What to do on Change Islands

Change Islands is a step back in time, unspoiled and tranquil though bustling with the natural activity of a fishing community during the summer months.  A short twenty minute ferry ride takes you to a hidden gem that has attracted tourists for decades, long before there was a tourism industry.  Change Islands stands apart from other outports of its size in that instead of houses clustered around a harbour as it is in most coastal Newfoundland communities, the colourful collection of saltboxes and rusty-red stages and stores face each other over the tickle that runs  between the two small islands that make up the town.  

Smaller bays and harbours fill in the tapestry of an idyllic treasure for the visitor looking for something far less touristy, and far more authenticity, off the beaten path.   A former customs stop for schooners headed to the Labrador Fishery you can imagine the water way between the two islands filled with masts so thick you could on occasion in the early twentieth century traverse the channel by schooner deck!

The first stop on Change Islands should be the Interpretation Centre.  High above the last inhabited cove“up the island” Corrick’s Cove is colloquially known simply as “up in Cove,” the photo op from there is spectacular and includes the famous “Squid Jiggin’ Ground,” of AR Scammell’s iconic song. 
 Inside the Interpretation friendly locals will direct you to points of interest. The Center itself tells of the geological importance of this small island that contains rock from the European continent that proves the continental divide theory. It also boasts some of the finest crafts in the province, all locally made and has a coffee and snack shop.  Operated by the Squid Jigger’s Tourism Committee it is the backbone of the community’s tourism industry.

The Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary is easy to find, the large red barn you passed on the way from the ferry is the new home of the ponies. This new facility won the Aviva Community Competition in 2014 garnering a ninety thousand dollar prize that was doubled through government funding.  The ponies can be seen grazing in various places on the island.  The island also boasts some of the most beautiful walking trails you will encounter within the province. A volunteer group helps maintains the trails. On the south Island you will find both the Shoreline Trail and Indian Lookout Trail. Shore Line travels the west side of the island along the shore while the latter winds through the woods upward until the peak where you can see the entire island as well as Fogo Island and all of the islands to the west. It’s a spectacular summit, a short climb to the top and well worth the effort. The third trail, Squid Jiggers is a challenging trail that takes you around coves and over cliffs and around marshes and bogs. It reveals some of the island’s best scenery and with bookend climbs to high summits at each end to allow for the best photography. This is your best bet for iceberg and whale spotting though the island is full of other scenic photo opportunities for both.

Accommodations on the island include The Seven Oakes Island Inn, the first tourist operator of either island going into its 30th season. Hostess Beulah is a treasure herself, welcoming guests personally to her restored historical former merchant premise. Reservations can be made by calling 621-3256 in season.  The Pink House further out to the north end offers a more modest hostel type accommodation conveniently located at the tip of the Squid Jigger’s Trail, making it ideal for backpackers and other hikers. Information can be found at www.airbnb.ca and searching Change Islands, NL.  The Old Time Cottage is a restored heritage home and is also for rent.  Arrangements can be made by contacting 621-6561.  There are other  B&B type rooms in private homes. Information on those can be made by contacting the interpretation Centre at 709 621 3177. 
TLP Restaurant on Tickle Point is a good spot to grab a meal with pan fried cod being their specialty. 

Visit the Seal Harbour Gallery at the historical White’s Premises. This fishing premises is still used today by the family who fish off its wharf. A repurposed shed houses the gallery and the creations of this talented family are sold including Neil and Lloyd White’s wood work and carvings and the sewing and knitting of Sadie Edwards and Heather White. Heather’s sealskin creations are the main attractions, her creative and unique designs are in high demand all year around.

It's about being as much as it is about doing. This tranquil paradise will sooth your soul
A visit to Change Islands is not complete with a visit to Ye Old Shoppe Museum. A privately owned premises it is a treasure trove of history with the greatest treasure being its proprietor. Pete will tell you all about his artifacts for as long as you like and entertain you with his accordion at the end.   Though not on display, Pete is restoring the last remaining Bully Boat in the province in a shed beside the building and relying solely on donations to help him complete the project.  We’re not sure if the museum or the man is the main attraction so we’ll let you figure that out!

If you’re looking for camping accommodations The Bark Pot Campground is located behind the museum at the foot of Tallboy, the entrance to Squid Jigger’s Trail. Call 709 621 4541 to book a campsite.

The Churches of the island are also worth visiting, particularly the century old St. Margaret’s Anglican and United churches. 

Completed just a few years apart they are perfect examples of the architecture of the time.
 The Anglican Church was inspired by the Bere Regis Church in England and similarities can be seen in photographs of both. Justinian Dowell, a community founder, was instrumental in that design as Bere Regis was his home town.  Behind the church is a large grey monument bearing the name Joseph Edmund Elliott and you can pay your respects to the man who invented the Newfoundland Cod Trap. Tradition has it that he thought of it during a particularly boring sermon in St. James Anglican Church the predecessor of St. Margaret’s that burned.

The United Church sits back from Main Tickle and is a two aisle structure in the style of the Methodist churches of the day.  It is located near a second entrance to the Squid Jigger’s Trail.
If you want to leave the shores on a boat trip ask any of the proprietors of any business who might be available to take you for a ride. 

The Garden Party is the annual festival on Change Islands, held each year to benefit the Volunteer Fire Brigade. In 2015 it is happening from July 28 to August 1.
Details about Change Islands can be found by visiting the website www.changeislands.ca

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