Farewell to Gaultois, the Coast of Bays and Newfoundland

We sailed away from Blue Charm Inn at the end of August. We always leave the idyll of life on New Pond with great reluctance, but headed down the Bay d’ Espoir Passage (Highway) with excited anticipation to the Coast of Bays on the southern coast of Central Newfoundland. From there a beautiful 20 min ferry ride across Hermitage Bay to Long Island found us turning the corner into the charming harbour of Gaultois.

From the ferry we get the first view of the 79 year old house overlooking the harbour and Hermitage Bay fjord that we have purchased for $4000. We have named it ’Selkie House’ and it truly feels like a gift from the universe.

So why does this part of the country feel so magical for us? Long Island is 10 miles long by 2 miles wide and is separated from the mainland to the east by Little Passage and to the south by the fjord known as Hermitage Bay. Three pre-historic archaeological sites have been identified dating from AD 615: Maritime Archaic, Paleo-eskimo and recent Indian, the Beothuk and Mi’kmaq. There were originally at least seven outports located around the island of which Gaultois is the last remaining village with approximately 170 souls living there. European occupation dates back 400 years ago to whaling enterprise by the French.

Here is a link to an excellent historical summary of Gaultois – there is even a connection with our Captain Cook (that sailor sure got around!) http://www.gaultoisinn.com/about.html

We spent several weeks settling into our new home, painting the front and back bridges (Newfoundland term for decks) a beautiful sky blue colour, walking the trails and getting to know the locals – and what a warm, generous, friendly and interesting bunch of people they are too!

The week before we left we were interviewed by the editor of the local paper, Clayton Hunt of The Coaster, and you can read his lovely article online here:

http://www.thecoaster.ca/Living/2013-09-24/article-3404095/A-long-way-from-%26lsquo%3BDown-Under%26rsquo%3B/1

We also hosted a visit from our new friends, Elsa and Sharon, from St John’s, and what a ‘goddess send’ they turned out to be as they were with us on the trek back from Whaler’s Cave when Fran slipped and broke the lower part of her fibula (double fracture) just above her left ankle. Rodney headed back to Gaultois for help while the remaining band of women, Christine, Sharon, Elsa and Nettie took turns in supporting Fran over a kilometre or so along the track. To all of our relief help came in the form of six strong stretcher-bearers, Roland, Mitchell and four young lads from the Rangers. Over the next couple of kilometres they were joined by Derek and with much resilience and temerity carried Fran to safety.

We have so many people to thank including Elsa and Sharon for their cheerful and efficient care and help getting us to Harbour Breton then returning to Gaultois with Nettie to clean and pack up Selkie House. Thanks to Rodney and Christine for guiding us to whalers cave… all breaks aside it was a very special day. Thanks to all the warm and wonderful women who visited Fran lying on the couch on our last night in Gaultois while we debated whether it was a strain or a break, and for their beautiful cards and generous gifts and encouraging wishes.

We will let the photos tell the rest of the story. All things being equal we will return to our beloved Newfoundland next July for another Atlantic summer and part of Autumn. For now we are looking forward to being back in our Southern Hemisphere home among the gum trees and kangaroos and our children, grandchildren and friends and look forward to keeping in touch with our Newfoundland  ‘family” via Facebook and email.

What a wonderful Summer it has been…creative and productive with Fran writing 30,000+ words of her new novel and Nettie creating 5 small clay sculptures, 4 drawings and 7 lino cuts…and of course feasting on fish galore.

As a way of sharing what we have been up to while in Newfoundland we are holding a little exhibition of Nettie’s art in Apollo Bay with a reading from Fran’s manuscript at the opening Sat 30 Nov 2pm – everyone is invited!:

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Sharon, Nettie & Fran on Long Shore Trail
Photo credit: Elsa Flack
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Elsa & Nettie
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Nettie, Elsa Fran & Christine as start of Whaler’s Cave Trek
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view from old ‘Bell Nap’ just below Selkie House
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Fran’s writing view
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on the ferry
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trail to lighthouse at Harbour Breton
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field of Newfoundland Pitcher Plant
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view of Gun Hill from Newman’s Point at Harbour Breton
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view of Harbour Breton from the supermarket!
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fishing stages
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Selkie House up on the hill taken from the Long Shore Trail
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Nettie’s studio Selkie House
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view from front bridge
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“up the Bottom” a part of Gaultois community located at the bottom of the harbour
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mist on Gaultois harbour
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fjord lost in the fog
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ferry on the fjord its way from Gaultois to McCallum
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Local artist Rodney on the Whaler’s Cave trek
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climbing up hill and down dale on the way to Whaler’s Cave
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Whaler’s Cave at last!
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after the fall
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keeping up spirits
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the stretcher bearers arrive!
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the gathering last evening in Gaultois
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Susan, Audrey, Christine, Marcella
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Marcella and our lovely librarian Judy!
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almost got it all painted!
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plastered by Joelle in Gander Hosptial

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