NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Crossing the Gut

One foggy August morning my daughter's boyfriend Charlie and I took off for a bike ride from Argentia RV Park to downtown Placentia.

Say "luvs it"!

It was the first time I had "crossed the gut" by bicycle. Of course I've crossed it in a car or on foot my whole life many time in my life.  Remember when I talked about how the tide come=es in and out so strong here?  Don't try to take a swim across!

The new lift bridge

The lift bridge is staffed year round, 24-hours a day. The bridge is lifted approximately 2,400 times annually for marine traffic and sees about 6,500 vehicles pass over per day. During the busiest spring months when crab and lobster fisheries are at their peak, the bridge can lift over 400 times a month. (info courtesy of Archival Moments)


For a look at the geography of the area I've included a map that was on the wall up at Castle Hill.

Chatting up a gent, I think he was back for the Merasheen reunion

On our ride I took Charlie over to the beach area to see the boardwalk and sea wall that were built there.  A great informational board at the start of the boardwalk discusses the history of the difficulty getting around for the residents. Crossing the gut in a car posed a major difficulty when cars first came to the area. The driver would have to hire two motor boats which would then be lashed together. The car would first be driven down two planks , the front wheels would then placed in one boat and the rear wheels in the other. On reaching the other side the car would then be driven up the two planks. If the driver was heading for St. John's, he then faced a trip of at least three hours over a very poor, narrow road to get there. (information courtesy of Laval k12)

boat ferrying passengers across the gut

If you didn't have a car it was much easier to hop a boat and get ferried over.

Strong wind and tides took care of the pontoon bridge idea

The Americans had the idea that a pontoon bridge would work...but a big storm put that idea to rest. In 1961 the Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge was officially opened by Premier J.R. Smallwood and it did its job until the new bridge opened in 2016.  Unfortunately the new bridge is still plagued with issues, even closing to marine traffic for weeks at a time which isn't making the fishermen happy.  While we were home it was closed intermittently for work related to faulty cable design I believe on at least two separate days.  Still, I will take that over a pontoon bridge or being rowed across!


We also stopped at the monument to Fort Frederick.  The fort consisted of a semi-circular redoubt mounting twelve guns, a guard house, barracks and storehouse surrounded by a palisade. It was erected on the town side of Placentia in 1717 to protect English interests in the seasonal fishery.   However, the fort was poorly maintained from the beginning and by 1744 the redoubt had to be strengthened by a timber and sod-work facing and the number of guns reduced to eight. Bastions were then added to the landward angles of the palisade, upon which were mounted Coehorn mortars (a mortar first used in 1674 which fired at a fixed angle of elevation of 45 degrees). After a partial repair in 1762 the works were allowed to decay and were finally abandoned in 1811 when the ordnance was removed. Two 12 pounder cannon were mounted behind a temporary earthwork battery near this site in 1813 as protection against American privateers and can still be seen. (information courtest of Canada's Historic Places

Uncle Harold and Cousin Tom picking up some extra work

Archaeological work on the Fort Frederick site in 2000-2002 revealed a large collection of artifacts. Archaeologists uncovered barrel staves, cannon and musket balls, flints, Dutch tobacco pipes, pieces of pottery and tableware and coins. One coin in particular dates to 1630, confirming that Placentia was occupied by people before the French colony of Plaisance was established in 1660.


We watched updates being completed at Rosedale Manor, a fine place to stay if you're coming for a visit. Built in 1893, it was bought from the city and turned into an inn. Stop and smell the wild roses like we did!


Just around the corner is the tiny St. Luke's Anglican Church.  Built between 1906 and 1908 it is at least the third church on this site, the first one being Catholic. 


There were once a number of 17th-century Basque tombstones in the graveyard that surrounded the church which suggests that this may have been the site of an even earlier French chapel built in 1662.


I never even knew there were anything but Catholics in the area, so you learn something new all the time!  Visitors are welcome and we poked our heads in for a minute after reading all the graves.


It's a very short ride around Placentia since it is surrounded by water, and I eyed the Courthouse as I always do when we pedaled past.  Built in 1902 it was known as the General Building early on. Originally it was home to a customs office, postal telegraph, constable's residence, jailer's residence, courtroom and magistrate's office. I haven't seen anyone about in order to snag an invite inside to poke around...yet.  You know me, I'd love a look at the workings of that clock!


