I had a short morning tour in Corner Brook that was simply titled ‘Corner Brook City Highlights’. It was a relatively small place, so the tour was only 2 hours in duration, but it suited me. There’s nothing worse than a tour being dragged out for longer than it need be, so I was off down the gangway and onto the awaiting school bus.
We admired the stunning view across the Bay of Island’s from Captain Cook’s Lookout. In 1767, he surveyed the Bay of Island’s and was the first one to map the area. We also stopped at ‘The Old Man in the Mountain’, so called because according to local legend, the Spanish buried treasured on Shellbird Island, and if you look closely, you can see the face of an old man within the rock foundation overlooking the island. I couldn’t see it to begin with, but I got there eventually. Can you see it in the image below?
Several other stops were included, but I think my favourite was at Marble Mountain, where you will find the Heritage Tree. This incredible monument is a 52-foot, four-foot-six-inch wide pole weighing a whopping nine tonnes. It was fantastic, and features many carvings depicting Newfoundland’s history from the arrival of the Viking’s in 999AD right up to modern times. The carvings feature puffins, stamps, icebergs, Churchill Falls, ships, Signal Hill, a Newfoundland 20 cent coin and much more.
Once the tour had finished, I returned to the ship and then went ashore in search of a take-away restaurant called Louis Gee’s. I spotted it on the way into town from the shuttle bus and was soon filling my face. Of course, it had to be poutine, and although not as nice as the dish I had in Montreal, I enjoyed it. The restaurant was hugely busy, and most people were buying pizza slices which also looked delicious. There really wasn’t much else to do here, so I made my way home – at a slower pace than before I’d eaten – and enjoyed my afternoon lounging around onboard.
The following morning we arrived in the port of Sydney, Nova Scotia. We had been due to dock there earlier in the cruise, but bad weather had forced us on, so it was second time lucky. I had originally booked the ‘A Day in 18th Century Louisbourg’ tour, but because our date of arrival changed, which then meant our duration changed, the length of the tour had also been cut. I decided to cancel it and instead do my own thing. I didn’t want to feel rushed. Lunch was also included and I knew that would mean less time to explore the fortress.
I left the ship around 10am and enjoyed a leisurely walk along the boardwalk, dodging the hundreds of kids as I went – they were having a morning mini marathon. The boardwalk stroll surprisingly made for great photo opportunities of Saga Sapphire and I was quite content just taking the day in my stride. You can only walk to a certain point, so when I reached it, I turned back and made my way up to street level. I wandered through town for a while, although there wasn’t a great deal going on, and then I unhurriedly made my way back towards Sapphire. It was another relatively small port, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really do enjoyed days that are leisurely in port just as much as the hectic ones. By the time I was back at the port, the sun was shining and it was warm. As Saga Sapphire geared up her engines and pushed us off the berth, I sat back with a drink in hand as we sailed beneath warm air and on to our final Canadian port, Halifax.
I opened the cabin curtains and was met with fog, pouring rain and howling wind, not what I’d wanted to see for our arrival in Halifax, but there’s not a single thing anyone can do about the weather.
Peggy’s Cove and a coastal drive were on my morning agenda and shortly after docking, I was on the coach and heading for the above. Honestly, it wasn’t the most pleasurable experience in the pouring rain and wind, but it was a beautiful place. I could imagine on a dry and sunny day it would be a hive of activity with people exploring the rock formations, enjoying a picnic, and experimenting with the endless photo opportunities that could be had here. It’s a small fishing village, home to around 40 people, and sits on top of a solid stone inlet. It’s also home to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.
On the drive back to the ship, we went through an area called Glen Margaret, which is home to a local artist and storyteller named Ivan Frazer. Our guide had mentioned that on warmer days, the man himself could often be seen in the garden, waving at passing visitors, and as luck would have it, even though it was lashing down with rain, there he was, exactly where our guide had said he’d usually be. He ran from the front door and the coach slowed down enough for us to see him waving. He then picked up a rather large anchor and started waving that at us. Ivan opened up his home many years ago as a museum and welcomes visitors for daily tours, where you can learn more about him, his life and the famous Peggy.
My plan for the afternoon had been to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, to see the Titanic exhibition, and to then get a cab to Fairview Lawn Cemetery to visit the graves of 121 people that perished in the early hours of April 15, 1912 when Titanic sank. Sadly, the weather was not on my side at all and I couldn’t get a definite answer as to whether the cemetery was open or not, as it was a Sunday. It had been one of the things I wanted to see on this cruise above all else, but it wasn’t meant to be. I accepted that and was happy that I could at least make it to the museum.
It was a modest fee of $9.55 to enter (approx. £5.60) and I ensured my first stop was the Titanic exhibit. I didn’t have much time, it was almost 1pm when I arrived at the museum and the last shuttle bus back to the ship was at 3pm.
The exhibit is on the second floor and features the largest collection of Titanic artefacts in the world, including a chopping board, deck chair, a balustrade from the D Deck landing on the forward staircase, a section from the ships’ grand staircase, a lifejacket fragment reportedly worn by John Jacob Astor, and a wooden cabinet.
There are also a few items on display from those that were lost on that terrible night and they included a pair of leather gloves that were recovered from the body of Charles Hays, President of the Grand Trunk Railway. His body was the first to be recovered by Minia after she arrived in the disaster area. He’s buried in Montreal’s Mount Royal Cemetery.
Another very sad sight was that of a tiny pair of shoes that had belonged to the “Unknown Child”. For more than 100 years, the little boy was unknown, but in 2010, scientific studies revealed him to be 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin of Wiltshire, England. He was the youngest of a family of eight that were travelling on Titanic. All perished and his was the only body recovered. He’s buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. His body was found by the Mackay-Bennett and it was the sailors aboard this vessel that paid for his monument. They also buried him with a copper pendant that read “Our Babe”.
It was a very moving visit. I don’t know how anyone could walk through the exhibit and not feel a great sense of sadness. If you’re ever in Halifax, you should add this to your list of things to see and do.
I did also manage to take a quick look at the Cunard exhibition before leaving, but it was much smaller than I’d expected it to be. Of course, Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax, so only fitting that he would have an exhibition of some sort. I liked the wheel from Aquitania, which had been presented to the city of Halifax by Cunard Line in 1950 because of the ship’s long association with the port.
We sailed from soggy Halifax and made our way back out into the fog coated ocean and, believe it or not, I didn’t see the sea again for 3 days! It was fun, minus the fog horn going every minute, and reminded us we were on a ship. I snapped the below photo as we were leaving Halifax, you can just see land in the background if you look closely, but after 10 minutes or so, we could see absolutely nothing.
Saga Sapphire was now heading back across the North Atlantic towards Ponta Delgada and ultimately, Dover…
You can also read about my Canada journey over at World of Cruising.