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The St. Anthony Destination encompasses nearly the entirety of the Great Northern Peninsula in Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador. The namesake, St. Anthony, is a city situated along the coast of the Labrador Sea with approximately 2,258 inhabitants. Positioned among a mix of natural and historical sites, the city of St. Anthony receives a fair amount of tourists; as such, tourism plays a notable role in supporting the local economy. One of the most popular attractions, which can cater to both history and outdoor enthusiasts, is L’Anse aux Meadows–a site that is recognized as “the first known evidence of European presence in the Americas.” The archaeological remnants of the Viking escarpment are a significant feature of L’Anse aux Meadows, and oftentimes, Viking interpreters contribute to the experience as visitors tour the attraction. For those who plan on engaging in warm-weather activities during their travels to the St. Anthony Destination, it should be noted that St. Anthony and its vicinity experience comparatively moderate temperatures from mid-July to mid-August, and this period can cater to such activities. St. Anthony’s position along the Canadian coastline produces a subarctic climate, with relatively long winters and shorter summers.
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, serves as the home for the St. Anthony Destination, with its namesake, St. Anthony, located in the northern region of the Great Northern Peninsula. The city contains an estimated population of 2,258 residents, as of 2016. Previously recorded statistics indicate a decrease of -6.6% in the population from 2011 to 2016, as approximately 2,418 people were reported to be living in St. Anthony in 2011. Considering its population, the city was deemed “the largest population centre on the Great Northern Peninsula.” In terms of transportation, the town is chiefly serviced through the St. Anthony Airport and the Great Northern Peninsula Highway.
Roughly 40 kilometers north of St. Anthony, one can find the L’Anse aux Meadows–a historically significant area that was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1968. The L’Anse aux Meadows is situated on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula and is most commonly associated with being the first known evidence of European presence in the Americas. Over one thousand years ago, the site was the location of Norse expeditions that took place overseas from Greenland. The Norse explorers reportedly traveled to L’Anse aux Meadows and constructed a small encampment of buildings that primarily comprised timber and sod. Today, visitors can explore the archaeological remains of the Viking encampment, as original artifacts are showcased at L’Anse aux Meadows.
Whale watching is a particularly popular activity that tourists tend to undertake during their visit to St. Anthony. One specific trail where visitors can do so is the Whale Watchers Trail beneath the cliffs of Fishing Point. The trail supposedly takes approximately half an hour to reach a lookout where a telescope is arranged for whale watchers. Likewise, Fishing Point can provide the means for whale watching, in addition to hiking, dining, and iceberg viewing. While the cuisine at Fishing Point plays a notable role in St. Anthony’s culture, tourists can also learn more about the local traditions, dialect, and music that characterize the community. Apart from Fishing Point, the town also hosts several festivals and concerts. One such is the Winterfest in March, which, as the name suggests, involves winter events and competitions. A number of music concerts are additionally organized in St. Anthony. For those who take an interest in winter recreation, hundreds of kilometers of snowmobiling trails meander through forests, mountain tops, and valleys, and opportunities for ice fishing are available throughout the town. Moreover, an extensive trail system for skiers can be found at the Aurora Nordic Ski Club. Snowshoeing can also be done in St. Anthony, as local sellers offer snowshoes between a general price range of $25.00 to $50.00.
The Great Northern Peninsula, which constitutes the entirety of the St. Anthony Destination, is divided into two primary topographic areas: the high plateau of the Long Range Mountains and the low-lying coastal areas where the settlements are located. Valleys comprise the Long Range Mountains with fjords that transition to the sea. Multiple lakes and rivers can be found throughout the mountainous region of the Great Northern Peninsula. Notably, the peninsula is the longest and largest in Newfoundland, Canada, extending about 270 kilometers long and 90 kilometers wide at its widest point. Generally speaking, the Great Northern Peninsula encompasses a 17,483-square-kilometer expanse, with an estimated total population of approximately 14,733 residents, as of 2021. The namesake of the destination, St. Anthony, is “the largest population centre on the peninsula.”
A considerable population of bird species can be found throughout the Great Northern Peninsula, such as black-capped chickadee, ruffed grouse, boreal chickadee, fox sparrow, ruby-crowned kinglet, junco, and white-throated sparrow, to name a few. The coastal areas are also said to be the home for bald eagles, as opposed to the barrens and shrublands, where American Pipit, swamp sparrow, and horned lark can be found, among several other bird species. Closer to the Great Northern Peninsula’s Eastern Long Range subregion, one can find a diverse range of wildlife beyond the bird population, including moose, lynx, mink, black bears, red foxes, snowshoe hares, muskrat, otter, beaver, and caribou. The rivers and lakes of the Great Northern Peninsula supposedly contain many different types of fish, one of which, the American eel, is “considered at risk” and was “designated as a special concern.”
St. Anthony and its vicinity typically experience mild summers, as the town is affected by a subarctic climate. What is commonly considered the warm season—roughly from mid-June to mid-September—receives average temperatures above 56°F during the day. On account of temperatures reaching an average high of 64°F in August, this month tends to be acknowledged as the hottest month of the year compared to the other months. As for the cold season from December to March, average daily temperatures drop below 28°F, with the coldest month being February. An average low of 6°F and a high of 20°F is typical in February. With that being said, warm-weather activities are comparatively more accessible from mid-July to mid-August, when temperatures are relatively moderate. Those who enjoy outdoor recreation may be drawn to St. Anthony during this time of year should they plan on participating in such activities.
During the 16th century, European settlement took place in what is presently known as the city of St. Anthony upon the arrival of French and Basque fishermen. These settlers utilized the site as a seasonal fishing station, as they considered the harbor to be well-sheltered. The area received its name from Jacques Cartier, an explorer who stumbled upon the settlement in 1534 and named it as such. Throughout the mid-19th century, the population began to experience a slight increase, and by 1857, there was a total of 71 inhabitants in 10 families that were residing in St. Anthony. While the population eventually reached 139 residents in 1891, it wasn’t until Dr. Wilfred Grenfell visited the area in 1900 that the town’s population began to grow at a comparatively quicker rate. The population increase was seemingly due to the salt fish plant and cold storage facilities that were constructed in the 1930s and contributed to the town’s economy. More recently, tourism has become one of several supporting industries of the local economy, specifically the historically significant sites that have connections to Grenfell. The aforementioned Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows is among these sites that draw a number of people.
L’Anse aux Meadows is one of the most prominent historical areas in the St. Anthony Destination, dating back to circa the year 1000 when Norse explorers established a sizable base on the site. Starting at L’Anse aux Meadows, they began to expand their exploration, traveling to other parts of Atlantic Canada. They reached “at least as far south as eastern New Brunswick.” Based on the description of L’Anse aux Meadows in Eiríks saga rauða—“Erik the Red’s Saga”—the site is said to correspond to Straumfjord in Vinland’s northern region; however, this settlement was abandoned after a few years, presumably on account of the smaller mother colony in Greenland which was unable to support a distant outpost.