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Visiting Trinity: Where the Past is Always Present

13 Mar 2013 by Alyssa Free in Culture and Cultural Experiences
Region: Eastern

The past has a strong presence in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Trinity is no exception. Located on the Discovery Trail, Trinity is a rare gem preserved in an ever-changing world. Known for its history, friendliness and strong fishing culture, this beautiful town gives new meaning to the word authentic.

The Historic Trinity Theatre 

Restored 18th century homes, fishing rooms and saltbox houses are speckled about the rolling terrain. Historic merchant buildings, churches, centuries old cemeteries and the famous Trinity Theatre help make up this captivating community where time stands still. Winding, hilly roads lead you around town, where white picket fences move with the dips and rolls of the landscape, while old-fashioned street signs written in calligraphy guide your way.

Walking around Trinity

I stopped for lunch at the Trinity Mercantile, a quaint little restaurant in the center of town that had a mouth-watering lunch menu—everything fresh, simple and homemade to perfection. A little while later, I took a stroll around the picturesque town. Friendly locals waved hello to me and other visiting strangers from their wharfs, as they casually prepared their day’s catch. The strong sense of community was everywhere. I heard a man yell from his boat: “Are the fish biting today?” He and the folks on the nearby wharf shared a laugh before the man cruised out to sea. I watched as the people on the dock continued casually chatting, splitting their fish and throwing the leftovers to hovering gulls.

Locals prepare their catch 

Much to my delight a friend had arranged for me to go cod fishing while I was in town. Now it was my turn to see first hand the industry that helped shape the communities in this province. We hit the water and headed out for the open ocean in search of schools of cod—my excitement was palpable. Looking back at the historic town of Trinity—with its rolling hills and colourful homes, I couldn’t believe how utterly stunning this place was. Tom, my fishing guru, was a total character cracking jokes in between history and geography lessons about the area.

A look at Trinity from the water

We headed out to sea and eventually ended up at “the sweet spot”. Tom showed me how to line up a specific peak of the landscape with part of the very distant town to find this codfish paradise. He made catching fish look so swift and easy, but I knew it was from years of living and breathing the life of the sea. It was my turn and I was giddy with anticipation. I guided the line lower and lower into the water—100 feet to be exact. I waited a few minutes, and I thought I felt something bite. So I started to reel the line in slowly—then all of a sudden it became really difficult and I had to widen my stance. It was getting harder and harder—I had to use all my strength to reel this whopper in. After what seemed like forever, the cod finally emerged from the water. And it was a big one! (To me anyway, an Ontario girl who’s used to tiny lake trout.) I proudly held up my massive (4lb—again I said it was massive to me) fish for a photo, just like I’d seen in fishing magazines over the years.

I proudly hold up my catch

Back on shore the friendly locals were wandering about the wharf curious as to who the newcomer was. Tom introduced me to a sweet older man, the resident expert at splitting fish, who offered to give me a demonstration. He was so swift at cutting, slicing and skinning you’d swear he had two sets of hands. In no time he had the cod filleted and ready to be taken home. And as a special gift, he cut out the cod’s ear bones and handed them to me, which I’m told make great earrings. Myself, being of the crafty sort, was overjoyed at my funky new project and souvenir.

The resident expert  shows me how to split a fish 

There are various fishing opportunities available throughout the province. It’s a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the industry that helped shape the culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’ll never forget my day in Trinity—the minute I arrived I knew this place was special. From the restored 18th century homes and buildings, to the overt fishing culture that’s around every corner, this place is beautifully suspended in time. As with all my experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador, I’m always struck by the overwhelming kindness and hospitality of the people. It’s in their nature to show those from away, like me, unique parts of their culture and heritage, and to welcome them with open arms and an earful of stories.