When we arrived here, the first thing we noticed was the steep and somewhat bumpy road down into the village. But also, we couldn’t help but notice what an incredibly secluded little harbour this was. Buildings surrounded both sides, as far as the rocks would allow. Many were clearly abandoned, but several, mostly along the south side of the harbour, were still very much in use.
Founded in the 1840's, Petites, Newfoundland, has been home to generations of weather-hardened souls who made their living on the sea. By 1859, a methodist church was constructed that later became the Bethany United Church. There were 212 people living here in 1946, and only 146 by 1956. In October, 2003, the last remaining residents of the community were resettled.
We woke up, had breakfast, filled the Rav with gas and headed out to see what adventure the day would bring. It was a beautiful sunny day in an amazing part of the Province of Newfoundland / Labrador and we were ready to take in the sights.
We first wandered out to a point we had noted earlier, and wanted to see in proper, clear daylight. A tourbus arrived shortly after us and disgorged its contents all over the road, but I tried to ignore that as much as possible. I noticed something out near the horizon in the water. I reached back into the Rav and got the binoculars for confirmation. Whales. I could see whales cresting far out in the harbour, and they were blowing spray high up into the air, refracting the sunlight at times into rainbows.
Rostock, Germany, 1923. Grete, a 6,548-ton cargo ship built by Neptun AG, slips into the water, awaiting service and ready to begin a strange life at sea. Entering service in July of that year for C Mohlenberg Reederei GmbH, she would sail under a German flag until 1934. In that year, the 440ft long ship with a beam of 57ft, and a draught of 25ft, 9 inches, was sold to an Italian firm and renamed Gabbiano.
It began innocently enough. We're driving along, me behind the wheel, my father browsing through a road atlas. He mentions a road that the map says will be decommissioned soon. As he traces along the line with his finger, he then mentions a town that the map says will be relocated soon. I asked the date of the map and realize that “soon” is likely well past. Immediately, we decide we’re going to take this road.
Belonging to the United States Air Force, construction of this radar station began in 1951 and was completed two years later.
Arriving in Stephenville, Newfoundland, it's easy to find yourself driving along an old runway. As you look around, you will see many buildings remaining from the former Harmon AFB, some of them dating back to its original construction in the 1940's.
While driving along that runway, I noticed one building in particular that seemed no longer to be in use. We pulled over to take a closer look. It was a fascinating, large hanger and after peering through various broken windows, I came upon a way in.
Construction of this lighthouse began in July, 1871, as granite was quarried from nearby. Advice and equipment were supplied by D&T Stevenson, an engineering firm from Scotland. With a light standing 95 feet above sea level, it could be seen as far away as 13 miles in clear weather.
From this time until the 1940's, there were six different lighthouse keepers stationed here. The building was then abandoned and slowly fell into ruin.
While driving along the South coast of Newfoundland, I was exploring every side road. I was surprised to see a small harbour with a large building and a few vehicles parked around it. Initially, I wrote it off and looked for a place to turn around. After a second glance, I realized that there were some gaping holes in the wall and no activity inside. Perhaps this warranted a closer look at what turned out to be a fish processing plant.
I had, unfortunately, read about this a few months after being in Stephenville for the first time. I marked it on my map for future reference with the idea that, someday, I would return.
We drove down the dirt road to the place I had marked on the map. From there, it was a short walk along the path until we found what we were looking for.