Grabbing a few snacks in a shop, a woman I’ve never met turns to me and gives me a welcoming smile. She says she’s going to a party at a dock and invites me to come. I’m a stranger in this town, but I’ve already been invited to this gathering – five times.
I already know about the party, because I spent most of the day here in Triton with Mike Roberts, a fisherman who has spent 30 years on the water. Every day in the summer, he rises before dawn and steers his longliner out onto Badger Bay in search of crab, cod, capelin and squid. In the afternoon, he welcomes tourists onto his 23-foot motorboat, Black Beauty, and takes them to his favorite haunts of him.
Stops include the rainbow of fishing sheds on Jim’s Cove, waterfalls, resettled communities – homes hauled by horse teams across ice in winter, by order of Joey Smallwood, the province’s first premier – and grottoes, which we enter, filled with crystal clear water and lined with crustaceans, including lobster, and starfish.
“People need to see this,” says Roberts, about the whole area. I have to agree.
The fishing villages the line coves, tickles and inlets here in the Green Bay region, subdivided by sculpted, rugged mountains, tell the story of Central Newfoundland.
The region sits less than two hours east of Corner Brook (and more than five hours west of St. John’s) in a part of the province where the land splinters into a million little pieces, islands and peninsulas and rugged points, nothing but the blue North Atlantic beyond. There are surprises. In Triton, there’s a 13-meter skeleton of a sperm whale enclosed in an excellent interpretation center. Next door in Pilley’s Island, there’s a microbrewery called Bumblebee Bight offers “bunks, brews and b’ys” – overnight accommodation, wood-fired pizza and handcrafted beers with a fun crowd.
And there are characters. After a fresh seafood lunch on the water off picturesque King’s Point, I visit Dulcie Toms who has been running Joshua Toms and Sons since before the road came through. You can buy anything from hand-knitted quilts to antique tea sets, but the main attraction is the 86-year-old Toms herself, who will tell you stories of the days when goods arrived here on steamships.
Nearby in Springdale, I slide on a set of hip-waders and follow Shawn Rowsell into the Indian River. The cold flow carves a curving course through the rock from deep inside an emerald forest to the sea, the steady roar of a cascade sounding nearby. As the clear water swirls beneath, up to my knees, Roswell teaches me how to cast a fly, more art than science, in search of salmon. “People are really blown away by all this beauty,” he says, noting he’s out there every day in the summer, enjoying the scenery and water so clean he drinks right from the river. “I just love being out here. If I catch a fish? That’s just a bonus.”
We don’t catch anything. But back up the road in Triton, we party. Joining Roberts, and the friendly woman from the store, and someone from the whale centre, and a whole bunch of others from the village, a guitarist and a squeezebox player, we rock the dock. Singing along, between bites of deep-fried cod and squid. People stop by on their boats to say hello, and at one point, the herring start swirling. Thousands of them, tiny little fish filling the water all around us, a boiling black cloud but below. Someone casts a net, and we eat a few of those, too. The guitarist plays some more, and we sing, long into that Newfoundland night.
The writer was a guest of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. It did not review this article before publication.