The Bonavista Peninsula is a great place to explore the rugged Newfoundland coast. It is also one of the most historic areas of the province, which can be seen from a simple drive through the many tiny outports that round the edge of the sea or a short stroll through any of the local cemeteries. There were once many more small thriving communities throughout Bonavista Bay in the north and Trinity Bay to the south, but after the resettlement programs of the sixties and seventies, many of the smaller towns and villages were forced to abandon their traditional homes for the promise of better services such as schools and hospitals that were only available in larger centers.
Kerley's Harbour was originally occupied on a seasonal basis but the first permanent settlers date back to the turn of the century. It had forty residents when it was first recorded in the census in 1845 and by 1935 it had reached its carrying capacity at ninety people. The collapse of the Labrador fishery and confederation into Canada in 1949 saw a decline in the local economy and in 1963 the last few remaining residents moved out of Kerley's Harbour for good.
The trailhead is located at the town of New Bonaventure and passes through the film set of the television series "Random Passage." The series depicted the harsh life of settlers in the early 1800's and the remaining structures show an accurate view of what it would have been like but live in those times. The old cart road that connected the Harbour with nearby Bonaventure makes up most of this 2km history lesson, it served as the only land link to the surrounding communities and was probably utilized mainly for winter travel. It is well maintained and offers a few good views of the rugged coast of Trinity Bay. Moose, hares, and birds are common sights along the trail and some areas are still used as a sheep pasture (watch your step).
Not much remains of Kerley's Harbour, today; the only thing left standing is one cabin that was recently built by a former resident of the town for an upcoming reunion. All around the harbour, though, you can find evidence of the once thriving community. Remnant foundations, root cellars, and collapsed remains of old houses lie all along the shore and a sign that says simply: Kerley's Harbour - Resettled 1963 has been erected at the site. It is a very neat place to explore.
This short hike also serves as the start of the British Harbour trail, which winds its way through barrens, wetlands, and dense forest for 4km before arriving at another abandoned community from the same era. Combining the two is a great overnight trip, but don't forget the bug-spray!
Take route 230 from the TCH near the town of Clarenville. Turn off at route 239 and follow it to the town of New Bonaventure. The trailhead is located at the Random Passage film set.
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change