Share your photos,
videos, stories, poems and more.
Meet the winner, an extraordinary animal friend!
Kim Thistle's tips on approaching gardening with children.
Tood Goodyear shares a delicious way to cook fresh cod.
Gander Air Traffic Controller Tom Rissesco's story of a very close call.
Colourful Culture This drawing is the work of Newfoundland Miâkmaq artist Marcus Gosse, a member of the Qalipu Miâkmaq First Nation Band. His grandmother, Alice Maude Gosse (nee Benoit) is a Miâkmaq Elder from Red Brook (Welbooktoojech) on the Port au Port Peninsula. Marcusâ work has been exhibited in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax; The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. Johnâs, NL; and the Canada 150 Art Show at the Macaya Gallery in Miami, FL; and his work is in private collections around the world. He has generously offered a series of his colouring pages to run monthly in Downhome. Each image depicts a NL nature scene and teaches us a little about Miâkmaq culture and language. Each colouring page includes the Miâkmaq word for the subject, the phonetic pronunciation of the word, and the English translation. And youâll notice a design that Marcus incorporates into most of his pieces: the eight-point Miâkmaq Star. This symbol dates back hundreds of years and is very important in Miâkmaq culture. Marcusâ Miâkmaq Stars are often seen painted with four colours: red, black, white and yellow, which together represent unity and harmony between all peoples. Many Miâkmaq artists use the star, and various Miâkmaq double curve designs, to decorate their blankets, baskets, drums, clothing and paintings. To learn more about Marcus and find more of his colouring pages, look him up on Facebook at Miâkmaq Art by Marcus Gosse. To download and print this drawing to colour at home, click here.
By Nicola RyanIn the spring of 2022, Downhome launched our first Pet of the Year Contest, asking for stories of current pets whoâve changed the lives of their owners. We received a wide range of entries and read inspiring stories of cats, dogs, horses, even a cow and a dove! These beautiful animals offered emotional support, taught lessons and brought comfort, and all their stories were heartwarming (read some of our favourites on DownhomeLife.com). However, this is a contest and we had to choose a winner. For her patience, her exceptional friendship and the remarkable influence sheâs had on a young boyâs life, we chose Polly. Here is the extraordinary story of Polly the Chicken and her best friend, Fox.It may seem pretty strange for a fox to be welcome in a henhouse, but this is the story of an exceptional case. Polly the chicken lives on a farm in Erickson, Manitoba. She is part of a flock of three-year-old Leghorn chickens with fluffy white feathers and red combs. Her best friend is six-year-old Fox, a boy who lives on the farm with his mom, dad, brother and sister. Fox and Polly do everything together, and even though theyâre very different, the friendship they share is a joy to see. Fox has always been fascinated by chickens. âWhen he was really young, when he was only a baby, we would bring him over to the family farm,â explains Foxâs mom, Jillian Winstone. âHe would lose his mind over them! The chickens, and their movements, were really funny. Fox always laughed; he always thought it was so funny.â Fox has a unique way of looking at the world. âWe always kind of knew he was a little bit of a different kid, since he was probably six months old. The way his mind worked was pretty amazing,â Jillian says. Fox eventually was diagnosed with autism in 2020, when he was in kindergarten. He had a hard time in social situations, he would sometimes get overstimulated and he struggled to regulate his emotions.Fox was about three or four years old when Polly and the rest of the chickens arrived on the farm, bringing Fox a sense of calm in a world that often felt overwhelming. âWe got him his own flock and it helped him immensely. It was worth the stress of taking care of chickens and all that because of how happy they made him,â Jillian says.âHe comes up with these names,â she continues. âAll the Leghorns, thatâs the breed of chicken Polly is, theyâre all âPollys.â We have other breeds of chickens, but the Pollys are the white ones.â Foxâs particular Polly is distinguishable by her unique red comb, and, Jillian says, sheâs more sociable than the others. Fox loves spending time with Polly and his other feathered friends. âHeâll sit outside all day with them, just sit with them and talk to them,â Jillian says. âWhen heâs with the chickens, itâs like everythingâs just chill. Itâs such a positive thing with my son.â Jillian says Polly and the chickens brought Fox a sense of acceptance that he sometimes found difficult with other kids his age. âTheyâre really therapeutic. I think itâs the fact that they would just sit and listen to him, and listen to whatever he wanted to talk about.âThe relationship that blossomed has had a noticeable, beneficial effect on Fox. âSince Polly came into his life, he has learned so much about himself,â Jillian says. âHeâs a very outspoken kid now. You would never know a couple of years ago, but now heâs outspoken and so smart, such a smart little boy.