In July I went on a different type of tour of Newfoundland. If I had to put a name on it, I'd call it a “human-centered eco-tour.” ‘Earth to Human’ was our theme as we explored Gros Morne National Park and Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, seeing breathtaking landscapes as well as visiting all types of sustainable projects from newly created ecological reserves to the lodges that thrive on the influx of tourism...
The trip was created by David Maggs, a graduate student in Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of British Columbia, and also pianist and director of Gros Morne Summer Music. His interest in ecology, arts and culture, and history inspired him to arrange this unique itinerary through his native Newfoundland with the help of Anne Marceau, an interpretation specialist from Parks Canada.
The tour was produced by Horizon and Co., a Canadian luxury and adventure tour company which offers a variety of tours ranging from literary sojourns to culinary expeditions to African safaris . More recently, they’ve gotten involved in eco-tourism and created a tour on behalf of Canada’s World Wildlife Fund in order to expose its members to the wildlife they want to protect. The ‘Earth to Human’ theme fits under the eco-tour umbrella.
With 12 participants on the tour and 5 guides, it was very easy to get one’s questions answered. Our Horizon guide Richard Perron was an adventure tour leader for years and completed some incredible journeys like skiing to the North Pole. We also had two naturalist interpreters: Anne Marceau and Michael Burzynski, an enthusiastic Ecosystem Scientist. On the cultural side were David Maggs and Dr. Michael Newton, a Professor from Memorial University who teaches a class called ‘Spirituality and the Earth’. And then there was the Azmari quartet who were spending the summer traveling around Gros Morne playing inspiring music, and thanks to David Maggs’ scheduling their concerts, were able to join our group on occasion to perform several private concerts for our group.
We began the journey in Rocky Harbour a small town whose houses surround a large bay on the rugged western coast of Newfoundland. I was immediately struck by the smell of wildflowers, pine, and wood smoke. We had an opening dinner at Java Jack’s, a great restaurant whose owner Jacqui Hunter wanted to offer an upscale alternative to all the fish-and-chip restaurants that line this shore. We sampled all kinds of seafood creations, beginning with halibut cakes, mussels, and salmon paté followed by salmon in parchment with blueberry crisp for dessert. Java Jack’s also offered good vegetarian options, in an area where those were scarce.
Afterwards, David Maggs spoke; he offered a philosophical talk on aspects of the enlightenment in Europe and the theme of the week: sustainability. A performance by the Azmari Quartet followed, where the dissonance of Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat highlighted the end of the hope of the enlightenment. We slept at the Fisherman’s Landing Inn, a hotel off the highway without a view, but with clean, new hotel rooms.