• St. Lawrence, Newfoundland: Strong, Brave and Resilient

    April 27, 2017
  • St. Lawrence: Stands Proud and Strong!

    Our next stop was about 40 km down the road to St. Lawrence. Along the way we passed a sign denoting the St. Lawrence Wind Project. This seems to be a best kept secret, with the massive wind turbines are hardly visible from the highway. This Wind Turbine Project began operations in 2009. The site features nine wind turbines and generates enough power to reduce fuel burned at the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station by 165,000 barrels of oil in a year.

    St. Lawrence Wind Farm

    It is worth noting that back in 2014, the operators of this wind farm, Emel Atlantic proposed a doubling of capacity following the devastating power outages of 2013. The Newfoundland Government through Newfoundland Hydro, now NALCOR declined stating that Muskrat Falls was going to produce power at similar rates to that of Emel Atlantic! Since then we know that Muskrat Falls power rates will be at least double what they established in 2014. A contradictory tale for sure!!!!

    The Visitors on the Cliffs of Chambers Cove, St. Lawrence,NL

    As we have all come to realize don’t trust politicians to tell the truth. We all know that Muskrat Falls will go down in history as another of Newfoundland and Labrador’s biggest challenges. If the Government doesn’t get it right this time, it will be on par with the Churchill Falls fiasco with Hydro Quebec! Not looking forward to my power bills doubling in 2020 if they are predicted to double as they say! Sorry I digress!

    Rugged Cliffs of Chambers Cove, NL

    Anyways onto St. Lawrence with its population of 1300. St. Lawrence in its hay day had a Fluorspar Mine, which was a major employer until its closure in 1978. After that time we heard of terrible medical stories with many of the miners came down with cancer from working in the mines! To this day it’s still a tragic story! But to their credit while the people of St. Lawrence have endured such terrible tragedies for such a small place, they are a very resilient people, surviving a failing fishery, the tragedy of the Fluorspar Mine and the disaster at Chambers Cove.  Very much to be admired and to this day still clinging to this magical place called St. Lawrence!

    Our Tour Guide and Hubby with some of the Crew!

    St. Lawrence is a very pretty town. You must be getting tired of my talking about the pretty towns down here on Da Boot, but to tell the truth, there are just so many of them! St. Lawrence has a beautiful harbor and the town is dotted with lovely salt and pepper houses, with vibrant colors like a rainbow! Magical almost! We visited with Father-in-Law’s brother and his beautiful wife. They have a beautiful place with a great view of the St. Lawrence Harbor!

    Close Up of the Beach Below the Cliffs of Chambers Cove, NL

    This lovely lady is kind of like the Town’s Story Teller and perhaps this comes with her working at the Town’s Library, but I think her natural instincts and love for St. Lawrence tells it all! I mentioned to her that I had read about the tragic story of the USS Truxtun and Pollux and she immediately told us that she could take us out to see where it all happened.

    Monument to Those that Perished that Fateful Night!

    They took us to see the site of the USS Pollux and USS Truxtun disaster of February 18, 1942.  The USS Pollux, Truxtun and Wilkes were scheduled to make harbour at Argentia which is not to far from St. Lawrence.This is where in the middle of an enormous Atlantic Gale with hurricane force winds more than 200 American sailors died when their ships went aground. The USS Pollux, Truxtun and Wilkes were bound for Argentia in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Only the USS Wilkes made it to Argentia out of the Hurricane!

    Can’t Imagine those poor stranded Sailors trying to land and climb this Cliff in Chambers Cove in the dead of Winter in Hurricane Force Winds!

    We drove on a pretty rough gravel road to the site, which I might say is quite a way from St. Lawrence so I can only imagine how the people of St. Lawrence struggled to get there on foot or sled to try and rescue these brave men! The Town of St. Lawrence in in the midst of upgrading this beautiful site so when we arrived the road had been blocked by a pile of gravel which was being worked on. You can also park on the other side of the mountain trail and hike on foot up to the whole area.

