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Newfoundland and Labrador

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By long-standing tradition, there are two species of Newfoundlanders. Townies live in the capital, St. John's. Some of them inhabit jellybean-coloured row houses like these (I used to live in a similar one just around the corner).

The other species of Newfoundlander is the bayman. Baymen live in fishing communities called outports, tucked in small coves along the coast. This is Durrell, on South Twillingate Island.

Baymen put to sea to catch fish for supper.

Baymen cut firewood, carry it home by pickup truck or komatik, and neatly stack it for winter fuel. Komatiks are sleds of Inuit design, nowadays towed by snowmobiles.

Labrador, larger but less populous than Newfoundland, is also dotted with outports along its coast. This is Red Bay, on the shore of the Strait of Belle Isle.

But Newfoundland and Labrador has changed, with a diversified economy and a fishery that's

now concentrated in a small number of large ports. The old dichotomy between urban townies and fishing baymen is no longer a demographic reality. Trinity, once a fishing epicentre, has learned how to make a living from an industry it no longer possesses. The fishery story, told through live theatre and built heritage, draws tourists from all over.

Newfoundland is a foggy place. Sometimes fog rolls down in blankets from the hills to the sea. Sometimes it covers everything in sight, or, more precisely, not in sight, because in it you see nothing. 

When the air turned thick as pea soup, the lighthouse's flashing beacon and wailing foghorn was handy, even life-saving. In the modern era of e-navigation, lighthouses rarely save sailors' lives, but their photogenic charm may help save rural economies in need of tourism dollars. This lighthouse is at the entrance to Trinity Harbour.

In the Long Point Lighthouse on North Twillingate Island, the keeper`s quarters have been converted to a Titanic museum

The Lobster Point Lighthouse at Rocky Harbour is a beacon to those who arrive by land and those who arrive by sea.

The Rose Blanche Lighthouse, built of the grey granite upon which it stands, seems best rendered in black and white. The lighting apparatus was designed by the Stevensons, famous lighthouse engineers from Edinburgh, of whom author Robert Louis Stevenson was a scion.

At the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, recreated sod huts recall the brief occupation of Norse adventurers, recently confirmed by tree ring analysis to include the year 1021 AD.

L'Anse aux Meadows was a repair station, where blacksmiths forged iron nails and rivets from bog nodules to ready ships for their long voyages between Greenland and Vinland. At the Norstead reconstructed settlement, a reenactor shows how it was done. 

With thin soils and an unforgiving climate, Newfoundland is a tough place to be a plant, especially where harsh onshore winds stunt and prune. Green Gardens Trail, Gros Morne National Park.

Common murres chortle at Gull Island.

A humpback whale dives off Bay Bulls.

White-beaked dolphins leap in the Labrador Sea.

In the sea, phytoplankton flourish, and their productivity reaches up to birds and marine mammals.

Nowadays, people fish finfish (meaning actual fish) and invertebrates, and generally leave birds and mammals in peace. Not so in the past. Great auks, guided by convergent evolution to mimic unrelated Southern Hemisphere penguins, established their greatest colony on Funk Island, so far offshore that it cannot be seen from mainland Newfoundland. That did not save the auks from marauding mariners, who killed every last one of them before the 16th century closed. The green grass in this photo grows on soil formed from great auk carcasses. The stones were part of corrals used to herd the birds to their deaths.

You may have noticed that most of the photos on this page show water. This shot of Gros Morne Mountain shows no water.

But on the  top of Gros Morne Mountain, you can sit on a rock and admire a waterscape.

At Green Gardens Trail, you can stand on a driftwood log and admire a waterscape (provided that the log hasn't drifted away).

In Saglek Fjord, northern Labrador, you can stand at the bow of the National Geographic Explorer and admire a waterscape.

At the outhouse next to the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, you can admire a waterscape as you wait your turn.

As the sun peeps over Burnt Island Tickle, you can admire a waterscape.

And as the sun sets over the Strait of Belle Isle, you can admire a waterscape.

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