An American Visitor to the Rock - Day 4

Summer 2009.

Day 4 - Home to Rose Blanche and Back (350mi/560km)

Getting back home on a Saturday, we had a free Sunday which we couldn't waste. I didn't want to go anywhere THAT far because I had to work the next day, so I decided on finally seeing Rose Blanche - a community on the Southern coast about 45 minutes from where you land when you take the ferry to Newfoundland.

The reason Rose Blanche was even on my radar was the Rose Blanche lighthouse. Rose Blanche looked different from all of the other lighthouses in Newfoundland and I figured it would be worthwhile to see.

Designed by Scots in 1871 and constructed with locally quarried stone by local men, Rose Blanche begun operation in 1873 and continued for the next 70 years.

It sat unused from 1943 to 1988 and you can see above that the strong storms and winds of Southern Newfoundland wreaked havoc on the poor bugger during those years.

The Southwest Development Association and other groups started to save the structure in 1988 and the missing portion was rebuilt between 1996 and 1999. The group claims that the original stone steps you see above, are the only reason the tower wasn't washed into the Atlantic with the rest of the lighthouse.

The ladder to the lantern rooms was cordoned off, so we could only climb halfway up the tower. That was no problem though, because I was more infatuated with the original stone steps then I believe I would have been with the view.

This was my first trip down this highway, so I had no idea how scenic Rose Blanche was. Of all the places I've been in Newfoundland, I might have to give Rose Blanche the nod for the most attractive, appealing NL fishing village.

...and so, we drove around the narrow roads of the town for a bit after the lighthouse. There were some tight turns even for the advanced handling of the Chrysler Intrepid.

We got out of the car to take a photo of this giant rock dwarfing a few surrounding houses; when we noticed a little foot trail and rope handrail for guidance below. The main road in town goes in a big u-shape around the above rock, but this homeowner must have made himself a shortcut with a thoughtful handrail. I'm sure it would definitely help during the walk home after a few glasses of their beloved Jamaican rum: Screech.

We also noticed a vacant school dead in the centre of town. One of us talked the other one out of it because of all the surrounding houses and prying geriatric eyes. (I say geriatric eyes because for a lot of these Newfoundland fishing villages, there's no work, so all of the youth are heading west and the communities left behind are very 'old'.)

Leaving town and driving along the highway from Rose Blanche we had both noticed a waterfall beside the highway. I pulled the car off the road and Kristen said she was thinking the same thing, so it worked out well.

It also worked out well because an old boardwalk led to the waterfall; one we couldn't see from the highway.

It was still in good enough shape to get us there - we just had to watch our step.

It wasn't Angel or Niagara Falls, but it was worth a 15 minute walk.

STILL on that highway from Rose Blanche, we were passing Isle aux Morts and Kristen was amazed that there was a place actually called Island of the Dead (Isle Aux Morts means Island of the Dead in French). While we discussed that, I spotted a run down looking building down by the harbour.

Parking the car and taking a look around, it was quite evident this must have been the old Isle Aux Morts fishing plant.

In 1992, the Canadian government imposed a moratorium on cod fishing due to depleted cod stocks. 12% of Newfoundland's workforce (or 30 000 people) were instantly laid off as fishing plants suddenly closed. Now from my travels and studies, I've learned this didn't produced a large crop of abandoned fish plants, because most remained in some use (shellfish & crab have somewhat replaced cod).

Therefore, I was sort of surprised to find the Isle Aux Morts fishing plant sitting with zero activity. Maybe the proximity to Rose Blanche and Port Aux Basques resulted in its elimination, or maybe it was something else. Anyway, all I could find was that it closed in 2001.

The inside looked very tasty but had this giant 7 ft. tube blocking the entrance. I'm sure both of us could have managed our way atop it, but we were feeling lazy, so we took a walk around back. As we walked behind the building, three local children were distracted from their game of 'throw things into the ocean' and stared at the outsiders bewilderingly.

The back of the building ended up yielding a better option than scaling that tube. We had our choice between the two buildings and the one we made our first was littered with machinery and photographic opportunities.

Even though it was overcast outside, it was still bright enough to make taking quality pictures a pain in the ass.

No matter though, after the last 3 months in Newfoundland, it was pleasing to find myself inside an actual sizable and interesting building.

There were some catwalks that would have been fun to climb around and inspect, but Kristen moved along and out of the building quickly. No worries though, this place is only minutes from where i have to catch the boat off the island (I'm planning on going back).

After the first building was so photogenic and interesting, the second building sure did disappoint. Oh well, it was still a good spot for Newfoundland.

It was also right here that I was taking the above shot and heard someone behind me. A local townsperson had wandered into the building and was standing at the buildings opening, inquisitive as to what we were up to. I went over to diffuse the situation and I could see the pieces fitting together in his mind when he saw my camera.

"S'quite da mess der eh by?"

"It sure is...we were just ta..."

Before I could even finish my sentence he had disregarded me, turned 180 and was heading out of the building. He had what he wanted - he knew what we were up to and could care less.

Kristen didn't particularly care for the townsperson checking us out, so she wanted us to leave. I wanted to stay and take more pictures, but it wasn't worth the hassle for a place that's barely off the beaten path.

With a few hours left of daylight, we grabbed dinner in Port-Aux-Basques (the place the ferry lands). Kristen had a delicious chicken carbonara wrap that is making my mouth water as I type this.

Anyway, we finished up with that and hurried back onto the highway as I wanted to stop at Cape Anguille before sunset.

Cape Anguille lay a good 30 kilometers (20 miles) off the road and I sped atop the terrible roads to see it before dark.

It was a complete success. The cape was so cold that Kristen took about 3 pictures then asked for the car keys to go sit in the warmth. I stood outside for about 10 more minutes because of the beautiful coast and the fact that I had never seen a helipad in person before.

Darkness fell and we made the two hour drive home from Cape Anguille.



1 - Port Aux Basques - The Gateway to Newfoundland - The Rose Blanche Lighthouse

2 - Rose Blanche Light - Lighthouse Explorer Database

3 - - Rose Blanche Lighthouse, Newfoundland, Canada

4 - Wikipedia - Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland and Labrador

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