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And so after my mega-rant at the Channel-Port aux Basques Railway Museum "you should be used to these rants by now" ...ed, a steaming hot mug of coffee at the Tim Horton's down the road cheered me up a little. The wind and rain had slowed down a little and so to pass some more time until my ferry I decided to go off for a little wander along the coast. And what a good decision that was too.

fox roost harbour south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

First stop of course had to be at Fox Roost which is down at the very end of a small side-turning off Highway 470. This is quite a pretty place to visit and I bet that it would be even nicer in better weather.

For administration purposes Fox Roost is joined with the settlement of Margaree, which is just a kilometre or so back along the road. And apart from that, I can't tell you snything else sbout the place because there seems to be no further information available anywhere.

harbour fox roost south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Of course, it goes without saying that just like anywhere else along the Maritime Canada shoreline, the sea has played a vital role in the development of the settlement. In fact, a couple of the headstones in the cemetery show the cause of death as being "drowned at sea".

The harbour would be the focal point of the settlement, and so it would be the obvious place to choose to visit. It's quite tiny but it's certainly well-protected from the ravages of the weather in the Gulf of St Lawrence. The crane on the edge of the harbour, for unloading the fishing catch, is quite symbolic. Today they can unload the fishing catch with a dessert spoon.

fox roost south west coast abandoned newfoundland railway freight car canada october octobre 2010

Mind you, Fox Roost is full of surprises. And by that I mean what they seem to be using for garden sheds and the like. In most parts of rural Canada it's redundant school buses but here it seems to be redundant railway equipment.

There's only one place that this freight car is likely to have come from, and that's the Newfoundland Railway. On the basis of a cursory examination I couldn't see anything to say whether it is a Canadian National one or one of the original Newfoundland Railway freight cars, and there was no-one around to ask.

margaree south west coast abandoned newfoundland railway freight car canada october octobre 2010

Now that I know what I'm looking for, I kept my eyes open on the way back to the main road, and just as I was soming back into Margaree I noticed another one of these freight cars.

This one was behing a fence and so I couldn't actually go over to it to give it a thorough inspection, which was quite a shame. And so I'm still none the wiser - and I'm not even better-informed either.

margaree south west coast abandoned newfoundland railway freight car canada october octobre 2010

Around the other side of the harbour at Margaree was yet another, and access to this one - at least to two sides of it, was much easier. There was however no maker's plate or date plate anywhere on it that I could see and so I can't tell you anything at all about it.

The best place to look for things like that are on the chassis - axle boxes and the like - certainly in Europe. But it would have been the chassis of these that would have had the value and so they would have been weighed in for scrap long ago.

margaree south west coast abandoned newfoundland railway aluminium freight car canada october octobre 2010

Just across the yard from that old freight car was this aluminium-bodied thing. Now this looks vaguely railway-ish too although I suspect that the window is a much-later addition. I've really no idea what it might once have been.

Once again, there was nothing that I could see that would identify it or to give me an idea of the manufacturer or the day of fabrication. But I was certainly having my money's worth here at the Margaree harbour.

margaree south west coast abandoned newfoundland railway tanker canada october octobre 2010

That aluminiun body, even if it is from the railway, is nothing like as railwayish as this appears to be. This kind of thing needs no introduction at all.

In fact railway tanker bodies make the best kind of fuel storage containers that you can have. They are perfectly balanced, more-often then not that have internal baffles inside them to stop the liquid sloshing around to render them unstable, and are built to withstand all the kinds of shocks that they might experience whilst being fly-shunted around a busy freight yard.

As I was leaving, there was a sign that announced that "we hope you enjoyed your visit". Now I don't know about anyone else but at least one of us did, and I'm sure that Casey and Strawberry Moose did too. From what I saw from my cursory examination the whole place is littered with Newfoundland Railway memorabilia. I would have loved to have spend much more time here prowling around, but that will have to be another time.

However the one souvenir that I will be taking away from here is the memory of the non-stop incessant howling wind and the lack of wind turbines to harness the potential energy. It's astonishing, this waste of energy.

From here, the next settlement that I encounter is Isle aux Morts. I had a good drive around it and it really is quite a proper little village of something of a European layout, although the white clapperboard houses can't put it anywhere other than around here.

There was nothing special to see and nowhere to stop to photograph it if I did, but I was attracted by a signpost to "The Harvey Graves", with a pile of gravestones on some kind of rocky headland along the shoreline. In this kind of weather, the teeming rain and the howling gale, I wasn't going to go scrambling along a wet rocky foreshore when I'm short of time and have a ferry to catch.

My initial speculation about "The Harvey Graves" was a shipwreck, maybe a ship called the "Harvey". This would account for the name of the settlement - "The Isle of the Dead" with the French who first came around this area, discovering the carnage of a ship wrecked with all hands on the rocks.

