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My 12 Days Exploring the East Coast
"Everyone, wake up! It is time to get in the car," My dad announced from upstairs. It was August of 2022; my family and I got up bright and early and drove to Calgary to catch our flight to Montreal. My seat was beside the tiny rectangular window near the airplane wing, and I watched the plane become airborne. I observed the plane as it slowly rose over the thick white cotton balls and into the bright blue sky. My vision of below became blurry. There was not much to see except for clumps of trees, buildings, and endless farmland. Flying on planes is not something that I like to do. They have always made me nervous, but that time was not as bad as I expected it to be. We were given warm lunch (which was surprisingly good for airplane food), and I spent the rest of my time reading and watching TV shows. We took one more long and dark flight from Montreal until we finally arrived in Deer Lake, Newfoundland! It was about 12:30AM in Alberta. "That was a crazy long day!" I said to my mom, as we sauntered out of our taxi and into the hotel. I crashed on the big bed as soon as we arrived in our room. In the morning, we joined our friends and travelled to their hometown of Baie Verte where we were going to spend the next couple of days. "Wow!" I said in amazement as I strolled out of the hotel. There was a lingering scent of fresh and natural aroma of the deep sea nearby. Our hotel was surrounded by a thick patch of dark green trees. You could hear dozens of tiny singing birds in the distance. It felt like I was in paradise! Baie Verte was a small town with a population of about 1000 people, but it still had so many activities to do, and it was fantastic. One of my family's friends was from Baie Verte so they toured us around the whole town. We went on amazing hikes and explored sites around the area. My favorite part was being at sea in Seal Cove. I loved the calming sound of the waves splashing against the bright red fishing boat. As I sat on the flat red roof of the boat, I noticed tiny figures in the water. There were various sizes of puffy coral colored jellyfish floating as the boat skirted past them. Each one was original in color or dimensions. "Three,two,one." I whispered to myself as I stood looking down at the water ready to jump. Diving into the freezing sea repeatedly was enjoyable despite the freezing temperature. There was a salty taste left in my mouth as I made a loud splash into the deep water. The reel of the fishing rod made a clicking noise as my brother and his friends brought large cod into the boat. I was able to catch my own cod too, but it stressed me out every time! There was a tug on the rod whenever a fish was on the line, and I started to freak out. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I think I have one. Someone take the rod," I said, alarmed. "You are fine, Hannah. Just reel in slowly," my dad replied. My family and I spent our nights in Baie Verte eating the best food ever created in human history! My friend's grandma can make tasty food! We ate warm seafood chowder, crispy cod fish and chips, flavorful lobster, crab, and bacon covered scallops! I would say that my favorite meal was the seafood chowder because it had a variety of fresh ingredients. My friend's grandma had made the whole thing from scratch. It had so many fantastic flavors that melted in my mouth. Once my friends and I were done munching on our meals, we played various games in the backyard. "Hey Hannah, look at that frog," my friend said. "What! Where?" I yelled. "Oh my gosh. It is chasing me!" We spent hours playing croquet and catching frogs. The frogs in Newfoundland are slimy and massive. My friends and I would take flashlights at night and go looking for them. There were slugs all over the yard at night too! It was like a horror movie because either a giant slug or frog would show up in the path in front of you. I can't say that I am proud of how I handled the situation because I ran and screamed the whole time! Our next location (which was a six-hour drive) took us to St. John's. The capital city was gigantic compared to all the other towns that we traveled through. The harbour was full of humongous boats. There were loads of them like cargo ships and luxurious yachts. This is the first place in Newfoundland where I had seen large buildings.My family stayed in a fantastic hotel called The Jag. It was named after Mick Jagger, and there were different bright and artistic music related paintings everywhere you looked. "Let's go find a place to eat," my dad said as we were walking out of the hotel room. On the walk, I noticed how different the homes are in this city. They are narrow and tiny. All