History of the Trans-Canada Highway across Newfoundland, from Corner Brook to Grand Falls-Windsor
The community of Corner Brook lies on Humber Arm, which forms the mouth of the Humber River, which was explored by Captain James Cook in 1767, when he sailed up the first four miles. The Humber is Newfoundland's most important salmon river, accounting for about 10% of the annual catch by the province's anglers.
The Trans-Canada has been widened to 4 lanes from Massey Driver, just south of Corner Brook to 5km north of Pasadena. This helps accommodate the truck and traffic to area resorts.
When you pass Steady Brook, on the south-east side of the highway you pass Marble Mountain Resort. The mountain peaks at 454 m(1791 ft) and the resort has a vertical of 519 metre on 39 runs covered with an annual snowfall of 5metres.
At Pasadena, you drive along Deer Lake, which is a widening of the Humber River (it's called the Upper Humber River north of the town of Deer Lake). The lake used to have log boom at is southern end to contain logs on their way to a mill in Corner Book (the first was opened in 1900). Bark that has fallen of transported logs litter the bottom of the lake (the locals call it "pug"), depriving the lake of oxygen. Despite that, the lake has several fine beaches, and is home to Tom cod (usually a saltwater fish) and to several bay seals.
On the south side of the town of Deer Lake is the spillway from Grand Lake to the northeast. This power plant was built in 1923 to generate power for the pulp and paper mill at nearby Corner Brook.
At the north end of Deer Lake is the actual community of Deer Lake. This town is important for its regional airport, which is servered by Air Canada, Wetjet, and PAL, with wintertime vacation service by Sunwing.
Deer Lake is also the junction for route 430 up to Gros Morne National Park with its stunning fiords, and continue north up the scenic Viking Trail on the Northern Peninsula to the UNESCO World Heritage / National Historic Site at L'Anse aux Meadows (north of St Anthony), and for catching ferries to Labrador from Pigeon Cove-St Barbe and from St Anthony. St Anthony is a 4-1/2 hour drive from Deer Lake, not counting any sightseeing and picture-taking.
North of Deer Lake, you are in the Sandy Lake Ecozone, with a gently undulating terrain sandwiched between the western coastal mountains and the rugged interior mountains. The area has dry sandy acidic soils as well as the Mary Ann Bogs, which mix black spruce forests with knee high sheep laurel and carpets of caribou moss. This area once supported herds of 10,000 caribou back in the 1800s , though the herd ha dwindled to 200 animals.
The highway heads north on the western shore of Sandy Lake (with tree covered Birchy Ridge rising 150 m / 500 ft above the highway to the west), then heads east on the northern shore, and then heads back north-east of the eastern side of Brichy lake which extends from Sandy lake
16km from the Route 403 junction, you will pass forests of White Pine, some of which are over 300 years old. The white pine is the tallest tree growing in Newfoundland, and during the 1800s was a key resource for England's navy. Today, many white pine trees are susceptible to a disease called white pine blister rust.
Just southwest of Springdale, when passing the Burnt Berry Motel/Resort (which has been around for many years), is the path of an old Micmac Indian trail from Springdale to the Topsails, about 50 km away. The natives would hunt in the hills in the summer, dry & store their for the winter. There is an old abandoned Micmac graveyard nearby.
Halls Bay, South Brook
Halls Bay north of the TransCanada highway at South Brook is a fjord stretching 40 km inland from Notre Dame Bay, and is on of the top sealing grounds in the world. Young seals are borne on the springtime ice surface, and used to be hunted on the ice for their pristine white furs. Later in the Spring travelers will see small icebergs ("clumpers") that drift into the fjord.
East of South Brook, you pass South Pond (southwest of the highway), where the highway turns sharply southward the town of Badger on the Exploits River, and then follows the north bank of that river into Grand Falls-Windsor.
Catamaran Provincial Park
Catamaran Provincial Park, on Joes Lake (sic, no apostrophe), covers and area that was the winter hunting ground of the now extinct Beothuks. This park is the location where the last known survivor Shanawdithit was captured in 1823, and remained relatively undisturbed until it became a provincial park in 1958.
This area has an undulating topography, with exposed walls of black basalt, and acidic soils with poor coniferous forests
In 2014, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador rehabilitated about 16 kilometres of the Trans-Canada between Grand Falls-Windsor and Badger, running adjacent to the Exploits River.
Along rock cuts for the highway and in the riverbanks, you will see reddish Silurian sandstones, that were deposited by ancient rivers 400 million years ago, at the time when the Old World touched North America here (before they started drifting apart roughly 200 million years ago). The Exploits River, dominant feature of the Valley, was used by prehistoric Beothuk, and also by the European explorers Cartwright and Buchan as a highway into the unknown interior.
As you approach the city of Grand Falls-Windsor from the west, you pass two sets of rapids, and then a dam, which bypasses a long series of rapids on the river, left wild for the benefit of salmon spawning on the river. There is the Salmonid Interpretation Centre near to on the south bank of the river, recognizing this river system is crucial to the survival of the Atlantic Salmon. The Exploits River is the second longest river in the province (exceeded only by the Churchill River)
Grand Falls, on the north bank of the Exploits River and surrounded by boreal forest, has been a pulp and paper town since 1909. Stockpiles of pulpwood and chips in the millyard, and the sulphur smell in the air were once the town 's trademarks, though the mills stopped production in 2009, and is in the process of demolition. To meet the demands of the mill, an average of 20 square miles of forest are mechanically harvested each year. Less mechanized pioneer logging methods are displayed at the town's museum
The Exploits River was used by the Beothuks who canoed on the Exploits between summer fishing caps on the ocean and winter hunting camps in the interior chasing caribou. Once Europeans settled the coast, the Indians were denied access to the resources of the sea, and their numbers dwindled. Some were senselessly killed by the settlers and the Beothuk tribe became extinct by the 1820s.
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