Actually I wasn't far out in my speculation. The "Harvey" refers to Ann Harvey, who got one up on Grace Darling by not only recruiting her father, but also her brother and her dog to row out to a shipwreck. Obviously the dog was a retreiver.

In fact they attended two shipwrecks, and poems and even an opera was written about her deeps.

Personally I can't think of anything worse than to be commemmorated in an opera. Operas may well have some glorious moments but they also have some dreadful half-hours. Sir Edward Appleton's
"I don't mind what language an opera is sing in as long as it's one that I don't understand" is a quote that has a special place in my heart, as does an old Italian proverb loosely translated as
"Bed is the poor man's opera". I'm much more comfortable sleeping in a bed than in a music hall.

magnificent scenery isle aux morts burnt island south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

From Isle aux Morts further along the coast is the settlement of Burnt Islands and somewhere between the two is a wonderful view that was worth a photo stop as well. This is gorgeous even this evening. Imagine it in the early autumn in a glorious summer evening, and when it isn't raining of course.

Of course the road here is quite narrow and while I'm stopped to take my photograph along this road, which has been totally deserted for all the time that I've driven along it to date, come 4 cars looming out of the gloom behind me and another 2 cars looming out of the gloom towards me. This is probably the most cars that they have ever had on this road and I am responsible for a most interesting little bottleneck.

Such is life.

abandoned fish plant road rose blanche south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Here at Rose Blanche I am attracted to the most romantically-named Fish Plant Road, although it ought to be called the Derelict Fish Plant Road as it is clearly yet another victim of the fishing collapse around here. This has long-since abandoned, knocked about and boarded up.

With the collapse of the maritime harvest around here in the early 1990s the devastation caused to the infrastructure, the employment capacity and the revenue collection in the area can only be imagined. It's probably even more severe than the collapse of mining and heavy engineering in the UK 10 years earlier. I lived through that in a mining and engineering area and that was bad enough.

You are probably asking yourself that if the fish plant is all closed up and abandoned, then what are all of the vehicles doing parked up around here. I counted about 30 of them. I had made an educated guess at this and I reckoned that I wasn't going to be far wrong.

abandoned fish plant road ferry terminal rose blanche bargeo south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Rose Blanche is the terminus of another one of these cove-hopper ferries that ply the coast all around Newfoundland and Labrador. This particular one starts at Bargeo, the end of the road across the mountains from Stephenville, and calls at a couple of isolated settlements along the coast on its way to here - a nice sailing of 5 hours and 30 minutes.

My theory is that these vehicles belong to people who live in these isolated settlements where there are no roads. They remain parked here while the owners are at home, and if they have any travelling to do, they catch the ferry to here and then drive onwards to wherever it is that they want to go.

I had a look at the map and noted the ferry from here to Bargeo, and then one from Bargeo to Grey River, one from Grey River to Hermitage on the Connaigre Peninsula, and then another one on the other side of the Connaigre Peninsula to the Burin Peninsula. Now if all of these ferries were equipped to take cars and there was some kind of synchronisation of timing, that would make for a much-more exciting way of travelling to St John's next time I come to Newfoundland. I shall have to look into this a little further.

I've not been taking many photos along this road from Channel-Port aux Basques because firstly I'm in a hurry, secondly the scenery will always be there for another time, and thirdly I'll be back, hopefully when the weather is so much better that the photos can do justice to the magnificent scenery.

derelict elementary school rose blanche south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Some things, though, might not be here when I return. People talk about the Education cutbacks in the UK but how about this for an Elementary School in Canada, just here in Rose Blanche. I did mention just a few minutes ago about the damage caused to the infrastructure of the Maritime coast due to the loss of revenue from the fishing industry, and here's a prime example.

Of course it may well be that the school has closed down due to the loss of pupils following the desertion of the area because of the loss of employment, and that the playground equipment might just be here for other purposes. Be that as it may, bussing very young children to school can often be something of a traumatic experience. It's not something that should be done just for the sake of doing it when there are other solutions worth examining.

beautiful scenery road harbour le cou rose blanche south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

I said that I wouldn't be taking any photos of anything other than things that stand out, because the scenery is absolutely beautiful and I shall be back in better weather.

But there are some things that stand out even in dreary depressing weather such as this evening - one of which is the junction of the roads from Channel-Port aux Basques to Rose Blanche and the road down to Harbour Le Cou. This would be splendid in any kind of weather.

harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Even with the small amount of time available, this was well-worth an exploration and so off I drove. And I didn't have far to go before I reached Harbour Le Cou. And here I had to stop, because just over there is the end of the road. It isn't possible to travel any further than here in a motor vehicle, hence the cove-hopper ferries.

