Day Eleven: L’Anse-aux-Meadows

L’Anse-aux-Meadows was the destination of this trip from the start. It’s the location at the northern tip of Newfoundland where an archeological site showed beyond any doubt that the Norse established a settlement around the year 1000.

It was fascinating to travel back in time and see the remaining grass-covered mounds of the foundations of their homes and workshops. The reconstructed buildings further along were warm inside in spite of the blustery wind.

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The walls were constructed at least 6 feet deep in peat moss and the roof was layers of peat, birch bark, more peat, and then living grass.

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With recognizable navigation marks nearby, easy access to the ocean and its food sources, a fresh water stream and plenty of wood nearby, it is understandable why they chose this area.

The rest of our day was spent driving around, visiting coastal villages, hiking and taking photos that seem to tell stories all their own.

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The moratorium on the Northern cod fishery in 1992 was a turning point in the Island’s life, culture and history. The closure ended almost 500 years of fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is still a part of current conversation and its impact was evident everywhere we went.

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The smaller communities are losing their younger generations and, as a result, the future of many coastal villages is time limited.

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Even where we’re staying, the government offered a buy-out program if the few remaining residents would move away. They would still own their homes and could return when they wanted, but within a year, there would be no services like hydro. A 98% agreement was required among the residents and three didn’t want to move, so no one could go.

We read about such situations but it takes on new meaning when you meet people for whom this is their daily reality.

Tomorrow we start to head south toward Port-au-Choix.

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