Cooling off in the Newman Wine Vaults

When we asked Katherine how she wanted to celebrate Canada Day this year (for Canada Day is very important to Katherines, you see), she gave us a list that was a mish-mash of the best of the best from Canada Days past, with a weather based modification; she wanted to go swimming.

So on Canada Day morning, John headed off to run and Katherine and I planned out the day. There would be a trip to Cora’s for breakfast, a wander through the downtown, a visit to “that place that was like a cave and had the treasure hunt last year”, which ordinary people call The Newman Wine Vaults, a barbeque at Nana’s house, a swim at Sunshine Rotary and fireworks.

We got all but one of those.

I brought the camera along, but most of the day was really spent in just enjoying the company. The only shots of note are the ones below, taken at the Newman Wine Vaults. When we arrived, they had a “treasure hunt” for us to do and it was blissfully cool inside, so we took our sweet time about doing that hunt. You see, the temperature was hovering at around 30C (which is 86F for those of you of the Imperial Forces) and that’s pretty hot for these parts. We start to melt at those temperatures, hereabouts.

So the Newman Wine Vaults were cool, in every sense of the word. They’re one of the oldest structures in  town, dating to the early 1800s (although there are signs they might be even older) and they feel like a movie set from the Count of Monte Cristo. As we entered, we found that there was a Canada Day surprise at the far end of the oldest vault.

In the Vaults

Andrew Noseworthy, a music student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and a member of the Memorial guitar quartet recently featured on CBC’s Musicraft was nestled away near some barrels, filled the chambers with music. It was the perfect addition to the ambiance. It was also a good chance for me to see how this camera works in low lighting and I was quite pleased.

Amid the barrels
Amid the barrels

The Newman Wine Vaults are a provincial historic site and were once the storage facility for the Newman family’s port business. The legend has it that in 1679, a Portuguese ship full of port wine was heading to London and intercepted by French privateers. In its attempts to escape, it somehow crossed the Atlantic, found one of our infamous storms and ended up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with no hopes of returning to Europe before winter. The port was stored in some of the caves in the Southside Hills. The next year, when they made it to England and cracked the barrels, it was discovered that the over-wintering in Newfoundland had given the port a savour and smoothness that was unprecedented. Henceforth,  Newman and Company aged its port wine in Newfoundland, a practice which continued in the vaults (once built)  until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

After the vaults, we made our way to swimming at the Rotary Park (along with every other family in St. John’s, it seemed) and then to a very nice family BBQ.

After a fabulous supper, we mosied out to see the fireworks, only to discover, for reasons which utterly pass understanding, that the Torbay fireworks for Canada Day are to be held the day after Canada Day. So while we didn’t miss them, we wrecked a kid’s bedtime for no good reason, which really put a sour note on the end of an otherwise very nice Canada Day.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. mjspringett says:

    sorry about your fireworks, but thanks for sharing your wonderful day, your first photo is a stunner, lovely work, MJ

  2. Andrew Noseworthy says:

    Hey Vicky, you took some really nice pictures here for this lovely post! One of the guys who works at the vaults came across this by chance and showed me. I’d love it if I could get a digital copy of these and possibly use them for some things. Could you send me an email and let me know what you think? Thanks!


    1. VickyTH says:

      No problem, Andrew. I’m in a remote location with minimal internet access just now, but will contact you as soon as I rejoin civilisation, mid-August.

  3. Andrew Noseworthy says:

    Hi Vicky how are you? How was your time spent in the remote location? Have you returned? Hope all is well your way!

    1. VickyTH says:

      Yes, I’m back! Drop me an email about what you’re looking to use the photos for and what you need and we’ll get things figured out.

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