We drive around, eat some fish, listen to music, talk to Newfoundlanders, and go to a dance.

With bellies full and hearts settled, we set out to explore. We have a map but plan on using it only if we get lost. If you know where you are in relation to the sea, you should be alright. That was our plan and we stuck to it.

We visited some antique shops in Burin and were able to get a small but nice sense of their history. Like all of Newfoundland, it was informed by fishing. And the articles in the shop reflected that: old prints of boats and fish, compasses and sextants, posters and signs from another era, hosted by a typically wonderful and friendly Newfoundlander.

Across the street was a small museum, the Burin Heritage Museum which of course we had to see. In it were displays of indigenous wildlife, a photo gallery of the 1929 tidal wave that created an incredible amount of damage, architectural records, local ceramics, histories including those of Burin’s involvement in WWII, clothes, and folk art. It was amazing how much that rather small house held.

Burin Heritage Museum                  (townof burin.com)

After that it was time for lunch. Options were limited but a restaurant was right across the street so off we went. Burin is small, it seems as if everything is right across the street. We chowed down and headed out once more.

While walking around, we found this beautiful wooden bay walk that took us almost around the entire bay. We watched while a local fisherman/artist painted a mural on the side of a meeting hall. He invited us into the hall to see more of his work. They were wall size murals and quite good in a folk art fashion, but sadly too big to take home though. He told us he had to finish it quickly as there was a dance there that evening. Everyone has a great time and we should come. Yes, they ARE that friendly to strangers. We didn’t want to commit, but told him we would try. We would. We did.

Burin bay walk. (panaramio.com)

Newfoundland dances are like no other I’ve been to. They are truly egalitarian: all ages, all occupations, no pretense. They are there for one reason – to have fun. And do they ever. Anyone can get up and sing, anyone can join the band, and everyone dances with everyone. It is a remarkable experience.

If you’re not dancing, singing, or playing an instrument, you’re at a table discussing your entire life story with complete strangers, except they’re really not strangers any longer. That is Newfoundland. You’re a stranger for no more than a few minutes.

Many of the people there are older. If you get to sit with them, prepare to share your medical history with them. That noted, it may say something about the Canadian health system that so many of them are elderly and still kicking up their heels. Or they’re just happy to be living in Newfoundland. And that last statement is fact. They do love Newfoundland.

Over the course of my trips up there, I have heard the same refrain repeated time and time again. “I moved away, but had to come back. This is home.” Or some such variation. What makes this all the more significant and poignant, is Newfoundlanders want to come back even if there is no fishing any longer. It is home, their home and they love it. How many of us can say that about where we live? And how many of us dance there?

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