    Trying Hard to Imagine How the People of St. Lawrence made the miles of track Inland to get to the Stranded Sailors in such a bad Storm!

    We hiked up to the top of the cliff at Chambers Cove, which is breathtaking, world-class scenery for sure on par with the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland which we visited a couple of years back. It is amazing to think of the strength of human survival and to visualize how survivors were hauled up the massive and very rugged cliffs of Chambers Cove and then down to the other side! You have to see this place to believe it! It actually brought tears to my eyes to imaging the horror of that tragic night! It really takes your breath away!

    Only 49 of the 156 sailors on the USS Truxtun survived that night. One of the survivors was Lanier Phillips, a black man and sonar operator for the Truxtun. Mr. Phillips was profoundly touched by the kindness of the people of St. Lawrence. He couldn’t believe that white people would take him a black man into their homes and care for him so well. When one of the ladies was trying to clean him up, she noted that she couldn’t get the dark oil of his skin. She soon realized that it was the color of his skin. Made no difference, they put him to bed and looked after him until he got well enough to travel back to the USA.

    Hubby Taking a Break!

    He was so touched by the generosity and kindness of the people of St. Lawrence, he said it changed his life and restored his faith in humanity. He devoted his life to repaying the kindness he had experienced including to help fund raise for a children’s playground in St. Lawrence. He also continued to pay it forward in how he treated others! Such a beautiful man and story of human survival and kindness!!

    The Lonely Cliffs of Chambers Cove, St. Lawrence

    We were grateful for the guided tour up to Chambers Cove. While there are a number of storyboards and monuments on the way up and at the top of the hill depicting this tragedy, our lovely tour guide gave us a real history lesson on this breathtaking place. We were ever so grateful to her and her husband for their hospitality and generosity. Typical of the great people of Newfoundland and Labrador though!

    Monument to those that Perished!

    The clock was coming up on 7:00 pm and we received phone calls that the gang back at Golden Sands Resort had run out of beer, and needed refreshments. So we stopped at the convenience store, stocked up on beer and treated ourselves to soft serve ice cream cones, before heading back. What a treat indeed. Hadn’t had one of these in a long time!

    Storyboards Telling of the Disaster of the Truxtun, Pollux

    One final note of interest about St. Lawrence is the outstanding performance of its soccer teams. I briefly mentioned this earlier in a blog. Over the years for a town of its size to dominate Newfoundland Soccer competition is amazing! The St. Lawrence Laurentian Soccer Teams have been champions since 1967 winning 23 titles! Had to repeat this because it is such a marvelous feat of sport!

    The Long Trek Up the Mountain! Still Can’t see how the People of St. Lawrence Made it to Save the Sailors that Night!

    It was 40 km back to Marystown, a scenic drive with lots of ocean views of Placentia Bay. We got back around 8:00 pm, time to fire up the BBQ and get the starving young-ins fed with hamburgers, chicken, pork and anything else we had on hand! Several of our son-in-laws cousins had showed up for the festivities, as well as our earlier St. Lawrence hosts from earlier that day! So we were honoured to be part of a family reunion of sorts down on Da Boot. Someone had to look after the grandchildren, our responsibility that night with gratitude!

    Looking Calm and Peaceful the Day we Visited! The Sea of Newfoundland is so Deceiving when Mother Nature brings her up in Full Force!

    A great party was had by all that night, blazing fire pit fire and all. A fitting conclusion to our visit to Da Boot! We really enjoyed our time, exploring parts of the Burin Peninsula we had never seen before. We experienced the outstanding scenery and great weather. We visited with our in-laws family members and got to know them well. We also learned a lot about the history of one of the oldest fishing grounds and the tragedies that Mother Nature can bestow!

    The Boys having a Spell back at the Golden Sands Resort!

    We hope you will check out the beautiful Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland!

    MK