I have a room all to myself; it is nature.
— Henry David Thoreau
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!
One of the first adventures I had after moving to Southeast Placentia was to look for Beaver Falls.
Gravel road a bit dodgy - been graded since!
I was told the path was on the left just before the 2nd bridge. Sure enough, there it was! And looking pretty mucky after a rain.
My mistake was in NOT stepping in the deep, watery footprints. I landed between two logs someone had laid down that were unseen under the muddy water and down I went. But you know that camera stayed high and dry!
Hoping I didn't run into anyone in such a state I continued on, soon seeing signs of previous habitation right at the edge of the ravine. A narrow opening just behind invited me to explore, but first I had to follow the sound of the rushing water.
The side was pretty steep so I left my backpack behind for better balance but it was worth it!
Back up on the hillside I looked into that opening and followed it along the cliff for about 10 minutes, now and then seeing the river below.
When I got to the spot where the path ended it was still too high above the water for a safe route down so I turned back.
I'm glad I carried on so far because when I turned around I saw Pinesap just behind me on the footpath, almost hidden in the moss beneath a tree.
Here's a quick look at my passage through the woods:
Squeezing through the woods after a heavy rainfall left me a bit soggy, but now at least I was wet from head to toe! Pushing my way through ferns and other foliage had brushed most of the mud off my pants as well.
Back out on the road I took the path used by fishermen above the falls. You know I had to see how far that wound along the river too.
Above the falls
And when the sun started to come out I just kept swatting at the flies and putting one foot in front of the other.
Fishermen's trail visible on the right
In the past folks have commented on my ability to seek out the small details and here is my secret: Don't "look" for the damselflies...look for a spot of blue. The same goes with wildflower hunting, I just scan the ground for anything not green or brown and that's how I see the tiniest of blooms.
Damselflies darting in the thick vegetation
My eyes scanned ahead, alert for moose on the horizon, but I was all alone.
And then the river just disappeared, tapering off into the bog, a ribbon reflecting the bright blue sky.
I would have struck off across the land but without rubber boots or a path or river to follow I would have been begging for trouble. Sometimes you have to listen to the voice of common sense in your head unfortunately!
I don't get many comments here on Nomadic Newfies, but I did get one recently comparing the Highland Clearances in Scotland to the Resettlement program the government instituted here in Newfoundland in the 20th century. The reasons and timelines quite different, but the end result the same that areas that were once homes soon became empty and reverted back to nature.
My kayak finally returns to water after a year in storage - public water access just a few houses down from us
My curiosity of course was awakened and I did a bit of reading on the Clearances. From there I did a bit of research because I know that the Scottish did emigrate here to Newfoundland though not in the large numbers exhibited by the English and the Irish. So, a little Scottish population background to go along with my photos I took on my first kayak journey in the waters of the Southeast Arm just steps from our new home!
"...it was not until the 19th century that Scottish migrants settled at Newfoundland and Labrador in significant numbers. These were the Lowlanders who settled on the island's east coast from the early 1800s onwards to take advantage of the colony's quickly growing fishery, and the Highlanders who emigrated from Cape Breton to the Codroy Valley and St. George's Bay in southwestern Newfoundland between the 1840s and 1860s."
I'll make a quick note of my own here to establish that until the 1800's a large portion of the population in Newfoundland was "temporary" due to its status as a British colony engaging primarily in the fisheries. Families did settle here in the 17th and 18th centuries but not in substantial numbers. In Placentia Bay in 1825 only 61 % of the population were permanent residents. The province as a whole was settled mostly by British, Irish and Scottish - Placentia Bay was one of the "Irish areas" that many emigrants settled in. (source: "The Peopling of Newfoundland")
Name the bird on the rocks!
"Some Scottish settlers introduced important and far-reaching changes to Newfoundland and Labrador society. Physician and political reformer William Carson, for example, successfully campaigned for representative government in Newfoundland and Labrador, which allowed the public to elect its own government. He also helped to open the first civilian hospital at St. John's in 1814."
A few homes and boats as I paddle
"The work of Scots-Canadian contractor Robert G. Reid dramatically altered Newfoundland and Labrador's society and economy. Reid's trans-island railway revolutionized transportation and communications in Newfoundland by linking isolated outports to one another, and by connecting them to larger centres. Instead of travelling by boat or foot, residents could reach distant villages by rail in hours. The railway also opened up the island's resource-rich interior to industrial development, allowing new forestry and mining operations to diversify Newfoundland and Labrador's economy into areas other than the fishery."
My cousin needs a dock now that he is getting visitors by way of the water he says!
