Located on the west coast of Newfoundland, at the mouth of the Humber River, it’s the most northern city in Atlantic Canada. First inhabited by Algonquin hunter-gatherers three-thousand-five hundred years ago, it was “officially” discovered by Jacques Cartier, who was sent by King Francis IV, of France, to find a route to the wealthy markets of Asia in 1534. The area was surveyed by Captain James Cook in 1767, and a statue was erected in his honor on Crow Hill, overlooking the city.
Having set our clocks forward a half an hour, we were now on Newfoundland time. We were off the ship as soon as possible so we could meet up with Bay of Islands Search and Rescue Team members. Back in February, I received the nicest message from one of their members, Alvina (who prefers to be called Al.) “You do not know me but you and your family have been in my heart for nearly 15 years. That’s how long I have been a member of search and rescue. I am one of many very proud presenters of Hug a Tree. It has held a special place in my heart and I really enjoy passing the message. I hope you don’t mind a small town SAR girl living in Corner Brook, Newfoundland Canada dropping in to say hello. I just had to let you know how powerful your quote “so others may live” is. You could not have said it better. First responding is not what we do, it’s who we are. It’s in our blood. I wouldn’t have it any other way. May this message find you well. Have a fantastic day and know you are thought about and your special little Jimmy will never be forgotten.
Her timing couldn’t have been better. She sent the message the day after the thirty-eighth anniversary of Jimmy’s death. The Hug-A-Tree program she mentioned is a survival education program that was developed as a direct result. It’s designed to teach children, between the ages of five and twelve, how not to get lost and how to help themselves be found safe if they should get lost. The program, which has saved countless lives, is still going strong, thanks to many search and rescue teams and law enforcement agencies. The Adventure Smart Program in Canada has made this vitally important program widely available. Here’s a link to the American video: Hug-A-Tree and Survive.
One of our greatest joys is the opportunity to thank those who make the program possible. When I saw on our itinerary that we would be going to Corner Brook, I let Al know. She made plans to pick us up at the dock.
Being greeted by several of their team members as we disembarked is a memory that will cement fond memories of Corner Brook in our hearts. First stop was their BOISAR headquarters for a VIP tour and photos. Though there are many more team members, these are the ones who were available.
After this we set off with Al, for her local view of the area. We passed the papermill, which employs a good part of the community and produces 700 tonnes of newsprint per day. The hospital is the largest in western Newfoundland and employs a lot of residents, including Al.
Continuing west, we passed an abundance of small orange boats . . . and the seemingly out of place blue one. In Lark Harbour we saw what is billed as the oldest house, having been built in 1890. The extensive inlet serves as an important estuary, supports the fishing industry, provides recreational opportunities and gives access to cruise ships visiting the port . . . as well as cargo deliveries and newsprint export. Corner Brook first became a cruise port in 1979 and is hosting nineteen cruise ships this year. This was the Zuiderdam’s first visit.
After soaking up the splendid scenery, we headed back toward town and stopped for lunch at a new place called, “The Salt Box.” Al enjoyed the fish and chips, and we finally had a chance to try Cod Tongues . . . with mussels on the side.
We had time to see a few places in town and too soon it was
time to return to the ship.
We hugged, thankful for each other and the tragedy that united us. We were especially grateful that Holland America chose this port for this cruise.
After dinner we enjoyed a performance by Annie Frances and headed to bed prepared to lose another half hour of sleep.