other. 

Welcome to Smith's HarbourSmall island outside the harbour
Smith's Harbour from BurlingtonBurlington from Smith's Harbour
Couldn't you just stay and soak in this view?

What we found most interesting about this place was the garbage cans, which were painted to look like cans of various Newfoundland products and scattered all throughout the town.  A recent CBC article tells the story of how artist Gail Foster was inspired to spearhead this project.  The article says there are 12 in the town - it’s worth driving around just to see how many you can find.  (Looks like we only found 10.)

The third town down Route 413 is Middle Arm.  I didn't find any explanations for the name, but I imagined it may have come from the sandbar arm into the middle of the bay which featured a picnic area that would make a lovely place to stop, have a bite, and enjoy the scenery.  At the entrance to the town was a small house atop a set of stone steps that caught my eye.  It seems the residents were in the process of painting a line of colorful fishing sheds along the water’s edge while we were there.  The picture below shows three, but there were many more still being painted in bright hues. They should make for some lovely pictures when they’re done.

Welcome to Middle ArmThere is a picnic shelter and facilities on the sandbar
Mind your stepThe harbour is lined with colourful sheds
View of town from sandbarLooking back towards entrance

As we approached Middle Arm, on the outskirts of Burlington, we came across a line of salt fish mounted to dry, overlooking the water.  This is an iconic sight in Newfoundland, although sadly not as easy to find as it used to be.

Salt fish drying

If you’re headed to The Gathering, you are in for a great time in a beautiful spot.  Be sure to save some time to explore the Baie Verte Peninsula – you won’t be sorry.  And if you’re not going this week, then add it to your bucket list – it’s a great place to visit.

Next post:  Back to route 414 and Brent’s Cove

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tilt Cove

The next community is Tilt Cove, which is now Canada’s smallest town.  The town’s name may have come from the term for a fishing shack (tilt) that had been built on the shore of the cove and which would have been the only structure visible to ships passing the area (More Than Just a Name, Byron A. Brooks,

Although tiny now, it was once a vibrant and booming mining community, the second largest in Newfoundland, with over 2000 people, four churches, each with its own school, a couple of banks, and a large copper mine supporting it all.  The mine operated from 1864 for about 50 years, opening again in 1957, and finally closing 10 years later ( As of this August, there are now 5 residents in the summer, and we were told there would be just 4 this winter.  The town became famous for its size in 2015 when Marvel reached out to request help in getting a small poster for the upcoming Ant Man movie placed in Tilt Cove, stating “It’s the perfect match."  The ant-sized billboard is still there in the town.

Ant Man sign

The history of the town is captured by the residents in The Way We Were museum, and resident Margaret Collins took us through the pictures, artifacts and stories that have been saved there.  It was interesting to compare the pictures of how it used to look to what structures still remained.  The residents are always happy to take tourists through the museum and explain how life was in a busy mining town, and it’s well worth a stop.

Pictures, stories and artifacts in the museumItems once treasured
A reminder of how life wasPreserved history
An aerial view of the town when the mine operatedSome of the many mining buildings
Lots more houses thenThere were many regattas on the pond
A view of the town looking towards the oceanSimilar view today
The community is built in a bowl between the hills accessed from a road high above the town, and the remaining houses are clustered around a central pond at the bottom – older, abandoned houses on one side and more modern and inhabited houses on the other.

Newer houses at top of pond, older houses at bottomThe town is surrounded by hills and slag
Some of the older houses, still standingIf this house could tell stories...

Very little of the mine remains, except the loose rocks covering what were once entrances, some old support structures, and memories.  Much of the mine was actually above the town, behind what is known as Castle Rock, a large knob in the cliff.  You can still see the road that used to lead to the mining area.

Castle RockRoad to mine area at right
Old mine shaft, now filled inOld mining structure, all that remains
You can drive down a short road to visit the beach, where there is a picnic table under an old mine support and overlooking the sparkling bay, where there were a couple of small boats moored.  Scattered on the beach, you can still see a glint of copper in some of the rocks.

The rivers near the mine shafts still show much rustYet this hardy flower holds on
Beautiful beach on Notre Dame BayThere's a small cave behind this boat
Glints of copper and minerals in the rocksJust a hint of what first explorers found

There’s not a lot to see here now, and yet there’s something very special about this town that touches the heart.

For more information on the story of Tilt Cove, you may be interested in an episode of Land and Sea, featuring the residents talking about what life was like and how the mine was discovered.  The mine is also featured in a book on mining in Newfoundland, Once Upon a Mine, which you can read online.

Next post:  We're going to jump ahead - come back soon to see where