The Kittiwake Coast The Islands Experience (67 km + Boat)
This tour begins on Route 335, which takes you to Farewell where you can catch a ferry to Change Islands, with a sailing time of 25 minutes, and Fogo Island, which is 50 minutes away. Rich in history, culture and creativity, this part of the province has become a particularly popular place for artists of all disciplines to visit. Remember, when travelling by coastal boat or ferry it's always a good idea to plan everything in advance. Schedules can vary.
Located in Notre Dame Bay, Change Islands is one incorporated community built along the narrow tickle and causeway that joins two islands. There have been people here since the latter half of the 18th century when the Labrador fishery rose to prominence. By the beginning of the 20th century this was a prosperous settlement with a population of more than 1,000 people who fished in the northern waters or worked in the huge merchant premises that lined the shores. Today it's a very quaint community.
In Change Islands, little has altered over the past century. Motor vehicles have only been here since 1965. The house styles and the lifestyles here are from another time. White painted, narrow clapboarded homes sit in tidy green gardens. Fishing stages and stores, painted in the traditional red ochre colour hug the shore. Small boats chug in and out the harbours and tickles. There's even a general store where you can buy the makings for a picnic, and an almost abandoned community at Puncheon Cove is a perfect place to eat it.
The Stages and Stores Heritage Foundation in Change Islands has restored and preserved more than a dozen fishing stages in the community. Change Islands has one of the best collections of seaside fishery premises in the province.
Fogo Island, a mere 25 kilometres long and 14 kilometres wide, was first settled in the 1680s by fishermen who sought refuge from the French raiders terrorizing Newfoundland and Labrador's east coast, and Beothuks who harassed the Europeans on the mainland of Notre Dame Bay.
Because the original settlement took place in the 1700s and the area remained isolated well into the 20th century, the descendants of the first inhabitants still retain traces of their Elizabethan dialect, which can be heard on the island today. Many ancient folk customs brought from England, now disappearing from many outports, continue in the communities on the island.
Today, Fogo Island is undergoing a real renaissance. The community councils on the island are amalgamating to give the island a stronger voice. Old buildings such as churches are being used for theatrical presentations. There is a renewed emphasis on traditional skills like wooden boat building, and an annual punt race from Fogo Island to Change Islands and back – about 10 nautical miles over the open ocean – highlights the advantages of Fogo boats. The Shorefast Foundation is enticing international-level visual artists to the island with strategically-placed high-end studios and residency programs. A new restaurant is serving gourmet cod raised in large netted pots, and a new high-end hotel will open in 2011.
Along Route 333 you travel through several picturesque communities on the way to the village of Fogo. It was probably named not for the North Atlantic fog but after the Portuguese ‘fuego,' or fires, which were signs of Beothuk encampments frequently seen by early settlers.
Visit beautiful Barr'd Islands on Route 334, a few kilometres from colourful Joe Batt's Arm, named for a deserter from the crew of explorer Captain James Cook, who charted this coast in 1763. Sandy Cove on Route 334 is the most northeasterly point in Notre Dame Bay and is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches.
There is also a distinctively Irish community here and Tilting – a National Historic Site and a Provincial Heritage District – is a great place to experience it. Modern visitors from Ireland are amazed that so much of their own culture remains intact here after more than two centuries and an ocean of separation. The first Irish settler in Tilting arrived in the 1750s, and most of the residents trace their ancestry to people from County Cork and County Waterford who settled here in the 1770s.
Seventy-five years ago, Tilting would not have been much different from many other rural communities in the province. Inshore fishing and subsistence agriculture were the mainstays of most local economies. While a wave of modernization washed away many traditional rural practices in the half-century following Confederation with Canada in 1949, Tilting retained many of its ways.
Two areas where tradition remains strong can be seen in the town's built heritage and its land-use practices. There are three registered historic structures. The Lane House, built around 1850 by one of the original settler families, is possibly one of the oldest fisherman's houses along the northeast coast. The Dwyer Premises was built in 1888 as a summer residence, and restored in the late 1980s. The Pearce Foley House dates to 1875 and was built with wood harvested on Fogo Island by the owner.
An unusual aspect of the landscape are wooden bridges connecting houses with outbuildings, like storehouses and fish flakes, which were used to dry fish. Many bridges are still well maintained and sometimes cross or merge with a neighbour's.
Perhaps the most unusual facet of land use in Tilting is house launching. Simply put, houses were built on pilings, or shores like those used in wharf construction, so if a house had to be moved – usually because it was sold, but not the land on which it stood – it was launched to its new location with a bevy of men using logs and special sleds and skids to haul it overland.