THE FRENCH ISLAND DRIVE will take the traveler the length of the Burin Peninsula's western horizon, from Point May, northeast to Garnish on Route 220, back around to Mariner Drive.
Due to its longstanding association with the richest fishing grounds in the world, this land holds an important place in the province's history. The wide continuous vastness of sea, land and sky is an inspiring sight, and the French islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon recede mystically on the horizon.
Fortune was built on the shore of a sand bar, or "barasway," along an inlet forming the harbour and extending inland for approximately 8 km (5 mi). Located in a shallow valley, the town is surrounded on the eastern and southwestern sides by low rolling hills.
The All Saints Anglican church has the first stained glass window crafted in Newfoundland. There's also an ecological reserve near the town.
St. Pierre et Miquelon is only 70 minutes from Fortune by ferry. These islands, to the southwest, are France's last outpost in North America, and are a fast path to the character of continental Europe. It's all here: the bread, the wine, the buildings and even those long narrow license plates!
Canadian's and Americans can "come ashore" if they carry a drivers' license or other identification. All other nationals must have passports.
Grand Bank, is yet another culturally and traditionally significant community. The town's name has often been attributed to the bank fishery south of the peninsula, but in fact it refers to a high bank extending from Admiral's Cove to the harbours at water's edge. Grand Bank Brook forms a small harbour where it empties into the bay and the valley is sheltered by four hills.
The past has not yet been lost on Grand Bank. The Victorian structural design of the Bank Schooners' heyday, that's so common in the town, is kept in superior condition. The tapered twisting streets are suggestive of communities in Nova Scotia and the New England states, where the merchants and captains did business.
The famous Grand Bank's schooner fishery was started when Samuel Harris built the first of the lustrous, prevailing vessels in 1881. The Harris House, which is a Queen Anne style manor with a "widow's walk" on the roof, is an admired heritage home.
The Southern Newfoundland Seamen's Museum is a landmark attraction. Initially the Yugoslav Pavilion at Expo `67, this distinctive sail?shaped building is home to many full?scale exhibits including dories, engines, propellers and anchors. The artwork, maps and interpretive displays supply important keys to understanding and appreciating the Grand Bank's fishery.
Molliers, which had once been a small fishing village, have now become a popular area for cabins and camping. Grand Beach is a community that was named for its long beach. Frenchman's Cove has a popular provincial park and the Grande Meadows Golf Course. This 9 hole course is complemented by a unique seaside location and a long golf season.
The community of Garnish has deep roots to the inshore fishery. There's a century?old lighthouse to explore, and hiking trails to Mount Serat and Deep Water Point. The Point Rosie ATV/Hiking Trail to the deserted community of Point Rosie covers an incredible 25 km of coastline.
AttractionsFortune: Ferry to St. Perre et Miquelon, France's only territory in North America; Ecological Reserve
Grand Bank: Harris House; Southern Newfoundland's Seaman's Museums; Heritage Walk; Masonic Hall; Living Interpretation of Grand Banks History; George C. Harris House-Museums of Natural History; Hiking Trails
Frenchman's Cove: Grand Meadows Resort and Golf Course
Garnish: Mount Serat/Deep Water Point Hiking Trails; Point Rosie Hiking? ATV Trail
First Week in August
Note: Grande Meadows Golf Course, Frenchman's Cove offers a full slate of events throughout summer
** Canada Day celebrations are held in most communities on July 1