the houses are squished together so they almost look like one building. The only difference between the houses are their colors. They were all different shades such as neon blue or pastel pink. The streets in St. Johns were loaded with people roaming the streets. All the restaurants were full of people chatting and munching on their meals. This area was so busy that it looked like a huge parade. My family and I searched the whole area for an interesting place to eat. We wanted to try eating at a place that was more creative, and that we had never heard of before. There were at least 12 restaurants, and they were all packed with other tourists! We ended up eating at Boston Pizza. Our plan of eating somewhere new had backfired, but we were able to eat somewhere delicious the next night. Everyone ate at a local restaurant, and I ate cod tacos. It was much more memorable than Boston Pizza. We visited many sites in St. John's like the Cabot Tower. That is a tower named for John Cabot because he discovered Newfoundland. The Cabot Tower was built on Signal Hill. It was a steep hill used as a lookout for ships, and the military used it many times for the safety of St. John's. This building was strong and rigid. The stone was dark and bumpy, and the entire hill overlooked St. John's and the sea. We visited different lighthouses and museums. I got to go inside of a lighthouse called Cape Spear. It was remarkably interesting to see how lighthouse keepers and their families used to live because these lighthouses are in the middle of nowhere. Visiting this site made me wonder what they would do in their free time. Do the kids play different games outside, or do they spend their time doing work inside of the lighthouse? What do they do during a huge storm? Once we left St. John's, we headed to our next location. We stayed the night in a tiny hotel, and then we were going to wake up early in the morning to catch our ferry. We got onboard the large boat. This ferry was built like an airplane except it had three floors. There was a mini cafe too, but it only sold coffee. "Yuck. I hate coffee," I said sadly. We were on this boat for about an hour and a half. The ferry was taking us to a little island beside Newfoundland, except it is owned by France. "I guess I can tell people that I've been to France," I said sarcastically. I spent most of my time standing on a small deck outside of the ferry. My friend Olivia looked out at sea and announced, "Look! I see birds. I think it is a puffin!" She was right. There were hundreds of miniature little birds surrounding the boat. They had different shades of fluorescent red on their tiny beaks. Puffins are the provincial bird of Newfoundland and may be hard to see because they spend most of their lives at sea. It was a magnificent and memorable moment. I was incredibly surprised once we arrived at our destination. There were barely any people roaming the streets. We were hoping to go into some small shops, but all the buildings were closed. Apparently, everything is open around 7:00AM and then closed around 11:00AM. The place looked deserted because we barely saw any people on the small island. My family and I jokingly said, "I guess its everyone's bedtime in France right now." We took a bus tour and got some treats at the cafe and then we headed back to the hotel in Newfoundland. My family and I also visited Gros Morne National Park when we spent 3 days in Humber Valley. It is the second largest National Park in Atlantic Canada. We went onto a tour boat that led us through a winding lake. I was surrounded by mountains that were gigantic. These mountains were so tall that the waterfalls turned to steam before they reached the ground. "Whoa. This is beautiful," my dad said in amazement. I felt like it would take me a year to walk all the way up to the peak of one of the mountains. The boat slowly cut through the water that looked like glass. There were millions of large trees, but they looked like little fleas compared to the skyscrapers of rock that they grew on. Grass and plants around me were thriving from the nutrients of the water around them. The lake seemed to cut through the mountains forever. It was the most beautiful boat tour I had ever been aboard. My family and I were headed to our cabin in Humber Valley once we got back from Gros Morne. We were going to spend three days at the cabin, and then we were headed to the airport to go home. This cabin was huge! It had five large bedrooms, and each one had a bathroom. My family and I spent this trip with three close family friends, and everyone was able to have their own room. I got to sleep in a room that had two twin sized beds. The backyard had a large wooden deck and a view of the enormous green golf course