Grand Falls-Windsor is a small and somewhat remote town located in the central region of the isle of Newfoundland. It began life as a wild logging outpost when a paper mill was built in the area in the early 20th century, and different aspects of the town’s unusual history can be explored in a handful of museums and cultural sites. Despite the settlement’s growth, however, it continues to be characterized by the wild natural world that surrounds it, and it forms a great base for various outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking, fishing and rafting. The Exploits River that runs past the town is the longest on Newfoundland, and a significant migration route for North Atlantic salmon. The town is a five-hour drive north of St. John’s, and the nearest major airport is Gander International, about 1.5 hours minutes drive east of Grand Falls-Windsor.
Logging lies at the root of Grand Falls-Windsor, which was founded to house the workers employed in a paper mill in operation from the early 20th century. This small museum is a recreation of a typical 1930s depression-era logging camp. It would have been home to about 30 men, who slept on bare wooden bunks which they covered with pine boughs for softness and warmth. It’s a somewhat bleak but honest and affecting exploration of the backgrounds and experiences of the men who worked on this kind of site for $1.80-a-day in the depths of the Great Depression.
The Corduroy Brook is a 4.5km waterway that meanders through Grand Falls-Windsor, joining the picturesque Corduroy pond to the fast-moving Exploits River. A local organization has constructed a system of trails alongside the brook, that takes walkers on a tour through the town’s natural world and out into the wilderness beyond. The trail passes through ponds, woodland, scrubby open spaces and dry and wet marshes, revealing the close-knit intersection between animal and human worlds. It’s predominantly flat and therefore suitable for all ages and motivation levels.
At 246 km, the Exploits is the longest river on the isle of Newfoundland. It is also a major highway for Canada’s Atlantic salmon population, which migrate inland and upstream from the North Atlantic Ocean every year to return to their annual spawning grounds. This fascinating interpretation center has enthusiastic guides on hand to outline the salmon’s life-cycle, along with underwater viewing windows where you can watch the salmon swim past. It operates a fish ladder, built to help the salmon negotiate the Windsor Falls which for centuries inhibited their migratory habits, and visitors can walk over grates covering this ladder and see the salmon leaping and darting past various obstacles.
48 High offers the classiest dining in Grand Falls-Windsor, its menu comprising an excellent selection of Atlantic salmon, seafood, chicken, steak, and fresh locally grown vegetables. It has a welcoming and laid-back ambience, and is conveniently named after its street address, making it very easy to find.