Unexpectedly, I ran into my Calgary photography instructor from SAIT while eating breakfast at my B&B in Trinity, Newfoundland a few weeks ago. (It’s such a small world.) He spoke with passion about a whale watching tour he and his photography group were doing out of Trinity. He’d done it before & told me I absolutely shouldn’t miss it. But I tell him I’ve already got a tour planned and I can’t possibly change it.
I spent an afternoon with Bruce Miller – the skipper and owner of Rugged Beauty Boat Tours – and it too turns out to be a tour everyone should do if they’re in the Trinity area. While this boat tour includes icebergs, whales and rugged, coastal scenery it also speaks to the history of the resettlement of outlying communities.
Of course, we did get as close as one can safely get to a couple of icebergs – where humpback whales were feeding – and it was a fantastic sight. A few bald eagles and loads of seabirds only added to the visual interest.
We also made a quick pass by the film set for Random Passage. It’s based on a wonderful book written by Bernice Morgan.
But the highlight for me was hearing the heartfelt stories from a man who had been resettled as a baby in the early 1960’s. Not only did we boat into three of the former settlements – Ireland’s Eye, British Harbour and Kerley’s Cove – where you can see the remains of the odd house – we saw the before photos where 200 plus people once lived in these small but thriving communities. We heard stories about Joey Smallwood and the love/hate relationship the people he knew of felt for the man. (Many of the women loved the Baby Bonus checks!) We listened to the fishing stories and what locals think should have been done about the industry. We heard the lament for all the young – and even middle-aged people who have left the province in search of work. But never were his words sour or negative. They were just the facts.
Because so many of Bruce’s family had been affected by resettlement, we learn firsthand what Aunt Lizzy and Uncle Jo endured, not to mention his grandfather and countless other aunts and uncles. We certainly didn’t get the whitewashed version. His stories made you think about how resettlement was handled – and how it could have been done better.
Before heading back to Trinity Bay, we stopped for tea and cookies in a cabin Bruce owns – where we saw more photos and listened to the stories that went with them. History comes alive when you experience it through someone who has lived it. All of it – thought provoking.
Three hours passed in a flash. And our experience exceeded our expectations many times over. If you go, dress in layers as the wind whips up once you’re out of the harbour. There is a bathroom once you get to the cabin. Rates for the three hour tour are $70/adult and $50/child.
Should you be anywhere near Trinity, do this tour. If you want a full whale watching tour, do that too. But this one is unique and it was a fantastic way to learn the local history.
Thank you to Legendary Coasts for making this trip possible. All thoughts as always are my own.