Home » 2004 Maritime Provinces Road Trip

J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, NFL

Friday, July 23, 2004 - 11:00am by Lolo
232 miles and 5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Well, it was Tommy’s 13th birthday—his fourth to be celebrated on the road and his 3rd while traveling through Canada. He had spent his 9th birthday having lunch at the beautiful Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton-Glacier National Park, his 10th mountain biking down Whistler-Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia, and his 12th rafting down the Colorado River near Moab. Now here we were in Newfoundland facing a day with nothing more exciting than a 5-hour drive to Port Aux Basques. This year we just weren’t going to be able to provide him with the birthday experience that he had become accustomed to; however, I couldn’t get myself to feel too badly for him.

Boys on Cape Ray BeachBoys on Cape Ray BeachIt was now official—we were traveling long distances with two teenage boys in a tightly enclosed space. This either makes us very adventurous parents or crazy. I think it was a little bit of both.

Before leaving the Shallow Bay area that morning, we stopped to tour a restored Newfoundland fishing settlement at Broom Point (see previous stop). From there we continued south along Route 430 and eventually to Route 1 towards Port Aux Basques. As we drove, I frantically searched the Newfoundland Travel Guide for an amusement park or miniature golf or anything that would excite a 13 year old, but there was absolutely nothing. We had to settle for another stop at the Corner Brook Wal-Mart, but Tommy was just fine with that—he’s actually quite easy to please.

It was in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart that Herb had his favorite friendly “Newfie” experience. While standing outside the RV stretching his legs, Herb was approached by a smiling, bare-chested gentlemen, whose belly was of a shape that probably should not have been displayed in public. The gentleman, who was of Native American descent, had been selling trinkets out of the trunk of this car until he spotted Herb and saw an opportunity to chat, which I think is Newfoundland’s favorite pastime—the people on this island have got to be the friendliest and nicest people on earth. The kids and I were inside the RV putting away our purchases. After quite a bit of time had passed and Herb still did not come back into the RV, we glanced out the window and saw that the man was dancing and singing to Herb, as Herb stood awkwardly by, not sure just how to respond. Andrew immediately grabbed his movie camera to capture this special moment. You have to really know Herb to get the full impact of just how amusing this scene was. I think it made Tommy’s birthday.

Birthday Boy Tommy on Little Barachois RiverBirthday Boy Tommy on Little Barachois RiverLater, when he was ready to talk about it, Herb told us that although he and the gentleman did not share a love for public singing and dancing, they actually did have something very important in common—teenage sons. In fact, the singing and dancing he did for Herb was a sample of the old music traditions that he felt the new generation was leaving behind for other music genres, like rap and hip hop. I think that in their short time together, he and Herb bonded while rediscovering the universal truth that all teenagers, regardless of culture, are pains in the butt.

By late afternoon we arrived at our destination for the night, the J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, conveniently located just 9 miles from the ferry terminal. The campground was actually very nice. We had a campsite right on the Little Barachois River, which meant the views were great, but the bugs were unbearable. Since the bugs didn’t bother you when you kept moving, we hopped on our bikes to explore the park. Our first stop was the Cape Ray Beach at the Day Use Area, about a mile from the campground. Unfortunately, in most provincial and state parks, the beach is usually in a separate area some distance from the campground. After the beach, we went back and rode the hiking trails through the campground, where we came upon two very pretty waterfalls along the Little Barachois River.

The park really was lovely, but the bugs were a nuisance. That’s an issue that the travel brochures don’t really tell you about. A beautiful setting doesn’t do you much good if you can’t be outside enjoying it. Oh well, I guess Tommy’s birthday bash will have to be celebrated inside this year.


Campground WaterfallsCampground WaterfallsThe J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park is located about 9 miles from Port Aux Basques, where the Newfoundland ferry comes into from Nova Scotia. Although it is actually west of town, it is reached by following Route 1 East.

Some of the best swimming in all of Newfoundland is found at the Cape Ray Beach, in the day use area of the park. The beach is a long sandy barachois, or sandbar, which provides a barrier between the cold ocean waters and the warmer waters of the lagoon. These sandy beaches and dunes, which lie on a major migration route, are great places to view shore birds, such as blue herons, great and snowy egrets, sandpipers, and the endangered piping plover.

The park has a 102-site campground along the Little Barachois River about a mile from the beach. The campground also has hiking trails that lead to waterfalls along the river.

J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park location map

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