that we got to play at the next day. It was beautiful and breathtaking! The backyard was right along the edge of hole seven. It was a par five hole, which means that it was quite large. The course was surrounded by towering coniferous trees. Once the hole was finished, the golf carts would have to go through a thin and winding path in the trees to find the next hole. "This is the best golf course I have ever played at," I announced happily. The course was gigantic and luxurious compared to the ones in Alberta. I am not sure that I will ever play on a course better than the Humber Valley Golf Course. There is a hot tub on the deck of the cabin that we would spend our nights in. My friend and I would turn on music and sing quite poorly to songs from different pop artists. "Itss a Party in the U.S.A. Yea! It's a party in the U.S.A," my friend and I sang. We were having so much fun playing games at the beach and exploring the area in Humber Valley that the time flew by. Before I knew it, we were at the airport to go home. This trip was full of adventure, and I gained so much knowledge. I learned about big events that happened and facts from all the sites I got to visit. I learned about Newfoundland geography and culture while exploring the wilderness. We were able to travel throughout the entire province, and it was such a fantastic and memorable journey. In the end, I experienced the beauty of the East Coast and now better understand how astonishing and special the different towns are. My perspective of Canada had changed drastically once I returned to Alberta because all the places that I visited in Newfoundland was more than I had ever seen in Alberta, and that allowed me to see a diverse and gorgeous side of Canada. -Hannah, age 12 Lethbridge, AB
Letters from Newfoundland
Hello, I just visited Newfoundland for the first time, and wrote to my sister in Australia about it (she is 93). I liked your magazine and thought I would send you a copy of my letters in case you would like to print them. Valerie Taylor Ingersoll, ON Hi there we've been here almost a week and it's wonderful. It's different from Ontario but still Canadian. We started in St. John's the capital and largest city on the island. It had a working port with several big orange ships in port taking on equipment for the oil rigs. It was a very tidy port and accessible to the rest of the city. The whole city is built on a steep hillside and the streets are tiered. One would get fit living here. The harbour is protected by these hills and also the fact that it has a very narrow entrance. It's hard to believe that a big cruise ship can enter through. But they come in regularly. The streets are very tourist friendly; some are pedestrian only and the houses are bright colours. We went to the entrance of the harbour where the wind blew very hard. On top of the hill on one side was a fortified building. It was called Signal Hill because it was from here that Marconi sent the first transatlantic wireless signals in 1901.On the other side of the entrance is another high hill with cliff with old and new lighthouses. This is called Cape Spear and is the easternmost point in Canada. The following day we travelled across the peninsula to Hearts Delight on Trinity Bay is was surprisingly high and green. We expected rocks but there were hills, a few trees and lots of open, wet, mossy and grassy areas. The trees were short, stunted, and bent by the prevailing wind. Sometimes they grew in clumps supporting each other; tree islands. This is how it was across inland with no communities or houses to pass. Then the moment we got near the coast again there were communities clustered around each bay. Some bigger than others, the smaller ones having no store although the local gas station might sell a huge variety of necessities including alcohol. Hearts Delight was a short way up the bay and it has probably about 700 people. J's uncle E says there was a time he knew everyone in the town, but no as the old houses get emptied and sold the buyers are often from out of town; St. John's and further, sometimes bought for a holiday place. J's dad was born here and he was one of ten children, many of whom lived their whole lives here so there are many R's in this town. J is enjoying getting to know them all. Their cabin is on one of the hillsides above the town and there's a fine view of the harbour and town. The hillside is mossy and soft to walk through and you might sink quite deep here and there. Lots of low bushes grow, like blueberries, bakeapple, Saskatoon, raspberries, teaberries and many different berries I've never seen before. The land beside them is heavily bushed with threes. It seems once they get going they do very well and grow very close together; as