Island Degenerates

Bonavista, Catalina, Port Union, Horse Chops (Bonavista Peninsula), Newfoundland (Map)

Summer 2015


With friends now living on the Bonavista Peninsula, two of us left Corner Brook and two of us left St. John's to all meet halfway one weekend.

Pulling into Catalina late, drinks were consumed long into the night.

Long enough that drinking the only beer I had left, a 40 of Olde English, seemed like a good idea at 5am while walking down to the wharf.

I'm forever a fan of staying up until the sun rises, but I certainly could have made due with some water or light beer here, haha.

When you're eventually walking home and it looks like this outside, you're not going to get much done the next day.

It was sometime around 1 or 2 the next day that people were doing things & I forced myself out of bed. Driving around town, my friends spotted a thrift store they wanted to check out, but I wasn't in any condition for such intense human interaction.

Going back outside, I walked around and scouted biking spots, then noticed an abandoned Chinese restaurant across the street that I wanted to photograph.

Using the garbage can out front and glancing into the window, I realized that Hai Ping was actually open. I suppose everyone around here knows that the Chinese place is open - my friend Mike casually referenced it without even knowing I went there for egg rolls - so what need is there in repainting the sign or buying a new one?

Even though I just ate, the egg rolls I forced into my full belly were decent. My friends were confused with why I bought two egg rolls when I said I was too full to eat, but it's obviously silly to only buy one egg roll.

After the thrift stores and Chinese food of Catalina, we rumbled down the rough highway to Elliston and nearby Bird Rock to see the puffins.

We ended up just lounging about, checking out the puffins and enjoying the scenery. It was a beautiful late summer's day & I was starting to feel better. Life was pretty good and this was one of those sweet bits of Newfoundland summer that doesn't last nearly long enough.

(Some would say that summer's days like this make enduring the winter worth it, but that's a little rich if you ask me, lol.)

This being my 3rd time at Bird Rock, I was more excited with a nearby American Golden Plover than the puffins. I think I might've seen one of these Yankees on the mainland somewhere one time, but this was my first one for Newfoundland.

(edit: Hmmm, my Newfoundland bird mentor is unsure about this being an American Golden Plover. A correction may be coming.)

Dinner was at the Bonavista Social Club, a very popular restaurant in the village of Upper Amherst Cove. The four of us enjoyed our pizza, iced teas and the great sunset from the water-facing porch they have outside.

Afterwards, Shelloo, Rosie & I had plans to camp tonight, so it was funny to return to Catalina and have warm beds, showers and comfy mattresses at our disposal, but still stick to our decision to sleep outside.

We rolled south from Catalina, making the 1/2 hour drive down to English Harbour where Shelloo and I had explored before and I made a mental note that I had to come back here to camp.

What a gorgeous night we had for for camping with a full moon, calm winds and decent temperatures. None of us were really sucking down the drinks after last night - and also because Rosie bought sickly Molson Apple Ciders, lol - but I still enjoyed sinking into my camping chair and staring off into the wavy sea and the distant city lights of Old Perlican.

After an early night, I was up in the morning to quickly hike the 3km down to the Horse Chops fog horn station at the end of this road.

Someone posted a picture of this building on Panoramio and a fellow from English Harbour or Champney's West commented on how there used to be a lighthouse here long ago.

This of course was what was great about Panoramio (the community aspect), so thankfully I read this before Google zapped the comments in anticipation of killing the whole website, so people could instead take disorderly, non-curated photos with Google Photos.

The UNC Lighthouse website says "34 ft round tower" under the description for Horse Chops, so I guess that's what was here before they tore it down and left behind only a fog signal? I'd guess this all happened a long time ago since there aren't any online photos of this lighthouse?

(For reference, the Heart's Content Lighthouse is 30 ft.)

As always, Newfoundland coastal spots are so scenic and isolated that I don't mind going to the places where there used to be a lighthouse (in addition to the places still with lighthouses).

After packing up at Horse Chops, we returned back to Catalina as I hoped to get out to their island lighthouse with the help of Mike living in town. No luck there though. The guy he knew was busy and had no other leads. So we went down to Port Union and asked at the tourist office, which led to walking down a couple of side streets and knocking on a few doors until eventually coming to a fellow who said the wind wasn't right today.

The lighthouse in Catalina/Port Union is one of the more attainable ones I have left in my opinion, but sometimes things just don't work out. This can be a problem when these lighthouses are 5 hours from home.

We ended up taking a spin into Bonavista to see that their "skatepark" was now totally pushed aside into a pile of broken two-by-fours and plywood.

Afterwards, we wandered around the downtown streets, finding new heritage buildings that I hadn't seen before. Such is one plus of confusing, old paths for roads.

The above building is the Bailey's Cove Church of England Schoolhouse. Bailey's Cove was a little village/neighbourhood that was quickly swallowed up by Bonavista. This schoolhouse was built around 1800 and used as a schoolhouse until 1940. Afterwards it was used as storage by the nearby JT Swyers grocery store until being donated in 1990. It was renovated after this time & the current plan is to renovate it further, to show life at the first ever schoolhouse built in Newfoundland (which was an Anglican schoolhouse built at Bonavista in 1727).

In addition to discovering that schoolhouse, I'm not sure I ever drove up Chapel Hill and came across St. Joseph's Roman Catholic before.

The first Catholic Church on the Bonavista Peninsula, St. Joseph's was started in 1815 and finished in 1842.

Returning to Mike and Jane's place in Catalina, I decided to head up to Catalina's St. Peter's Anglican. Checking out the graveyard first, the old, elaborate headstones held more of my attention than the church did.

The interior of St. Peter's Anglican.

By now, it was getting to be time to go. Packing up the car, I then brought everyone to nearby Melrose since I wanted to see if there was a lighthouse on the Ragged Islands just offshore, like I had recently read online. Standing on the shore, it didn't look like anything was out there on the grassy isles.

(When I returned home, I discovered that the lighthouse is supposed to be on different, nearby Ragged Islands. Whoops!)

We'd finish things up with a visit to Trinity, where a sign for an estate sale down the hill to an old home intrigued us all.

It didn't pan out, as we couldn't go into very many rooms & the stuff we saw was pretty much junk and belonged in a yard sale instead of an estate sale.

Piling back into the vehicle, we'd head to Clarenville, then started the long drive home.


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1 - ST. JOSEPH'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH REGISTERED HERITAGE STRUCTURE - heritage foundation of Newfoundland & Labrador
2 - Bailey's Cove Church of England School (Bonavista) - Heritage Newfoundland & Labrador

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