Gone home for the cure

You’re in Newfoundland, you don’t say. Yes bye, I’m in Corner Brook for some holidays.

Corner Brook is on the western shores of Newfoundland. The city is situated an 8-hour drive from St. John’s and a 2.5 hour drive from Port Aux Basques.

It is the main arrival and departure points for ferries from the Mainland. The Long Range Mountains cut through the region, giving the area a special combination of ocean and mountain scenery.

Corner Brook at the Bay.

Gaff, two-masted or topsail. Barque, Brig or Brigantine. Topsail, mainsail or stun sail. All are terms from a sailor’s lexicon.

Five ships from a fleet of 40 tall ships arrived in Corner Brook Saturday morning to kick off the WestFest 2017.

The tall ships are sailing Canadian waters to honour the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The port stops are designed to give people the opportunity to go on board and admire ships powered by the winds of the seas.

Tall Ships at dock in Corner Brook.

Manitoba is not without it’s own seafaring history. In June of 1668, the ketch called the Nonsuch set sail from England bound for Hudson Bay. Some 118 days later the wooden sailing ship arrived at the southern tip of James Bay.

October of the following year, the Nonsuch was back in England laden with beaver pelts that were in demand for fashionable felt hats. Investors took notice of the profits and approached King Charles to establish a trading company.

On May 2, 1670 the Hudson’s Bay Company came into existence.

Some of the vessels in the tall ship fleet drop off and pick up individuals that pay passage to be a member of the crew. Standing watch, climbing mast and rigging sails are all part of the experience on the working voyage.

The Europa, a three masted steel hulled Barque is rumoured to be heading to Bermuda after this stop. You can follow the voyages of the tall ships using this link https://yb.tl/rdv2017 .

From tall ships to tall steeples, Our Lady of Mercy Church, in Port au Port West stands 100 feet at the steeple. The church was designed in 1912 with construction starting in 1914. Eleven years later it was consecrated. It is the largest wooden structure in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The construction workers came from local volunteers. Much of the construction supplies were donated. This enabled the community to have a debt free church when completed. Men and boys old enough to cut wood dedicated a minimum of one week of work each year to see the project completed.

Oldest wood structure in Newfoundland.

The wood for the churches interior was imported from Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The ship building skills of the parishioners who participated are reflected in the ornate domes and walls construction. The center pews were locally made. The altar rail hand carved by a local resident.

The 14 stations of the cross, a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion, are hand carved from carrara marble and framed with travertine rock, both imported from Italy.

Hand carved church interior.

The church has a seating capacity of 1000. Today it is used for special occasions such as weddings or funerals.

In 1997, it received heritage status and is open to the public for tours and picture taking.

More details of this beautiful structure are available at http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/our-lady-mercy-church.php

Sean Conway


Sean D. Conway is a prairie land locked Newfoundland writer living in Morris, Manitoba. He is a student of CNC writing seminars and Red River College creative writing course. Computer magazines, sport fishing magazines and local newspapers are forums presenting his writing.

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