Gander, NL — In “Come From Away,” there are several key scenes: Gander International Airport, Tim Horton’s, Gander Academy, The Royal Canadian Legion, Steele Community Center & Hockey Rink (known on 9-11 as the “World’s Largest Walk-in Refrigerator”), Dover Fault, Appleton and the Salvation Army Camp.
In reality, there were 42 locations across central Newfoundland which served as emergency shelters for the 6,500 stranded passengers on the 38 aircraft.
The five hotels in Gander were primarily reserved for flight crews. Schools, churches, lodges and clubhouses, campsites in Gander, Gambo, Lewisporte, Norris Arm and Appleton all served as temporary housing.
It was remarkable how quickly everyone came together to help.
If you’re traveling to Gander for Maxxim Vacation’s #ComeFromAwayExperience, you’ll likely stay at one of the six main hotels in Gander: Sinbad’s Hotel & Suites, Comfort Inn, Quality Hotel & Suites, the Inn on Bennett, the Albatross Hotel, Irving West Hotel or the Country Inn and RV Park.
I’ve stayed at Sinbad’s and the Quality Hotel & Suites, and they’re both nice.
When I return to Gander, I usually stay with Mac & Nellie Moss, who live on Little Cobb’s Pond. Mac was the administrator of the College of the North Atlantic in 2001, my shelter during the crisis. We slept on the floors of a classroom.
I’m also friends with their neighbors, Sue and Ron Walsh and Pat and Leo Brazil. There’s always room at their homes, and the food and conversation is great and the price is better: free. Hospitality runs in the blood of most Newfoundlanders. It’s not unusual for a kitchen party to break out, with dancing to Newfoundland music.
Speaking of hospitality, Brian Mosher (a reporter character in the musical) and his wife Cathy graciously welcomed me back to Gander at their home, with other real characters portrayed in the musical.
After a few drinks, we tried some karaoke singing of “Welcome to the Rock.” There’s a reason why professional actors and singers are on Broadway, and we are not.
With the upcoming North American tour of “Come From Away,” plus touring companies in Australia, Ireland and the UK, Gander will continue to grow as a tourism destination for years to come.
Sometime soon, demand for hotel rooms will exceed the supply.
Currently there are no homes listed on HomeAway and 12 homes listed on AirBNB. Some offer an extra room, others a full house. Rates are only $43-$101 CAD ($33-78) per night.
Frankly, I think spending time at a Ganderite’s home and experiencing their hospitality is the best way to experience Gander.
My favorite restaurant in Gander is Bistro on Roe. Their seafood and pasta is delicious.
For breakfast or lunch, don’t miss The Gander Bread Box. Their bakery makes a wide variety of fresh bread, rolls, bagels and sandwiches.
“Moose Farts” (pastry) and Jigs Dinner (salt beef with potatoes, cabbage, carrot and turnip) are famously delicious at Rosie’s Restaurant and Bakery.
Kevin Tuerff is author of Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, one of the true stories inspiring the smash-hit musical Come From Away. He is also an ambassador for Charter for Compassion. See more photos and videos from the #ComeFromAwayExperience @kevintuerff on Instagram and Twitter. This week, he is taking Maxxim Vacations’ “Come From Away Experience,“ a self-driving tour of central Newfoundland, and writing about his experiences.
In the spirit of “Come From Away,” we’re encouraging readers to commit random acts of kindness this week. Send photos and details of your acts of kindness to this paper’s social media accounts. We’ll share them with our readers and https://www.payitforward911.org/.