âFox has also learned a lot about caring for chickens and loves to share his knowledge. âHe incubates his own eggs and hatches his own chicks. He knows the life cycle of a chicken. Heâs almost seven, but youâd think heâs 15.âFox would bring Polly everywhere if he could, or if Mom and Dad allowed it. He loves to tuck Polly under his arm and always makes sure she feels included. They make a super cute and comical pair. In his kindergarten graduation photo, Fox is beaming and holding Polly, who wears a matching graduation cap crocheted by Jillian. In another, Fox and Polly sport matching Christmas sweaters. âI made a chicken Christmas sweater!â Jillian recounts, laughing. âHeâs holding the chicken for his Christmas picture!âFox brings Polly to school for show and tell, tucks her into his warm jacket for ice fishing in the winter, and even sets sail with her out on the pond. âChickens donât swim!â Jillian laughs. âPolly just sat on the edge of the boat.âPolly is docile, patient and trusting, and Jillian says chickens are underrated animals. âThey are a lot smarter than people give them credit for, thatâs kind of what Iâve noticed over the last few years with them. I think she tolerates Fox, and I think they learned a lot from each other. I mean, the chickens are so good with people. Theyâre free range here on our farm; sometimes theyâre up on the deck or on the step. Anytime anybody walks out of the house, they come running.â The sweet relationship between Fox and Polly is difficult to describe. âI donât know how to explain it; youâd have to see it for your own eyes almost,â says Jillian. âYou know, I get it. You see dogs, cats being therapeutic. But for Fox, itâs the chickens. He loves them.âShe continues, âPolly is perfect for Pet of the Year. These birds donât get enough credit for how amazing they are; so much patience and kindness they can show is pretty incredible to watch. Iâm so thankful that Polly came into Foxâs life!â
By Kim ThistleAny gardener who has young children knows the challenge of trying to keep their attention long enough to get a few things done in the garden. With my own children, I would try to get them to help me plant seeds and small plants in the vegetable patch - to no avail. Their attention span lasted approximately 30 seconds. Most of my gardening was done with a headlamp after they were gone to bed. The slugs and I would spend time getting acquainted after dark.If the Time Fairy were to let me relive those years, there are a few things I would do differently. Maybe approaching gardening with children the following ways would have reaped more success for me and the kids.â¢ Have the garden prepared beforehand so that they do not have to take part in the tedious weeding and soil turning.â¢ Introduce them to worms and help them to understand the importance of these invertebrates. They could build a worm farm while you are getting the carrot seed in the ground. To learn how, google âHow to make a worm farm? â by Penguin books and read the resulting www.Penguin.co.uk article.â¢ Let them help with the large seed. Peas are a good choice. Plant the edible pod type, but also make sure you grow the types with a zipper - the ones that open up with peas inside. What child could resist eating something that they can âunboxâ?â¢ Grow pumpkins. They take up a large area, but are worth the reward. Try carving a face or a childâs name into the skin when it is small and watch it grow with the fruit! How cool is that? After harvesting, make a pie with the flesh and roast the seeds to show the kids how many uses a pumpkin can have.â¢ Ya gotta have sunflowers. Try a variety of sizes and colours. â¢ Grow cherry tomatoes. Try the bumble bee types and grow the three different colours: pink, sunrise and purple. â¢ Strawberries are a must. It is interesting to show how the seeds grow on the outside of the fruit.â¢ Carrots, of course. A childâs garden is not complete without carrots. Try the rainbow type: it is neat for them to learn that carrots do not HAVE to be orange.â¢ Give your child a small plot of their own, but donât judge them on it. No nagging. Keep it small and underwhelming.â¢ Let them have real tools. Toy tools are ineffective and will only discourage a budding gardener.â¢ Teach them that not all bugs are bad; in fact, most are good guys, like Spiderman. If you donât like bugs, take a deep breath and try to hide it; itâs best to avoid instilling your own fears in your child.â¢ Choose a location in full sun with good soil, to help avoid failure.â¢ Provide a watering can versus a hose. A watering can has a finite amount of water and you can talk about conservation and the value of every drop. You will find that watering will be their favourite part of gardening. â¢ Make a teepee out of branches for peas and beans to climb on. These also provide great play houses for little ones. Find inspiration for this at www.GardeningKnowHow.com (search the site for âchildrenâs bean teepee.â)â¢ Push their imagination into fantasy with fairy legends. Build a fairy garden in the middle of the patch. Try handmaking houses, doors, chairs, swings and so forth with popsicle sticks. (The kids will love eating the popsicles for you!) Integrating tiny flowers will make a big impression.