I was told, by the way, that the road down to this end of the island only arrived here in the 1960s - prior to that I suppose the cove-hopper ferries had more ports of call "groan" ...ed and continued along to Channel-Port aux Basques. But the arrival of the road opened up the area to casual tourism, and I'm a first-hand example of that.

harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

As is the case everywhere along the coast, the prime employment here was fishing or other maritime activities. With this in mind, the harbour, the nerve-centre of the settlement, is always an essential port of call "you've just done that" ...ed for any visitor.

Some of these buildings are merely sheds, others might be more substantial, but it's certainly interesting to see them built onto the jetties where the owners would moor their boats for unloading and storage purposes. These are quite beautiful.

casey chrysler pt cruiser harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

There's Casey - a nice, clean Casey for once, parked at the end of the harbour while I go for a wander around, seeing as how the wind and rain have died down slightly.

There wasn't a great deal to see here, except of course for the scenery, and that is well-worth the visit. The houses too, typical Maritime board houses, are quite beautiful and it's nice to see them painted some other colour than white for a change. That can add to the charm of an area.

harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

My walk around the harbour took me as far as it was possible to comfortably go, and from this point there was a good view across to the town.

The site and situation of the settlement are excellent, being nestled in the flat terrain at the foot of the hills behind that protect it from the bitter north winds - although the winds coming through from the south were hardly any less bitter, as I observed bitterly at the time.

harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

I did however hear the place described as "a good sheltered harbour for fishing vessels", and it's easy to see why this might be the case.

This is the view out to sea to the west, in the direction of Channel-Port aux Basques. The headland over there would shelter the harbour from the rough seas that might be running in the open seas beyond, although it does not do as much for the wind blowing from that direction, as I can recount from personal and first-hand experience.

harbour le cou south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

The view to the east along the coastline is so much more impressive from the viewpoint where I'm standing. That woould make a terrific sheltered harbour for fishing vessels and I reckon that along there I wouldn't be feeling the effects of this bitter wind.

Not that I have ever been to Norway but in all of the photographs and descriptions that I have ever seen, I've always imagined it to look exactly like that. But in the absence of a road along there, it isn't possible to go for a further exploration and in any case I needed to organise my ferry

Back home, I had something of a hunt around for some literature on the settlement of Harbour le Cou to see what kind of history that the place had. But there doesn't seem to be very much written about the place at all. It's quite strange that no-one seems to be taking much of a trouble to record any interesting events and historical matters of areas such as these - I'm sure that there must be plenty to record.

And so I turned round here and headed back to Channel-Port aux Basques in something of a hurry. I'd done much more exploring than I'd planned to do and I was rather late. As well as that, the evening was closing in.

marine atlantic ferry caribou channel port aux basques sydney cape breton south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

And as I rounded one of the headlands not too far from the aforementioned, accompanying me into the port was the ferry. It was clearly later than I thought.

I was expecting to see the Clara and James Smallwood - this was the ship that I had been told was the one making the crossing this evening but to my surprise, on closer insepction, it wss in fact the Caribou that was coming into harbour.

marine atlantic ferry caribou channel port aux basques sydney cape breton south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

This was ominous. As you know, its predecessor was dispatched beneath the waves by Ulrich Graf, captain of the U-69, returning from his epic voyage up the St Lawrence way beyond Matane, on 14th October 1942 with the loss of over half of the personnel aboard.

Once upon a time I actually spoke to one of the survivors of the sinking - an able seaman. He told me that until the next morning when the Grandmère came to rescue them, they had spent the night clinging to the side of an upturned lifeboat in the freezing cold waters.
"Didn't you manage to drag yourself up?" I asked him, out of curiosity
"Really, dear! I didn't even have time for the lipstick"

In front of me in the queue for loading was one of these strange double-trailer units that I'd seen here on Newfoundland. And so to satisfy my curiosity I went over to home for a chat.

Reversing them isn't easy and as I suspected, you need to reverse back "normally", as soon as the pup trailer turns you need to put on the opposite lock, and then straighten everything up in due course. And if you don't catch that initial movement of the pup trailer just about right, you have to pull forward and start again. It needs plenty of practice and it isn't easy.

But do I remember seeing any of these trailers on any of my previous trips to Canada? I'm sure that I would have noticed them if I had seen them and I'm sure that I would have said something about it. How strange.

marine atlantic ferry caribou channel port aux basques sydney cape breton chrysler pt cruiser casey strawberry moose south west coast newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

After what can only be described as an excellent evening meal, Strawberry Moose, Casey and Yours Truly finally board the Caribou ready for the crossing to Sydney, on Cape Breton Island.

Leaving Newfoundland was nothing like as emotional as leaving Labrador had been, but then again it had been something of an impromptu visit while I waited for the ferry to be repaired. Nevertheless I enjoyed my stay here very much and I reckon that it is now in second position on the list of places to be revisited (Labrador being in first place of course and that by a country mile too).

I'll be back here in early course.

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