Canada 150, Newfoundland

Roaming the big land from east to west, the birthday journey starts in Newfoundland, with excerpts from the chapter, “Salty People:”

Dot and I fly into St. John’s through a storm, sitting in the tail of the plane. As we approach the airport out of thick grey clouds, the steep, barren cliffs of the Avalon Peninsula suddenly materialize, an unbroken, undulating shield of rock protecting the interior from waterborne intruders–though not from airborne “round-trippers” like us, who have come for a look at the oldest settled region of Canada’s youngest province. The plane’s tail gyrates like a new, untested midway ride as we drop low over the runway, and the ninety-kilometre-an-hour wind adds a new, terrifying twist to our final descent as we slam hard onto the tarmac, rain splattering against the windows…

“Welcome to Newfoundland,” Mary says as she greets us at our bed and breakfast…”

“Good to be here. I didn’t think we were going to make it, the way we were tossed about.”

“Ah, everybody has to take a swipe at us, even the south wind. That’s what it’s like living on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic.” Fog, wind and rain–they define St. John’s as much as cod tongues and scruncheons. The local hockey team wasn’t named the St. John’s Fog Devils for nothing. And now I really do believe that in the great gale of 1846 the St. Thomas Garrison Church moved six inches on its foundation.

Unlike Charleston, with its famous “rainbow row” of colourful yet elegant harbourfront homes, there is no official stretch of jelly beans in St. John’s, but the houses, street after street of them, paint the hill in bright pigments that contrast starkly with the surrounding barren cliffs, lending the city a warmth that matches the character of its people. In the distance we can see the bald slopes of Signal Hill and the Cabot Tower. We gaze in awe out to the open Atlantic through a small gap in the cliffs. John Cabot (perhaps), Captain James Cook, Horatio Nelson, and Captain Bligh all sailed through these narrows. During the Second World War 10,000 merchant ships entered the protected waters of the harbour via this passage, naval escorts made 6,000 trips in and out of St. John’s…”When we got to Newfy John,” the sailors used to say, “we were coming home…”

I’m studying the provincial map now, trying to decide where we should go to get some sense of life in the outports. But how to choose from the legion of enticing places that say so much about the history and character of Newfoundland and Labrador? There are some that are simply fanciful, like Venison Tickle, Parson’s Pond, Sop’s Arm, Lushes Bight…Dildo Run, Hares Ears Point, and Jerry’s Nose. Others speak of hardship, tragedy, and misadventure: Cape White Handkerchief, Deadman’s Cove, Confusion Bay…Snakes Bight, Blow Me Down, Hungry Hill…and Job’s Cove. Still others have an optimistic ring: Hopedale, Fortune Harbour, Little Paradise…and Heart’s Desire. And finally there are names that are wonderfully ambiguous, like Comfort Bight, Little Seldom, Low Point, and, everyone’s favourite, Come by Chance…

…we hike from Bauline East along the coastal trail to La Manche. The stony path takes us through woods of balsam and elderberry until at last it reaches the coast again, and spectacular views unfold to the sea far below us. We descend the wrinkled slope by wooden steps to a suspension bridge

over the La Manche River, where, at last, much to our surprise, we arrive in a deserted outport. In January, 1966, huge waves destroyed the suspension bridge that linked the village to Bauline East, and all the residents were resettled. Now all that remains is the stone foundations of their homes, perched on the cliffs in grassy clearings overlooking the narrow mouth of the river. It’s an eerie site, and for us a moving glimps of the isolation and hardships of outport life in days gone by. In 1999, the East Coast Trail Association built a new suspension bridge to link La Manche once more with the villages to the north. Beside it is a plaque with a simple quotation from the Scottish poet Thomas A. Clark: “There are things we will never see, unless we walk to them.” True of Newfoundland. True for all of Canada.

The recipes in this chapter are for “Jiggs’ Dinner” and “Spicy Cod.”

Roaming The Big Land is available from Penumbra Press at www.penumbrapress.com.

Posted in biography, books, Canada 150, Canadian travel, contemporary culture, family literature, food literature, humour, Newfoundland, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Canada 150, Introduction to “Roaming The Big Land”

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to Roaming The Big Land that provides a taste of the book’s flavour:

“It would be far-fetched to suggest that Canada’s age-old problems of regional and cultural cleavage can be overcome by sitting its people down together to share some meals and good conversation. But perhaps there is something to the notion that it would be beneficial to Canadian unity if all of its people could at some point in their lives strike out across–and up and down–our half of the continent, eating and talking along the way. Everyone should see first hand the effect the collapse of the fishery has had on small coastal communities throughout the Atlantic provinces

“and the impact of global warming on Arctic ecology.