And there you go, a short history of Scottish emigration to Newfoundland! As short as my kayak ride to my cousin's house down the Southeast Arm.
After visiting with my cousin and his family for half an hour I got back in my kayak to catch sunset.
The water was smooth, the air was warm but comfortable, and not a mosquito or fly hovered around as I paddled my way back home. I haven't been disappointed by summer in Newfoundland yet, though if you like "heat" in the summer it's not the place for that.
There has been so much going on that I haven't been back out, but the next calm evening that comes around I'm going out again to investigate a bit more! Here's a 12 second video showing just how calm and quiet it was when I made my way back at sunset.
Well you know I was excited when I talked my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Donnie into joining me for a hike on the East Coast Trail. How could it get any better? Add another Leonard and now it was a party!
Jim's attempt at a group selfie at the Trailhead
Even though we were on the trail by 10:30 the light was already pretty harsh and the photo that the passerby took of our group was completely unusable no matter how I tried to fix it in Photoshop. So, here's the trailhead sign without the Leonards. We went as far as the Bawdens Highland and back, but must have taken a few side paths because Donnie's watch showed we hiked 5 kilometers total.
sign need a bit of paint!
The Sugarloaf Path starts at the parking lot in Quidi Vidi at the end of East White Hills Road. It's uphill all the way to the highland, but not too bad at the start with pretty views of the cozy village of Quidi Vidi.
Quidi Vidi Brewery is the large green building
Quidi Vidi Brewery has a Kitchen Party every Friday night with live music starting at 6:30 and we all made a vow to get together some Friday night soon and check it out.
See the red spot circled in the picture above? That is 4 hikers who have almost made it to the Bawden Highlands. Yikes, we have a ways to go!
Alverna's dog Zeus looks on as Donnie gets silly
But that didn't stop us from stopping at every viewpoint and even goofing around a bit!
Anyone who knows the Leonard Clan will tell you that Wayne's sister Alverna is the silliest of them all. Here she is below belting out "Here she comes... Miss America!" as I make my way up the trail.
Signage was pretty good, but keep an eye out as there were many side trails to viewpoints and even a bike trail that intersects the ECT here. I've come to discover that their trail marker is a black and white post at intervals where it's easy to lose the path.
East Coast views on the East Coast trail
As we were nearing our destination one of those bikers came coasting along the rocky edge of the cliffside. We were all quite amazed at his nerve!
The temperature was 70F/21C, quite warm when you're clambering up rock, so every time a breeze sprang up we'd take advantage of the opportunity to dry off. When talk turned to night-time dreams I mentioned that sometimes I dream that I just "lift off" and float around, looking at all there is to see below. Wouldn't that be fantastic?
Ready for lift off
Most of the hike is on the exposed hillside but we did have a short section of woods before the final ascent up the wooden staircase. Donnie and I noticed that the Blue Bead Lilies are starting to get their blue beads so my next hike will probably feature pictures of them, as well as lots of blueberries! Don't eat the blue beads, they are not the same as blueberries and I believe are poisonous.
Likely wet after a heavy rain
I didn't count the steps as I brought up the rear of the group, but I was pretty winded when I reached the top so maybe it's a good thing not to know. I always prefer a trail that climbs upwards without stairs, maybe it's my short legs or maybe it's that way for everyone. Feel free to chime in below in the comment section on your preference!
Alverna yells "Sweet Genie in the garden!"
when she sees all those stairs
At the top we took in the views of Quidi Vidi and St. John's, and chatted with other hikers. Donnie had amazing snacks as always, so I don't know why I look so cranky in the photo that someone took for us.
Donnie, Me, Alverna and Jim pose with Alverna's dog Zeus
Ahh, that's more like it, a smile! Oh, and Alverna sticking her tongue out behind my back because she knew I'd be looking at the camera and not at her!
Hiking with Leonards was great fun, hopefully next time we can get Wayne to tag along!
Before we knew it the weekend was over and it was time to leave.
Two days and two nights went by so quickly!
One of Wayne's brothers laughed when he loaded his portable 2 room shower tent into the boat, but no one was laughing when they got to rinse all the sweat and dirt off in privacy with warm water.
Of course Vader was happy to just take his bath in the ocean.
What remains of the boardwalk
Remember the remains of the boardwalk along the shore in St. Anne's? I found a picture of a similar boardwalk from Dunville that gives a good idea of what it probably looked like. Dunville is just a 10 minute drive from our house, so a cool find for two reasons!
Credit: The Rooms archives https://www.therooms.ca/
I learned that I needed a better pair of rubber boots for outdoor life in Newfoundland with all those low shrubs and wet marshes.
