Salvage, Newfoundland - what is there to do in a village of 240 people? Well, if it's been named by Harrowsmith Country Life as one of Canada's 10 prettiest towns, you might not care that the town is without a video arcade, a cinema or a shopping mall. Salvage, the village in question, lies at the tip of the Eastport Peninsula, on Newfoundland and Labrador's Bonavista Bay. It's a fishing village with a lot of history. Originally inhabited by the Beothuks, it was then occupied by Basque fishermen in the early 17th century. It's now recognized as one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in North America.
Drive slowly into town or you might miss Salvage's Fisherman's Museum and Craft Shop, a small interpretive museum that depicts fishing life from the late 19th century to the present day. From there, you can drive on to the fish plant, where, if you wander around the wharf looking like the naive mainlander you are, someone might ask if they can help you. You can tell them you want to buy some fresh crab, and if you're lucky they'll have some for you.
Salvage's evocative scenery is even more accessible now that community walking trails have been constructed around the pioneer cemetery, through the woods, over the hills and along the coast. It's wonderful to be in the woods one minute and see the sea the next. And, as if the Net Point, Round Head and Southern Head trails weren't enough, the townspeople are busy constructing more. Bring your binoculars for an even better view of whales, bald eagles and icebergs.
If you're looking for more challenges, you might want to tackle the Old Trails from Salvage to Sandy Cove. You'll be following in the footsteps of early settlers who used these paths to get from one community to another before the roads were built. They vary in difficulty from a gentle walk among trees, wildflowers and streams to rugged terrain that's more demanding but offers wonderful vistas and rare Arctic plants.
Signage on these trails can change depending on the season (in other words, the markings sometimes get blown away), so hike with a companion and check in before you go. If you plan to start at the Salvage end, you should call in at the Fisherman's Museum for more information. If you'd like to start at Sandy Cove, you'll need to check in at the Beaches Heritage Centre in Eastport.
That centre is also the home of one of Canada's newest literary festivals. Dubbed Winterset In Summer, the three-day event in mid-August is an offshoot of the annual Winterset Awards, which honour the best in Newfoundland writing.
Author and columnist Richard Gwyn founded the awards in honour of his late wife, Sandra Fraser Gwyn. In addition to readings, music, visual arts and a good Newfoundland party, the festival gives you an opportunity to talk with visiting writers and artists. In 2004, expect to meet prominent Newfoundland and Labrador writers Lisa Moore, Kevin Major and Robert Mellin, as well as a Cape Breton contingent that includes Alistair MacLeod and Anne-Marie MacDonald.
The Eastport Peninsula is also home to Terra Nova National Park, a 400-square-kilometre oasis of forest, rolling hills, sheltered inlets, rugged coastline, bogs, streams and lakes. Popular among native Newfoundlanders for decades, Terra Nova's activities - hiking, camping, sea kayaking, canoeing, golf, scuba diving, sailing and swimming - are becoming increasingly attractive to visitors.
Looks like a one-day trip to Salvage and the Eastport Peninsula is out of the question.