if they're keeping out the wind which blows like mad in the winter especially. Through the trees there's a footpath to the cliff a few hundred yards away. The cliffs are so colourful with stripes of red, yellow and grey rocks. The cliffs are steep and the beach only accessible in some of the coves. R and J went down yesterday at low tide to get mussels for supper. There's a hiking trail all along the cliffs for miles. We liked walking there. This Sunday J followed the Newfoundland tradition of inviting the family to Sunday lunch. It was a huge meal with roast chicken and turrs and a stew called Jiggs dinner which is salt beef and many root vegetables and cabbage which grow well in this climate all boiled together for hours. Also a steamed blueberry pudding and sugar sauce which is eaten with the savory meal on the same plate. Then there was dessert; two desserts involving blueberries which are growing all over the hillsides. One day we went to a little village in a cove and stopped at a gift shop which had all kinds of locally made things - lovely wool sweaters, mitts and socks, jewelry, sealskin hats, mitts and slippers and such like. It was crowded with stuff and quite a pleasure to push through. I don't usually like gift shops but this one was the best I have seen and I felt bad that I didn't want to buy anything anyway then I saw the books about all things Newfoundland and I picked out one on the origins of the names of places here and bought it. There are some very sweet place names. We are where the three towns of Hearts Desire, Hearts Delight and Hearts Content are to be found and apparently they got their names from the heart shape of their harbour. Today the sun is beaming down and I have finished this I am going to pick blueberries outside on the hill. This morning we woke up to thick clouds with a threat of rain although we could still see the harbour and the town. The wind has blown the clouds away now and it's lovely and dry. We spend the past week in Hearts Delight and area on the Avalon peninsula. It is on Trinity Bay, which is about twelve miles wide. J says if there's small waves here in the harbour then you can expect much bigger ones out in the bay. On weekends cod fishing is permitted and that's when one can see boats going out weather permitting. J came back with his limit of fish and cleaned them at the stage. They were enormous and we ate some that evening. J offered to take us out on the bay the next day but discovered that the ignition key was missing from the engine. He searched the boat and the nearby shore but no luck. The key was attached to a float but it could have floated anywhere! While J spend the day finding an outfitter who could help, R looked online for a community group in Hearts Delight; she joined it and posted that they had a lost a boat key and asked if anyone had found one. The next morning they got a message that yes someone had found a key on the beach. It was their key! J also lost his wallet this week and R and he spent a lot of time searching the cabin, the car and the boat but to no avail. Once again it seemed it was gone to the ocean. The it too was found. Someone had seen it on the seabed in the shallows and had pulled it out with a net. J got it returned. We all agreed it was his lucky week and he should get a lottery ticket or two. The weather has been lovely with only one rainy day. We went to a local church rummage sale where there was loads and loads of knitting and sewing patterns and magazines. Knitting and quilting are favoured pastimes. Gardening is popular too for some, but it's hard work as the ground is rocky. Some people grow in boxes but others just work at the soil improving it with mulch and compost and the result are marvelous crops. All the cabbage family love the cool, wet weather and the root vegetables grow amazingly well. J's uncle E has a big garden patch right next to the beach and it was very voluptuous. I was surprised as it was not affected by the salt. There's not a lot of roads here and the one big dual carriageway spans the island. The other roads wind around the cove linking up the towns. Then there are the graveled bush roads going to people's cabins in the woods. Some people use four wheelers to go on these as they are often very rocky. I also saw an unusual amphibious vehicle with six wheels. It could go along the bush roads and also in the water where it became a boat! R had a ride on one belonging to J's brother. We are on our way home now and sorry to say goodbye to such a lovely island and people. We'd like to see more next time; we've heard about the fjords in the west and the mountains and the site of the Viking settlement on the northern peninsula. All for another time. Bye for now, Love Val.
