Horror of horrors we had to get up early today! Well, not really early, but earlier than I usually get up. The lady at our B & B in Bonavista serves breakfast between 7 and 8 am. I usually get up between 8 and 8:30! But we made it to the table at 5 to 8. Actually our host Preston had said it would be fine to come to breakfast as late as 8:30 so we did well I think.
We only had 100 km to drive today although we had quite a few things to see. But we wanted to see a couple in Bonavista before we left town.
First we went over to the Mockbeggar Plantation, a Provincial Heritage Site. No one is quite sure why the property has this name but the name is found in several places in Britain and the first owner was an out-port merchant, Joseph White of Poole, England from 1685-1771. There were several owners of the house; the last being Mr. F. Gordon Bradley and his family. Mr. Bradley was a politician as well as a successful merchant – fish, cod liver oil and various other enterprises – and was a strong proponent of Newfoundland joining Confederation. The house is restored to 1939 but was originally built in 1871 probably from timbers used in a previous dwelling.
Located around the house are several outbuildings that housed Mr. Bradley’s businesses. One in particular, a two and a half story triangle-shaped structure is considered the oldest building in Newfoundland. It has been examined by archaeologists and dated about 1730. There isn’t even a hint of sway in the roof!
Our next stop just down the road was Ye Matthew Legacy. The Matthew was John Cabot’s ship that made landfall at Bonavista in 1497. In 1997 a replica of the Matthew was build in Bristol, England and sailed by 20 men (the same size as Cabot’s crew) for 34 days to make landfall in Bonavista to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s historic journey. Queen Elizabeth II was on hand for the ‘landing.’ The ship was sailed back across the Atlantic and is anchored in Bristol.
The citizens of Bonavista decided after this event to make their own Matthew. Local shipbuilders and craftsmen took 18 months to build her. The ship usually is berthed in the bay each spring and summer and housed in the specially built boathouse during the winter but she needs some repair work done and, for now, stays inside.
Look at these stats. That ship was not at all big.
We were able to wander around on the vessel and go below. It is tiny! The crowsnest is 76′ tall (BC tree) but it is a little over 63′ long and only 18′ wide. The captain and the first mate had miniscule cabins, the rest of the crew would sleep on the supplies and the rock and gravel ballast in the hold. What adventuresome fellows!
What I didn’t remember from my school history lessons is that two years after Cabot’s first voyage to the New World, British King Henry VII, also authorized and financed Cabot’s second trip. Cabot never returned and was never heard from again; his fate unknown to this day.
We left Bonavista at about 11;30 and drove down Highway 230 toward Clarenville. Our plan was to stop at the little town of Trinity where there were many things I had made notes to see. However we missed the signs and the turn and had almost reached Clarenville before I commented on how long it was taking to get to Trinity. By then we were 70 km down the road and we decided not to go back.
We did go back as far as the turnoff to Random Island though; a backtrack of about 7 km. We drove across the causeway and to the end of the road, past Britannia and onto a nice little bay at Petley.
We were blessed with another lovely day and interesting sights. But I found one sight distressing today: a tree turning color! Well 1/2 of it is anyway. But nevertheless it is a reminder of the coming change of season.