Bay d'Espoir 2012: Part 2

Bay d'Espoir, Newfoundland (Map)

Spring 2012.


The next morning our ferry was leaving at 8:30 and we arrived at 8:15. We squeezed the car into a tight spot up the road, since this wasn't a car ferry we were boarding. We joined a father & son aboard the boat, along with a haul of goods someone must have purchased in Grand Falls-Windsor.

The ride to McCallum takes 90 minutes and it didn't take very long for the boat to start rocking. I knew we were going out into exposed sea & far away from the picturesque shoreline, so I decided to kick up my feet on the back of the hard plastic chairs and catch some zzz's.

I awoke near McCallum on account of the ride suddenly growing smoother. We were passing Taylor Island on the left and McCallum's peninsula to our right, while the ferry slowed down and we navigated the tight harbour. I left the seating area for the back of the ship, admiring the foreign islands and rock formations.

I had been to a couple of these towns now and McCallum had the quietist ferry reception I have yet seen. I suppose this would have to do with frequency & date of arrival, but I don't remember there being more than five people waiting at the dock here on this given Sunday.

McCallum was only settled in the 19th century, but it then grew as a result of the many resettlements which happened in its vicinity.

The nearby villages of Great Jervais, Indian Cove, Locks Cove, Mosquito, Muddy Hole, Pushthrough and Richard's Harbour all contributed residents upon their demise.

Today McCallum is one of seven communities left on the South Coast which is only reachable by boat. Just like Francois, Grey River & La Poile (all which have been featured on this site before), McCallum has no vehicles and all travel is done by foot or ATV upon the boardwalks, dirt trails or cement paths throughout town.

Systematically we moved along every path, until we were comfortable with the belief that we had walked them all. We explored their church for a few minutes, then sat down on the steps outside, as Juncos popped from headstone to headstone. The number of birds in McCallum was impressive & I wondered if this was their first stop after crossing back from springtime Nova Scotia.

It was incredibly quiet & track of time was lost until a mother & daughter approached the church fence with flowers - not wanting to infringe on their grave site visit, we skedaddled and went north towards the school & the heights of town.

Due to a lack of flat ground for the youth, the school has a wood deck playground just like the one in Francois. I'd have to give the advantage to the school deck in McCallum though, as you couldn't beat the view out over the cove behind the community.

I went out on the rocks behind the school deck and there was a lot of glass. I suppose it would be hard to beat a cold Black Horse under the full moon as the rocks crashed on these pretty islands, b'y.

Even if you're in a town with only 92 people, and you've only seen 5, it's still nice to get away from it all.

Passing the southernmost houses of the town, we noticed that the trail kept going, eventually leading to a nice bench with handrails and a great vantage point over the nearby islands.

We hiked up a little higher, as the ground here is so conducive to easy movement, before plopping down amongst the juniper shrubs and relaxing. Shahlene had brought binoculars, so I studied the cove just across the tickle - later learning that I was looking at Indian Cove (one of the communities which was resettled). As I sat there, I could see some type of wood pile & the land looked awfully cleared and settled - leading me to wonder what was over there.

I also examined the sea urchins in my vicinity. Gulls will pluck these from the ocean, then drop them on the inland rocks to get at their insides.

I didn't speak to anyone for any length of time during our stay in McCallum. It wasn't a matter of being unsociable, it was more so a matter of not seeing very many people outside.

Anyway, McCallum really reminded me of Francois in terms of the number of houses and their population numbers. Where Francois fell from 134 people in 2006, to 114 people in 2011; McCallum fell from 113 people in 2006 to 92 people in 2011.

Our host in Francois described the loss of people and the aging population, saying that she'd be happy to see the town still there in 5-10 years. I don't think it is a far stretch to conclude that McCallum is going the same direction as Francois.

I stood over the stern as we pulled away from McCallum in the late afternoon. It was a strange feeling to leave a place and have a certain amount of certainty that you'll never see it again.

Returning to Hermitage, we learned that we would be there for 30 minutes. Was this enough time to get food? The ferrymen said that they keep to the schedule quite well, so we rushed into the village for restaurant food after spending the day wandering around McCallum.

The restaurant could only make certain things if we were concerned about time - but thankfully one of those things was the intriguing chicken poutine wrap!

Sadly, it wasn't as good as it sounded. It was actually so questionable that I still squirm when I think back to it.

Another thing was that we had to eat on the ferry, so the 10 people who were now on the ferry, were making quips and salivating over the poutine smell emanating my corner of the tight cabin.

I made it disappear like a magician though.

What were we doing back on the ferry you ask?

Well I know it sort of cheapens the portrayal of how hard it is to reach these Southern Newfoundland towns, but since we were here in Hermitage - a difficult enough place to reach in its own right - then we had to check off Gaultois0 as well after the opportunity presented itself.

0 - Pronounced Gull-tiss

I was surprised with the number of people going to Gaultois when it wasn't even the last crossing for the night; but once we pulled into town, I figured out what was going on.

Gaultois appeared much more healthy than any other Southern Newfoundland, connected-only-by-ferry, isolated outport I had seen. Impressive buildings and an active fish plant were within view, and the number of people welcoming the ferry was intimidating.

As we scurried away from the hullabaloo at the ferry wharf, we quickly found a very steep road leading upwards. Much to our surprise, a Town of Gaultois truck then turned the corner and barrelled down towards us!

So only the town workers can have vehicles here?! How sour would that make you if you were walking up the hill for the 10th time on some random day!

