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Report 1901: A Month on the Rock

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 11 of 31: To Conche and Straitsview

photo by Michael


After Labrador we spent four nights on the Northern Peninsula based in Snorri Cabins in Straitsview. We built in an extra night here in case there were problems with the ferry from Labrador. As it happened there weren’t. We had wondered whether Hurricane Earl would affect us but in the end it swept up the coast of Labrador the night after we left.

It was another glorious day when we left St Barbe. We decided to take route 432 as this would give us chance to see some of the settlements along the French Shore. This took us across the middle of the Northern Peninsula through wooded upland country with lakes but no settlement. There were tracks off to loggers camps and we saw a bear amble across the road ahead of us. There were huge piles of wood alongside the road, all beautifully stacked and waiting to be collected using the boxes on ‘skies’ beside them.

At Roddington we picked up the gravel road to Conche. There were no views (apart from trees) until we dropped down to SW Crouse and along the shore to Conche. This is a remote fishing village on a small peninsula. It suffered harsh isolation and all transport was by boat and dogsled until the road was built in 2005. It had grown from a seasonal French fishing station to become a major site of French Shore fishing activities. Many former residents of the Grey Islands and Crouse moved here during the resettlement period in the 1960s. It has suffered a steady decline over the last few decades until recent efforts to market it as a tourist destination by the French Shore Historical Society.

Conche is a long, spread out settlement along two roads which loop round the community. There is a small harbour with fishing boats catching cod (huge) and a small lighthouse. There were some older houses with small fishing stores on the shore.

We drove past the site of the 1942 air crash in a fenced off grassy area, with the wreckage of a short-range bomber plane, Boston (Douglas DB-7). The navigator bailed out uninjured. The captain and radio operator crash landed the aircraft receiving minor injuries. The remains of the aircraft can be reached along a boardwalk.

There are a number of walking trails over the headland and on a nice day you could spend several hours here.

After Conche, we had intended to go to Croque and Grandois. However the forecast for the following day was wet and windy so we decided to miss them and drive to L’Anse aux Meadows for the afternoon.

Route 432 was a fast road with no traffic. After Main Brook there were a lot of small, fenced Garden Plots along the side of the road. We were told that the land is crown land and no rent is payable. Originally vegetables were grown around the house but people now prefer beautifully mown lawns. When roads were built the verges were disturbed and locals claimed ‘plots’ to grow vegetables. These could be quite a distance from their houses. Most plots contain potatoes as moose won’t eat these and they need minimum attention. If carrots or cabbages are grown, plots have to be fenced against moose. No-one else can claim that patch of land unless they are given permission from the ‘holder’.

There was a beautiful view of St. Lunaire Griquet as we came over the top of the hill, with its scattered white houses around a sheltered cove surrounded by low hills.

Dark Tickle Shop on the way into St Lunaire Griquet has a good selection of jams and other wild berry products for sale. We bought a selection of the different jams to try but found that many contained too much sugar for our taste. Squashberry was our favourite.

The Cape Raven Trail just north Straitsview makes a good walk. There is a small parking area at the side of the road and it is a steady climb on a well made gravel path up through trees with views across Straitsview and then out onto the open hillside to a view point overlooking sea and cliffs and across the wooded mass inland with deep blue lakes.

Snorri Cabins are on the main road. There are two buildings with four units in each. We were in the end unit and there was a certain amount of noise through the wall from next door. There was plenty of parking outside the door and we had shared use of a BBQ. The unit had a large open plan living room and kitchen with bathroom and double bedroom off.

Blakes Cash and Carry (check in for Snorri Cabins) was very small - mainly sweets and some tins. Clover Farm Convenience Store across the road was much better with a reasonable selection of fresh fruit, vegetables and frozen meat.

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