â¢ Be sure to have some flowers that attract pollinators; use them to teach your child about the importance of having insects to pollinate your plants. Without them, plants would need to be pollinated by hand. Fruit farmers in China are forced to pollinate by hand due to the heavy use of pesticides, and often children have to climb to the tops of trees to get to the hard parts. Educate yourself on this topic and teach your children so that they will understand the importance of trying organic methods first. (www.MyBeeline.co has a story about this.)â¢ Take photos to document the gardening progress from start to finish. Share them with the grandparents so that they can make a fuss. Itâs good reinforcement for the childrenâs efforts.â¢ Harvest time is the culmination of all the hard work. Help the children with a simple recipe that uses some of the foods theyâve grown.If we can get young children interested at this stage of their lives, we help build a culture of sustainability for our families, communities and regions. Encourage daycares to embrace an outdoor program and integrate painting and crafts with gardening. Encourage and volunteer for your schoolâs green thumb program and spice up their education experience.Lastly, make our food have value from the seed to the plate. Itâs a tragic outcome when young children cannot recognize a fruit or vegetable in its raw form and believe that food comes from supermarkets versus farms and gardens.Plan your childrenâs gardening introduction now, and work your plan by evolving their experience year after year. Ohâ¦ and have fun. Itâs contagious!
By Todd GoodyearAccording to Websterâs dictionary, âpoachâ means âto take fish or game illegally, especially by trespassing on anotherâs property.â Iâm not quite sure what the trespassing part means exactly. Are they suggesting that one would enter a neighbourâs or friendâs house, or maybe shed, and help themselves to some cod or moose meat? Iâd call that borrowing a feed with all good intentions to repay it with the same amount or more! This sort of thing happens, without a doubt, around the bay. And in my neighbourhood here in Paradise, itâs a common thing to have a neighbour drop by my shed (cookhouse) with some fresh cod, trout or a feed of moose. Itâs one of the many reasons why we love living here.The other dictionary meaning of âpoach,â more in line with this column, is âto cook in boiling or simmering liquid.â So when I say âpoached,â I am referring to the latter. Now should you choose to poach the fish that youâre going to poach, please keep those details to yourself, okay?I am trusting that if you took part in the food fishery somewhere in the country this past season that it was done safely and that success was found each time you were on the water. Ever since that dreadful day when the Atlantic cod moratorium was announced in 1992 - yes, 30 years ago now - a meal of cod tastes better every time. Fresh cod has to be one of the top favourite meals in our house. Maybe we appreciate it more now, too, although I canât remember a time when there was absolutely no cod to get. I certainly hope it stays that way.Many Canadians, especially Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, continue to enjoy catching their own cod, be it enough for a meal or as many as they are legally allowed for winter keeping. Living off the land and water is no doubt still very relevant in our province, as well as other areas of the country.I have to say, pan seared remains my number one favourite way to prepare the almighty Atlantic cod fish. However, poached is a method I recently experimented with and truly enjoyed - so much so that I wanted to share this recipe.What you will need for 4 servings:1 small turnip, peeled and cut into strips12 baby carrots1/2 cup butter4 (6 oz) thick cod fillets, skinned, as fresh as possible1/2 cup coarse kosher salt, divided1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges4-6 medium potatoes, boiled (optional)Salt & pepper to tastePlace carrots and turnip in a medium pot. Cover vegetables with cold water, add half the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer vegetables until fork tender.In another pot, add cod fillets and enough cold water to cover the fish by at least a couple of inches. Add remaining salt and bring the fish to a boil. Once it starts to boil, immediately remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 10-12 minutes.In a small saucepan, melt the butter for drizzling over the fish and vegetables. Once the fish has rested and the veggies are cooked, remove the fish with a slotted spoon and place on some paper towel before plating. This will soak up extra water in the fish, so the plate doesnât get too wet and dilute the melted butter.Place the fish, carrot and turnip (and potatoes if desired) on the plate. Drizzle all with the melted butter and season with salt & pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the fish and add another slice for garnish.This meal is delicious! Itâs light, tasty and a great alternative to other traditional methods of preparing cod. It is also very easy and quick to make.In this recipe I used turnip and carrot. Feel free to make some boiled or baked potato, or serve it with a salad of your choice. All will go well with poached cod.Toddâs Tips:â¢ Use the freshest cod possible for this meal. It will be worth it.â¢ Salt amount used is strictly personal desired taste; adjust for your liking.â¢ Boiled potatoes mashed with butter and milk would also make a great side.â¢ Always, always, cook with confidence.
