Towards the end of One Week, on the beach in Tofino, a pair of German tourists tell Joshua Jackson’s character that he lives in a beautiful country. On the one hand, it’s a little on the nose, but as Canadians sometimes we need European tourists to remind us of the total awesomeness of this country. Too often, we look south or east for travel destinations, and miss the beauty, culture and adventure closer to home.
A few summers ago, in the spirit of patriotism and wanderlust, my husband and I decided to see both ends of the TransCanada highway. Given our limited travel time and budget, we decided to fly to Newfoundland and drive across the province to St John’s in July, and to fly to Vancouver and drive to Tofino in August.
Newfoundland has been on my mind this week, as I cast on these fisherman socks (my second last Christmas gift!). My father’s favourite travel destination is Newfoundland, so it seems appropriate to make him a pair of fisherman socks to keep his feet warm on his twice daily dog walks (surprise, Dad!).
Newfoundland is a place of stark beauty and contradiction. The landscape is harsh and cold, and the people are warm and friendly. Many people in Newfoundland have been hard hit by the collapse of the fisheries in the 1990’s, and will tell you how happy they are to have found seasonal work in the tourism industry. However, their hardships have done nothing to diminish their spirits. Everything you have heard about friendly, open and easy going Newfoundlanders is true. They also have fantastic knitwear to keep them warm on their cold and beautiful rock in the North Atlantic, and I came home dreaming of creamy woolens, cables and gansey.
We started our trip camping in Grosse Morne and the landscape must be seen to be believed. It was worth the total lack of groceries anywhere near by.
From Grosse Morne, we traveled east to St John’s. We missed a lot in Newfoundland’s north, including the Viking settlement at isolated L’anse Aux Meadows, but it’s always nice to have a reason to go back. In St John’s, we walked the brightly coloured streets, got a sense of Newfoundland’s history at Signal Hill, and saw first hand the reason for Newfoundland’s hard partying reputation on George Street.
We also had one of the most spectacular travel experiences of my life in Bay Bulls. My parents tipped us off the Colbert’s Puffin Tours. A friendly former fisherman took us out in his fishing boat to tour a landscape that I cannot believe wasn’t covered in BBC’s Planet Earth. I was awestruck and humbled by the beauty and power of nature, as we toured the bay, spotting puffins, terns and a humpback whale and calf. I cannot wait to share this experience with my son, who I hope will one day be as transformed by it as I was. It is impossible to see nature in this way, and not feel a desperate need not to protect it.
We have no immediate plans to go back (writing this post has put Newfoundland on my summer shortlist though!). For now I’ll have to content myself with fisherman socks and those PC holiday commercials!
Update (December 16):
I’ve finished the first fisherman’s sock. The pattern was really small, but the 5 stitch repeat and the 1×1 ribbing made increasing the size a little tricky. I cast on 46 sts, decreased to 45 sts in the first row below the cuff, worked a 22 sts heel flap and decreased down to 44 sts through the gusset (so that the top of the foot is 22 sts – 1 purl, 4 repeats of the pattern and 1 knit). It was a little twisted before blocking but warm, cozy and attractive on a foot!