Day 78 St Anthony / L’Anse-aux-Meadows 5th July 2015
Today we are on Viking time – or more correctly Norse time.
Before I get to that. First a visit I was really excited about – a museum and house giving a history of the life and work of Dr Wilfred Grenfell. Described as “a medical missionary who devoted his life’s work to serving the people of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.”
A multi-talented man: Medical Doctor, Advocate, Christian, Writer, Artist, Sailor, Navigator and on and on.
Twenty-seven years old when he first visited Newfoundland he then spent his life there: founding hospitals; establishing medical ships; and treatment outposts; travelling the remote areas with his dog sled when ice prevented the ship travelling the coast.
He later worked with the fishermen to establish co-operatives to provide more economic independence to try and alleviate desperate poverty and starvation.
He does credit his ability to do so much, organise fundraising, and general management to his wife: Anne Elizabeth Caldwell MacClanahan
In the rotunda of the nearby Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital Jordi Bonet has created large ceramic mural panels depicting the culture and history of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Created in 1967 the murals are in beautiful muted tones with splashes of deeper colour and textures. Some explicit, some interpretive, to tell the story.
While lunching at Northern Delight Tony asked about crab and we were offered take-away – $6 per half (large) crab. Given all our meals for the day were organised it was suggested we take them back for late night beer and supper!! Of course we did.
Before visiting the L’Anse-aux-Meadows National Historic Site we were introduced to Newfoundland dogs, local plants and as it happened a gigantic gift shop. The dogs – cute but incredibly smelly!! The gift shop – well throughout the tours we have rarely a been to a place that does not have a gift shop including restaurants!
I got cranky as we arrived at Dark Tickle and got more so as the day wore on. I later discovered I was not alone- but nothing we could do. We seemed to spend more time at the Dark Tickle gift shop than the viking settlement!
Finally we arrived at L’Anse-aux-Meadows the only authenticated Viking Settlement in North America.
This predates European settlement in the New World – Leif Erikkson arrived and set up a settlement used for exploration not a permanent site. It has also been described as the site of Leif Erickson’s Vinland.
No other evidence of Vinland has been found. From writings in The Saga’s it is thought to be in modern day New Brunswick
Like Red Bay this site also has a quirky discovery story – archaeologists asked a local fisherman who took them to what he thought was an ancient aboriginal campsite. What was found were artifacts and building sites for the 11th Century Norse settlement. The site was excavated then returned as it was, including re-burying artifacts to preserve them.
The visit seemed all to brief and I further discovered we were not returning to the Gift shop where the plan was to buy gifts for my Viking besotted children! Grumpier by the minute.
Next we moved just down the road to visit Norstead a replica port with a beautiful replica of a Norse ship Snorri. While the boats were well worth it, the re-created Viking village as a kind of reenactment of the daily life of the Norse in Scandinavia seemed a bit confusing – when there were sites about life of the actual Vikings just nearby at L’Anse-aux-Meadows.
Dinner was at a small intimate restaurant. The Norseman Restaurant. We all agreed the best meal of the trip. I had delicately cooked salmon.
A singer who doubled as a re-enactor at the site entertained us. An excellent gift shop but not quite the Norse memorabilia I was wanting.
As we were settling up our server handed us the bill and a children’s book which she suggested should be purchased as she had written it. While I was not intending to purchase, looking through it had a cute story, and quite detailed yet entertaining information on Newfoundland. Sold and signed for Sonny.
Back to the hotel and we were again allowed to meet in the dining room as the bar only seats 4 and about 6 betting machines along the other narrow wall. Sat with our beers and demolished our fresher than fresh – Tony estimated caught this morning – Crab. Those who could not get at it were adeptly assisted by Tony, like an artist at work he took his knife and snapped and slit the shell exposing the meat even in the smallest legs.