Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stephenville Special

The artist Sonya Schonberger is visiting from Berlin, Germany.  While she is here mainly to be with Colette, I have been able to spend some time with her also.  Yesterday we ventured to the Port aux Port peninsula, which is about an hour south of Corner Brook and, I hope I can be forgiven for saying so, one of the more oddball places in Newfoundland.  I say that with the utmost affection.

Our first stop was the Our Lady of Mercy museum and church.  Sadly, neither were open.  Too early in the season, I guess.  The museum, especially, is one of my all-time favourites and a huge inspiration for my own project, The House Museum.  I knew Sonya would love it too, but alas, we could only peer in the windows while Lucy and I tried to describe the wonders that lay within.  The church is wooden, beautiful and huge, with a seating capacity for 1,000.  But, as my former mother-in-law so aptly observed about so many things undertaken in Newfoundland, "it just didn't work out".  The town never quite reached its goal as an economic hub, the people never came and the pews sat, largely, empty.  But the church remains and is impressive no matter that it is now an historic site rather than a going concern.

Nearby (and the reason for such hopeful church-building) is an abandoned limestone quarry in Aguathuna.  Over the years I have collected a lot of video and photographic documentation of this strange and wonderful and desolate place.  It was fun to see it fresh through Sonya's eyes.

Iron springs from an old mattress.

The water from the quarry site.
From the quarry, we moved on to a short visit with the alpacas - a must on any trip to the Port aux Port.  We didn't linger too long with our fibre-y friends, however, because our stomachs were beginning to rumble and we wanted to head to Stephenville, the home of the original Domino Pizza.  And by this, I mean the very first place called Domino Pizza.  They were later sued by the pizza chain over the name and, remarkably, the chain lost!  They tell their story on their menu, along with the claim that they are "...the cheapest on the island.  Some would venture to say all of Canada.  You be the judge."

We spent many moments contemplating what they meant by this exactly but then our pizza arrived and we were too busy eating it to judge its cheapness.

Stephenville, as you may recall, was the site of an American Air Force base in WWII and a good deal of evidence of that remains around town.  Much of the housing is still intact and in use.  The airport was functional until not so long ago.  Yet, there is a good bit of abandoned stuff to stir the emotions of anyone who ever found mystery and romance in a rusty, weed covered bit of equipment or crumbling warehouse.

You be the judge.

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