Rose Blanche Harbour, NF turns to tourism after cod collapse
The six-hour ferry crossing from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland was an uneventful ride on smooth seas. After settling into cushioned reclining chair, reading books, having lunch, taking a nap, and whale watching, we arrived at Port aux Basques, on Newfoundland’s southwest coast.
The town of Rose Blanche Harbour in southwest Newfoundland, is built on barren land, mostly rock facing the harbor.
We checked into an electric only campsite at J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park a few miles outside Port aux Basque, population about 4,000. A boil water notice was posted throughout the park, a requirement for campgrounds in Newfoundland that rely on wells for drinking water. Fortunately, we had plenty of bottled water on board the RV.
A couple from Ontario that we met on board the ferry stopped by our campsite and invited us to enjoy their campfire and adult beverages, which we gratefully accepted.
The 144 year old lighthouse at Rose Blanche was recently reconstructed and now open to the public.
The weather is cool, probably in the low 60’s, perfect for a fire.
We slept with the windows open and were serenaded with the low frequent rumbling sound of ship foghorns blowing in the distance, arriving and leaving Port aux Basque, about six miles away.
The next morning, we drove into Port aux Basque, which serves as a shopping hub for a half dozen or more small villages in the area. The entire town of about 4,000, appears to have been built on a mostly rock hill. Lots of the homes have water views.
Martha writes in her travel journal that houses appear freshly painted with bright colors and situated on small lots. None of the houses had front porches or even overhangs. Drying laundry on a clothes line is the norm here.
Later in the morning, we drove east along the coast, passing through the little fishing villages of Margaree, Isle aux Morris, Burnt Island and arriving about an hour later at Rose Blanche Harbour, another little fishing village but a lot more people. About 500 of them. I don’t know if they have boonies in Newfoundland, but if they do, Rose Blanche surely qualifies. Route 40 dead ends here. To keep going east, you have to board a local ferry which takes riders to LaPoile, about 20 miles east. LaPoile is isolated, with exception of the ferry. Maybe they are more qualified to be in the boonies.
Rose Blanche is located in a barren area, mostly rock, with two harbors for fishing boats.
Since this is our first real Newfoundland fishing village visit, we literally fell in love with Rose Blanche—it’s very colorful small houses built facing the water, the picturesque small boat harbors, the rugged granite coastline, the white cliffs of Diamond Cove and of course, its 144-year-old lighthouse, naturally built of granite.
Fishermen from France were first to fish the area for cod in the early 1700’s with the first settlers arriving in 1810. In fact, according to the 1869 census, the population had grown to 663, more than live here today.
The town showed promise in early 1961 when the road from Port aux Basque was extended and several outlying communities were resettled here.
But the early 1990’s collapse of the cod industry, the staple of employment for almost 200 years, halted any promise of success in the future, sending many locals to work in Port aux Basque and some taking jobs as far away as the Great Lakes. They are hoping tourist will help fill the gap.
We walked the harbor shores, hiked up the hill to the old restored lighthouse and enjoyed a picnic lunch, sold daily to visitors by local volunteers to help boost tourism.
Barachois Falls walking trail is almost a mile long and leads to a high waterfall. The trail is mostly a wooden boardwalk system across a wetlands area that was dotted with colorfull small flowers when we visited this summer. It is located near Rose Blanche.
A light rain was falling when we arrived back at the provincial campground.
NEXT: Pig roast at Robinsons