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Old 08-30-2013, 10:58 AM   #61
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Oh, there's no doubt that you have to be pretty courageous to swim in Nfld, whether it's salt or freshwater.

Having lived for years in NS and ONT, and getting used to nice warm lakes and very hot weather, I can't quite bring myself to go swimming here. But my 10 year old daughter can spend hours in the water with no complaints.
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:11 PM   #62
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A Brief History of Resettlement In Newfoundland

In my experience, few from the USA know anything of the history of Canada, although the two countries have shared a border for centuries. Canada emerged from its colonial period in 1867. Up to that point, the area had been a province of Great Britain. Initially, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick joined the Confederation. In 1870, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories entered.

Manitoba's entry was marked by what could be interpreted as a civil war. Louis Riel, a Métis, or person of both European and First Nations descent, fought the Canadians twice over confederation. Eventually, he was convicted of treason and hanged. Today, Riel is viewed as a hero.

Subsequently, British Columbia joined in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Yukon in 1898, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905, and Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

The latest territory to be formed is Nunavut, in 1999.

Newfoundland is unique in that it existed as an independent nation. A self-governing colony of Great Britain from 1855, it was granted Dominion (autonomous) status in 1907.

The government of Newfoundland was beset with financial difficulties. The construction of the Newfoundland Railway (now the Trailway and various branch lines) strained the coffers, and the rail line was never profitable.

Newfoundlanders served with the allied forces in World War One, further straining the treasury and exacting a terrible cost in human life. Some sources estimate that a quarter of the island's men of military age died in that war. In a single day at the Battle of the Somme, 90% of the Newfoundland Regiment became casualties within the space of 20 minutes, losing their entire officer corps. The "Angle of the Somme" is remembered here in various ways, including the ferry MS Blue Puttees.

In this precarious financial state, Newfoundland was struck hard by the Great Depression. The government suffered from corruption and reckless spending, and was bankrupt by 1932. Canada was not a pleasant land for the numerous unemployed during the Depression. Newfoundland was even harder.

In 1933, the autonomous government voted itself out of existence, the only democracy in modern times to do so. Between 1933 and 1949, the island was governed as a British colony by a government composed largely of British officials.

The United States had a significant military presence on the island in the Second World war, occupying naval and air bases for which it traded Great Britain destroyers during the Battle of the Atlantic. These were occupied through the Cold War. The last of these bases to close was Argentia, in 1980. The bases injected hundreds of millions of US dollars into the island's economy, employed thousands, and exposed the islanders to a culture that many had hitherto not directly experienced. US soldiers were better paid than their British or Canadian counterparts in WWII, and had a distinct advantage. A first-class private in the Canadian Army could expect $1.30 CAD per day, or about $1.18 US dollars. The British soldier made approximately the same. A PFC in the US Army on foreign service made $1.63. This led to complaints in Britain that the GIs were "oversexed, overpaid, and over here."

In 1946, a national convention was held to determine the future of Newfoundland. The initial choices were between the continuation of British rule or the return of autonomous "responsible government." Joseph "Joey" Smallwood, a former socialist, journalist, labor organizer, and radio personality, pushed through a third option -- confederation with Canada. Always a brilliant speaker and a showman, Mr. Smallwood styled himself as "The Last Father of Confederation." Mr. Smallwood refused appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada. He felt he deserved a knighthood.

Great Britain made it clear it would give no further economic assistance to Newfoundland. Britain was in a serious financial situation after six years of war. Food rationing persisted there until 1954. It is interesting to note that Newfoundland loaned Great Britain around twelve million dollars during the course of the war.

Although there was a contingent that supported closer ties with the US, this was not not pursued, likely because of tacit agreements between the US and Great Britain.

After two highly divisive referendums, Newfoundland narrowly voted to enter the Canadian Confederation. In 1949, Smallwood was elected Premier as a Liberal. He would remain so virtually uncontested until the 1970's.

An interesting and complex personality, Mr. Smallwood began vigorously promoting modernization and economic development. His efforts included mining, hydroelectric projects, and attracting foreign investment. Many of his programs failed. Smallwood commented that the outports dotting the coast had "no great future." One of the most controversial and still debated programs of his government was Resettlement.

Under the Resettlement Act, the government offered money to outport towns to relocate to "growth centers." The stated goal of this was to allow families to access to modern health care, sanitation, education, medicine and jobs.

A more cynical view is one of economics. The government maintained ferry service to hundreds of small villages, and had to provide medical care and education to them. This was expensive. As the traditional economy was based largely on a system of self-sufficiency and barter, taxation of tens of thousands of residents was difficult if not impossible.

It's always easier to write a law than repeal it. Although the majority of Newfoundlanders were resettled between 1954 and 1975, the program still exists. With the agreement of 80% of a town's residents, the government will provide a cash payment and moving expenses to a larger town. Resettled towns were effectively abandoned, and became no-man's-land.

