Crossing Newfoundland by Train


J.R. Smallwood, late of the Telegram.

(Originally published in the Evening Telegram, July 3, 1920)

Much talk and more writing to the effect that a trip across Newfoundland was an ordeal to be dreaded had made an impression of doubt on my mind, and it was worth a sort of foreboding that I took that route. Now that I have crossed the Island by rail let me state right here that, as far an "ordeal" is concerned, there is nothing to it! Nothing... The Transinsular run was quite pleasant and in all ways interesting. One thing impresses the traveller -- the fact that Newfoundland is two countries in one. That fact is not a paradox. The Eastern portion of Newfoundland is as unlike the Western as chaulk is like cheese. It is as if the country were divided by a broad, neutral band, running North and South. The band would run through, say Deer Lake. East of that, and Avalon Peninsula is included, the country is bare, barren and rocky. A stumbled shrubbery grows abundantly and sometimes a stunted type of spruce and fir. In the West, on the other hand, the land is densely covered with tall, tapering, knotless trees, beautiful birches, heavy aspens and even maples. A luxuriant growth of foliage covers the nourishment -- giving soil like a carpet -- except that no artist ever designed such a carpet as Mother Nature here lavishes. The track runs between hills, through curving, extensive valleys, and the tree-covered hill makes a most entrancing picture. One must not be an artist or possess a temperamental nature to appreciate the beauties of the West Coast. Only a misanthrope could fail to recognize those beauties. The rural rustic valley of Codroy will delight the soul of anyone alive. The multi-colored landscapes are most entrancing and are at their best, as far as scenic excellence is concerned at sunset. Then Codroy Valley is at her best -- and then it is hard to beat. Newfoundland is the West Coast -- the West Coast is Newfoundland. One cannot be really proud of Newfoundland until he has seen the West Coast and that's no lie!