This region is full of sheltered coves, sandy beaches and sparkling waters. This tour will take you to some of the best spots for water sports in the province. Here you will find rivers to canoe, ponds to fish, inlets to sail, and clean, clear pools to swim.
Travel east on Route 1 from Gambo to the growing community of Glovertown which has become the central town in the Alexander Bay area. It offers a wide variety of services, beautiful scenery, and warm hospitality.
From here, along Route 310, you can visit Saunders Cove, Traytown and Cull’s Harbour before doubling back and continuing to the Eastport Peninsula where, in season, fresh vegetables are available from local gardens and greenhouses.
Sandringham is the most westerly point of the peninsula, and good fishing can be found in its many ponds and streams. Just a stone’s throw along the road is Eastport, a farming community and service centre that is the hub of the peninsula and where you may take your choice of several roads leading to neighbouring communities. Eastport is famous for its beautiful, sandy beach equipped with change houses, picnic tables, and fireplaces.
One very worthwhile side trip from Eastport is a four-kilometre drive north to St. Chad’s and Burnside. A small museum in Burnside displays Beothuck and other aboriginal artifacts from nearby Bloody Reach. You can also take the ferry to St. Brendan’s, a trip that is filled with terrific photo opportunities. St. Brendan’s island was settled by the Irish and the Old Country accent is as strong here as anywhere in Newfoundland.
Return to the main section of the peninsula and continue on Route 310 from Eastport to Salvage, the oldest settlement in the region. Here an old house has been converted into a Community Museum displaying a collection of artifacts that reflect the long history of the place. Don’t forget your camera because Salvage is a photographer’s dream. This is a good place to sample some foods popular with Newfoundlanders.
Double back on Route 310 and turn south from Eastport to Sandy Cove where the beach is one of Newfoundland’s finest. Hike up Sandy Cove Beach where a mounted telescope provides a close-up look at the entire area. A short distance west of Sandy Cove you will come to Happy Adventure and its two adjacent coves known as Upper and Lower Coves. Besides enjoying the shallow beaches where children can wade in safety, you will indeed have a ‘happy adventure’ with a feast of lobster. Live lobsters can be purchased fresh during the lobstering season in early summer.
Complete the loop route back to the main peninsula highway at Eastport.
The Road to the Isles takes you into the scenic reaches and islands of Notre Dame Bay. It also connects with The Islands Experience and The Road to the Shore. The Visitor Information Centre at Notre Dame Junction, near the intersection of Route 1 and Route 340, is a good place to start.
Here you can obtain information on the ferries to Fogo Island and Change Islands, plus find out where the icebergs are. Before taking Route 340, you can take a break at Notre Dame Provincial Park, just east of Notre Dame Junction on Route 1. It’s a good spot for a picnic because there are two children’s playgrounds and water sports. The park is situated in a grove of birch and aspen and is a pleasant daytime or overnight stop.
Head back to Notre Dame Junction and drive to Lewisporte, 11 kilometres from Route 1. It’s a service town and where you can catch a ferry to Labrador. The town has a very suburban feel despite its location on the shores of Notre Dame Bay. Lewisporte is named for Lewis Miller, an enterprising Scotsman who operated a logging company in central Newfoundland. Millertown, another community in this region, is also named for him.
As in many rural communities, a main hub of activity is the Women’s Institute. Here, the institute operates the Museum By The Bay and the craft shop. The museum’s artifacts reflect life in earlier times and include Beothuck arrowheads. Among its most interesting displays are naval architecture plans from the 1805 era, including drawings for a yacht built for the Prince of Denmark and King George III’s yacht, Royal Sovereign.
The craft shop, which has a year-round Christmas display, is one of five stops on an All Around the Circle craft tour, whose title is taken from a line in a Newfoundland folk song. The other stops are in Twillingate, New World Island and Gander.
The town also has a marina and a municipal park and, during the first weekend in July, hosts the Mussel Bed Soiree.
Returning to Route 340, you will soon arrive at Boyd’s Cove. This was the site of a major Beothuck encampment and is now the location of a new Beothuck interpretation centre. Excavation at the site has shed new light on this extinct race. Boyd’s Cove was a major Beothuck coastal community between 1650 and 1720, a time when few Europeans ventured onto this part of the Newfoundland coast.
The new centre has three main elements: the visitor centre, the archaeological site and a connecting trail system. The centre houses displays that focus on Beothuck cultural history. Its circular architecture recalls shapes traditionally found in Beothuck construction. The trail takes visitors along the perimeter of the archaeological site. Interpretive signage along the trail enables visitors to learn about the key resources in this region of the province.
After leaving Boyd’s Cove you continue on Route 340 and take the first of four causeways that connect Chapel Island, New World Island and Twillingate Island to the “mainland” of Notre Dame Bay. Dildo Run Provincial Park on Route 340 contains the remains of an old tramway system that once carried passengers to Virgin Arm, where vessels then carried passengers to Twillingate. For many years, this was the centre of the Labrador and inshore fisheries in the area. The Twillingate area is where the Slades, Nobles, Earles and Duders, merchants from Poole, England, established trade in the mid-1700s. Once the hub of the lucrative fishery in this part of Notre Dame Bay, Twillingate was so prosperous that it had its own newspaper, ‘The Twillingate Sun’, and a championship cricket team.
