Travel

Finding wonder in Western Newfoundland

Located on the most easterly edge of North America, “The Rock” is home to some of Canada’s most picturesque landscapes just waiting to be explored

  • Published Dec 18, 2023
  • Updated Dec 19
  • 760 words
  • 4 minutes
Aww-inspiring Western Brook Pond on a gorgeous summer day.
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There are special places in the world, rare places where you can walk alone forever and never feel lonely — Western Newfoundland is one of those places.

The land is wild and rugged with an ever-present fog that engulfs you in a mist that guides you to places where your eyes can’t see. The rock and the water wield immeasurable strength, matched by the persistence of the tiniest wild orchids pressing defiantly against the endless coastal winds. Was it the power of these beautiful, natural surroundings that instilled in me such a deep comfort and sense of home in this place I had never been? Or perhaps it was the spirit of the Beothuk long passed or the presence of the Mi’kmaq roots in this land that I felt walking alongside me.

One of the many breathtaking waterfall views as we journey through Western Brook Pond.
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Ultimately, the reason doesn’t matter because it’s not the answers that are most intriguing about this magical place. It’s the opportunity it creates. Opportunity to experience the richness, diversity and uniqueness of the lands, waters, people and beyond. Experiences that etch this place into your mind, evoking a feeling you will never forget.  

This trip is called the Wonders of Western Newfoundland for a reason. Nothing happens in small measures here. On hot sunny days, you can absolutely understand why the seals don’t want to move from their sunbathing spot on a rock- ever. It’s a gift to soak up every glorious ray, knowing that everything can change at any moment. Throughout our journey across Western Newfoundland, we got to experience what felt like all four seasons in only nine days. We went from basking in the sun near Woody Point one day to a refreshing zodiac trek around Quirpon Island at six degrees Celcius — in July!  Although the brisk Atlantic winds were a stark contrast to the warm embraces of the midsummer sun in Woody Point just the day before, the thrill of challenging the ocean swells of the Atlantic along with the allure of Iceberg Alley is so mesmerizing that all chill melts away in the presence of the majesty that surrounds you. 

But don’t let the power and beauty of the physical environment take all your admiration; the wildlife is equally incredible. The plentiful moose and caribou are magnificent, but they will show themselves only at their own pleasure. You never know where you will find them. Perhaps around the next corner or even strolling alongside you at Port aux Choix. Then again, you may only find evidence of their presence as you try to find the perfect place to sit and eat lunch on one of your epic hikes in Gros Morne National Park.

Humpbacks and dolphins might choose to entertain you all day long. Or they may instead spend their days people-watching from beneath the surface, leaving you to wonder if they are actually here at all. But don’t fret, even in the deepest fog and the most overcast days, when your eyes can’t deliver, your other senses will.

A beautiful view of Bonne Bay after a refreshing morning hike.
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Up close and personal with majestic ice flows on the zodiac cruise through Iceberg Alley en route to Quirpon Lighthouse.
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From the shores of Quirpon, you can feel the immensity of the ice flows in Iceberg Alley while the sounds of whales breaching and blowing makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck — yet another beauty of this breathtaking place. You never know what lies around the bend, but you always know it will amaze you.

If you think the fauna is impressive, then you’ll find the flora absolutely stunning. Out of the smallest cracks in the unrelenting rock surfaces, in the windiest of cold places, spring the shortest, most defiant, beautiful little flowers and plants you could ever imagine: wild orchids, oxeye daisies, and deep purple bellflowers. And then there’s the sea of pitcher plants in the mossy bogs and the lady slippers (pink, yellow and white) all growing wild in the forests and hillsides. Nature’s garden is truly a miracle here.

A metal sculpture built to honour Inuit at Port aux Choix.
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Dorset Doorway, Port aux Choix National Historic Site.
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The people of this immense rock are wonders in their own right, and they are a force.  The resolve of the islanders is a reflection of the power of this incredible place. The resilience of the Mi’kmaq, the original people of these lands, is proudly shared in their stories displayed in the Gros Morne Discovery Centre. Kitchen party kindness and caring for one another are traits that an unforgiving environment like this one necessitates. It brings out the best in people, and Newfoundlanders are eager to offer their hospitality and support. Not just to each other but to anyone who chooses to make the trek to visit the land they call home. 

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