I haven't posted any news items for awhile -I'll ease in with this tidbit I found in a Newfoundland online newspaper called The Compass. Researchers from Memorial University in St. John's have discovered a genetic marker that has been ground breaking in saving lives of individuals at risk of young death due to a cardiac defect. Heart problems are no joke in Newfoundland, in my mother's family two of her sisters had open heart surgery before they were adults I believe, and her father had serious heart problems also.  One of Wayne's brothers died suddenly from cardiac arrest before he was 60, with no warning of illness.

 The nature of the founder population in Newfoundland — which occurs when a new population is established by a small number of individuals — was helpful in identifying the gene, but since its discovery, doctors in Denmark, Norway, and Germany in particular have also noticed it in blood tests. “We could also tell that, based on the DNA, this mutation probably went back to around AD 800. … If you think about it as a disease in which half the offspring get it, and it’s been around for over a thousand years, there must be so many more people around the world that are affected by this.,” says Dr. Sean Connors. “We still have unanswered questions. Most women with this gene die of old age, half of men die by the time they get to 40."  Ironically in this kind of situation those who exert themselves physically throughout their life are actually putting strain on their heart and damaging it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Labordes in Hats

When I visited my cousin Chris in San Diego this spring I thoughtfully kept back a photograph of him joining us trying on hats and fascinators.  


Well, the gloves are off and the hats are on, because apparently this hat thing is a thing.

Sou'wester in yellow?

Getting Chris to put on a hat for silliness is the easiest thing in the world!

I think the black one suits him better

And his son Cooper seems to enjoy it as well!

Cooper's British soldier hat

Jack even got in on the act when they all got hats for Christmas in July while visiting in Newfoundland.

Knit hats for the boys, tartan baseball cap for Chris

Chris' wife, Leacey, seems to be the wise one.  I've yet to catch her in a silly hat, but I'll keep my eyes open.  In the meantime I'll have no trouble convincing Chris to put on any hat I can lay my hands on!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Look Around The Rooms

We had time for a wee bit of culture while in Newfoundland and made a stop at The Rooms in St. John's where the province’s most extensive collection of artifacts, art and historical records are curated.


In addition to the exhibits The Rooms has an extensive research archive which I made use of during our visit to look up the photograph that the U.S. Navy took of my Great Grandmother's home before they tore everything down to build the base. 

Margaret Griffin's home in Marquise 1941 - image courtesy of The Rooms

Who knows what I could dig up with a little more time on my hands?  I took a quick tour through the photos of Marquise and Argentia properties and unfortunately none featured people but a few had sheep hanging out in the yard!


The view of St. John's Harbour and the Narrows was fantastic, complete with Cabot Tower atop Signal Hill off in the distance.


Inside were a variety of exhibits, including this old map print which was just beautiful to me.


A small exhibit on the art and artists of Newfoundland and Labrador lies inside. I liked the print featuring a harp seal postage stamp issued by the Newfoundland postal administration in the late 1800's.

"Black Seal" Christopher Pratt, 1970

I'm sure because it reminded me of the baby seal my Grandad gave me.  I'm a bit horrified now by the idea, but when I was small I thought it was the neatest thing ever.  Canada banned the killing of white-coated seals in 1987 and the Inuit in Labrador who still hunt seals for subsistence and to make a living never hunted them.  For more on the history of sealing in Newfoundland I found this link.


The Giant Squid on display in the museum was pretty neat. The first still photographs of one of these  huge creatures were captured in 2004, and footage was taken of one floating on the surface of the water in 2006. But researchers and cameramen had never before managed to catch a glimpse of them in the ocean abyss until 2013!


Did you know it has the largest eyes in the animal kingdom? They can grow as large as a human head, and can detect even small amounts of light in the deepest ocean.


Whaling in Newfoundland has been going on for centuries, and I also found another article about the commercial whaling industry that was interesting.  Neither seal hunting nor whaling were activities commercially pursued in our area of Placentia Bay to my knowledge.


A very large exhibit pertaining to World War One was located on the second floor. On August 8, 1914 Governor Sir Walter Davidson promised Britain that the Dominon of Newfoundland would raise a regiment of 500 men and send 1000 sailors for the war effort.


I'm not very interested in war history, but did find the ditty below amusing.


And a post card from loved ones was a reminder of what those left behind endured.


Despite the smiles in the photo below, war is hell, and in addition to the expected fighting the men suffered from hunger, dysentery, yellow jaundice, trench feet and more.


The Battle of the Somme was the Newfoundland regiment's first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out. The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is located in France and was purchased in 1921 by the people of Newfoundland, the memorial site is the largest battalion memorial on the Western Front, and the largest area of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.

