Difference between revisions of "Stephenville (Newfoundland and Labrador)"
Revision as of 16:26, 7 October 2012
Stephenville  is a town in Western Newfoundland. The town is the 12th largest in the province and the 6th largest outside of the St. John's Metropolitan Area, in terms of population. The town is the second largest centre on the west coast of the island, serving as the hub of the Bay St. George region. Because of this, the town is a terrific location from which to explore the southwestern corner of the island.
Stephenville was settled late by Newfoundland standards. The first settlers did not arrive here until the mid 1800's, and for different reasons than the rest of the island. The first people of Stephenville were not fishers from the British Isles but rather farmers of French descent. More specifically, Acadians from the west coast of Cape Breton island. These people settled on the rich farmland that lay at the head of Bay St. George, just inside the sheltering arm of the Indian Head Range. This range is a part of the Long Range Mountains, which are in turn part of the Appalachian Mountains. The Long Range Mountains continue up the coast east of the bay, while the Lewis Hills, home of Newfoundland's highest point, Cabox, lay to the north.
The geography provided isolation from the rest of Newfoundland, allowing the people to continue on the culture and tradtions of their Acadian heritage. This includes the use of the french languague, which was the primary mother tongue of the area until the 1950's.
In 1940, the United States Army Air Force began the construction of an air field at Stephenville. After studying the east coast of Canada and all of Newfoundland, they chose Stephenville for its incredible weather record, which includes the most clear weather flying days in Atlantic Canada. In a few short years, the french farming village was transformed into a modern town of over 5,000 people, predominantly english speaking. Today, the people of Stephenville look to their military past with pride. Despite the almost universal use of english as the primary language, the people of Bay St. George are still noted for a certain french flair in their dialect, especially just west of town on the Port au Port Peninsula.
You can reach Stephenville easily. Firstly, if visiting from the mainland or anywhere off the island, you can reach Stephenville by air. Stephenville has its own international airport with connections to just about anywhere, but first you have to connect through Halifax or St. John's as they have the largest airports within the Atlantic region.
Provincial Airlines - Daily Service to St. John's
Sunwing - Seasonal Service to Toronto - Pearson
Air Saint Pierre - Season Service to St-Pierre et Miquelon, France
Flair Air - Employee Charter Service to and from Fort McMurray
DRL Coachlines offers daily service to and from Stephenville. Departing at 10:15am going east and departing 7:00pm going west from Stephenville Airport.
Eddy's Shuttle Service operates out of Stephenville International Airport to downtown Corner Brook, 4 round trips daily. To check for schedule call 1-709-643-2134.
Highways and Ferries
If travelling by car, you first have to take the Marine Atlantic Ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques. From there it's a 2 hour drive north on the Trans-Canada Highway to Stephenville. Turn off the Trans-Canada Highway onto provincial Route 460 - White's Road (also known as Hansen Highway) or Route 490 - Stephenville Access Road. Both roads leads into downtown Stephenville.
Once in Stephenville you can get out and enjoy the region by car or on foot. The flat topography of downtown Stephenville makes getting around as easy as can be, no matter how you choose to do so.
The town offers no mass transportation system of any kind besides taxi. Two taxi companies - "Bluebird" and "Crown" - operate in and around town. Each one offers a flat rate of $8 dollars for in town trips, $10 dollars for a round trip and an additional $1 dollar for each stop.
When driving in Stephenville remember that the speed limit for all municipal roads is 40km/h unless otherwise stated. In some areas, particularly in the downtown, it is customary to drive slower than the posted limit and be mindful of pedestrians and other drivers. Stephenville has been noted for having some of the most courteous drivers in Canada.
By car you can take route 460 along the French Ancestors route around the Port au Port Peninsula, Newfoundland's only truly bilingual region. On the Port au Port penisula make sure you drop by Sheaves Cove for some beautiful scenery it's located near the limestone mine at Lower Cove.
If you prefer to walk, then get out and explore the town. The Walk-A-Ways Trail system meanders through Stephenville. Walk the shores of Bay St. George past former American military bunkers and colourful fishing boats. Continue on along Blanche Brook, Stephenville's central greenbelt and newest park, created after the 2005 flood which displaced more than 300 residents. Follow the signs through the Valley neighbourhood, around Ned's Pond, up to Maryland Drive and take in a breathtaking view of Stephenville and Bay St. George.
Walk through and see the former Ernest Harmon Air Force Base. Following the closure of the largest U.S. Air Force Base outside the continental U.S. in 1966, the base was amalgamated with the town of Stephenville by the mid-1970's. Today the base, Stephenville's east side, is a colourful neighbourhood whose streets are all named in honour of American bases. Where else can you walk from Carolina to California in under 30 minutes?
The Blanche Brook Fossil Forest - Located just off the Hansen Highway and accessible by a special leg of the Walk-A-Ways Trail System is the fossil forest. The brook bed is the location of more than 200 fossilized trees dating back over 300 million years to a time when Newfoundland was located nearer the equator. These trees were over 50 meters tall and 2 meters wide at the trunk.
Trapper Joey's Lookout - Turn off route 490 and onto Harbour Drive. Take a right onto the first dirt road on your left. Don't travel in too far, you'll need to park and hike up. At the top is a viewing platform built out from the limestone hillside which provides a magnificent view of Port Harmon, the town of Stephenville and the Lewis Hills to the north, as well as the Port au Port Peninsula to the northwest. If you camp overnight, watch for the lights of Stephenville International Airport just a few kilometres away as airplanes swoop in and land below you.
See the sites, the French heritage, the American influence, the fishing outport history. It's all in one town.
Barachois Provincial Park is located just under 30 mins from town on the TCH. This is the largest provincial park in Newfoundland, with over 3500 hecatres of land. The park has hiking, boating and swimming areas as well as an interpretation centre and a comfort centre with full shower and laundry facilities.
Zenzville Campground is also located just outside town in Kippens. The campground offers full serives like Barachois and is closer to town. If you enjoy hiking check out the Gravels Trail located in Port au Port West just outside Stephenville. The park also offers pool and waterslide facilities among other amenities.
Have you ever golfed with the ocean on one side, a picturesque pond on the other, surrounded by mountains and Newfoundland wildlife, and a moving backdrop of some of the world's largest aircraft? Well, you can in Stephenville.
Harmon Seaside Links was constructed by American servicemen in the 1950's after a runway reconstruction project by the USAAF left an arm of land, that separated Stephenville Pond (now Port Harmon) from Bay St. George, unused. A 9-Hole course was constructed, which has since been expanded to a Graham Cook designed 18-hole course.
Green Fees - Prices are very competitive, just $40 for 18 holes or $30 for 9 holes. Access to the driving range is just $4.00.
The club also has a fully stocked and serviced pro shop for all a golfers needs. The course is typically open in early April and operates until mid-October.
The course is located on Massachusetts Drive, just south of Stephenville International Airport.
Stephenville is home of the renowned Stephenville Theatre Festival, Newfoundland longest running theatre festival. Every year the festival produces professional shows, typically 5 different productions that go on over the summer. These include drama, musicals, kids shows and more by a variety of writers, both local and internationally recognized. The festival employes over 80 people each season and performs at the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre on Massachusetts Drive.
The Stephenville Theatre Festival is the crown jewel in Stephenville's cultural crown and a prized piece of the tourism product. It truly is a can't miss event which has been reviewed by the Globe and Mail and New York Times among others.
Lewis Hills Trail - Hike the highest point in Newfoundland, Cabox. Rising 2,671 ft above sea level, Cabox is located on the International Appalachian Trail. This trail is easily accessed from the community of Cold Brook, located on the northeast corner of Stephenville just off Route 460. The Lewis Hills themselves, of which Cabox is part, are located just 18km north of Stephenville.
The Indian Head Range Trail can be accessed from Stephenville Crossing, just off Route 490. The trail is a sidetrail of the International Appalachian Trail Network. It dips in and out of beautiful valleys, skirting ponds and providing majestic views of Stephenville and Bay St. George. Keep an eye out for the rock formation which gives the trail its name, the Indian Head.
Erin Mountain - Located inside Barachois Pond Provincial Park, Erin Mounatin provides a hike which takes about 2.5 hours up to a summit approximately 340m up. From the top you have a panoramic view of Bay St, George, the Lewis Hills and the rolling hills to the east of the Newfoundland interior. Just 20km from downtown Stephenville.
Stephenville is the primary shopping destination for the Bay St. George region. The downtown is home to major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears and Loblaws (Dominion) as well as long time local retailers such as Arlims Co. Many small shops line Main Street and sell everything from high end clothing and electronics to second hand items and fresh baked goods.
Both Arlims Co. and Beavercraft are known for their traditional Newfoundland souvenirs, many of them handmade. Golden Gifts Plus, at the corner of Main and West Street is another gift shop, dealing mainly in higher end items. For Quality footware and sports clothing Byrnes on Main St. in Stephenville is the place to shop.
If it's good, homestyle food you are looking for then visit Hartery's Family Restaurant on Main Street, or Emile's Restaurant and Pub at the Holiday Inn. Stephenville is also known for Dominos Pizza House--not the chain restaurant, but a small local restaurant opened in the 1950's that known locally for its great pizza and submarine sandwiches, friendly atmosphere and low cost. Chinese food is available at Three local restaurants, but most eating establishments serve only Canadian and Newfoundland foods. Finally, no visit to Newfoundland is complete until you have tried Mary Brown's Fried Chicken, which in Stephenville is located on West Street.
Newfoundland is known for great drinking, and Stephenville is no exception. Bars and Clubs are located throughout town. The 104 is the most popular nightclub in the area for the younger generation. Clancy's is located downstairs from Razoolies, which is on the edge of town. Jacob's Place is also in that area. Visit Main St. and any one of the many bars: The Redwood, The Bar, The Brown Derby, Paddy's Pub and more.
If you need a place to stay because camping isn't your thing, don't worry, we have you covered. The Holiday Inn is adjoined to the Stephenville Mall and offers fully serviced rooms at an affordable rate. The Dreamcatcher Lodge also offers great accommodation in both hotel and motel forms. The Hotel Stephenville is located on the Base and is very affordable as well, it has rooms in the main building as well as in the unattached Annex. Keyano Motel also offers 10 rooms and is located near town. The Inn at The Cape are located on the Port au Port peninsula and offer incredible accommodation and an amazing view, with beautiful scenery.
Get out and see what you can, go golfing at Harmon Seaside Links on the 18 hole golf course, hike the Lewis Hills and visit Newfoundland's highest point. Experience true Newfoundland hospitality, then leave and come back again next year! Or if you don't want to leave you can always stay.