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Old 03-09-2011, 04:50 PM   #1
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Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

We are looking for advice from someone who has traveled to the Eastern Provinces of Canada.
We've read lots of tourist info but can't find much on RV'ing in these provinces. What can you tell us about National and Provincial parks? Did you boonie camp, which is a favorite with us? What about privately owned RV parks. We did find a few reviews on private parks and weren't impressed.
We plan to leave S. Texas in late May, cross into Canada at Sault St. Marie, and head east catching the whales and icebergs in Newfoundland in early June.
Time is not an issue. We may stay all summer and catch the changing leaves in New England on the way home.
Any help will be appreciated.
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:16 PM   #2
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Sydney to Port aux Basques is much easier than the ride to Argencia on the east coast.
Provincial parks were the cleanest places we had ever visited, even the outhouses were clean and odor free. They didn't have water at sites but with a cheater on the hose we were able to fill our tanks. We did it twice, from Florida so you can guess we enjoyed it thoroughly. Viking settlement was great at the north end. We saw iceburgs in the bay in Labrador in July, whales off shore of lighthouse where we parked for the night.
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:41 PM   #3
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Forgot to mention, private cg's have metered showers for hot water, take a lot of quarters, if you want a hot shower. Provincial parks didn't but so few people I rigged up an outdoor shower, gallon jug left in the sun took off the chill, years ago while boating we used a solar shower, wish we had taken it.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:50 PM   #4
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Agree with previous posts on how lovely the provincial parks are in Canada. We traveled in Newfoundland (by car & bus tour) last summer. The RV parks we observed were minimal by US standards but the people are VERY friendly and eager to have tourists. The culture is quite interesting...you will have a fantastic trip!
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:54 PM   #5
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Make your reservations for the ferry early. Plan a min. of 3 weeks in Newfoundland and then you will only see about 1/2 of it. Gross Morne National Park will take you close to a week to see it. You can cross on a short ferry to Labrador about 1/2 way up the west cost. If you really want to boondock that is the place to do it. Consider a trip up the coast of Labrador to Battle Harbor, a restored cod fishing village out on one of the coastal islands. It can be a day trip or you can stay over in a restored cabin or bunkhouse.

You can camp anywhere. We plugged in at private CG twice in 3 weeks.

A side trip that may be missed it go out to Deer Island from St Andrews NB and camp on the island and take the car ferry over to Campobello. You know that island off the coast of Maine, that you were taught about in grade school that happens to be in Canada.
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:40 PM   #6
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We went to Newfoundland in 2004 and loved it.

More later. Gotta go.

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Old 03-10-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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We spent two weeks doing PEI and Nova Scotia last August. We stayed almost exclusively in provincial parks except for PEI. Really enjoyed Graves Island and Porter Lake (outside of Halifax) parks. Lovely waterview sites, spacious, quiet during the week. They're boondocking but there were hot showers available.

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Old 03-10-2011, 07:51 PM   #8
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I want to go there..
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:59 PM   #9
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I thought this thread would stay alive, so it's time to bring it back.

When you look at Newfoundland on most maps, it looks pretty small. It is not small. From Port aux Basques where one of the ferries goes to from Cape Breton Is. to the capital, St. Johns, is roughly 500 miles. You drive the TransCanada Hwy, but it's a 2 laner and was in good shape when we were there in 2004. It is not an expressway by US standards and there are some interchanges.

There's a ferry that takes you a lot closer to St John's. I don't remember where it goes from and to. It's a much longer ride, but if you want to go different ways, you could go on 2 different ferries. It doesn't run in the winter. There's also a ferry from St. Barbe on the Northern Penn. that goes over to Quebec Province—a very short trip, maybe 12 miles. From there you can turn left and follow the St. Lawrence to Quebec City, or go right and go to Labrador.

Labrador is part of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and so the Canadian postal people have decided the abbrev. is NL, but I like Nfld. I have not learned the US postal abbrev. either and think AK is a slightly naughty abbreviated phrase from Yiddish, or the abbrev. for Arkansas. Is MI Minn. or Miss. or Missouri? But I digress.

You can drive up the coast of Labrador and eventually inland to Goose Bay and then get back to Quebec. Most or all is dirt road, very remote, probably has few services and I hope to convince my wife someday that it is just what we should do. It will take months to do so, but I usually convince her.

Good road maps of Nfld. are hard to come by, but the Province has a very good one and good tourism books. They are essential. You can contact them through their website or call them. It is hard to find much in tour books like Frommers—it's usually lumped in with the Maritime Prov. (NS, NB and PEI) and with them the 4 are the Atlantic Prov.