By Tom Rissesco, ATCI found Air Traffic Control (ATC) to be a very interesting and exciting job. It also had its moments of stress! A few years ago, I was remembering three exceedingly stressful emergencies I had in the Gander Tower back in the day, including the greatest human interest emergency I had ever experienced on the job.We learned early in the afternoon shift on this October day in 1955 that an aircraft had filed Visual Flight Rules (VFR) from Seven Islands, Quebec, to Gander, NL. The aircraft was an older Anson two-engine former bomber. The weather in Gander was dull and somewhat foggy, and we feared for the safety of this aircraft. Our concern was quickly raised to a much higher level when, less than 90 minutes after the plane took off from Seven Islands, a great deal of Newfoundland was almost totally fogged in. When it reached Stephenville, NL, conditions were so bad the aircraft could not land. We wondered why they didnât turn around and head back to Seven Islands. The answer was that the pilot had already completed about 650 nautical miles, and the distance to Gander was only 180-200 nautical miles farther. There was no mention of any passengers, nor a reason given for the flight. We thought maybe the pilot had some people with him. If so, it was certainly more practical to continue eastward. The pilot found conditions the same or worse at Buchansâ landing strip. The situation was no better when Gander Centre passed control over to us at Gander Tower. The fog was very thick and the plane in question had very little equipment. All the pilot really had was an old VHF radio with two-way communication - and he was lucky to have had that. In the tower at the time of the emergency, there were three controllers. John Scammell was the shift supervisor, I was on the mic, and the newest controller was Clifford Powell. After one totally unsuccessful pass, we suggested âBlue Jayâ - a new ground control approach, not owned by Canada at the time, but owned by Pan American Airline and operated by a former American serviceman - and there was normally a cost. John Scammell told Blue Jay he was asking for a special emergency-situation exemption. It was our last chance! Meanwhile, Clifford Powell went out onto the nearby connected hangar roof and shot off a number of green flares to help the pilot pinpoint our location. With the help of Blue Jay ground control approach, the grace of God, and Brian OâRourkeâs sharp eyes, we got the plane down safely. Brian was an AT controller who had previously worked in Gander and was now working at Seven Islands and was on the approaching plane. What tension! Then, what a relief! Ten minutes before, conditions looked hopeless and we imagined tragedy. But the Anson two-engine aircraft landed safely and continued taxiing to the foot of Gander Tower - and then ran completely out of fuel. What a close call!The first two off the airplane were Brian OâRourke, whoâd sat with the pilot and spotted a landmark during a break in the fog, and Red Gavin, a Seven Island weather observer originally from Parrsboro, NS, whoâd come to pay me a surprise visit. Then a lady, Isabelle Blackmore, with a baby in her arms, came down the steps. The one-year-old was Kevin Blackmore, who later became the frontman of the famous Newfoundland folk music and comedy group, Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.Four years ago, Kevin and his sister, Monica, came to our home in Dartmouth, NS, to thank me and the others in the tower for saving the lives of the occupants of the Anson aircraft. He also invited me and my wife and to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax to watch his show!
