Birthday Weekend 2014: Baie Verte

Fleur-de-Lys, Westport, Baie Verte, Nippers Harbour, Newfoundland (Map)

Fall 2014


Deciding on a 2-day, 1-night adventure for my birthday this year, this only left me with so many places I could reasonably go. As I enjoy Baie Verte & I also thought my friends would enjoy the scenery, I passed on driving all day to reach further places.

First up was a drive on Saturday morning right up to Fleur-de-Lys near the northern tip of the Baie Verte. There's a short, pleasant hiking trail here, one that I wanted to do again & one I'd like to show the others.

The horrible winter of 2014-15 had already started back home, while there seemed to be even more snow up here. Thankfully someone had continued their daily use of this trail, breaking ground for us & making it not too bad.

Looking out to sea, about halfway to Cape Crapoud.

The closer island is called Pigeon Island & the distant cliffs are the headlands to the west of Pacquet.

An added bonus of visiting Fleur-de-Lys was that I forgot its level of beauty. While the others lollygagged with taking off their gaiters and hiking shoes, I took the opportunity to stroll through town and see a few neat houses, which I didn't see on any of my three drives through this community.

Tradition states that I like to check out an abandoned building & a lighthouse on my birthday weekend. As Baie Verte only offers one lighthouse - that is, without the use of a boat - it was now off to Westport for sunset.

As we raced up the NL-411 highway, we passed over the poor & deteriorated road just in time to hike out to the lighthouse for the golden hour.

The last time I was in Westport was a couple of years ago, so I was surprised to find the lighthouse door broken off instead of sealed tight this time.

This would check off the abandoned (or off limits) building exploration of the trip, but it also bummed me out as I don't think this lighthouse is all that critical anymore. It's easy to maintain, but if some numbskull breaks the door off, suddenly things are at risk with snow & rainwater attacking the wooden insides.

There wasn't much I could do today though. It's not as if I explore with a hammer, screwdriver or screws when I go out. I tried to fix the door as best I could, but with that, it was now time to enjoy being up here.

This picture looks up White Bay & if you headed north, you wouldn't hit another community until Englee, up near Roddickton on the Northern Peninsula.

You might also run into the Grey Islands out there.

While there is now a modern lantern similar to almost every other lighthouse I've seen in Atlantic Canada, I noticed that it was fixed onto the base of an old Chance Brothers Ltd. post; significant because the Chance Brothers are the English company that would've supplied the first lantern ever used here.


Jeez Steve, get out of the shot b'y.

While it may look cold, we were dressed for the conditions & it wasn't very windy. Without a windchill affecting things, the sunset was comfortable enough to enjoy the purple and pink lightshow afforded us.

The only hotel around here is the Baie Vista Inn, so we headed back from aptly named Westport to central Baie Verte to have a few drinks and lounge about the room after all of the driving and exploring. The woman at the front desk had put us all the way at the back of the hotel, thinking we would want quiet & to be away from a visiting hockey team.

Not knowing where to go in Baie Verte & not overly wanting to leave our own company in this hotel room, we ended up partying into the wee hours without going anywhere else. In the end, we likely stayed up later than anyone on the raucous visiting hockey team, although our partying involved figuring out Rosie's number for towns/villages/hamlets visited in Newfoundland, not bumping T-Pain or chugging Jack or anything of that nature.

(Although, they did surprise me with some champagne and volume for a lovely bit of time.)

If I remember correctly, Rosie had a respectable towns visited number somewhere around 350.

Sunday morning would involve breakfast and a quick visit to Nippers Harbour.

Nippers Harbour had recently applied for the government to resettle the town in 2013, after a whopping 98% of voters decided on resettlement. That is, asking Newfoundland & Labrador to pay off the 90 residents & then abandon the road, water & hydro infrastructure; while the people left or were free to keep their homes as service-free cabins.

The news of this made me want to drive down the 17km (11mi) half-gravel, half-paved road to this remote village, fearing that it might not be the same for very much longer.

I had been here in 2010 and found Nippers Harbour scenic with friendly folk, so it held a bit of my heart and would make a nice birthday stop in that regard as well.

Having a bit of a walk around while the group was turning the car around, I now noticed some rundown homes and how quiet this village was on this (nearly) winter's day.

Back in 2010, I had only taken a picture of the Orangeman's Lodge & their handsome 1845(!) church, but now that I was walking in a different part of town, I found it to be much more like a place you would expect to be facing resettlement.

Nippers Harbour would be denied resettlement in 2015, the government saying it didn't make economic sense to pay the 90 residents to leave. The mayor insists that the gravel road costs much more than the provincial government is estimating, but the province says they wouldn't make their money back over 20 years.

It's funny that every time there's a bit of a budget crunch you have some loudmouth internet guy screaming about how they have to resettle 250 places to get Newfoundland's finances right. If it doesn't even make sense to resettle places like Nippers Harbour, it's going to be awfully hard to get to 250 to appease random internet know-it-alls.

Anyway, I thought my friends might also like Nippers Harbour because of The Lion.

I figured I would enjoy this as well, after seeing a picture online & marking it down on the to-do list.

A trail of maybe 200m (650ft) brings you down a staircase to a cove featuring an impressive sea arch/rock formation that in fact looks like a lion.

We didn't see any signs for this trail in the community & it's only because I had seen someone's georeferenced picture that I knew where to go. If you're going to go, it's right around here.

It was a great day to be down by the sea, the white dusting of snow contrasting the black rock of Baie Verte, without any problematic icy surfaces or onshore winds. The lot of us climbed around for a bit, even though it really wouldn't have been ideal to fall in.

There used to be a large lighthouse out on the biggest of the seven Nippers Islands off of here, but sadly it was destroyed 40 years ago. Climbing near the sea arch, I could now see around the headland and there was a modern marker where the old lighthouse used to stand! While I don't count modern steel frame lighthouses as ones I need to get in boat & go see, it was still exciting to see the old lighthouse location.

Lastly, there was this old house/storage barn that we passed as we went down the staircase to The Lion and I saw online that it has supposedly since been demolished? This seems really odd to me in terms of the need to demolish this remote building & the fact that someone online would know this, but hey, if it has, here's a picture.

Anyway, piling back into the car, it was time to tackle the 3 hour drive home.

Yet another fantastic birthday weekend with friends up here. I couldn't ask for much more over one night in late fall.

Thanks y'all.


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