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Newfoundland and Labrador on their bucket list

History, Great Big Sea, ‘Come From Away’ among the reasons why tourists are drawn to this province

When Duncan Bradford-Wilson, of Saskatoon, was asked by his parents where he wanted to go for a high school graduation trip, they were surprised to find that the answer was Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I didn’t know all that much about what was interesting about Canada … you kind of learn about what was interesting about other places at school … you knew that there were interesting things, but I wanted to see it for myself,” Bradford-Wilson said.

His short list for places to go was the Galapagos Islands, the First World War and Second World War battlefields in Europe, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I was really pleased that Duncan chose Newfoundland as a place to come because in our family we are really big Alan Doyle fans,” said his father, Michael Bradford, who was on the McCarthy’s Party tour.

The family did their best to see Great Big Sea perform every time the band would come to Saskatoon and they enjoyed going to Petty Harbour, where singer Doyle is from.

“I liked learning about all of the history,” says Bradford-Wilson.

“One thing I kind of knew, but didn’t really know until we were here, is how important the history is, whether it’s about how Newfoundland was settled or becoming a part of Canada.”
— Michael Bradford

He couldn’t pin down a favourite thing from the trip but said some of the highlights were going to L’Anse aux Meadows, a Beothuk interpretive site, Cape Spear, and a boat tour around Gull Island where they saw humpback whales and puffins who he described as “little white flying potatoes.”

“One thing I kind of knew, but didn’t really know until we were here, is how important the history is, whether it’s about how Newfoundland was settled or becoming a part of Canada,” said Michael Bradford when asked about what he found most interesting during the trip. “Different parts of Newfoundland people have different expressions, and different accents and mannerisms, and that was something that was really cool to experience as well.”

“We’re definitely going to take my mom and sister out here,” says Bradford-Wilson, based on the reaction to photos and stories he and his father have been sending back home during their time in the province.

For Jennie Riccobono of New York City, “Come From Away” lit the spark to come to Newfoundland.

“I just happened to be looking on the internet and I saw the story about ‘Come From Away,’ and the hospitality and all of that, and I thought it was unusual because I live in New York but I’ve never heard of this until last year,” said Riccobono who, after seeing the play, read the book “The Day the World Came to Town,” and was so moved that she decided she needed to come to Gander.  

Riccobono called the aviation centre in Gander and spoke to Sandra Seaward, who told her about a tour called “Beyond Words” that she could take and said that if she wasn’t able to get a ticket, Seaward would drive her around to all of the places personally. A few days after the initial call Seaward called Riccobono to invite her to a barbecue when she would be in Gander.

Seaward took Riccobono to different spots from the play and book where she was able to meet many of the people portrayed on stage and talk about the different stories from that period.  

“It kind of continues in my heart to be so awed that there are people like that and communities like that who will go the extra mile,” says Riccobono about what she will take away from her time in Gander.

An NBC news crew took interest in Riccobono’s trip and came to Gander to film her story for a segment set to air on the Sunday night news later this month. Together, Riccobono and the crew got Screeched in.

Riccobono decided that if she was coming to Gander for three days, she should see some of the rest of the province as well.

Riccobono and Seaward became good friends because of the trip, and Seaward will be going to New York City at Christmastime to see Riccobono and the Broadway production of “Come From Away.”

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