Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bonavista Peninsula

After Gros Morne we journeyed across the island toward St. Johns - a 2 day journey for us pulling the trailer.  We stopped two nights just North of Clarenville and did a day trip up the Bonavista Peninsula visiting first the Historic town of Trinity with its many restored buildings and stories  of days gone by and then Bonavista with more of the same including the restored light house at Cape Bonavisita.  Most of the restored buildings we toured date back to the mid 1700's to early 1900's when cod fishing was at its peak.  The restored homes were examples of the well to do merchant middle class who profited well off the fishermen.  They extended credit based on an anticipated 'catch' of the season.  They called it the 'truck' system - so the merchants controlled all prices - for the goods the fishermen and their families needed and the price they would get for their cod.  It would be interesting to see a 'restored example of an average fisherman's home'.

Crows Nest on the replica of Cabot's ship the Matthew - it is 62' above the deck.  The Matthew had 2500 sq. ft. of sail and 30,000 ft. of rope.  The crew of 20 made it to Nfl from Bristol, England in about 34 days.

A replica of a 'fish flake' where they would dry their salt cod.  Processing the salt cod was quite a process and required everyone in the family helping.  Hard back breaking work to be sure!

Fish nets - we watched a video on how they manipulated these nets - harsh working conditions for these fishermen and their families!

Giovanni (John) Cabot

We remember these!

I think our ring was 'two longs and a short'!

"Bosun' Barry checking the rudder on the Matthew

This was also a wee restaurant (out on the barren Cape) with good home cooked food.  We enjoyed fish and chips here!

Historic town of Trinity - once a bustling trade center - now about 150 people live here, but the restored old buildings tell an interesting story - and every building has an interpreter or two - makes work for the locals.
Indian River Falls - a salmon spawning spot where we camped - en route across the Island

Cape Bonavista Light house - the light house tower is in the center and the family home is built around it - a 'home based business' back in the 1800's - a business that was passed down in the family as were most of the businesses or trades at that time.

The rotating lights in the light house - the keeper would have to climb up every two hours and adjust the ropes and pulleys to ensure that the light kept turning during darkness or fog.  The light house keepers job was of high status and importance in the community - and the replica of the family's home gave evidence of their solid middle class comfort.  The light house keeper's children were home schooled - as of course they were remote from the core settlement.
A statue of John Cabot on the Cape commemorates his landing on the shores of Nfl in 1497.  This was the beginning of the fishing for profit off the banks of Nfl. - first there were seasonal migrant fishers from Europe - returning home after the seasons catch - then settlers started to stay year round.  French / English vying for control.  And then the communities grew.  We toured Ryans Premises in Bonavista - another Ntl. Historic Site - very well done - telling the story of the fishing industry in Nfl (Ryan was a wealthy merchant back in the 1800's) and how the economy is struggling to diversify.  Shrimp and Cod are their mainstay today.  There is still a moratorium on cod fishing - but beyond the 200 mile limit anything goes!  Tourism has to be big too - judging from the number of B&B's, information centers and craft / gift shops - they are everywhere.

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