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.
It was already getting quite warm as we reached the mine site, spoke with the security guard and proceeded inside. I was being granted one of the last looks around the Lockerby mine before it is demolished. I get out of the car, don my work boots, high-viz vest, and hard hat, surveying the buildings around me to figure out how I want to tackle this. I’m like a kid in a candy store.
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.
HMCS Haida, a Tribal Class destroyer, served with the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943 to 1963. During World War II, Haida destroyed more tonnage of enemy ships than any other Canadian Navy vessel. At 337 feet in length, 36.5 feet at the beam, with a draught of 13 feet, Haida was designed to be more of a small cruiser than a standard destroyer.
We drove down the bumpy dirt road specifically to see this house. This would be a first for me. I've explored hundreds of abandoned buildings, but never one once owned by family. We reached the end of the road, and I saw the house, and the barn.
There had, apparently, been another house on the property that had belonged to Stephen Brown who had arrived at this community around 1859. This house had belonged to one of his sons, Walter, who may have built it some time in the 1950's.