The TCH is inland because Nfld. is an island with many peninsulas. To go somewhere on one of them, you often have to come back on the same road. The interior is mostly bogs, rivers, trees, bogs, lakes, bogs and trees. Half of the population lives in St. John's and most of the rest lives along the peninsulas by the sea. Fishing was once a major part of the economy, but much has been overfished.

The people are nicer than anyone you'll meet in the US and Canada. You may not understand what they are saying because there are some strange mixes of accents on the island and many people talk so fast they can't be understood. Just tell them to slow down and they will laugh and slow down.

The tourist season is short because of the awful weather there. Many things are closed until summer has begun elsewhere. The season is not much more than 2 months, but coming early means you have things to yourself. Then it makes sense to go to St. Johns first while they rest of the attractions are still closed. Do not let this discourage you.

If you spend some time traveling down all the penninsulas, seeing the national parks, checking out St. John's and meeting the people, you could easily spend the summer there. St. John's has one of the world's best harbors and a delightful older city by the harbor. When you are there, you are closer to Europe than Texas.

Do not expect healthy food except in the large cities. They know they eat heart attack foods (I saw bologna on Mixed Grill in one restaurant) and laugh about that too. This may be changing since 2004.

Read the Shipping News (the movie is cool too, but the book is much better). It captures the flavor of Nfld and it's a good read too.

Many of the roads are not good, though they were better than Nova Scotia where the worst roads in Canada are located. The traditional Nfld. house is a box painted in bright colors, but since they discovered white vinyl siding, the colors are gone. The weather is brutal on wood siding and paint, so I can't blame them for vinyl, but it changes the character. The little towns on the peninsulas are spread out along the water and seem to be jumbled rather than in anything resembling a grid. But they keep everything clean and make a lot of US towns look dirty.

We traveled there before we had the Airstream and stayed in a variety of lodging, some of which was not too great or hard to find. I don't know what the status of RV campgrounds are, but there has been a tradition of camping in provincial gravel pits. I don't know if they've been closed to the public though. They used to be open in Yukon, but last year we saw they were all closed. At some lodgings the water didn't look good. It was spring and it was obvious that spring runoff was what was coming out of the faucet—it was full of silt which gives it a yellowish/tan color. You can get water like that out of a perfectly good well, or it can mean someone put a pipe in a creek. Bring jugs of water.

There's a lot to see in the Maritimes too. We went to Nfld, Halifax, Gaspé Pen., Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, drove around the Canadian side of the Lakes Huron and Superior, Manitoba and back home in 5 weeks. It was too much, but still a great trip.

You will not regret a trip to Nfld., and you may be the only people you know who have been there.

Gene
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:45 PM   #10
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Matt,
We were there last June 3 - 24. It was unforgettable !!! The weather was cold and rainy much of the time. Lows of 38* & highs of 50 - 70*. Above the ocean it could be 70 and minutes later at sea side it is 50. we crossed @ port au basques - a 4 - 6
ride depending on the ferry, from north Sydney, NS. The cost was $400 -425 each way. June is very early in the season - not all C/Gs are open but enough are that it won't be a prob. Gros morne park is incredible ! Moose, bear, and wildlife are to be seen. The western pond boat ride is well worth the hike to see 1500 - 2000' waterfalls. up the NW coast are numerous loops or day trips to take. the viking settlement is very, very interesting. Icebergs can be seen from there or St Anthonys, where we took a boat to see a 'berg grounded in 220' of water. We headed back south to the TCH and ended up in St. Johns area. (Many side trips/loops are available in crossing on the TCH) Signal hill is very interesting as is Cape Spear in the St. Johns area. we rode the Gatherall boat trip @ bay Buls (I think). Many Puffins and whales were seen on our trip. St Marys has an incredible number of gannets and other birds on their nesting sites and you can hike, about 3/4 mi. to within yards of them !!! The people are incredibly friendly and helpful. we had a flat tire on the truck and in 5 minutes had 5 - 6 stop to help - one even had a floor jack to raise the truck for tire changing !!!!! We crossed into canada at Port Huron, MI. The trip thru toronto and montreal was a little like St. louis, but no troubles - just lots of fast traffic. Quebec was not enjoyable because no english is spoken or translated AT ALL !! But PEI, NB, & NS are incredible to see if time allows. Nearly all roads we traveled were good. We dropped the A/S and took day trips from several spots as we crossed the island. I would be happy to PM you if you have ? we will be home from FL and in Iowa on 4/1/11. We know you'll have a great trip to NF !!
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:33 AM   #11
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Some words about Quebec. The people were very friendly and helpful when we needed to find out something. We have heard for years the people there have bad attitudes, but we didn't find that to be so. It may matter how you approach the situation.

