Friday, March 09, 2012

Exploring the Port au Port Peninsula

On the west coast of Newfoundland lies a small, triangular peninsula connected to the island by a narrow isthmus. Accessed via Stephenville on Route 460, the Port au Port Peninsula is a little gem of beautiful coastal scenery and Acadian heritage. It divides Port au Port Bay, to the north, and St. George's Bay to the south. Stephenville itself, named after early resident Stephen LeBlanc, was the site of an American military base, Harmon Air Force Base, from the time of World War II until 1966. Today, the town is the service centre for the peninsula, with hotels, restaurants and shopping --
during July and August it's home to the popular Stephenville Theatre Festival. Route 460 continues along the southern coast of the peninsula past Felix Cove, Campbell's Creek and Jerry's Nose (was there ever a better place name?) to Sheaves Cove where a small side road leads to a seaside park with an impressive waterfall and some beautiful wave-sculpted rock formations. Another scenic park can be found at the tip of Cape St. George, where a distinctively-shaped rocky headland called The Boot stands amid tall red cliffs. At this point a turn onto Route 463 leads to the community of Mainland, where Red Island lies offshore. The island was named by Captain James Cook during his exploration of the region in 1767. The settlements in this area, like Three Rock Cove, Salmon Cove and Lourdes, lie on a broad coastal plateau. From Lourdes, a side trip to Long Point provides an opportunity to see a little-visited part of the province. The point extends over 20 km to the northeast, marked by sand dunes and summer cabins. The road to Long Point leads through Black Duck Brook, the home of fiddler and composer Emile Benoit, whose unique
style made him one of Newfoundland's most beloved musicians. Listen to one of his best-known compositions here. Back on Route 463, the village of Piccadilly is the site of Piccadilly Head Park, a camping and picnic park with white sand beaches and woodland walking trails. The Port au Port/Bay St. George area has a very active Folk Arts Council, which hosts a Folk Night on the last Saturday of every month in Stephenville as well as several instrumental sessions per week. There are accommodations in both Stephenville and Cape St. George and restaurants in several communities around the peninsula. The Newfoundland and Labrador tourism information website and local tourist bureaus can provide more information.


  1. Stephenville is also where Dave Deem, our biology teacher was stationed many a year ago. Last time I was there I whizzed right by the turn off, this time I'll check this area out -- sounds intriguing to say the least.

    1. Sally, it sounds as though you might have to spend a lot of time in Newfoundland!