We continued south to Doyles, Newfoundland on the southwest corner of the island. This area, The Codroy Valley is said to have the most fertile soil on the island The Grand Codroy Wetland is a very rich estuary and considered a site of international importance. We stayed at the Grand Codroy campground, which is owned by a very friendly and entertaining couple. Shortly after everyone arrived, the owners hosted a traditional Newfie night, were we would be made official Newfies. This provided we could pass the tests. To start, we each had to down at least one shot of the local Screech-which I have previously mentioned, is a rum from the Caribbean. It turned out that there would be more than the required one shot consumed by many of us.
Next came the language test and most important of all the rite of kissing the cod. Once everyone passed, there was a lot of celebratory dancing and other carrying on.
The next day, we took a tour of the valley with the campground owners as our guides, as they have lived in the valley their entire lives. Our first stop was the Precious Blood Church built in 1912 by volunteers. Like a number of churches we have visited, the interior is more like a ship than a traditional church, since most of the volunteers made their living on the sea. It was a impressive structure.
Next stop was the Heritage Train Site in Port Aux Basques. In addition to getting an insight to the once important role of trains in Newfoundland, the site has an eclectic collection of memorabilia of the area that was also very interesting. While there are no longer any trains in Newfoundland, trains were instrumental in getting Newfoundland and Labrador into the Canadian Federation. When The Confederation was formed in the 1860's, Newfoundland/Labrador did not join. After WWII, they found themselves in desperate financial condition. The Confederation offered them a number of incentives to join, one of which was the promise to build railroads in Newfoundland to revive the economy. So, in 1947, they joined the Confederation as the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Next we traveled to the Southern coastal village of Rose Blanche to visit the Granite Lighthouse. In my mind, this village and lighthouse really brings home the rough and hostile conditions that generations of fisherman experienced on this rugged coast. The lighthouse guide told a tale about how around Christmas one year in the 1930's, the lighthouse keeper left the lighthouse and walked to town to enjoy a drink with friends. The fishing vessel Monica Hartery trying to make port crashed on the rocks just offshore. After the fact, some villagers claimed to have heard some strange cries. In the morning light, a number of bodies were found on the shore and there were no survivors. There were many such losses along this coast over the years.
Our last stop was the town of Isle Aux Morte or Dead Man's Island, so named from the many wrecks that occurred just offshore. The attraction here is the smallest house in town that is over 100 years old and now serves as a museum. In its past life it was the town's first school and chapel and is currently a museum for the town.