Weighing salt cod, ca. 1900

There were many exhibits throughout the museum from music and social aspects of Newfoundland to the almighty cod which was the backbone of its economy.  Speaking of cod, after our look around we met up with Wayne's brother Jim and his wife Donnie for lunch at the Cafe.  I eyed my sister-in-law's lunch of cod tongues with some skepticism.  When offered a taste I politely declined, but must admit the presentation was clever.


What better way to end a visit to the museum than a traditional menu with a modern twist and a fabulous view of St. John's?  Jim volunteers at The Rooms himself and was very enthusiastic about what it has to offer.

Wayne and his brother Jim 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Just for the Kid of It

There's never been a time we visited Newfoundland where there wasn't some little ones to be found underfoot.

Sam and Preston consider "King Ant"

When I was one of the little ones the house was a different one, but the antics are the same now as they were then.

Baby Charles never stops moving his little legs

The kids in Newfoundland are always ready for a snuggle.


And they might play electronic games but that doesn't mean they don't connect with each other.

Cousin Cory knows about video games!

Or find time to connect with their Aunts and Uncles.

Jack with Aunt Geraldine - always ready to be silly

Even though most of the little ones didn't remember me it never takes them long to find your lap or draw a picture for you.

Sam drew me a bunny

And most of them love putting on their rubber boots to go outside and hunt for snails or help out the big people.  Or wear the big people's boots, whatever comes first.

Cole says these boots look fine to me!

And the little ones just keep coming along, right down to the tiniest of the Leonards who was born just a few days before we arrived! I can't wait to go back and meet the little ones who join the family next!

Scarlett Rose born July 18th

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hope Nobody Had $100 Hair-Do


When we were in Newfoundland (weeks and weeks ago now) the Argo was so much fun that Uncle Matt agreed to be tour guide again, this time when Katrina and Charlie arrived for a few days.  And the sun was even out!  What a difference that makes!


This time Wayne followed along on our quad, watching him zoom along behind us added to the fun!


This time I knew where to go to look for starfish so Charlie and Cory followed me down for a look.


Katrina's not a fan of heights, or ankle twisting activities, so she stayed behind to enjoy the views.


Places like this are the only time when Cory feels at home in the outdoors.  


When I turned around and saw Cory perched on the rock it gave me a start, I have a picture of him doing almost the exact same thing on First Beach from 17 years ago!


That was the summer we started homeschooling, and I bought lots of books and we had lots of field trips in Maine and the Atlantic Provinces.  He fell in love with marine life, especially jellyfish and crabs and we used that as a starting point for healing from the bullying he endured at school.



No jellyfish or crabs, I guess he'll have to find those the next time we visit Newfoundland!  Charlie enjoyed the hunt also, though who knows what he thought of his girlfriend's mother lying down on the rocks and stretching her arm as far as it would go to reach those starfish.


Back on land Uncle Matt and Wayne probably discussed the history and geography of the area before we all got aboard and took off for Argentia.


We parted ways for a bit with Wayne so that we could bump around on the bog, but met up again to head out to the one of the two projectile batteries that are left on the decommissioned U.S. Naval base.

Katrina and Charlie

Batteries 281 and 282 were reinforced concrete, earth covered coastal batteries whose purpose was to provide protection of the Argentia Naval Air Station from enemy ship and U-boat attacks. They were never used against an enemy vessel, though submarine detection in the area was a serious endeavor during World War II.

Come on in, the weather's fine

Not satisfied with leaving something unexplored, we climbed into the large bunker nearby.  I especially enjoyed the graffiti marking the exit in the picture below.

Charlie thinking These Leonards are crazy people?

It was an interesting bunker to explore, but there were some open holes on the floor so bring a flashlight and watch your step.


The battery and bunker are easily accessed from the main road that goes through to the ferry, so we darted up the road to connect to our next path. 

Everybody duck!

 This one was overgrown in some spots, and trees were even down in others.  As we did our best to avoid getting smacked in the face with branches and shook the caterpillars and spiders out of hair Uncle Matt sang out,  "Hope nobody had $100 hair-do!"


But it's what made us all laugh, and Charlie and Katrina seemed to have a good time.

Pine needles and insects can't deter love

While we were getting pelted with pine needles Wayne was hunting for treasure.  He found a skillet on the trail.  Lunch anyone?


As we were heading back past the old dump to First Beach Uncle Matt offered for Cory to give it a try.


Here's the video, sorry it's taking so long to get it all up on the blog, I've been busy with work!