From Cabot to Cormack to Coaker, from Clarenville to Trinity to Bonavista, the Discovery Trail is a must-visit tourist destination. With its vast array of historic sites, scenic trails, heritage accommodations, quaint villages, unique crafts, colourful festivals, and culinary delights, the area is a cultural tourism destination. Much of the success of the Discovery Trail has been shaped by the efforts and innovative ideas of the many women business owners throughout the region.
Let’s meet the seasoned veterans and up-and-comers who are shaping the tourism industry of the Discovery Trail.
Marieke and Tineke Gow
Artisan Inn, Trinity
Tineke Gow started the Artisan Inn over 25 years ago, and now runs it with her daughter Marieke. The award-winning Artisan Inn originally started as the Campbell House Hospitality Home in 1992, and evolved into the Artisan Inn in 1997. The collection of shorefront accommodations—Canada Select 4-star or higher—includes Barbour Place, Campbell House, Cove Cottage, Gover House, and the Lighthouse View. The Twine Loft is the focal centre of the Artisan Inn and serves as the dining room, registration area, and lounge area with a seaside deck. The business has received numerous awards over the years including the 2008 TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice Award and 2011 Restaurateur of the Year, as well as NLOWE’s Community Impact Award in 2010 and an Innovation Award in 2011.
“The best part of operating a business on the Discovery Trail is that I have the opportunity to promote a region and a business that I really believe in,” says Tineke. Marieke adds, “The sense of community here is fantastic, and the diversity of people coming to build their lives on the Peninsula makes for an amazing business community.”
Sonja Mills and Alicia McDonald
Port Rexton Brewery, Port Rexton
Sonja and Alicia first fell in love with the craft beer scene while living in Nova Scotia. A strong personal connection to the area and a number of life-changing events inspired the couple to start their own microbrewery in Port Rexton. In Ship Cove, a small protected inlet within the town of Port Rexton, they discovered an old schoolhouse filled with history and stories that perfectly fit their business model. Port Rexton Brewery officially opened on July 23, 2016 and it has quickly established itself as a “must-visit” for tourists and locals alike. At the Brewery Taproom you will find eight rotating styles of craft beer and take-home growlers, including Horse Chops, T-Rex, Baycation Blonde, Chasing Sun, and more. You can also find the Taproom brews on tap in St. John’s at locations such as Raymond’s Restaurant, The Adelaide Oyster House, Mallard Cottage, The Fifth Ticket, The Merchant Tavern, and EVOO in the Courtyard.
“The Discovery Trail is becoming known as a food and drink destination. That, along with the culture, arts, and natural beauty of this area, allows our business to fit in perfectly with the growing aspect of this region,” say Sonja and Alicia. “There are an amazing number of tourists from Newfoundland, and all over the world, that visit the Discovery Trail each season. This lends itself perfectly for a continual flow of visitors to our area and particularly to our brewery.”
Mirabella by Elizabeth Burry Studios, Trinity
A nurse by trade and artisan by choice, Elizabeth Burry opened her first business, an art and gift gallery, in St. John’s in 2005 as a way to launch her art and jewellery brands. In 2010, she sold her bustling business in St. John’s and moved to Trinity to start Mirabella by Elizabeth Burry Studios, now an established business nestled by the seashore. Elizabeth sees a myriad of visitors from all over the world who come to Mirabella and find an eclectic art and gift gallery. Mirabella features chic handmade jewellery and colourful paintings by Elizabeth, as well as unique soap and bath salts, candles, and tea under the Mirabella brand.
“Mirabella in Trinity has turned out to be just as busy as my St. John’s location. The difference is that I get to look out my studio window and enjoy the ocean every day,” says Elizabeth. “Not only do I get to meet people from local areas, I also meet visitors from all corners of the world and all walks of life. My day is enriched by everyone I meet.”
The Boreal Diner, Bonavista
Sylvie Mitford and her partner opened The Boreal Diner at 16 Church Street in the old George Templeman House in Bonavista on June 19, 2016. The house had been empty for close to 30 years, but was renovated by Bonavista Creative. Walking into the Boreal Diner, visitors are treated to a step back in time with the exposed, hand-hewn beams, original wood floors, wooden planks on the walls, and a cozy fireplace. Opening a restaurant was a natural progression for Mitford, whose skills as an established baker, cook, and kitchen manager, combined with knowledge of Newfoundland wild foods, foraging, and gardening, were the perfect storm needed to bring the Boreal Diner to fruition.
