The province of Newfoundland & Labrador takes the breath away with its astonishing natural beauty and fascinating history. Three of its landmarks stand out for their significance to the character of Eastern Canada and to the collective cultural identity of the world. Visit this remarkable corner of the globe with Discovery Tours, and you’ll experience these three important UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Gros Morne National Park
This magnificent landscape is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. It is named for its highest point, a misty-top mountain of barren rock that calls to mind the Scottish Highlands. But the park, of course, consists of much more. Vast Tablelands stretch out among the hilly orange-brown terrain; these rocky expanses are made more dramatic by their proximity to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bonne Bay, in particular, is a spectacular sight, formed when two glaciers converged here 10,000 years ago. Today, the deep ravines that guided those two glaciers are now a double-armed fjord, a 15-mile inlet lined with steep cliffs.
Why it’s important: Gros Morne National Park is sometimes referred to as the “Galapagos of Geology.” Just as those islands provided evidence for biological evolution, these coastal mountains offer proof of plate tectonics. Scientists with a trained eye value this unique landscape because it illustrates the process of continental drift. The earth here shows clear evidence of the geologic forces the occurred when the continental coast of North America was carved by oceanic plate movement.
Red Bay Basque Whaling Station
In the 16th century, Red Bay was buzzing with the comings and goings of the whaling industry. At this west-coast settlement established by the Basques, hunters set out on their chalupas, or whaling boats, so they could harvest the creature’s oil for light lamps back in Europe. Each season from 1530 to the beginning of the 1600s, about 15 whale ships and 600 men were sent here from Europe in search of the right whale and the bowhead whale. Today, the old whaling station is a museum of original Basque artifacts and ships recovered from the bottom of the ocean.
Why it’s important: Red Bay provides the most complete picture of the European whaling tradition. Every aspect of whaling was conducted here, from hunting to butchering to oil production for shipment back to Europe. The old station features remains of ovens, cooperages, living quarters and underwater remnants of ships and whale bones.
L’Anse aux Meadows
Around the year 1001, the renowned Viking Leif Eriksson and his crew landed on the coast of Newfoundland, the first Europeans to reach North America. He called it “Vinland,” and sent back word to Greenland that others could follow. The settlement did not last long, however. Scholars disagree whether it was the harsh winters or conflicts with indigenous people that drove the Vikings away. But they left behind a treasure trove that offers a snapshot of their culture, from the remains of their sod longhouses to iron tools. Since the discovery of the site in the 1960s, a longhouse has been reconstructed and many theories have pondered how Vikings spent their time here.
Why it’s important: L’Anse aux Meadows provides ironclad evidence that Norsemen were the first to set foot on North American shores. When the site was discovered, it generated a fair amount of controversy among those who gave the credit to Christopher Columbus. But as the timber-framed turf buildings here were identical to those found in Greenland and Iceland from the Viking Age, this fascinating place marks a milestone in the history of human migration and exploration.
Visit these captivating UNESCO World Heritage Sites during our Newfoundland & Labrador tour!