But…

You can go just about anywhere in the world and see signs in English except in Quebec. Although a very small sign is allowed in English in storefronts, some don't have any and we weren't always sure what they were selling. In Quebec city someone in a restaurant can speak English and they may have a menu in English. We went to a museum that promised it was bilingual, but the English signs were skimpy and we felt we were missing a lot. I've studied Spanish, Portuguese and Latin, so I could figure out some of the French, and my wife got a French language teaching tape, so she had some rudimentary skills. Outside of the big cities, many people only speak French.

We could eventually figure out what the road signs said, but usually by the time we did, we were past them. Driving at times was distracting, but we didn't get lost or hit anything.

In most of Canada, signs are in English and French, but not in Quebec. They must feel they are victims, but they drive people away and many Canadians elsewhere do not like Quebecois.

The whole thing is unfortunate and largely a product of political opportunism and fear. I am sure many feel that their culture will eventually be eliminated and they will be Anglicized, so they fight it. I'm sure they will be, but it'll just take longer. By isolating themselves from the rest of Canada (and the US), they hurt themselves in various ways.

So, it was still worth it. Quebec City should be seen, so should the Gaspé Peninsula, Montreal, and more. Nonetheless, and despite the friendliness of the people, we felt we weren't really wanted there as English speakers and we were glad to get to Ontario.

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Old 03-22-2011, 10:46 AM   #12
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We appreciate the input from all of you on this thread. Like Gene, I thought we would get more response. I guess most people stick to the regular tourist places.
Adventure drives me. I've vacationed in Vietnam, The Balkans, and many Eastern Bloc countries. Newfoundland looks like a place I'll find interesting.
We boonie camp at every opportunity. Any advice on boonie camping in these regions will be appreciated.
Last year we went to Alaska and had no trouble finding good spots all the way from Texas to Fairbanks and beyond. My biggest worry is getting hassled by local cops etc, which has NEVER happened in three years of RV'ing. Nor have we ever had any scares from people.
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Old 03-22-2011, 11:10 AM   #13
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Well, well, Matt....you do get around!

We plan to get up there with the trailer soon...maybe this is the year.

We will drive when we do go, but as of yesterday ferry service was suspended from Bar Harbor and Portland ferry discontinued last year.
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Old 03-22-2011, 12:46 PM   #14
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Go down east, b'y! (boy in Hinglish)

Sorry I didn't post sooner! I am experiencing compooter "challenges", but that's not what this thread is about (get used to hearing us say "aboot" here in Ontario).

You didn't really give much of a clue as to what you want to see on your trip, 'cuz trust me, this part of Canada has it all. Greater Toronto are is over 5 million people now, but a couple hundred miles north, you can drive a l-o-n-g time without seeing another soul.

OK, so the FIRST thing I want to do is give you some general info:
  1. Buy a copy of Woodall's! This is a Must! Get the version that comes with a CD, then whoever isn't driving can put in your laptop and where you are, your parameters (50 amp service, internet access, pets welcome, swimming, etc.) and get Super info on what is nearby.
  2. In Ontario at least, the Provincial parks are great. Clean, reasonably priced, can be reserved online, but they all keep some sites for drive-ups. Electricity (we call it Hydro) at some sites, no water or drains on sites. Drinking water sources (all tested regularly) are scattered liberally around all parks. Dumping free, as you leave, but always a turn-around so you don't HAVE to leave.
  3. The federal parks are also very good, but we never (or rarely) used them, too many Provincial ones we liked! But look at their site, it's packed with goodies to do and see.
  4. Roads are generally very good. Never perfect, but very rarely atrocious, even in the Real Deep Boonies.
So, you need to decide if you want to stay rural once you cross the border. I'm guessing you will come up the UP through MI (say hi to the Youpers, mighty nice folks, and they don't bite ), so if you want to keep to the sticks, take 17 right across to the east.

If you do that, you will pass by Algonquin Park, which is the largest Provincial Park in Ontario, and by any standards, is h-u-g-e. You could spend a month or two just wandering around in it.

But as I say, your decision: come down Highway 400 and visit Toronto (and spend a week or two there, again, lots to see!), or take 17 across, and go to Ottawa, "The Nation's Capital".

Ottawa is a Must See: it has more culture, history, and generally Nice People than it has any right to, mostly because many years ago, Queen Victoria decided that our Capital would be here. It is on the (wait for it) Ottawa River, which, connects to the Rideau Canal Waterway, and THAT links the lakes and rivers between Ottawa and Kingston on Lake Ontario. It is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. The locks are operated today much as they were when first opened in 1832: by hand! Built by a Colonel By under orders from the British Crown (government) to ensure that there would always be a secure connection safe from American attack!

It worked, by the way. US troops never did find Ottawa! Tee hee hee..

More later, I have errands to run right now. Attached is a photo of our Parliament from the Ottawa River. The round building is the Library. Take the boat tour, it's a blast!
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