Sometimes the best things in life are simple and unexpected. This summer, when I mentioned to a friend that we were crossing the island on our summer vacation with the children, he took a key off his key ring and passed it to me.
“I’ve got a place in Bishop’s Falls,” he said. “It’s right on the Exploits. You’re welcome to stay there.”
“Wow,” I said. “How will I find it?”
“It’s on the main road and it’s green,” was his reply.
What I didn’t know then but know now is that Bishop’s Falls is basically one long snake of a road bordering the mighty Exploits for over 10 kilometres. We would have no trouble finding his house.
I have been travelling by car across the province since the 1970s. In all that time I had never stopped in Bishop’s Falls. It sounded like an adventure.
After spending the afternoon of July 23 at Splash ’n’ Putt (or “Spend ’n’ Putt,” as my husband calls it) near Terra Nova, it was early evening by the time we pulled off the Trans-Canada onto Main Street in Bishop’s Falls. The wall of heat that hit us when we hopped out of the van was reminiscent of when we stepped off the plane in Havana, Cuba. Who knew Newfoundland could get so hot?
Luckily, my friend’s green house had a lovely deck overlooking the Exploits and we were able to sit out with ice-laden lemonade and enjoy the sights. After dark, what a surprise to hear 30 or so fishing boats, complete with lights, parading down the river towards the old railway trestle, where a shower of fireworks lit up the night.
Now, I say “old” railway trestle but I don’t mean old as in some rinky-dink thing to be ignored. The trestle in Bishop’s Falls is a massive expanse of steel and granite that spans almost 1,000 feet. Built in 1901, it has been transformed into a boardwalk since the demise of the railway.
The next morning, we awoke refreshed and ready to follow the rail bed to the trestle. Did I mention how hot it can get in Bishop’s Falls? We were sweltered. We passed dried up frogs on the path.
The trestle was worth the heat. By the time we crossed it and were on the rebound, we stumbled upon the best thing yet. Bev Welsh’s Ice Cream Parlour rose out of the heat on Main Street like a mirage of cream and cola.
Children who, minutes earlier, were doubtful they could take another step, ran to the door, only to discover the shop didn’t open until later. Nos. 3 and 4 almost melted on the step. But then, miracle of all miracles, Bev noticed their parched tongues lying on her stoop and invited them in.
No. 3 revived significantly after five scoops of Cookies ’n’ Cream. No. 4 could barely finish her scoop and a half, it was so big.
Bev’s Ice Cream Parlour is impeccably clean. I challenge anyone to find an ice cream shop in this province as sparkling. It’s decorated in “Happy Days” style with black and white tiles and vintage Coke displays.
This was the ice cream find of a lifetime. We would have pulled off the TCH years before had we known that Bev’s sign on the highway meant such decadent delights as real freshly blended strawberries and bananas in frozen yogurt.
The ice cream parlour definitely warranted another visit. The second time we didn’t come off the dusty trail, but rather the spectacular playground and fitness track known as the Bishop’s Falls Memorial Park. Built in August 2010 with the Let Them be Kids volunteer program, the whole community came together to lend a hand in clearing ground, laying foundations and building the park. Children worked alongside adults raking the soil and installing equipment. Surprise Baby wanted to live out his days there. And I was able to swing my legs back and forth on the elliptical while chatting with locals doing laps of the walking track that circumnavigates the park.
By the time we got to Bev’s heavenly palace it was super-busy, as I assume it often is in the summer in tropical Bishop’s Falls. Bev was nowhere to be seen, but younger staff members were efficiently scooping up cones, keeping the line moving and hot customers happy. No. 4 stuck to a kid’s cone. None of that for No. 3. He inhaled another five-scoop special.
On our way back to my friend’s house, the children witnessed their first Pentecostal Assembly outdoor drive-in service and commented that they can’t imagine driving across the island without taking the exit into Bishop’s Falls for a strawberry banana frozen yogurt at Bev’s Ice Cream Parlour.