Colourful CultureThis drawing is the work of Newfoundland Miâkmaq artist Marcus Gosse, a member of the Qalipu Miâkmaq First Nation Band. His grandmother, Alice Maude Gosse (nee Benoit) is a Miâkmaq Elder from Red Brook (Welbooktoojech) on the Port au Port Peninsula. Marcusâ work has been exhibited in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax; The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. Johnâs, NL; and the Canada 150 Art Show at the Macaya Gallery in Miami, FL; and his work is in private collections around the world. He has generously offered a series of his colouring pages to run monthly in Downhome. Each image depicts a NL nature scene and teaches us a little about Miâkmaq culture and language. Each colouring page includes the Miâkmaq word for the subject, the phonetic pronunciation of the word, and the English translation. And youâll notice a design that Marcus incorporates into most of his pieces: the eight-point Miâkmaq Star. This symbol dates back hundreds of years and is very important in Miâkmaq culture. Marcusâ Miâkmaq Stars are often seen painted with four colours: red, black, white and yellow, which together represent unity and harmony between all peoples. Many Miâkmaq artists use the star, and various Miâkmaq double curve designs, to decorate their blankets, baskets, drums, clothing and paintings. To learn more about Marcus and find more of his colouring pages, look him up on Facebook at Miâkmaq Art by Marcus Gosse. To download and print this drawing to colour at home, click here.
By Dennis FlynnBelieve it or not, Iâve been privy to more than a few very interesting proposals. From a ring hidden in a giant Christmas present or inside a champagne glass at a fancy restaurant, to a proposal on the stadium big screen or on George Street, Iâve seen them all. One of my all-time favourite proposals to witness in person was the fellow who took his girlfriend skating on Valentineâs Day at Rockefeller Centreâs iconic outdoor rink. While she was distracted gazing up at the New York City skyscrapers and the famous golden statue of Prometheus, another skater zipped out with an enormous bundle of red roses and handed them off. The gentleman was down on one knee with flowers and ring in hand when the lady turned around, beaming with joy and utterly surprised. Well played, sir. Well played, indeed.So Iâm kind of hard to impress on a novel way to get engaged. It has to be a real doozy of a moment with a remarkable back story. That is, however, exactly what Derrick Roul and Shantel Buttress of Conception Bay South, NL, delivered at the Boston Marathon finish line this past spring. When I learned about it, I just had to meet them.The first thing to know about these two is that they make a ridiculously cute couple who produce enough combined positive energy to power the province. The second thing is that they are both ultramarathoners accustomed to running up to 50 kilometers at a stretch on very challenging terrain. It was no surprise, then, to learn that they first met at a group training session for the Tely 10 a number of years ago.âShe was such an amazing person to talk to, I was suddenly struck so shy that I could hardly even look at her and kept speaking down to her running shoes,â Derrick recalls. âWe gradually became good friends and bonded over running with shared stories and experiences that, unless you are a distance runner yourself, it is sometimes very hard for others to relate to. Talking helped the miles to go, and we got to know each other really well as people - one step at a time.âThatâs all it was, though, just great friends and sometimes running and training colleagues. Until several years later, when Shantel and Derrick both found themselves single and renewed their friendship. Eventually it blossomed into a romance and they were off to the races, literally and figuratively.Fast forward to this yearâs running of the Boston Marathon, held April 18. The couple were both running, with Derrick carrying an extra tiny burden and a very big secret.With a huge smile, Derrick recalls, âI had a pair of running shorts with a secret pocket for a small key or whatnot, and that is where I kept the ring. I was giddy like a kid in a candy store, I was that excited, and it was awesome. The only problem was every kilometre over the 42.2 km race I had to reach down and pat my leg to make sure the ring was still there. That way if, God forbid, I lost the ring I would only have to go one kilometre back to look for it instead of all the way. Thankfully nothing happened to it, but I was really afraid Shantel was going to notice me reaching to my leg and was thinking I might have to tell a white lie about the leg being a little hurt. If she caught on she never did say, so it all worked out perfectly.âShantel adds, âI had no idea and he totally surprised me. I mean, we had of course talked about marriage, and I thought that maybe someday he was going to ask, but I never expected it then, so it was a really wonderful moment. We reached the finish line together and he dropped to one knee, produced the ring and asked me to marry him. The people all around us were amazed and so kind, taking photos and videos and just coming over telling us how happy it made them, so it was pretty incredible for a lot of reasons.