Situated off the Bonavista Peninsula highway (route 230 near Port Rexton) you will discover Champney’s West.
First settled in 1675, 70 residents now call Champney’s West home. This is one of our island’s oldest and most charming out-port communities that will immediately capture your heart.
Overlooking trinity bay, Champney’s West is part of a collection of breathtaking coastal communities that make up the trinity bight region.
Better known as “The island”, this enchanting town is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean with the exception of a narrow road/isthmus.
Like most rural NL communities, Champney’s West was profoundly impacted by the collapse of the cod fishery in the early 1990s. A subsequent moratorium on fishing saw this town’s +400 year way of life literally disappear overnight.
Today the town is on a new path thanks to the Champney’s West Heritage Group (CWHG), a non-profit volunteer based organization.
CWHG’s mission is “to preserve and promote the heritage of the community and the region through the development and operation of educational focused facilities”.
Some of their initiatives to date include the heritage house museum and aquarium.
Ella Freeman Heritage House
Our first visit to Champney’s West took us to the Ella Freeman Heritage House Museum.
A treasure trove of artifacts, pictures and written material are on display here that captures the town’s amazing history.
The museum is a definite time-capsule. Telling the story of a resilient people from early settlement and the fishery right up to the present day.
Fox Island Trail
Fox Island Trail is an easy-difficult 3 km hike (only difficult if you take the optional steep climb to the peak).
This trail takes you across meadows, through forests, along coastlines and atop hidden beaches. It is one of the most glorious hikes we have completed in NL.
Fox Island has two distinct plateaus, the lower one is called “The porch”.
An archaeological dig in 1995 discovered evidence here of trenches used as defense during Queen Anne’s War (1701-1713).
We were fortunate to be on hand for the unveiling of Champney’s West Aquarium which officially opened in September.
This state of the art facility is a unique marine learning experience. It includes touch tanks and large viewing tanks that exhibit many of our aquatic species including salmon, cod, sculpin, starfish, and crab.
A must-see for all ages.
Champney’s West Days
Held annually in August, this is a 3 day weekend extravaganza. It includes an old fashioned variety concert, traditional foods, and games of chance.
The highlight, of course, is the famous “Island girls” who take the plank plunge into the Atlantic.
Equally famous is the cardboard boat races. In this event, brave souls set sail in creatively designed cardboard boats held together by duct tape.
Here each participant hopes to make the round trip from the beach midway out to the harbour and back again (without sinking that is).
Be sure you pencil in Champney’s West as you explore NL. This is an idyllic rural community with an endearing and enduring cultural heritage. It represents the finest in “off the beaten path” Newfoundland travel.