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Report 1901: A Month on the Rock

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 25 of 31: Random Passage Film Set

photo by Michael

Random Passage Film Set

Next morning we drove to New Bonaventure and parked by the church. The ticket office for Random Passage Film Set is across the road in the old school building which also has a small craft area and cafe. We had cod au gratin for lunch which was excellent. Their soups are popular with locals.

It is a nice 5-10 minute walk along the track built for the movie set. This goes past a large pond which would have been the water supply for the resettled White Cove, which was the setting used for the film set.

The local population were responsible for cutting logs and building the set. They were very concerned the set should be preserved once filming finished and now run it as a tourist site. They receive no funding from the Newfoundland government although it is a major tourist attraction for the area. Do visit and support them.

All the buildings are historically accurate, apart from glass in the windows. Early settlers would have used parchment and shutters. Glass was used so the panes could be removed for filming. It is an historically accurate representation of a typical 18thC fishing settlement.

There are several wooden houses built round the site. Three are open to the public plus a church, school and the agentís house. Others are now used for storage. There is also a large mansion house. This would not have been found in the 18thC fishing village but was built specially for the film, as the house where the local merchant lived.

The early houses had turf roofs. Later, sawn logs were used with the rounded outer section on the outside. Underneath the log roof was a layer of canvas for insulation and the inside was lined with boards.

Damp moss was collected and pushed in between the logs to windproof the walls. This was a continuous job as the wind blows out the moss as it dries. Originally the houses had a beaten earth floor but later this was replaced by boards. All the furniture would have been handmade as well as plates, mugs etc. All cooking was done over an open fire surrounded by large stones and a chimney above. Mattresses were stuffed with straw.

Outside, clothes were hung out on line, so visitors could unpeg and dress up in them for photographs.

There is a wooden wharf with a stage (the name used for the building) which was used to gut, clean and salt the cod fish. This is surrounded by staves used for drying the fish. It wasnít possible to use real fish during filming, so plaster of paris models were used. When the film was first shown there were protests that the fish were all exactly the same. Real fish vary slightly in size and shape.

A guided tour is included in the price and the guides wait at the start of the village. We were the only two people in our group and explained we hadnít seen the film so werenít interested in the story or who had lived in the different buildings. We wanted to know how people lived. Our guide, Marie was excellent and very knowledgeable, answering all our questions patiently. We werenít rushed, even though we spent nearly two hours going round with her, whereas the usual tour normally takes an hour.

This was a fascinating visit which more than lived up to expectation. It really is five star plus.

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