Elliston is a town on the Bonavista Peninsula with 2 very unusual distinctions. First, it is the Root Cellar Capital of the World, and second, it has puffins. I love puffins. They are funny, awkward birds that make it look like a struggle to fly when they first take off. Their orange beaks with matching orange feet lend them a slight comedic air and it is fun to watch them in their natural habitat.
As you drive down the road to the puffin viewing spot, you see a mound on the hill every now and then. There is room for parking along the side of the road and we pull into one spot that looked directly at a smaller mound. Across the way we saw a larger one that looked pretty inviting so I walked off to take a look and yes, it is a root cellar! I have always wondered how they looked.
We learned that there are over 133 root cellars scattered all over town. Root crops such as turnip, carrot, potato, and cabbage were all stored in the cellars to provide a source of food throughout the cold winter months. When cellars have the correct temperature, drainage, and humidity, vegetables will stay fresh for 9-12 months. Only about 30 or so have been rebuilt and there are several you can walk into and they are cold! I can see why they have lasted so long as they are really sturdy. The earliest one was built in 1839 and the newer ones were built in the 1950’s They were used until the 60’s when the area finally got electricity and some are still used today. They are built into the sides of hill and were constructed of rocks, sod and wood which were readily available. It would take one man about a month to build one and had to be done in the early spring before fishing season started. One thing we learned about them is that they were also very popular with local kids who played in and around them. Parents even told their kids that babies came from root cellars! But now, we are ready to walk to the puffin viewing area.
You know you are on the right path when you see this cute little Adirondack chair that is painted to look like a puffin. The walk is along a rocky peninsula with small little islands off the shore. You are fairly high up and you see in the distance birds flying in the sky and I quicken my steps as if they will all disappear the MOMENT I arrive.
We reach the end of the peninsula where about 50 feet across a chasm is another high point, filled with birds. What a great opportunity to be in one of the closest viewing areas in North America! The puffin is the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are the Atlantic Puffin and they are sometimes called the sea parrot. I took a few pics with the wrong lens, ran back to the car and took some pics with Walter, the 200-500mm. And I took waaay too many but I could not stop! It was fun just being able to watch them up close and we did not know if we would see any more on this trip.
Two of them below were fighting. Not sure why but they are vicious with those beaks!
There were a lot of seagulls nesting among the puffins and you can see how small the puffins are next to them. Click on the small pics to get a bigger and better one!
Shawn had to drag me away from the puffins as we had one more stop for the day, a lighthouse located on Cape Bonavista. The lighthouse, which operated from 1843 until 1962, is now a Provincial Museum. You can see some early items used in the lighthouse and the lighting system, which is made up of oil lamps and mirrors of polished silver. Looking at them makes you realize how strong lights need to be and how well they were able to do that, saving many a ship passing in the night.
We stopped on the way out to see another iceberg floating in the distance. This one was actually moving pretty fast with the current. We are lucky to be seeing them so late in the season when it is so warm and that is why they are all melted down. Would love to see a really high one some day!
Moose Sightings: 0
Puffin Sightings: 1000’s!