And I learned that unless I was on an ATV road or the East Coast Trail that I might want to wear long pants with my hiking boots even in the summer...
bruised and scratched, but happy
I don't remember if the wind was at our back when we made our way back across Placentia Bay, but the sun was out and it was less windy than on our way in so we made good time and saw more wildlife.
They call Cormorants "Shags" in Newfoundland
We even saw a few Puffins, though I still want to return to Ellsworth to see them there again.
I know we have a lot of work to do out there, but sometimes work is fun and I can't wait to get back!
We took the path behind the church for the next leg of our journey, making occasional stops to clear blowdown.
All wait as Wayne works magic with the chainsaw
Eventually we encountered a mechanical problem and had to abandon our efforts...And now we know to bring a few small items in case of mechanical problems! That's what happens when you buy the chainsaw half an hour before you leave. Still, listen to the chainsaw in the video below, she's lightweight but mighty!
Once we reached the cemetery at the old stone church (for more information see my post from last year here) it was nice to see the headstone my aunts and uncles brought out 15 years ago emerge from the tangle.
My great grandmother Hannah Mae Whittle, her daughter Elizabeth and her son Joe rest here
We have a wharf to build, a spot to clear for the cabin, posts to set for the foundation and a graveyard to restore as best we can. As we clear the cemetery I am sure we will think of how grateful we are to have come from this place, and how grateful we are to be able to come back to it.
As daunting as the task appears, most of it is just grass and moss. The trees don't grow very wide in these parts and most of them have been blown down already. But under the trees...hopefully headstones, but I fear many may have been made from wood and will not be recovered.
More blowdown in the cemetery
Out here it isn't uncommon to find multiple names on the same stone, the one below is for Garrett J. Hickey, Anne Hickey and Edmund Hickey.
Though I searched carefully, the St. Kyran's side of the cemetery held few stones that were visible.
For some reason the St. Leonard's side is much clearer and had more stones. The likely reason is it has had more visitors over the years who have maintained it.
St. Leonard's side
I'm sure I mentioned it last year, but the old cemetery is laid out so that inhabitants of St. Kyran's were buried on the side closer to St. Kyran's and the residents of St. Leonards were buried on the other side of the church closer to their town.
I'm just now noticing that the same design with two crosses was used on multiple headstones. I'm sure there was only so many designs to choose from. Where did they get their headstones done? Probably ordered and then sent over by boat with no roads to any larger towns.
See the stone on the ground? I'm hoping we'll find a few more underneath the moss which is so easy to pull up by hand or with a short-tined garden rake.
At this point we were well into mid-day light, making it difficult to get any shots of the remains of the old stone church that burned down pre-1921.
Side of stone church from rear
In the video below all the trees you see are INSIDE the church remains. There are actually less outside the church, again probably due to visitors clearing the grave sites in the past.
After visiting the cemetery we stopped at Chapel Pond and filled up our water bottles. Then on to St. Leonard's!
This 16 second video below shows where work on our cabin will probably be happening. We need to see the survey and the deed to verify the boundaries.
Out in St. Leonards it's easier to imagine where houses used to be, and Jim was quick to point out where he lived and even that there might be remains of the house behind the trees that have grown in.
St. Leonards' hay blowing in the breeze
What timing! It seems our arrival coincided with the Rogers' clan's landing!
We rested on the beach while we waited for them to row ashore, and Vader took a dip to escape all the flies tormenting him.
Get the stick, Vader!
When they arrived I busied myself with keeping the flies off the dog while they swapped stories. They discussed the pair of bald eagles that have been nesting at St. Leonards and how they had to move their nest after it blew away. Did you know that when they first leave the nest, bald eagles are not good at catching fish? They learn to hunt by first picking up dead fish along shorelines, and then progress to picking up dead fish floating in rivers and lakes. It may take months for an eagle to become reliable at catching live fish. But adults can dive at up to 100 miles per hour to catch a fish, and young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska!
Lots of luck!
Another flying inhabitant decided Wayne's head looked like a good spot to land for awhile. I'd say he was there a good 10 minutes and he wouldn't disturb it because having one land on you is supposed to be good luck!
That good luck came into play when we got loan of what we needed to fix our chainsaw! The Rogers clan moved off to explore a bit before heading toward the church, and we gathered ourselves to head back and fix our chainsaw.
Back to St. Kyran's
Before long I heard chainsaw noises behind me and chainsaw noises ahead of me, and by the time we left St. Kyran's the old road was clear once more.
A few final thoughts and photos tomorrow!
If you missed the other posts in this series follow the links below: