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3rd October, 2015

Corner Brook, Newfoundland

The run around the south coast had been in rather overcast weather until the cold front had passed through, and then it became relatively clear except for the grey low cloud that seemed to merge with the far horizon. A little breezy too, with the wind from the north bringing down the temperatures.

The following morning saw us, in an inky blackness, turning into the Humber Arm. The pilot boarded for the final ten miles down toward Corner Brook, a place I had spent Christmas on board a paper carrying cargo ship forty three years ago. The paper mill was still there, its steam exhaust visible for miles as dawn began to break. It was just 5 degrees as we docked, a distinct change from the balmy 20 degrees of St. John’s.

So the passengers all went ashore to board their coaches, plus three typically American yellow and black school buses, wrapped up to the nines. Funnily enough they all had a smile, and the odd quip as they passed me on the dockside. Tony the local agent was a charming gentleman taking a break from his normal job as a driving instructor. He very kindly took a few of us off for an hour’s drive during the afternoon to see the sights, which included an old steam engine dating back from when Newfoundland had its own railway. It ran from Port Aux Basques in the south west to St. John’s in the east and took several days at a maximum speed of 30 mph. The American servicemen during the Second World War nicknamed it the ‘Newfy Bullet’…..for obvious reasons.

Captain Cook mapped most of Newfoundland before going off to the Pacific, consequently, and no doubt not wanting to miss out on a guaranteed tourist ‘activity’, the Corner Brook officials some years ago decided to erect a statue in his honour at the top of a nearby hill. After first taking in a rather large mall on the way, we ended up at the viewpoint. In amazingly clear weather the views along the Humber Arm were spectacular and looking back down to the harbour, Saga Sapphire could be seen lying quietly close by the paper mill.

Tony very kindly gave me an old railway lamp before we departed, one of a dozen he’d managed to hold onto when the railway eventually closed in 1983. It will be a suitable addition to my collection of railway ‘bits and pieces’.

Captain Philip Rentell

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