Two of the last communities to resettle were Harbour Deep, on the Great Northern Peninsula's east shore, in 2002, and Big Brook on the west in 2004. Our route took us across an abandoned highway to the latter.
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:35 PM   #63
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North of St. Barbe, we pull off the 430 onto a heavily rutted and potholed section of road at Eddie's Cove. I know that there are at least 5 major water crossings on the route, as the old highway bridges are long gone. The last one was removed over Big Brook within the past two years.

The landscape here is very different than that we've been riding through. The underlying rock is limestone, and the peninsula becomes low and flat. One can almost feel the ghosts of Viking longboats slipping along the shore. The area feels more Arctic than anything we've yet seen.


Photo by Anton


Photo by Anton


Photo by Anton

Soon the carnage begins. Anton rides close to the ocean at one point. Coming back up from the shore, he miscalculates the angle and the bike comes over on him -- "over the top." He arrives with a smashed windscreen and injured pride.

At the first water crossing, the rock is slick. My front wheel catches a ridge and drops me into the water.

Our old friend, the loose gravel roadbed is present. We're all wet through and sweating when we finally arrive at the crux move -- the crossing of Big Brook.


Photo by Anton
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:00 PM   #64
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Ever willing to scout, Anton takes off down a quad track to find a crossing. It's obvious that people have crossed at the old bridge, but the water is fast and deep, and the track comes out of the river up a very steep and loose hill. After about twenty minutes, Anton comes back, announcing that he's found a ford over ledges to the west. The quads have scuffed the slime from the rocks, so they're not as slick, and the water is a manageable foot deep. I'm the first to cross, with Anton spotting. I'm once again grateful for the grip of the trials tires. "Just follow the quad tracks," he shouts, and wades back across the river to help Adam and Rich.

I follow the wrong tracks, and end up on the sand. It's loose and deep. As I attempt to turn the bike around, my front tire collapses into a pool of what appears to be quicksand. I rapidly realize that the quicksand is caused by the outflow from the village's primitive sanitation system -- a pipe into the bay. After ten years it's still ripe. Good Lord, what a stench! I grab the tail rack and heave the bike a couple of feet onto firmer footing, but I can't extricate it completely. The front is still in the awful smelling stuff up to the hub. If I were solo, I'd be screwed.

Fortunately, Adam and Anton come and we heave the DRZ out onto the sand. Our boots smell awful -- they've taken quite a bath. We're all exhausted. Anton, who is one of the toughest guys I've ever ridden with says, in his "kill moose and squirrel" accent, "We need to find camping. I have no power left." The wind is lashing, and its still raining. It's about eight in the evening, and it will be dark soon.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:20 PM   #65
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Quote:
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Applicant_255 posted up a nice set of pictures on Flicker, but I'm unsure how to link them here. His album is located here, in case people wish to view them:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/applica...7635272754296/
Great photo's! Thanks for the link.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:27 PM   #66
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We missed the hell outn' you Tom. What a fine big land we saw! You would have been skidding and roosting with the best. We'll go back if we can.
Fantastic photo's and writing Tim! I don't feel like I'm reading a ride report. I feel more like I'm there with you guys............only my tent is dry, my ass doesn't hurt, and I'm saving a lot of gas money.

Thanks Anton for the high res pics too!
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:43 PM   #67
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Next time through, Tom. I'd glady go back with you.

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Fantastic photo's and writing Tim! I don't feel like I'm reading a ride report. I feel more like I'm there with you guys............only my tent is dry, my ass doesn't hurt, and I'm saving a lot of gas money.

Thanks Anton for the high res pics too!
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:57 PM   #68
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Alas I'm stranded away from my pc with no way to post my pics.

But I haven't a pic of how my bike crossed the river anyway and as such, a text explanation is what you get.

After Tim crossed (and promptly disappeared from view) Anton and Adam were getting ready to support my attempt. Not wanting to have to set a compound fracture, Anton "suggested" that Adam ride my bike across.

Adam is 6'2" (unknown metric), young and strong. I am none of that. He rode my DR across.

My ego handled it well in part because Adam delegated to me the videoing of the crossing. I kind of failed at that by prioritizing not falling in the river as they crossed.

Once all were safely on the other side I asked Adam if he'd ridden a DR before. He had not and took the opportunity to declare (in Dos Equis fashion):

"I don't ever ride DR's but when I do, I cross rivers."

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Old 08-30-2013, 06:11 PM   #69
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As I stated before, I'm a little reluctant to discuss the evening in Big Brook. I have deep sympathy for the resettled residents in Newfoundland. When I was ten, our family farm was taken by eminent domain for the planned construction of a hydro dam on the Delaware River north of the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey. "The Valley," as we call it, was continually occupied since 1630. It was a rural area of farms and tiny villages, which are atypical of that state.

