Toronto Star: Love at First Sigh


The true loveliness of this natural beauty continued to unfold when we set eyes on the geological wonder known as the Tablelands in Gros Morne. It was there that we spotted out first iceberg, floating majestically in the strait of Bell Isle.

The white monster resembled a huge rectangular airplane hanger and stood perhaps two stories high. And to think, only one-tenth of it is visible above water.

Why is it that you can’t look at one of these things without thinking of the Titanic?

Most of the icebergs drift down from the west coast of Greenland, where they have broken off ancient glaciers. They travel slowly southward via the Labrador Current and caution is advised in the event of “calving” – that’s when the iceberg breaks up. Calving can create huge ice hunks, which fly off, causing sizeable waves that have been known to capsize boats. Calving actually sounds like thunder when it starts.

Playful humpback whales greeted our arrival to Quirpon Island, their tails disappearing into the sea like graceful synchronized swimmers.

The island is set against rough-hewn rocks whose intense beauty has been chiseled by time and the ever pounding surf. Amidst this beauty sits Cape Bauld Lighthouse, a welcome beacon for this seafaring nation of fishermen.

A glance over my shoulder from our boat revealed two mammoth icebergs silently inching their way to extinction.

Quirpon Island is a remote place, with only two houses on it. After settling in, we set out to explore this place where delicate wildflowers flourish among rugged, wind swept terrain. Because icebergs are commonplace near Quirpon Island at this time of year, sea kayakers flock here to paddle among the ice sculptures, hoping to spot the whales who favor this part of the province.

Fortunately for us Ed English, part owner of Linkum Tours – they operate Quirpon Lighthouse – booked our excursion here to coincide with a “paddle and stroll” event that involved 12 kayakers and their colorful crafts floating around the icebergs and whales.

Kay Loek