Susan Flanagan is a writer who learned that hockey players George and Alex Faulkner are from Bishop’s Falls. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada Russia feedback
Ken Marshall writes: “I walked home from MQP down to Berteau Avenue through the swampy field (now the Salvation Army) and watched Game 8 with my mother. When Henderson scored the goal, she tipped over in her rocking chair in the family room with her hands still above her head clapping and cheering flat on her back. I don’t think she noticed she had tipped over.”
Susan Chalker Browne writes: “Your article took me back to Grade Nine at St. Pius X Girls School. During the ’72 hockey series between Canada and Russia, I came home one evening to discover my brother and his classmates (Grade 8, St. Pius X Boys School) were watching the games on TV during school time. No such privilege had been offered to us girls. Promptly, the next morning, and on behalf of all my friends, I presented our case. Girls should be allowed to watch these games during school hours. All the boys were watching.
“The teachers looked at us, startled. But you girls aren’t interested in hockey. Are you?
“Indeed we are, I proclaimed. (Although, to be honest, I was more interested in winning this battle.)
“That afternoon, a TV on a metal stand was rolled into our classroom. Don’t ask me who won the game that afternoon. That’s not what I remember.”
John Durdle writes: “I am wondering … if any … items from the 1972 hockey game are worth anything? I have two pucks signed — one by Paul Henderson and one by Phil Esposito and the official Team Canada ’72 pin. Also a picture of Paul Henderson signing a picture.”
(Susan’s note: If you can answer his question, contact John at email@example.com)
Notalivebackthen writes: “‘I know in B.C. many teachers allowed students to watch Sidney Crosby score the Olympic gold medal winner in the final match against the U.S.’ That was generous of them considering that game was on a Sunday.”
(Susan’s note: I know my friends in Surrey said their boss gave them time off to watch and schoolchildren were also allowed to watch games leading up to the final.)
Anon writes: “If there was a goal that everyone remembers, it was the one in ’72. We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger.”
Chris writes: “I think I was the only person in the Tick Tock Deli at the time!”
Lindsay writes: “On August 7th you wrote the story ‘Yes you can’ which focused on a project Based in Business that the SIFE team at Memorial University of Newfoundland developed and implemented in partnership with CYBF and the Prince’s Charities Canada. I wanted to reach out to you about the team and let you know they (were at) the SIFE World Cup in Washington, D.C., (last) week to compete against other countries around the world showcasing this project and others which they have run throughout the year. … If you are interested in receiving updates on how the team is doing, please let me know.”
Northwest Passage feedback
For those of you interested in the progress of Philos, the sailboat that cruised through the Northwest Passage this summer, here’s a note from Roger, the captain, on Sept. 12:
“Hi Susan, as you must have realized I have had no email contact since Upernavik (in Greenland). Actually, it was already a problem at Ilulissat. As we rounded Point Barrow, Alaska, we started to get a signal again. The trip has been great but I will tell you the full story later, not now, I just wanted to say hello. As I write we are approaching the Aleutian Islands & from there we will head for Kodiak, Seward or Homer for the winter. Winter is coming on fast here & I am looking forward to stopping for a while. More when I get somewhere.”
And again on Sept. 24: “We are at Sand Point in the Aleutian Islands and the weather is very wild. I think we will be held here until next Saturday at best, then we will head for Homer which is on the mainland almost opposite Kodiak Island. The snow has not started here yet but the bad lows keep coming across from Siberia making progress difficult. Our (communications) are back to normal again so that’s good.”
And this one from the young engineer on board, Scott Bishop: “Roger, Gerry, and I arrived in Nome, Alaska last week, and celebrated finishing the (Northwest) passage with some pizza and beer. The passage was an amazing experience with very good weather and lots of great adventures. Now we are trying to figure out where to store the boat for the winter. Nome looks like it will be difficult, so we are looking at places around Kodiak, Alaska — another 10-day sail, but it should be very beautiful and fun. When we arrived in Cambridge Bay the girl at the visitor centre found an article you had written on the Internet and was expecting us. It was a great article. I enjoyed it. Thanks again for all your hospitality. It was greatly appreciated, and hopefully I will get to see you again in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia.”
Yvonne Manning writes: “I was (in L’Anse aux Meadows) July 23 and Clayton was the first person I saw too.”
Tiffany writes: “Great to read articles about everyday lives of working parents with kids!”