Come Home Year 2022 with a Twist
In June 2020 I retired from teaching after 22 years in Fort McMurray, Alberta. During our retirement years what we had planned was to travel to different places. Our first place to travel was across Canada from our home in Fort McMurray, to our previous home, 22 years ago, in Newfoundland. More specifically Central Newfoundland and the town of Grand Falls Windsor. But Covid had a different plan, we had to put on hold our travel for the summer of 2020. Like many other Canadians we caught the virus during that time and had to isolate for 10 days according to what the authorities were telling us in the early days and months of the pandemic. So from June 2020 until June 2021 it seem like Covid was really putting a damper on our vacation plans. Then in the summer of 2021 in August we decided that we were going to begin to travel and with the restrictions still on we were unable to travel anywhere outside of Canada so we went back to our initial plan to travel across Canada. Visiting family and friends with plans to probably return to Fort McMurray in October 2021. So on August 5, 2020 we left to drive to Ontario and then take the north shore route 138 from Quebec City to Baie Comeau, then to Labrador City and the Trans Labrador Highway. Eventually to Blanc Sablon Quebec and the ferry to Saint Barbe NL. This route through northern Quebec and Trans Labrador Highway, route 510 would be the highlight of our excursion. Along the way we had one night stays in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie before spending a few nights at my wife's mother in Kitchener, Ontario. After that we left and we would travel the north shore of Quebec and then head to LABRADOR CITY. We were encouraged by family in Labrador City to make the northern excursion and we were not disappointed that we did. The first night after leaving Ontario we stayed just outside of Montreal and then the second, stayed in Baie Comeau before making the trek REALLY north in Quebec. This an area that we had not travelled before and we were somewhat unsure of where this road would take us. This drive from Baie Comeau to Labrador City caused us a little bit of anxiety as we would be without cell reception or contact with anybody for between seven and eight hours and would encounter both gravel as well as paved highway on the route. Traffic was very light and I only counted 93 vehicles in the first 400 kilometers of the journey. We were, kind of driving blind so to speak, as we were using only the road as a guide. The scenery in this part of our great country is phenomenal and we felt blessed to be able to encounter it. Being able to see some of the MASSIVE hydroelectric developments especially the Manic 5 Development. Gas prices were significantly more than they were in the urban areas of Quebec and Ontario but this was due mainly to the remoteness. The gas prices in the rural parts of Quebec and remote Quebec as well as the Labrador portion of Newfoundland and Labrador were significantly higher than they were in other parts of those provinces, but nothing like what would be experienced in the spring and summer of the following year as Covid continued to have a hold on our country and world. We ended up spending about six days in Lab West with family looking at the sights and sounds. Then we continued our trip on the Trans Labrador Highway as the family accompanied us to Charlottetown where she spent most of her childhood. We did some visiting on the coastal routes of the TLH and spent time with her extended family, in communities now accessible by road unlike our first visit in the summer of 1996 when travel between communities in southern Labrador was by water or air. We had a very enjoyable time while there and we ended up going out to do some sightseeing in a boat, seeing some whales and visiting some settlements only accessible by water in the summer. Little did we know at that time that this would BECOME HOME for the winter of 2021 and 2022. After we left Charlottetown we traveled the rest of the Trans Labrador Highway (about 250 km) the coastal route down to the ferry that connects Labrador with the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. This also was the first time crossing to island by boat and then taking the Great Northern Peninsula, drove down and went to Central Newfoundland where I had spent the first 42 years of my life, including 22 years being married, raising a family with my wife Diane. After traversing the island from east to west we took the boat in Port aux Basques and headed back to Ontario to spend some time with my wife's ailing mom. It was while we were there that our vacation took a little bit of a twist. What had started out as Come Home Year 2021, so to speak, I would end up with my wife making a return trip to the coast of Labrador and myself taking a teaching position for the coming year, October 25 - June 24 2022. While we were in Kitchener at my wife's mom's home I ended up getting a phone call from a vice principal in Port Hope Simpson who was inquiring if I was available to come to work at their school as he had heard that I was interested in doing some subbing in Labrador. He was wondering if I would be willing to fill a position that was still unfilled at their school. We ended up talking for a while and I did