Newfoundland: Wild Flower Wedding
It was time to tear ourselves away from the lively pleasures of St. John’s: pubs with folk music, galleries and museums, whales and iceberg sightings, restaurants featuring scrunchions and cod tongues. We were heading for the old town of Trinity, spread beside the three harbours of Trinity Bay.
First recorded by the Portuguese in 1501, the spot was permanently settled by the English in 1558. It was captured by the French. There were pirates. With only thirty inhabitants in winter – there are more hills than houses – flocks of tourists arrive in summer, to admire the atmosphere of late 18th century saltboxes perched here and there, or to visit the living history museum of the Green Family Forge, whose members worked as blacksmiths from 1750 until 1955. Apart from many Newfoundland-centred plays, the Rising Tide Theatre performs an outdoor pageant several nights a week: “a magical journey through the lanes and roads of Trinity.”
But we had a unique destination wedding to attend – on a dock. It takes courage to schedule an outdoor ceremony in Newfoundland, even in July. We drove up the day before in pounding rain. Wet guests from Toronto, Baltimore, New York, Halifax - oh yes, a few from Newfoundland - took over the village, ate local mussels at the Dock Marina and shopped at the well-equipped craft shop upstairs.
Two families enjoyed the 1840s atmosphere of Campbell House with its antiques, Persian rugs, and fireplaces. The children especially liked the miniature tea-sets. We stayed at “Party Central,” a comfortable suite in the Artisan Inn itself, handily located just past the herb garden near the Twine Loft Restaurant where the dinner would be held.
Next morning, the sun came out. The bride had requested wild flowers for the reception. Her mother, five children, two sons-in-law, a prospective sister-in-law and a wandering poet, went to a field across the road from the inn. We picked and picked and picked, leaving no trace. There were lashings of lupins, pink, purple, blue and white, buttercups, phlox. Everyone arranged bouquets dramatic, romantic – and touching - in buckets, pails, jars and vases provided by the inn.
As the wind flipped her pashmina about like a blue sail, a well-known fiddler from St. John’s supplied the music, including an original tune composed for the ceremony. Later, there were appetizers on a hill behind an historic house, overlooking the bay. After dinner – venison and a memorable blueberry/lemon tart – two nieces danced a Highland Fling.
Next day we adjourned, to recuperate at Fishers’ Loft Inn in Port Rexton, 10 minutes away where Peggy and John Fisher have created a haven of relaxed elegance. Several houses based on 1850 to 1900 folk architecture are scattered over the hill. Inside there is handcrafted furniture reflecting the past, with all modern comforts, and ageless views of Ship Cove and Trinity Bay. If you become attached to the artwork on the walls, you can take it home. It’s for sale. Spit, the friendly black cat and Heike the dog may accompany you on walks. It’s hard to beat sitting in a rocker on the porch, watching water glinting in the distance, a living tapestry of flowers on the meadow below, while anticipating a dinner of celeriac soup, local lobster and blueberry flan.
A large greenhouse under the care of the Fishers’ gardener son Gabriel, offers the inspiring sight of lettuces, herbs and calendula waiting to be picked for that night’s meal. The entrance to the Skerwink Trail, considered one of the top 35 walks in North America and Europe, is nearby.
Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench stayed here during the filming of the Shipping News.
“They were very easy,” Peggy said,”they spent a lot of time in the kitchen and learned to make French bread.”
ime in the kitchen and learned to make French bread.”
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Mary Alice Downie
I was born in Illinois to Canadian parents and grew up in Toronto, graduating from the University of Toronto in English. have lived in Pittsburgh and Cambridge, England, chiefly in Kingston, Ontario, where I share with my husband John Downie a 104-year old house and a 108 year-old cottage on the Rideau, when not visiting our children. I have contributed to the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Good Times, 55+, Kingston Life Magazine, The City Traveler, Bay Area Family Travel and other websites. I’ve written and edited 28 books for children and adults, including The Well-filled Cupboard, a book about Canadian cooking/gardening, history and literature. Readers say: "You make me want to go there."
Located: Kingston Canada
Likes: Soft adventure, ancient places, historic sites, unique inns and B & Bs, gardens, food , wine, museums, folk festivals, music, theatre, architecture, literary travel .