The town’s most famous resident was opera singer Georgina Stirling. In the late 1800s, Miss Stirling, who was known professionally as Marie Toulinguet, won acclaim for her performances at the Paris Opera and La Scala, in Milan. Unfortunately, her concert career was tragically cut short by voice failure and she returned to Newfoundland to live out her days in her hometown. She is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Her story and that of the town is told in the Twillingate Museum in the former Anglican Rectory. Parts of this fine old home have been restored to illustrate an upper class residence at the turn of the century. One of the museum’s exhibits is a remarkably preserved 120-year-old children’s tea set. There are also a sealing display and a collection of Maritime Archaic Indian artifacts.
Twillingate is also the site of the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival which highlights some of the best West Country English dance, song, recitation and music. Held every July, the festival also features crafts, baked goods, picnics and a lively party spirit.
The nearby Long Point Lighthouse, built in 1876, is one of the best places in Newfoundland to see icebergs. Built on a bluff, it overlooks the outer reaches of Notre Dame Bay. You may also catch a glimpse of the huge whales that spend their summers feeding along the coast. There’s a small municipal park near the lighthouse.
Heading back toward the mainland, take a detour to Moreton’s Harbour on Route 345 and the community museum there. Once a thriving commercial centre, it’s now a quiet village. High, forested hills tower over the town. Inside the museum are relics from the town’s heyday as a fish shipping centre. There are stencils with the names of the markets – Trinidad, Jamaica, Puerto Rico – and the products, such as mackerel fillets.
As Newfoundland’s first premier, his life story and accomplishments are displayed in the Smallwood Interpretation Centre. Gambo is situated at the gateway to the “Road to the Shore” and your tour begins here at Route 320.
Visit Dover and go back in time, before the dinosaur, to a time when continents were still being formed. Take a short walk to the interpretation lookout platform and view the 410-million-year-old Dover Fault. On-site interpretation offers an interesting and informative history of this fault line and surrounding area.
Indian Bay is a choice destination if you are in pursuit of great fishing or the great outdoors. Try dropping your line in fishing holes like Ten Mile Pond, Anchor Point or Big Bear Cove. This is a must-stop if you are an enthusiast of fishing, photography or wildlife viewing.
The historic fishing village of Greenspond was once known as the “Capital of Bonavista North” and is a true pleasure to visit. Stop at the lookout and take in the glorious view of the Puffin Island lighthouse and the spectacular Atlantic waterways that surround the community. Enjoy breathtaking icebergs at your fingertips and explore all that this town can offer. Walk through the century-old Greenspond Courthouse – a true delight!
As the anchor attraction along the “Road to the Shore”, Newtown is a must-stop for travellers. Visiting “The Barbour Living Heritage Village” will allow you to experience a way of life not seen since the turn of the century. The history of the Barbour merchant family is preserved through interpretive displays and presented in a series of theatrical productions that are held regularly at an onsite theatre.
Musgrave Harbour is a picturesque fishing community, but today this community is more commonly known for something unrelated. Musgrave Harbour is home to the Banting Memorial Municipal Park and Banting Interpretation Centre. This centre honors the life and tragic death of the world-famous co-discoverer of insulin, Dr. Frederick Banting. Dr. Banting died tragically when his plane, a Hudson bomber en route from Gander to England, crashed near Musgrave Harbour. Wreckage and a replica of this plane are displayed on site at the Banting Interpretation Centre and Park.
Now we’re back on the northeast coast again. After touring Twillingate and area, return to the mainland by way of the causeways. Branch off Route 340 onto Route 335, which takes you to Farewell where you can catch separate ferries to Change Islands, with a sailing time of 25 minutes, and Fogo Island, which is 50 minutes away.
Located in Notre Dame Bay between Twillingate and Fogo, Change Islands has one incorporated community built along the narrow tickle under a causeway that joins the two largest islands. There have been people here since the latter half of the eighteenth century when the Labrador fishery rose to prominence. By the beginning of the twentieth century, this was a prosperous settlement with a population of over 1,000 people who fished in the northern waters or worked in the huge merchant premises that lined the shores. Now the numbers have declined to only 500.
In Change Islands little has changed since the last century – there have only been motor vehicles here since 1965! The house styles and the lifestyles here are from another time. White painted, narrow clapboarded homes sit in tidy green gardens. Fishing stages and stores, painted in traditional red ochre, hug the shore. Small boats chug in and out the harbours and tickles. There’s even a general store where you can buy the makings for a picnic, and there’s an almost abandoned community at Puncheon Cove that’s a perfect place to eat it.
Fogo Island, a mere 25 km long and 14 km wide, was first settled in the 1680s by fishermen who sought refuge from the French raiders terrorizing the east coast and Beothucks who harassed the Europeans on the mainland of Notre Dame Bay.
Because the original settlement took place in the 1700s and the area remained isolated well into the twentieth century, the descendants of the first inhabitants retained traces of their Elizabethan dialect, which can be heard on the island today. Many ancient folk customs brought from England, now disappearing from many outports, continue in the communities on the island.
Along Route 333 you travel through several picturesque communities on the way to the village of Fogo. It was probably named not for the North Atlantic fog but after the Portuguese ‘fuego’, or fires, which were signs of Beothuck encampments that were frequently seen by early settlers.
Visit beautiful Barr’d Islands on Route 334, a few kilometres from colourful Joe Batt’s Arm, named for a deserter from the crew of explorer James Cook, who charted this coast in 1763. Sandy Cove on Route 334 is the most northeasterly point in Notre Dame Bay and is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches. On the return trip to the ferry, keep your eyes peeled for caribou, which roam just off Route 333, and the Newfoundland ponies that spend their summers grazing all over the island.