We walked up the steep hill to a neighbourhood with the town hall and the fire hall. Already it was clear that Gaultois had more than double the number of houses in McCallum, plus many more homes which were stately and pleasant. Our road seemed to keep going, but with only 70 minutes, we unfortunately needed to stick to the main sights.

We then walked the road you see above, connecting the ferry neighbourhood with the middle neighbourhood. I doubt Gaultoisians ever refer to these areas as neighbourhoods; whereas instead we landed in what they call The Rooms, then walked to the middle neighbourhood, which is The Point.

Judging by the fact I used the term 'middle neighbourhood', I'm sure you can figure out that there was another gravel road leading to another cluster of houses and buildings even further north, an area known as Down the Bottom.

Halfway towards Down the Bottom, we arrived at the school & I was amused with the 'Caution - Falling Rocks' sign.

Unique childhood dangers to Gaultois.

There was also a tiny catholic church up here in northern Gaultois as well. We wanted to look inside Our Lady Queen of Peace, but surprisingly we found her locked up.

I guess they have to keep out all of the young rapscallion Anglicans.

There was a graveyard behind the Catholic Church, but that's as far as we went, as Down the Bottom looked to be only a few houses situated around a pond.

We started back towards the middle neighbourhood, walking the streets and exploring it more thoroughly. We eventually climbed down the rocks behind the Anglican Church for better pictures.

Just like the Catholic one, the Anglican Church was intriguing enough to warrant trying the door. Fortunately we found it open. Unfortunately we made it 5 feet inside before I grabbed Shahlene after spotting an open casket in front of the altar! Time to go!

I didn't freak out by any stretch of the imagination...but I also knew that I didn't need to spend any amount of time in the church. The deceased was an old man, likely a grandfather, and we're talking about an isolated, tight-knit community here. I imagined there were some out-of-towners here for the service & the pastor might be around as well.

We moved back to the first neighbourhood and explored The Rooms to a greater extent. The main merchant store, post office, fish store & fish plant are all down here. We even saw a pack of youths! In one of these communities that you have to reach by ferry! Amazing!

At the very least, Gaultois was a worthy visit as it showcased a much more healthy example of these old fishing communities. It can be hard enough to find communities this healthy connected by road, so I was happy to have went to Gaultois and seen such a unique place in this day & age.

We made sure to catch the last ferry as the boat wasn't coming back to Gaultois tonight.

The sun wasn't setting at 7 p.m., but it was low enough in the sky that the light was nice as we made our way back to the road network. Hermitage & Gaultois are nearly directly north-south of each other, so the 20 minute ferry ride is escaping the Gaultois harbour...passing across the short bay...then entering the sizable harbour in Hermitage.

Throughout the ferry ride the cliffs were towering in soft light. There was a gentle wind & the boat barely rocked. It was a great time to sit out on the deck and watch the world go by.

Landing in Hermitage we went east. After camping for 2 nights, it was time for a motel to clean up. Unfortunately the only one I knew of was in Harbour Breton...and it was $105 with taxes in. Less than ideal.

The next day we finished off the remaining area of the peninsula we hadn't visited yet.

I've been to the majority of these places, but I was too lazy to snap a picture of picturesque Coomb's Cove on my last trip.

This is the inside of the Holy Trinity Church in Coomb's Cove. Certainly modest, but with a ceiling of fine craftsmanship.

One of the communities I missed on my last trip down here was Wreck Cove. Only 2 km off the highway, I didn't see a reason for going there when I knew of nothing in Wreck Cove.

Sure enough, the 2 km drive was outstanding. Large foothills surround you and a winding road leads down to a village beside a bay broken with exposed rock.

Of course I forgot my camera on ISO800 from the church in Coomb's my Wreck Cove pictures look strange.

We decided to stop at the impressive church in Belleoram while driving through that town on the way back.

A man caught us as we were about to leave, and then invited us to come back inside so he could tell us a couple of things.

We learned about how the church's construction included boat ribs. We learned some other facts which are escaping me at the moment. We also sadly heard the same tale told for many churches nowadays, where the church was built for a burgeoning, sizable community; but the population is now aging & religion isn't playing much of a role in society anymore - creating upkeep problems when you have such an opulent church as the one in Belleoram.

I was glad this man caught us before we left. It was an interesting conversation.

We went into town so Shahlene could look for a washroom.

Meanwhile I went for a brief walk around.

While taking the above picture, I heard "Oh that boat, why you taking a picture of her? She aint going anywhere b'y! C'mon down here."

I followed the stairs down to a shed. The man told me to sit down & passed me a Labatt Blue, before asking why I was in Belleoram and what I did for a living. He told me that we were sitting in the old blacksmith shop, which hadn't been in use in quite some time.

This was all hidden from the road & I seemingly disappeared while Shahlene was in the washroom. Now Belleoram isn't very big & I really couldn't have went anywhere, so it was very comical as we could see Shahlene drive up and down the road.

It was also comical when he said, "oh, so it's you guys in that black car! We were wondering who that was!" (i.e. they know every vehicle that comes to Belleoram).

In the course of my 10 minute beer, 2 other people showed up & I ate up the meeting place atmosphere. One of the men had such a thick accent that I didn't understand a lick of what he was saying, but thankfully neither did the man's sister. She told me not to worry about it, and that they let the old man come around and babble on before going on his way.

I had to hurry out of the shop before long, excited with what transpired by simply getting out of the car.

There was one last new town to see, but the most exciting part was this Newfoundland flag trailer along the way.


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1 - Indian Cove - St Peters

2 - Resettlement of the McCallum Area - St Peters

3 - Saved From Resettlement - Gaultois - Newfoundland's Grand Banks