Saturday, October 25, 2008

Circumnavigating Great Colinet Island

[photos: alison dyer, oct.2008]
It so reminded me of Monty Python's Holy Grail. You know, where buddy is running up to the castle and each time the guards look at him, he's back in the distance, starting all over again. Well, that was the headland at the end of Colinet Island: an elusive target, an illusory landscape. So it was better to just pummel the bit of wind of waves, enjoy the late autumn rays, and forget about an actual destination.
We started from Admiral's Beach, an end-of-the-road community in St. Mary's Bay, and paddled the short (<2km)across to Great Colinet Island. A cursory exploration of Regina and lunch on beach at NW tip. Smoke train clouds across a blue sky. Forecast 20km wind gusts to 40km. So, with heads down we punched into straight wind and waves for 2 hours. Rewarded with a following sea as we cruised through some nice chop at the southern headland. By this time, our initial group had splintered into 3 distinct parties.
Our group of 3 continued on to explore the resettled community of Mosquito which, in late afternoon provided a particularly pleasant backdrop, with a nearby family of seals playing dolphin. A very satisfying 20km circumnavigation.
Photos above:
1. Lev in part of community formerly known as Regina and, prior to the 1900s known as Mother IXX's (also Mother Rex). Population, peaking in 1945 to 104, was of course dependent on the cod fishery and first settled by Irish-born fisherman named Dalton. "The broad cove at Regina offered a good beach for drying fish and was likely used by migratory fishing crews prior to settlement.."[Encyclopedia of NF, vo.4]. Resettlement occurred in 1960-62: ~ 70 families moved to Admiral's Beach.
2. Looking north from beach at Regina, Great Colinet Island.
3. Pete N enjoys a beverage and cigar at lunch - only indulging in such on special paddles.
4. Lots of great rock formations on both sides of island
5. Trio of erstwhile spruce, still clinging.
6. The sedimentary rocks on the east side of the island had a particularly 'temple of doom' type appearance: as though pressing on one might set in motion all kinds of locks, levers and uncover secret vaults.
7. & 8. On the east side of island is the resettled community of Mosquito. Each community (M&R) had a church but shared a school halfway between communities. We didn't have time to explore the carttrack between the communities, but Peter A believes he found the foundation of Mosquito's church.
"Occasionally there was a shipwreck from which the Colinet Island inhabitants salvaged hardware, furniture and sometimes livestock." [The settlement pattern of the McEvoy Family on Colinet Island, by Ted Tremblett]. Mosquito was first recorded separately in census in 1845 with 24 people - probably taking advantage, says Newfoundland Encyclopedia, of rich fishing grounds, dense forests and fertile soil. Population peaked at 62 in 1901.
"By 1881 a school was operating in Mosquito. In the early 1900s, however, children walked 4 km to a schoolhouse in Regina...A two-room building was opened halfway between the communities around 1917...The oldest headstone standing in the cemetery in 1990 was that of John Doody, who died in 1845." We didn't find the cemetary which means another trip.

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