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Keith and Heather Nicol

This blog covers travels by Keith and Heather Nicol and includes many travel ideas. We like many self propelled outdoor activities including hiking, sea kayaking, backcountry and cross country skiing, alpine skiing and other activities. We also enjoy traditional music and cultures. We have written over 600 articles in various magazines and newspapers and Keith has a popular YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/k2nicol

  • Every fall several cruise ship itineraries include Corner Brook as a port of call so that passengers can see the fall splendor in Newfoundland. These cruise ships often travel between Quebec City and Boston and make several stops so that passengers can see the best fall colours in each province or state. And generally Corner Brook is their main stop in Newfoundland since this part of the province has scenic fall colours. But you don’t have to take an expensive cruise ship to Newfoundland to see this autumn brilliance. You can simply board a Marine Atlantic ferry from North Sidney to Port aux Basques and then drive north for 2.5 hours to Corner Brook and the Humber Valley. Here you can easily create your own itinerary and depending on your interest you can explore by car, foot , bicycle and even by kayak.


  • This year the Glynmill Inn celebrates 90 years in the hospitality business catering to both local Corner Brook residents and visitors alike with its old world charm. The Glynmill Inn was built in a distinctive tudor style and currently includes 78 hotel rooms, 2 restaurants, meeting rooms and other amenities. It was designed by architect, Andrew Cobb of Halifax in 1923 and was turned into a hotel a year later.


  • Fall in the Humber Valley of Western Newfoundland means brilliant autumn colours and where better to enjoy these than on Newfoundland’s top rated golf course at Humber Valley Resort. When we walked into the pro shop on Tuesday, September 16 we met the Managing Director of Operations, Gary Oke who told us that despite the slow start to the season, that they had had a great season so far. “ One of our big new accolades is that Score Golf Magazine ranked us as number 16 in Canada up from number 32 last year. There is no other course in Newfoundland with that kind of ranking which suggests that we have a great product here” he told us before our round.


  • “Tempting Providence” has been running for 12 years and has become one of the favourite plays at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival (GMTF) in Cow Head. It has toured internationally and has been performed over 650 times! This summer it has again played to sold out crowds but you still have a chance to see it this September. We recently saw the play on September 2 for our 4th time and it is still just as powerful as the first time we saw it 9 years ago. “Tempting Providence” is the true story of nurse Bennett who was dedicated to serving the health care needs along Newfoundland’s rugged Northern Peninsula for over 50 years beginning in 1921.


  • When we go to a play in Cow Head at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival we often like to head up early in the day to enjoy a hike or to Shallow Bay beach. But if you like to golf we suggest you also pack your clubs and test your skills against the Gros Morne Golf Course. The course was closed for a year a couple of years ago according to manager Lorne Warren but they have been working hard this year to get the course back in shape. “Business has really been picking up especially during August and we plan to be open until mid October this year “Lorne told us. We had played the course a few years ago and really liked it so we were glad to see the course back in operation.


  • Despite the forecast of cloud and rain we headed to Woody Point in the afternoon of August 18 to see the last “Charlie and Mena” show of the season. The “Charlie and Mena” concert features Charlie Payne on various accordions and singer Mena Lodge on guitar and is part of Gros Morne Summer Music. They were joined by guitarist Darren Vincent and they put on a fine performance featuring Newfoundland music. It was held at the Heritage Theatre in Woody Point which is a great old building that Charlie Payne carefully restored.


  • “The Known Soldier” is one of 6 performances that the Gros Morne Theatre Festival (GMTF) is doing this summer in Cow Head. On the 100th anniversary of World War 1 it is fitting to produce a play about one of Newfoundland’s heroes of that war- Tommy Ricketts. And “The Known Soldier” was written and directed by the talented Jeff Pitcher, GMTF’s artistic director! What is significant about Tommy Ricketts is that he lied about his age when he signed up (he was just 15 at the time) yet in just a couple of years he had earned the Victoria Cross, the Britain’s highest award for valour. His sprints over open fields in the heat of battle are legendary.


  • If you want to go cod fishing from a traditional Newfoundland dory then you need to contact Darren Park. Darren is a top notch guide and operates 2 Newfoundland dories for tours of the Goose and Penguin Arm and is based in Cox’s Cove at the end of the North Shore highway (highway 440) near Corner Brook. His dory fishing trips are unique in the province and are very popular during the recreational cod fishery which runs until August 10 this summer. When we phoned to book our trip he told us that all of his groups have caught their limit so far this year and that the largest fish caught was a 15 lb cod. “Perfect” we said “mark us down for the Tuesday, August 5 in your evening time slot.”


  • We recently were fortunate to see “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” which was written by Martin McDonagh and directed by Jeff Pitcher. This is one of 6 performances performed at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival this summer in Cow Head in Gros Morne National Park. What we like about Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) philosophy is that they either perform plays about Newfoundland and Labrador or plays that have a close connection to the province. Although “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” takes place in rural Ireland its theme of isolation certainly could resonate with residents of outport Newfoundland.


