Man has inhabited this rock for the past 5000 years, and some of the most significant archaeological finds attesting to this habitation have been unearthed in the small community of Bird Cove, on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula.
In 1997, accidental discovery of ancient artifacts led archaeologists to Bird Cove, a small settlement on the north west coast of Newfoundland, where they discovered a rare undisturbed habitation site and a tool production area of the Maritime Archaic people (the Big Droke and Caines sites respectively). Greater exploration eventually revealed the existence of numerous sites of archaeological interest in the area, and those sites, each a treasure trove of historic fragments, yielded a wealth of information about other very early inhabitants of the island.
Of the thirty-eight archaeological sites discovered in the area, only seven have been excavated thus far, but those seven have offered up amazing artifacts dating as far back in time as 4530 BP and indicating the presence of Maritime Archaic Indian, Groswater Palaeoeskimo, Dorset Palaeoeskimo, and Cow Head Complex Recent Indian. The artifacts uncovered at the digs are on exhibit in the 50 Centuries’s Interpretation Centre, where visitors can travel through time to discover what brought these early peoples to these less-than-hospitable shores, how they survived the elements and what their daily lives were like.
The centre is community organized and is a pleasantly intimate venue, with relaxed guided tours that provide interpretive explanations of the exhibits throughout the various rooms. Beginning with the Geology Display Area, where fossils and unusual rock formations make for an intriguing start, the tour continues along a colorful timeline corridor to the Pre-historic Cultures Room and the museum’s raison d’etre—the archaeological finds themselves. Moving on to the Early Explorers Room, with its intriguing Captain Cook exhibits, the tour ends in the Heritage Display Room, an antique lover’s paradise packed with the paraphernalia of a more recent past, including school days mementos and fishing and WWII memorabilia.
For the geology minded, the archaeologically inclined, the history buff and the just plain nostalgic, the 50 Centuries’ Interpretation Centre offers a comfortable, informative and time-worthy stop on the journey.
Take the photo tour below for a preview of the exhibits.
The interpretation centre isn’t the end of the Bird Cove experience; there’s a whole lot more to explore. There are paths to be walked, uncommon plants and birds to be seen, historical landmarks to be visited and possibly even relics to be found.
Its not unusual to come across early European artifacts along the trails that crisscross the peninsula. A leisurely afternoon walk in nature could make a discoverer out of anyone. The actual archaeological sites are open to the public, as well, and put visitors in the center of the historic action, gazing on the very spots where a rare history has been unearthed.
Rockhounding is always in vogue here, too, for those who’d like to try their luck at finding a rare fossil, mineral or formation. The geologic specimens displayed at the centre were found on nearby beaches, and there’s always the chance that a beach-combing visitor will find one more.
As a fitting end to a journey through history, the well-maintained trail along Dog Peninsula brings sojourners to one of the large rock cairns that Captain Cook himself used to take sightings when charting his maps—and the ultimate spot for a photographic memento of a day’s timeless experience.
Visit 50 Centuries’ Interpretation Centre Online
Hours of Operation:
June 1 – September 5th, 2015
Monday to Friday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday & Saturday 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
(Opening/Closing Dates & Times May Vary)
Tours available outside of posted hours upon request
Adults $7.00 – Group rates available