Next stop: Trinity, the Nantucket of Newfoundland. On the way there we pass communities whose old wooden dwellings have been supplanted by prefab structures clad in aluminum siding. Not in Trinity. Its pastel clapboard houses, picket fences, and cottage gardens draw movie producers (yes, this is where The Shipping News was shot), Canadians from the mainland, and Americans like us. When we get to our B&B, the Campbell House, we follow a path lined with wild lupines and foxglove to inspect our lodgings, a 150-year-old cottage overlooking the bay. This time we have two floors to ourselves, not to mention down comforters, soft white linens, and thick terry robes that we make immediate use of; our camping experience has each of us eager for a long, sudsy soak in the tub.
We spend three days in Trinity, happy to just be. Jesse befriends a Newfoundland dog named Leni, Elly and Robert read books, and I walk around town taking pictures (after the second day, locals seeing me with my camera smile and ask politely, "Still at it?"). We hike along the coast, though we never spot any whales, something the town is famous for. And of course we cannot resist Trinity's best gift shop, the Dock Marina (great hand-knit sweaters made from heavy wool—I buy the same one that Kevin Spacey did). One afternoon, Rising Tide Theatre, a resident troupe, performs a pageant: actors portraying historical figures lead a small crowd on a walking tour through town, re-enacting scenes from the lives of 18th- and 19th-century settlers. The most poignant skit takes place in an old church, the audience playing the part of parishioners at a funeral for 24 village men and boys—all lost in an ice storm while out hunting seals.
Fishing is still the primary occupation here, and though life is less treacherous than it once was, the island remains a place where nature rules and man complies. We leave thankful that such a place exists. Our plane descends through a dense fog into Newark airport. Throngs of people—who suddenly seem terribly pale—rush about, cell phones affixed to their ears. Right on cue, Robert's pager, silent for the duration of our trip, begins to wail.
Hadas Dembo is a freelance photographer and writer based in New York.
Who Found Newfoundland (and Other Key Facts)
1497 Explorer John Cabot lands, though the Vikings likely preceded him. His reports of a sea "swarming with fish" lure European fishermen.
1583 England claims the island. Colonists encounter poor soil and brutal winters (nothing to do but fiddle, nothing to eat but fish).
1949 Newfoundland joins Canada.
1990 Commercial cod fishing is restricted due to depleted stocks.
2003 Fishing (now more shrimp than cod) is still the main revenue source.
Ready to learn a few words, ducky?Newfoundlanders may call a narrow, rocky lane a "drung," newly frozen ice a "slob." A "clobber" is an untidy state of things, as in "This room is a clobber!" "Scuff" is a dance; "scoff" is a large, often impromptu meal. Just don't let anyone call you a "slieveen" (a deceitful person).
On-the-Road Art Project
During our trip my kids and I made fossil-like prints of found natural objects—feathers, driftwood, a dried mackerel—to embellish the pages of our vacation scrapbook. You should try it.
What you'll need: A four-inch rubber roller (available at art supply stores), white acrylic paint, black paper.
What to do: Apply paint to roller, then run roller over one side of object (flat items work best) until it's thoroughly coated. Press the painted side of the object down onto the black paper, cover it with a blank sheet, and press again. Then carefully lift the paper and object to reveal your perfect print. How's that for a lasting impression?