  • Newfoundland music star Pamela Morgan is heavily involved in this year’s Stephenville Theatre Festival and we recently had a chance to speak to her about some of the shows she is involved in. First some background-from 1976-1995 Pamela Morgan was lead singer, guitarist, and arranger for Canada’s pioneering “Celtic” band, Newfoundland’s Figgy Duff, who brought the traditional Newfoundland music to a global audience. Since 1995 she has created several albums and toured extensively in Canada, the US and in Europe. More recently she has overseen productions of two of her original scores for live theater; her own folk opera, “The Nobleman's Wedding”, and Figgy Duff's score for Shakespeare's "Tempest". For the Stephenville Theatre Festival she told us that she has reworked “The Nobleman's Wedding” creating a full length folk opera in the process.


  • On Saturday, July 26 we decided to check out the 20th anniversary of the Pirates Haven pig roast in Robinsons. Usually when we explore the Western region of the province we head north to Gros Morne National Park and the Northern Peninsula, so this was an opportunity to travel south and check out some places we had not visited before. First off we dropped in to see the Stephenville Regional Museum of Art and History which has been gradually developing its collection over the past 3 years. We met the manager Linda Collier and she showed us around the various displays.


  • We recently attended “The Country Show” at the Stephenville Theatre Festival and we give this show "two thumbs up" for its variety and quality of the performance. There was a large band and many singers and the cast covered lots of country favourites from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline and Shania Twain. The musical director is well known Newfoundland performer, Pamela Morgan and Dave Panting keeps the music flowing on stage. The cast performed 24 songs in all and started off strongly with a toe tapping version of “Jambalaya”.


  • We recently had a chance to check out the Harmon Seaside Links in Stephenville before we attended a Stephenville Theatre Festival performance that evening. It made a great combination – Golf by day, play by night. The course is an 18 hole –par 72 golf course right across the road from Bay St. George. This means that you often get a refreshing breeze which has been nice this summer with its record breaking heat. The course is flat so is great for walkers and we had a very enjoyable afternoon exploring this course.


  • The Stephenville Theatre Festival is celebrating its 36th year this summer and its most ambitious performance is “The Nobleman’s Wedding” which is billed as a folk opera. Pamela Morgan, one of Newfoundland’s most well known musicians, has created The Nobleman’s Wedding from a folk song that she happened to learn in Stephenville many years ago from Jack and Ellen Carroll. We thought all of the performers were very impressive with both their acting and their singing. And the band (which includes Pamela Morgan) is first rate.


  • On Friday afternoon, July 11 just as the skies opened up we started driving from Corner Brook to Gros Morne National Park. The forecast was calling for good weather so we hoped the heavy rain was localized and sure enough as we headed north from Deer Lake it began to clear and by the time we reached Woody Point it was sunny again. We checked into the comfortable Victorian Manor Efficiency Units (http://www.grosmorne.com/victorianmanor/) and shortly thereafter our friends Martin and Molly Ware arrived. Our plan was to show them some short hiking trails that we had discovered the previous fall and have dinner at the Merchant Warehouse which just opened last year on the Woody Point waterfront.


  • Stage West Theatre Festival (SWTF) is celebrating its 6th year and offers residents and visitors to Corner Brook more great entertainment for an evening out. One of their five evening shows runs almost every night from July 2 to August 1 at either the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre or the Royal Canadian Legion. All shows start at 8:00 pm and you can pay $17 per show or buy a season pass for just $65. So far we have seen the first three shows. The Artistic Directors Mike Payne, Stephen Perchard and Jordan Stringer must be very happy with the great turnouts for these events and the audience’s enthusiastic response.


  • On Friday, July 4 we decided at the spur of the moment to catch the 10:30 am ferry to nearby Long Island. Wanda Roberts at the Parkers Bluewater Inn in Triton had suggested we take the side trip to Long Point. “You will love it” she laughed. We hadn’t been there before and the fact that iceberg finder web site showed bergs in and around Long Island clinched it.


  • After breakfast we decided to head north on Highway 352 from Botwood to see if the icebergs that Jim Stuckless from the Dockside Inn had told us about were still there. We had the most luck in Cottrell’s Cove and there were lots around but most were quite far from shore. If only we had brought our sea kayaks we thought. Next time! Our next destination was another area of the Northeast Coast that we had not visited before. We arrived in Brighton (at the end of Highway 380) in time for lunch.


  • With a forecast of plus 30 C temperatures we decided to head for the icebergs and so after breakfast in Botwood we drove to Point Leamington enroute to Leading Tickles where we had been told there were lots of icebergs. At Point Leamington we hiked to the top of Rowsell’s Hill which gave great views of the surrounding coastline (trailhead is 21 0616328 E 5464328 N). Allow about 45 – 60 minutes to complete the 3 km (return) hike which starts off easy along Mill River and then climbs steeply up lots of stairs in the last 500 meters or so to the lookout on top of Rowsell’s Hill. Be sure to check out the heritage house and tea room, gazebo and nice water fall at the base of the hiking trail.


  • In our quest to see some new sites in Central Newfoundland we headed to Botwood at the base of the Bay of Exploits. We were planning on heading to Leading Tickles to see icebergs and to try some of the hiking trails in this area. We left Corner Brook about 9:00 am on July 1 and in Grand Falls- Windsor we stopped to visit the Mary March Provincial Museum (www.therooms.ca/mmpm) and the Salmonid Interpretation Centre. We were very impressed with the Museum and it not only provided information about the human and geological history of the area but also had 3 excellent traveling exhibits that will be there until October 5.