We miscalculated the time needed to do this properly. With a promise to do it again sometime, here’s our glimpse of this area near Port aux Basques.
About 5 years ago we headed from Port au Basques towards Harbour LeCou when we had extra time while waiting for the ferry to Nova Scotia. We wanted to see the place that the song was about.
We knew we might get there, but after a few kilometres with no break in the fog and windy roads, realized we would see nothing even if we did arrive.
We had better luck and weather this time.
We were delayed until about noon leaving Corner Brook so arrived at Rose Blanche around 5 pm. We’d booked dinner and hadn’t asked the dining time, so hung out in our guest house for a bit until the owners came in.
Supper was for around 7 so we took advantage of a nice weather that evening and went to the Rose Blanche Lighthouse. Feeling a bit of a time crunch because there was more interpretation than we expected, we didn’t see all of the exhibits in the out buildings or the video of the restoration of the lighthouse. Next time.
It’s worth noting that a lunch can be purchased to eat on the trails or benches. Lobster sandwiches were among the choices with lemonade to drink. The ladies who were working had never heard of the popular Ferryland Lighthouse Lunches on the east coast of the province. We’ll do this trip proper next time.
On a multi day stay, I would also want to see Petites. This is a resettled community that is not totally abandoned. Some residents remain without support of provincial services like school or health care. I have a painting of Petites done by Shawn Dwyer from a Charlie Falk Foto. It was the beginning of my Newfoundland art collection over 25 years ago. I hope to visit Petites when we return.
Our guest house, RoseSea was beautiful. We were the only tourists in that night so had the house to ourselves. It was restfully peaceful and quiet. We watched the sun set and the sun rise the next morning over a calm harbour. From the house we could see the red beacon of the lighthouse on the hill. It was retreat like in the tranquility of having the place to ourselves. Quiet time.
We were joined at breakfast by a crew of 6 sailors off a boat moored at the wharf. Leo was tapping his toe so I didn’t get to ask many questions but they were from France and seemed to be sailing to Gaultois and the outports in the area. Our hostess told us it was not unusual for her to get people from sail boats or from Europe. They were friendly and enjoying their view of Newfoundland from the water.
The scenery in this area is unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s more forested than areas toward the Avalon Penninsula and has deep valleys and rolling hills. Ponds were everywhere, high on hills, down in valleys and nestled between. There were a number of salmon rivers and lots of ponds that offered trouting potential. Pictures don’t do justice to the height and depth and length and shapes. You just really need to go there. Someday,we’ll spend more time.
We went to Harbour Lecou of the famous song.
Written by Jack Dodd in the early 1900s, this song has been recorded by everyone from Dick Nolan and Ryan’s Fancy to Great Big Sea. Like many Newfoundland songs, there seem to be variations and perhaps it was fashioned after another song heard by the writer. I found this site interesting if you want a better understanding of it’s possible provenance and evolution.
And for those who might not know the song:
As I rode ashore from my schooner close by
A girl on the beach sir I chanced to espy,
Her hair it was red and her bonnet was blue
Her place of abode was in Harbour Lecou.
Oh boldly I asked her to walk on the sand
She smiled like an angel and held out her hand
So I buttoned me guernsey and hoved way me chew
In the dark rolling waters of Harbour Lecou
My ship she lay anchored far out on the tide
As I stroll along with that maid at my side
I told her I loved her, I said I’ll be true,
And I winked at the moon over Harbour Lecou
As we walked on the sands at the close of the day
I thought of my wife who was home in Torbay
I knew that she’d kill me if she only knew
I was courting this lassie in Harbour Lecou.
As we passed a log cabin that stood on the shore
I met an old comrade I’d sailed with before,
He treated me kindly saying “Jack, how are you?
Its seldom I see you in Harbour Lecou”.
And as I was parting, this maiden in tow,
He broke up my party with one single blow
He said “Regards to your missus, and your wee kiddies too,
I remember her well, she’s from Harbour Lecou”.
I looked at this damsel a standing ‘long side
Her jaw it just dropped and her mouth opened wide
And then like a she-cat upon me she flew
And I fled from the furys of Harbour Lecou.
So come all you young sailors who walk on the shore
Beware of old comrades you sailed with before
Beware of the maidens with the bonnets of blue
And the pretty young damsels of Harbour Lecou,
and the pretty young damsels of Harbour Lecou.
As we drive into the community Leo wondered aloud where the beach was that he strolled on in the song. The small harbour is surrounded by large rocks and high cliffs. Of course, given the nature of the song, perhaps this stroll took place on a beach just a little out of sight of the residents.
Isle aux Morts and Burnt Islands both great have sites to visit in addition to the lovely scenery.
The story of Ann Harvey and the Harvey trail needed more time than we had and one of the ladies working at the museum in Burnt Islands was very friendly and discussed the local economy as well as the history. When I asked, she explained that many men were gone away for work. Alberta or the lake boats that travel down through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The impact of the cod moratorium is still felt deeply in outport Newfoundland.
With a night booked in Cape St. George, we simply ran out of time. This needs to be a 2 or 3 day trip at least to take time to see the area, museums and trails. We look forward to seeing it again.