Photos: Head over heels in Newfoundland

Marble Mountain zip lining

The acrobatic Krystal Morgan from Gander, Newfoundland, displays her zip-line panache at Marble Mountain during Snow West Fest 2013. It was her first time zip-lining. (Julia Pelish/

Photos by Julia Pelish Visuals Editor

STEADY BROOK, NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR — The perception most of us have of Newfoundland is of a scenic wonder filled with rocky cliffs, green terrain and quaint seaside villages. It is not known as a haven for winter activity, but a visit to Western Newfoundland will obliterate any notion that Newfoundlanders are not just as much fun in the cold as in the sun. Even the province’s jewel, Gros Morne National Park, offers visitors spectacular beauty when the temperature falls below freezing.

During the annual Snow West Fest celebration, the communities within vicinity of Gros Morne showcase the region’s adventurous spirit. I attended the festival’s first weekend, which overcame unexpected rain and wind to deliver an entertaining series of events and activities that would please any hard-core winter lover.

Being from Toronto, by way of New York and Vancouver, and a bit of a citidiot myself, I thought I would have difficulty with the rigorous winter activities, some of which were foreign to me. From snowmobiling and snowshoeing to (gulp) downhill skiing, I managed them all, giving me confidence I could actually get out and participate in these adventurous sports without breaking my neck.

Snow West Fest also featured activities that were more familiar to me: Fine dining and wine sipping. Events such as Wine on the Waterfront at the cozy Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbour, at the edge of Gros Morne, and the kitchen party that followed featured Newfoundland’s famous hospitality. Chef Steve Watson was a busy man, helping to prepare dinner at Blow Me Down Trails and Neddies Harbour Inn while also performing hour-long ice-sculpting demonstrations for Snow West Fest attendees.

And, of course, the best part of Newfoundland for any photographer is the heart-racing, jaw-gaping, scream-inducing scenery that makes you feel so happy to be alive when you come upon it. From the magical peaks within Gros Morne to the back-country beauty on the province’s unspoiled snowmobile trails, Western Newfoundland is a grand showcase of Canadian landscapes.

These photos were taken during my whirlwind weekend on the island.

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Join in on the final weekend of Snow West Fest, which begins Friday. Your cheeks will turn rosy from the excercise, laughter, fresh air, and superb food and wine offered at many festival events, and the views in this special part of Canada will linger in your heart.

More About Snow West Fest 2013

Location: Events take place in communities ranging from Corner Brook to Rocky Harbour, about a 90-minute stretch of driving.
Dates: February 8-9, 2013 is the final weekend (the event began on January 31)
Weather: Prior to the rain, snow had fallen in Western Newfoundland every day for a month. Driving can be treacherous. Make sure the vehicle you travel in has snow tires.
Airport: Deer Lake Airport serves Western Newfoundland and has daily flights to most major cities in Eastern Canada and the Maritimes.
Where to Stay: Marblewood Village Resort offers luxury accommodations with full kitchens and large units featuring fireplaces. Rates start at $99 per night.

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A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is’s Visuals Editor. See her work at

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