 

“We should all have the chance to stroll the streets of old Quebec, the loveliest urban landscape in the country, at least once, and to discover for ourselves that the prairies aren’t as flat as conventional wisdom would have it. And at some point in their lives, everyone should gawk at the giant Douglas firs and red cedars of the British Columbia coast, trees that pushed above the dripping forest floor long before the voyages of Cabot and Cartier.

“This book is a collection of stories that are in essence a celebration of Canada. It takes the reader on a vicarious journey throughout the country in the hope that it will whet the appetite for experiencing Canada from coast to coast to coast. The stories cover every province and territory, and attempt in a very personal way to capture the essence of each…The picture of Canada painted here is not complete, for it is impossible in such a vast country to visit every city, town, and hamlet, to paddle every lake and climb every mountain, to get under the skin of every distinct community. But I hope the resulting canvas is reflective of the character and diversity of the country and offers a sense of its multifaceted identity.”

To order Roaming The Big Land Flavours of Canada, please go to www.penumbrapress.com.

Winner Gourmand World Cookbook Award for culinary travel.

Posted in Canada 150, Canadian travel, contemporary culture, family literature, food, food literature, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Weird Writer’s Waning Weekly Witticisms

Here is the answer to last week’s witticism #23:

Question: Why did the struggling author not cross the road?

Answer: He was at a dead end!

Wistfully, the Weird Writer’s Weekly Weak Witticism has wheezed its woebegone end.

Thanks to everyone who crossed the road on this journey and especially to those who submitted answers.

Now, watch for Canada 150, starting soon, a celebration of the country from coast-to-coast-to coast with excerpts from Roaming The Big Land: Flavours of Canada about every province and territory. There will also be images posted from our journeys, reflecting the distinct character of every region.

Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, 2011, in the category of culinary travel. Available from: www.penumbrapress.com.

Posted in adult fiction, biography, Canada 150, Canadian travel, contemporary culture, family, family literature, food, food literature, humour, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Weird Writer’s Weekly Witticism # 23

First, the answer to last week’s question:

What happened when the car hit the author crossing the road?

Short answer: It was a write off!

Long answer: A witness overlooking the accident from a second STORY balcony, had to PAGE a doctor because it looked like the author was in a BIND likely having broken his SPINE!

Now, this week’s question:

Why did the struggling author not cross the road?

Please open the comment box to submit your answer. If it is commendable, you will be eligible to receive one of the author’s books of your choosing, autographed with a personal note, for only $15 Cdn., including shipping to any address in Canada. For other countries, please inquire. To arrange details, please email: terdotcomm@sympatico.ca.

To learn more about the books on offer, please click on “Books” at the top of the page.

Sensational publications for silly puns!

Posted in adult fiction, biography, books, contemporary culture, family literature, food, food literature, humour, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Weird Writer’s Weekly Witticism #22

First, the answer to last week’s question:

Question: Why do authors cross the road whenever they see a vegetable stand?

Answer: They’re always looking for a new market!

Now, this week’s question:

What happened when the car hit the author crossing the road?

Please submit your answer in the comment box below. If it is commendable, you will be eligible to receive one of the author’s books of your choosing, autographed with a personal note, for only $15 Cdn., including shipping to any address in Canada. For other countries, please inquire. To arrange details, please email: terdotcomm@sympatico.ca.

To learn more about the books on offer, please click on “Books” at the top of the page.

Absorbing reads for appalling puns!

Posted in adult fiction, biography, contemporary culture, family literature, food literature, humour, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Weird Writer’s Weekly Witticism # 21

First, the answer to last week’s question:

Question: Why did the author cross the road that was being paved?

Answer: She wanted to have her own imprint!

Now, this week’s question:

Why do authors cross the road whenever they see a vegetable stand?

Please open the comment box to submit your answer. If it is commendable, you will be eligible to receive one of the author’s books of your choosing, autographed with a personal note, for only $15 Cdn., including shipping to any address in Canada. For other countries, please inquire. To arrange details, please email: terdotcomm@sympatico.ca.

To learn more about the books on offer, please click on “Books” at the top of the page.

Inspiring books for inane jokes!

Posted in adult fiction, biography, contemporary culture, family literature, food literature, humour, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Weird Writer’s Weekly Witticism # 20

First, the answer to last week’s question:

Question: Why did the struggling author sigh after crossing the road?

Answer: All she could see ahead was an uphill climb!

Now this week’s question:

Why did the author cross the road that was being repaved?

Please open the comment box to submit your answer. If it is commendable, you will be eligible to receive one of the author’s books of your choosing, autographed with a personal note, for only $15 Cdn,, including shipping to any address in Canada. For other countries, please inquire. To arrange details, please email: terdotcomm@sympatico.ca

To learn more about the books on offer, please click on “Books” at the top of the page.

Popular publications for poor puns!

Posted in adult fiction, biography, contemporary culture, family, family literature, food literature, humour, recipes, travel books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment