Excursion Around the Bay: Brigus and Cupids
Warm, sunny Saturdays aren’t a guarantee here in summer. But the forecast was saying that the weekend would be perfect, so I wanted to make sure I got out of the house and did something special.
It was at lunchtime on Friday when I decided on my plan: I’d drive out around the bay and visit Brigus and Cupids, two cute little towns about an hour’s drive from St. John’s. Eat some good food, take in a little theatre, do a bit of hiking…sounded like a perfect day trip from St. John’s.
I was a bit late arriving in Brigus and only discovered on arrival that Some Good Market was happening 10-4 at Academy Hall. I’d only left myself time for lunch in town so I was cursing my tardiness. Some Good Market is a travelling food and craft market, where you can get all manner of local products. If I had planned my time better I could’ve picked up some mind-blowingly awesome looking cupcakes from the Petten sisters behind Best Kind Bake Shoppe. I mean check out this amazing Instagram account. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Friggin’ cool right? There are so many talented people on this island it’s ridiculous. But alas, I didn’t plan and missed out. So don’t be me. Check out Some Good Market.
Brigus itself is an adorable town of about 800 souls that was just made for Instagram. There’s a canal that runs through the centre of the historic part of town and calls out to be photographed. You could visit Hawthorne Cottage, former home of Captain Bob Bartlett, who was in charge of the S.S. Roosevelt when Peary reached the North Pole. Or you could walk through The Tunnel, a hole blasted through solid stone to provide easy access to the Bartlett wharves. Maybe you want to peek into the Stone Barn Museum.
Sure, you could do all of those things. But what I really came to town for was Country Corner. Two years ago I’d had their blueberry crisp and I tell ya, it is the stuff of dreams.
The inside seating area is very small and they often get pretty slammed so outdoor seating will be your best bet. Just grab a menu from a server inside and you’re all set. There’s no need to wait for someone to seat you, just grab a spot and flag someone down. I was surprised to find that they had such a large gluten-free menu, which was nice to see in small town Newfoundland.
But back to the blueberry crisp… oh my… Brigus is known for their blueberries. So much so that their annual summer festival is dedicated to the berry. They grow wild all around the area so it’s also a great place to do a bit of berry picking. What makes this blueberry crisp so special? It’s the sheer decadence of it: blueberry crisp topped with blueberry ice cream with a heavy drizzle of blueberry sauce. You need to get some. You can thank me later.
So after I stuffed myself full of blueberry crisp and moose stew (also a Country Corner special) I hopped in the car and headed up the road to Cupids, the oldest continually settled British colony in Canada. John Guy established the town in 1610 and people have been there every since. For a town of just under 800 residents, there’s enough to do to spend a day exploring there. But I was here for theatre and hiking.
Perchance Theatre perform plays by Shakespeare in a mini Globe Theatre that was built behind Cupids Haven B&B. Given Newfoundland weather, they only run during July and August so time your trip accordingly. It helps to remember that, in Newfoundland, June is not a summer month. I don’t care if you don’t think you’re a Shakespeare fan, get thee to Perchance! They have top-notch talent every year and I guarantee you’ll be entertained…and for a reasonable price. Tickets typically range from $13-$33.
After the matinee, I changed into hiking sneakers, grabbed a bottle of water and went to explore the Burnt Head Trail to burn off those crisp calories. It’s a relatively easy 2.5km loop through woods, meadows, and along the coast. I did miss a turn once though and ended up by someone’s cabin. Oops. They’ve got a deadly summer home though. What a view! Despite my meanderings, the path is generally well marked. There are picnic tables along the way so you may want to bring along a picnic lunch from Cupid’s Haven.
Beautiful hike complete it was getting time to head back to St. John’s. No trip to Brigus/Cupids is complete though without takeout from E&E Drive In. No, movies here, just loads of deep fried deliciousness. The chicken fingers and onion rings are my go-to. At E&E, chicken fingers are actual chunks of white breast meat that are battered like fish and deep-fried. I mean, who does that? So greasy. So good. If it’s your first time in Newfoundland though, swap out the onion rings for some fries, dressing, and gravy. What’s fries, dressing and gravy you ask? It’s a heart attack on a plate and so, so good. E&E also make some deadly milkshakes.