âDerrick adds, âThe creator of a video [Arlen Parsa] reached out and congratulated us on our finish and let us know that he used our story as part of a promotion for the Abbott World Marathon Majors that focuses on how running partners and couples really make this Majors challenge special.â (They appear in the last nine seconds of the video. You can check it out here: https://fb.watch/dgNU_Icyu7/ )More to this storyAll of this alone would have been heart touching, but thereâs more. Shantelâs marathon run was almost cancelled due to an injury months earlier. âOver the winter I slipped on ice during a training run and stretched a leg, picking up what is sometimes called a sports hernia. So I had to take a longer time off training and could not go as hard when I came back. My longest preparation run for Boston was only 25 kilometres, and that was just two weeks before the big race.âDerrickâs road to the 2022 Boston Marathon also had some twists and turns, as well as a significant speed bump - cancer. âYou know in 2012, I was in probably the best running shape of my life,â Derrick begins, âand on a really hot day at the Boston Marathon I ran it in three hours flatâ¦ I reached that finish line and cried a little because I did not break my goal of doing it under three hours. I was so focused on the clock that I couldnât see what was really important. What mattered most was that I finishedâ¦ I did so well at Boston that I was given a spot in the New York City Marathon and, unfortunately, two weeks before I was scheduled to go, I was diagnosed with leukemia.âDerrick subsequently endured many rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, with the donation from his fraternal twin brother. As soon as he was able, Derrick started planning for his return to marathon running, though his doctors cautioned him that he would never be the runner that he once was. âSo that was a huge blow, but I tried to stay positive and take it in stride,â Derrick says.He recalls watching the 2013 Boston Marathon from his hospital room. That was the year of the devastating bombing at the race. It lit a new fire under him. âAfter my operation, I asked the doctors what would be the fastest I could graft and recover and get out of hospital, and they said I would be lucky to get out in 21-28 days. So I wrote 336 hours on my wall, which was about 18 days. I started walking around the corridors and stairs with my IV pole. I got released in 335 hours, with one hour to spare. They said I was the quickest one they had seen,â Derrick says. âThere were some setbacks along the way, but eventually I got back to running and qualifying for Boston, as did Shantel.âWe crossed the line in about 3 hours 29 minutes, holding hands together, and it meant the world to us to do it together.âFor his remarkable perseverance and positive attitude, Derrick was the 2014 recipient of the Dr. John Williams Award, given to an individual who has inspired others through enthusiastic and spirited participation in the Telegram 10 Mile Road Race.Derrick says, âTen years ago, I ran Boston and cried at the finish because I didnât get a time I wanted. This year I ran it and I cried with joy because I let go of that focus on time that so many of us who are competitive runners get trapped in. I decided I am running this race with Shantel and I am going to enjoy every step, every mile and every moment along the way. Finding her has been incredible. She has been a big shining light, and she makes it easy to have something besides a finish line to look forward to.â
By Nicola RyanNewfoundland and Labrador is famous for its wide open spaces, breathtaking coastal trails, and pristine backcountry wilderness that beckon to hikers and explorers. And while you might picture yourself cresting the Long Range Traverse solo and triumphant, like in the tourism commercials, most likely your office job hasnât really prepared you for tackling the wilderness on your own. Weâve rounded up some of the ways you can find a group of hiking companions to join you on the trails.Trail Guides and Hiking GroupsIf youâre on the Avalon Peninsula, lace up your hiking boots and head for the East Coast Trail. The trail is made up of 25 wilderness paths, stretching over 330 km all the way from Topsail Beach to Cappahayden. Volunteers with the East Coast Trail Association lead public guided hikes on weekends from April to November. Itâs a great way to explore a path you havenât tried before, and the guides are knowledgeable about the points of interest - from sea stacks to suspension bridges - that youâll encounter along the way. Check out the website for the schedule, to pre-register with the hike leader and to view more specific instructions. (See sidebar for all the websites linked to this article.)In Western Newfoundland, the International Appalachian Trail extends from Port aux Basques in the south, through Gros Morne National Park, to Crow Head just east of LâAnse aux Meadows at the tip of the Northern Peninsula. This long-distance hiking trail is part of the larger Appalachian Trail that winds its way across the Atlantic through Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and more! Check out the IAT website for lots of details from the