“There aren’t many small towns in Newfoundland that have such a feeling of optimism, energy, and forward momentum as Bonavista. Opening under the umbrella of Bonavista Living has meant that we have a lot of support behind us, and the company of other small businesses as well,” says Sylvie. “With the increasing number of small, independent businesses in Bonavista, tourists will have more and more reasons to extend their stay.”
Ewe Designs, Trinity Bight
Joan Kane is owner of Ewe Designs, based in Trinity Bight. Along with her twelve home-based knitters, Joan is best known for a line of contemporary toques and beanies. Joan has been able to combine her own love of knitting and fashion with her entrepreneurship skills to create a successful business in rural Newfoundland. Her distinctive styles, including the “Triffy” and her Jelly Bean Row hats, based on the brightly coloured houses that line the streets of St. John’s, are very popular among locals and visitors. Scarves and mitts complement her product lines. Her traditional designs are made of 100 percent homespun wool.
“There is so much opportunity in this region, the possibilities are endless,” says Joan. “Besides selling my work wholesale to several stores, I am an active part of Cultural Crafts and NL Traditional Creations. In 2016 we did pop-up shows, and we plan to continue this year.”
Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate, Trinity
Sarah Rochacewich and her partner Adam are owners of Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate, manufacturers of home-style chocolates and sweets, located on the waterfront in the heart of historical Trinity. Sarah first visited Newfoundland as a tourist in 2008. After subsequent visits, she decided she needed to find a way to spend more time in Trinity. The idea for a chocolate shop seemed like a natural fit, as her family has been making chocolates and confections for over 30 years in Ontario. Now in its sixth season, Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop has become a must-do in Trinity. Sarah and her partner are continually coming up with new creations including Trinity Truffle, Butter Crisp, Milk Smoothie, Almond Caramel Cluster, and many more.
“Not only do we get to meet and work with a lot of interesting people, but we also get to live and work in an area that is strikingly beautiful and rich with history,” says Sarah. “The sense of community among the local business owners on the Discovery Trail is also very strong.”
Bonavista Social Club, Upper Amherst Cove
In 2011, Katie Hayes and her partner opened The Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove, where Katie was raised. Built on established farm gardens, animal husbandry, and her self-sufficient lifestyle, Katie, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada and a Red Seal Chef, draws on her knowledge of local vegetables and fruits to create the concepts and recipes served at the restaurant. Food is served indoors or on the ocean view deck, and the menu includes soup, sandwiches, salad, pasta, and pizza, with ingredients dependent on what is fresh in the gardens. Assortments of breads are made in the only commercial wood-fired bread oven in Newfoundland and Labrador. The oven is the centrepiece of an open kitchen where customers can see products baked daily. All oils, vinegars, dressings, aiolis, soups, stocks, and sauces are made on site and are also available to purchase. In 2015, Katie was awarded NLOWE’s Visionary Award.
“It is a fantastic place to live and run a business. There is a real sense of community; we all help each other out. There is so much support,” says Katie.
East Coast Glow, Bonavista
Karen and Roger Dewling started East Coast Glow as a home-based business in Clarenville in 2010 after Roger staggered through their front door with a huge chunk of iceberg to use in cold-processed soaps. However, the idea for the company was born from the couple’s need to find a solution for their infant daughter’s agonizing skin conditions. They were unable to find quality products that were not laden with chemicals. East Coast Glow was founded with the belief that the best skin care is simple, powered by plants, and spiked with wild ingredients foraged from the pure, unspoiled land and waters of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their products are free from all parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and colours. In 2016, Karen opened her first retail location on Church Street in Bonavista. East Coast Glow is committed to creating skincare products that are safe, highly effective, and beautiful.
“The Bonavista area and the whole Discovery Trail are wild by nature. The region is steeped in culture and is surrounded by unexplored land, and that makes it a wonderful place to own a creative business,” says Karen. “East Coast Glow is focused on innovation in wild-crafted, natural skin care, and inspiration can be found everywhere along this rugged, untouched trail.”