end up applying for the position and was successful and began teaching there on October 25 of 2021. We have always wanted to do something in a different community and now the opportunity was being provided for us. We thoroughly enjoyed our next eight months in Labrador living in the community of Charlottetown with a population of about 250 people and I would travel 50 km each day to go to work in Port Hope Simpson as a junior/ senior high teacher. It was an enjoyable experience and one that we will not soon forget, meeting a lot of good people in that excursion and we will probably be back in Labrador for the coming year God willing. While in Charlottetown we were able to experience some of the Labrador ways of life and really came to appreciate the people that we would meet. We would leave Charlottetown on June 24 as we had to attend the graduation exercises of two of our grandchildren in Fort McMurray. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador had designated 2022 as Come Home Year and what started out as a summer and fall vacation in 2021, became COME HOME YEAR 2022 FOR THE CHAMPION FAMILY WITH A TWIST. At the time of writing pictures were not able to be uploaded but can be provided if needed. Please advise. Joe and Diane Champion
A Trip of a Lifetime
A Trip of a Lifetime - Remembering Family and Friends Theresa Priest With any great trip, planning is key. That is why our trip to Newfoundland in late July early August 2019 was, for me, A Trip of a Lifetime. I'll give you a little background on how it all came to fruition. Myself and two of my first cousins (Debbie and JoAnne) - our mothers are sisters, have been getting together since 2015 at Deb's cottage in Northern Ontario. We decided that for our fifth year we should do something special so we all agreed that we would start planning our getaway to The Rock. Each of us had a responsibility; we needed to book our flight, rent a car, and make reservations for lodging. Lucky for us, I have a cousin that lives in Paradise and she was a huge help in planning our trip and was our own personal travel guide. (Judy is my first cousin - our dads are brothers). Our family roots go way back - our parents all being from Newfoundland; our mothers from Fogo Island, my dad and uncle from Juniper Stump and another uncle from Gander. Fogo Island was ultimately our destination with many lovely stops along the way. We arrived at the St. John's airport and managed to get our rental car. From here we drove to Judy's place in Paradise and stayed for a couple of days to take in the local scene. Before we departed for our journey west, we did the local tourist scene in St. John's. Of course we visited Signal Hill, Cape Spear and took in the local pubs/fare and music in the downtown area. A day trip was planned along Conception Bay South. We visited Clarke's Beach and discovered a local distillery and sampled some of their local gins. We had a picnic in Brigus, and took in the sights of this historic town. Back to Paradise and we had a huge feed of cod for our supper. The following day we loaded up the car and headed west. We visited the lovely town of Trinity with its many colourful homes and beautiful churches. Unfortunately, we could not stay long because we wanted to be in Bonavista before dark. Waiting for us in Bonavista was a charming Air BNB. We spent 1 night and managed to enjoy a fine meal at a local restaurant and take in the spectacular scenery. Dungeon Provincial Park left us speechless as the whales put on quite a show. We ended the evening down by the water enjoying the amazing sunset. The following morning we were back on the road with a quick stop in Gander to re-fuel and grab something to eat. We had a schedule to follow and needed to be at the ferry in Farewell to take us to Fogo Island. The crossing, along with weather was grand. We finally reached our destination. FOGO. We arranged to stay at a lovely salt box home in Fogo. This was another Air BNB. It was an ideal location for us. There was so much for us to do. Reconnect with family, met up with old friends and of course hike the famous Brimstone Head. We visited The Bleak House, Marconi Centre and every day we had a new adventure waiting for us. Our last couple of days on the island, we spent in Tilting. Another pretty town with many local attractions and great hiking trails. Oh yes, in Jo Batts Arm we can't forget The Fogo Island Inn. We did not have reservations for the inn but managed to get some great pictures. We spent a total of 6 days on Fogo Island. We all wanted to stay longer but needed to get back because we had a concert to attend on George Street in St. John's. This would be our last night in Newfoundland and what a way to spend it - a live performance with Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. Unbeknownst to us my husband had contacted the group and during their encore of 'Salt Water Joys' they gave a huge shout out to the visiting cousins from Ontario naming us all and welcoming us. This trip down memory lane is dedicated to the memory of our dear cousin/friend JoAnne. She passed away peacefully on January 25, 2022 after a lengthy illness with cancer. Every time I re-visit NL, I will be remembering all of the happy memories we shared. Thank you Debbie, Judy and JoAnne for making this 'A Trip of a Lifetime.'