experts. Near Corner Brook, the Humber Valley Trail is a scenic section of the IAT that runs 25 km over moderate terrain along the rolling hills overlooking the Humber Valley. To find a buddy to hike with, search for the âHiking & Exploring Western Newfoundlandâ group on Facebook.If youâre handy to the Parks Canada interpretation centres in Gros Morne or Terra Nova, you can join a guided walk led by a Parks Interpreter. Guided walks give you the opportunity to learn more about ecology, geography, wildlife and human history as you explore. The guided walks are usually over gentle terrain, so theyâre suitable for all ages and abilities. You can find a schedule of guided walks and other programs on the Government of Canadaâs Parks Canada website. Tour OperatorsFor a fuller travel experience, join up with a tour operator and explore with a knowledgeable, experienced guide and a small group. Most professional guides have been trained in outdoor adventure and wilderness first aid, so you can feel safe, and many have educational and environmental backgrounds, not to mention unique first-hand knowledge of the particular area youâre exploring. On the west coast, Wild Gros Morne operates a variety of interpretive walking and hiking tours of Gros Morne Mountain, the Tablelands and the Parkâs backcountry wilderness. On the east coast, McCarthyâs Party in St. Johnâs offers walking tours of Signal Hillâs popular North Head Trail and the Blackhead Trail, with local guides and transportation provided in their recognizable van. Additionally, Trail Connections is a network of B&Bs located along the East Coast Trail that cater to hikers. Stay with each community host for a couple of days and hike from there, knowing thereâs a home-cooked meal and a comfortable bed waiting for you at the end of the day. Trail Connectionsâ services include accommodation, three meals (breakfast, packed lunch, supper), and complementary transportation to and from the trailheads. Your last host will even get you back to the airport or to St. Johnâs. Check out their website and make sure to book in advance as the summer season often gets busy. Training ProgramsFor those interested in an in-depth learning experience, every year, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture offers the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program to women 18 years of age or older. The BOW weekend is designed to increase confidence in outdoor pursuits and build awareness of the natural environment. Participants learn the basics of not just hiking, but lots of wilderness activities including outdoor cooking and survival, wildlife and plant identification, basic angling techniques, and safe use of firearms and archery equipment. BOW events include a three-day weekend outing in the spring or fall, and Beyond BOW workshops held throughout the year. You can call Salmonier Nature Park for more information.Community GroupsThere are lots of online ways to connect, make new friends, find out local information and explore outdoor interests. While community-building websites like MeetUp arenât as well known in Newfoundland and Labrador as they are in bigger cities, you can always check it out to see if there are any folks or groups in your area. AllTrails.com lets you search thousands of trails and provides trail info, maps, detailed reviews and photos curated by millions of hikers, campers, and nature lovers. And, Facebook, of course, is also invaluable. Check out Facebook groups like Hiking in Newfoundland Labrador (Hike NL), and check out the discussions, recent posts and pictures from other hikers.To take on other fantastic trails, your best bet is to check with the locals! Word of mouth is always a great way to learn more and make connections with other folks interested in hiking. If youâre in a small community, try calling the nearest town office or 50-plus club to inquire, or if youâre staying somewhere new, ask the host at your accommodations. Theyâre sure to know the best tips first hand. In Twillingate, for example, the Anchor Inn has maps of the Rockcut Trails available and theyâre happy to provide information, similar to the B&Bs along the Labrador Straits Pioneer Footpath, and many guests homes and vacation rentals across the province. In short, if the sun is out and the trail is calling to you, there are lots of ways to connect with others, find out first-hand information, and find a hiking buddy eager to enjoy an adventure near you. Helpful ResourcesEast Coast Trail: Eastcoasttrail.comInternational Appalachian Trail: IATnl.caParks Canada: Pc.gc.ca/en/pn-npAllTrails: Alltrails.com/canada/newfoundland-and-labradorWild Gros Morne: WildGrosMorne.comTrail Connections: TrailConnections.caMcCarthyâs Party: MccarthysParty.com/hiking-walking-tour/Salmonier Nature Park: Gov.nl.ca/ffa/wildlife/snp/MeetUp: Meetup.comFacebook Hiking & Exploring Western Newfoundland: www.facebook.com/groups/1521447411456002/Facebook Hiking in Newfoundland and Labrador (Hike NL): www.facebook.com/groups/1525331824356915/Pioneer Footpath: LabradorCoastalDrive.comRockCut Trails: RockCutTrails.ca50+ Clubs: Seniorsnl.ca/seniors/in-the-community/nl-50plus-federation/Newfoundland Labrador Tourism: NewfoundlandLabrador.com/things-to-do/hiking-and-walking