As the Newfoundlanders do, we had a strong community and relied on our neighbors. My father worked construction, which is a feast-or-famine proposition. The wages were good when they came, but it was hard when they didn't. My father was frequently unemployed in the hard economic times of the early 1970's. Our neighbor, a "truck" farmer who cultivated hundreds of acres, would often drop by with baskets of vegetables. We lived on illegal venison. Once, when times were particularly hard, Bill showed up with a half a hog. Rural people are careful not to make one feel like a charity case. Bill took the soggy White Owl cigar from the corner of his mouth and said, "I wish you'd take this off my hands. We've got more than we can eat or keep."

I haven't been back to what we still call "the home place" in many years. The dam was never built. The area is now a National Park, and the road is gated. Our small farm was bulldozed 40 years ago. Last I was there, nearly 20 years ago, I made my way up the overgrown road and found the clearing where the house and garden were. The rotting manure pile was still there, with a volunteer cucumber snaking down the side. The rhubarb patch survived the assault of the bulldozers, and was still bravely growing out of the weeds. The house and barn were gone, and there were only faint traces of the root cellar and a pond we kept for ducks.

I sat down and began to cry uncontrollably. Unrequited dreams are the hardest ones to shake.

In Big Brook, I'm overwhelmed with a feeling of nostalgia. Although the place is technically abandoned, it's obvious that people return here, and care deeply. Some of the buildings are vandalized, but others are still kept up. One has burned fairly recently. The charred wood still smells of smoke. Some of the lawns even appear to be mowed infrequently, but there's no electricity, no telephone, and we're the only souls for miles.

Anton and Adam ride through. I suggest looking for an empty outbuilding to keep the rain off. At dark, they report back that one of the houses is open. Someone obviously visits from time to time, although the lawn is a mess of weeds and the fuel oil tank is corroded and leaking a slick of diesel onto the grass. Rhubarb is bravely poking through, and rabbit hutches are moldering in the short trees.

We have a quick conference. We're all at our limit. We agree to stay in the house, but to observe the strictest rules of propriety. We'll leave it as good or better than we found it, and treat it as honored and careful guests. I've stayed in a few open cabins "Up North" while flying float planes. The same rules apply there.

The interior is austere, but well kept. There are still curtains on the windows. I find a bottle of peppermint extract in the cabinets, half-used. For some reason, it's an incredibly poignant detail. It was probably used by the current occupants to keep mice away. Mice hate peppermint extract.

The front steps have been removed, and it's a long way up to the door on aching knees. Someone finds a drywall bucket, and we pile in with our dripping gear and sleeping bags. There's a mop and a broom in the corner, and a few chairs and a sofa for furniture. Adam and Anton break out candles and the butane stoves, and begin cooking an evil concoction of wieners, baked beans, and "Manwich" sauce.

I feel completely at peace. There are holes in the floor, and a pervasive sense of dampness. Solo, this place would be spooky. With good companions, the little house is cheerful with candles glowing and food simmering on the stoves. It's almost as if it was lonely, and waiting for someone to reaffirm it. The wind howls off the gulf and rain scatters droplets across the glass. After a while, I curl up on the sofa and have the best sleep I've experienced in a very long time.
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Canuman screwed with this post 11-09-2013 at 09:53 PM
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:12 PM   #70
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That's rich, Rich. Good 'un, Ace.

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Once all were safely on the other side I asked Adam if he'd ridden a DR before. He had not and took to the opportunity to declare (in Dos Equis fashion):

"I don't ever ride DR's but when I do, I cross rivers."
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:45 PM   #71
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Next time through, Tom. I'd glady go back with you.
Thanks Tim, I'm holding you to that offer.
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:52 PM   #72
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I'm thinking Anticosti 2014. First tracks. You in?

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Thanks Tim, I'm holding you to that offer.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:37 PM   #73
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I'm thinking Anticosti 2014. First tracks. You in?
In! I did some google earth exploring on it last winter and it looked promising.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:51 AM   #74
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Big Brook appears to once have been a prosperous village. There are substantial houses, and a large concrete wharf. With the decline of the cod fishery and the fishing moratorium, a self-reliant way of life pursued by Newfoundlanders for hundreds of years vanished within the space of a generation.

A number of factors contributed to this, but it is certain that large foreign factory ships were a major cause. In the 15 year period between 1960 and 1975, factory ships took as many tons of fish as were taken in the first 100 years of the fishery, when cod were so common it was reported that the boats had trouble rowing through them.

The crankcase and bed plate of an old make-or-break engine at Big Brook.



Fish Houses along the shore:



Evacuated Homes:
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:00 AM   #75
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Anton's Photos - Wednesday, August 21 and Thursday, August 13, 2013

Sorry, there's a mistake in the headline. Obviously, it's the 21st and 22nd.









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