Canada is breathtaking. From coast to coast to coast, and along the border, Canada is a place of discovery, and even for those of us who live here, there are new adventures around every corner. In the fall, my family and I had a trip of a lifetime when we drove a 2017 Ford Edge from St. John’s, Newfoundland to the stunning Fogo Island, and stayed at the Fogo Island Inn.
The trip was like nothing we had ever really experienced before, and Newfoundland is a world apart from anything we’ve seen in Canada before, especially after the ferry ride from Farewell to Fogo Island. Once you’re on Fogo Island, if you’re a lover of coastal shores, wild landscapes, and friendly people, you may never want to leave again.
I also fell in love with the Fogo Island Inn, one of Canada’s most incredible hotels.
Celebrating Canada 150, Ford sent us on the trip for the chance to see parts of Canada that we normally don’t see, and to experience one of the best hotels in the country. The #GoFurther150 trip also gave me time to try the new 2017 Ford Edge, with all the bells and whistles that you could want on a Canadian road trip.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
This was my family’s first trip to St. John’s, and we only had half a day to see the city before we had to start driving, but we took in as much as we could, from Cape Spear Lighthouse, a National Historic Site, and the most easterly point in North America, to Signal Hill.
Signal Hill offers a fantastic view of St. John’s, looking out over the harbour, the city, and out to the ocean, but it’s really hard to beat the views at Cape Spear. The historic site includes a number of short trails, and it’s home to the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador, and you can step inside to experience what life would have been like for the keepers who lived there over the years, starting back in 1836.
We also took the time in St. John’s to sample Piatto Pizzeria on a friend’s recommendation, and really enjoyed the antipasto and pizza. Owner Brian Vallis suggested that we try their Pacchi di Prosciutto, which were featured on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, and they really were incredible. Their wood-burning pizza oven also makes a big difference in the pizza flavour, and Vallis’ own recipe for the dough, and the sauce. Their dessert Nutella pizza is also a simple, perfect treat to finish with.
That evening we stayed at the Luxus Boutique Hotel in their Executive Luxury Suite, which features a huge, beautiful bathroom with a soaker tub, walk in closet, and a giant, comfortable bed.
Driving to Farewell
The next day we left the Luxus and got comfortable in the Ford Edge for the trip from St. John’s to Farewell, where we would catch the ferry to Fogo Island. The drive is a little over 4 hours and follows the Trans-Canada highway up to Gander. It’s an easy drive that follows the east coast of Newfoundland, goes through Terra Nova National Park, and it offers a few places to stop for a break.
Over the years I’ve driven a few versions of the Edge, and it’s easily my favorite road trip SUV because it’s so comfortable, spacious, and comes with features I use all the time on long drives.
I’ve mentioned it in other pieces, but it’s always worth talking about the adaptive cruise control, which is available on a few Ford vehicles and monitors cars in front of you to maintain a safe distance and speed. That means you can set cruise control and leave it for longer road trips. On your average road trip, standard cruise control on the highway is useless because of other cars, but adaptive cruise control really makes a huge difference, and helps you maintain a safe speed.
The Ford Edge Sport I drove also had enhanced Active Park Assist, the Lane-Keeping system, Voice-Activated Navigation, inflatable safety belts in the back seat, automatic wipers, and one of my other favorite features, the Panoramic Vista Roof, which really opens the SUV up to the world. On a bright, sunny day, like the ones we had for most of our trip, it really is wonderful having the sun shining in the top of the SUV.
After a break in Gander and a short ferry ride later, we arrived on Fogo Island in the afternoon, and drove to the village of Joe Batt’s Arm to check in to the hotel.
Over the next three days we explored as much of the northern side of Fogo Island that we could, from the town of Fogo, the Marconi Wireless Interpretation Centre, and through Joe Batt’s Arm, including Winds & Waves Artisan’s Guild, and Etheridge’s Point Park. It’s amazing how quickly our time there disappeared, but part of the joy of Fogo Island is exploring, hiking, walking, and driving to see everything. You don’t need much of a schedule–you can just take your time and enjoy it all.
There are a number of activities you can try on the island throughout the year, but hiking is big one, or berry picking. Since it was berry season when we were there, which runs from September to the end of October, I did a lot of berry picking. It’s also amazing just how many kinds of edible berries there are on Fogo Island, but I mainly ate handfuls of blueberries and partridgeberries since they seemed to be everywhere, especially on the hill over the town of Fogo, and on the shores by Fogo Island Inn.
The only thing that we missed on our trip to Fogo Island was taking a boat out to a nearby small island that’s covered in puffins. We’ve wanted to see puffins for years, and it just has never worked out, so we may have to go back so we can try again. If you get the chance, I’ve heard great things about the experience.
The Fogo Island Inn
I really wanted to save the best for last, because the Fogo Island Inn is more than just the highlight of this trip: it’s my highlight of 2017. There really is no place like it, and I would have loved to stay there a whole week.
Fogo Island Inn is designed to make you feel at home, while blending contemporary art with casual, old-fashioned charm, so the rooms look like a luxury wood cottage on the ocean-side, while the lobby and restaurant are simple, stylish, and modern.
The entire hotel also faces the ocean, so aside from the hallways, every window looks out over the crashing waves and the rocky shore. The inn, and the view, is really peaceful and serene, with wood stoves in every room, and a restaurant that serves some of the best food you will find anywhere.
The menu is generally simple, elegantly delicious, and changes with the seasons. For the most part, the food is also locally sourced, and the staff are happy to help with picky diets. Even when the chef puts their classy spin on something as simple as fish and chips, the results on the plate are nothing short of glorious.
Our breakfast menu featured fish cakes, or a standard egg breakfast with an option for blueberry and fennel pork sausage, or you could have turnip hash, pancakes, or oatmeal with berries. Dinner included options for lobster salad, patridgeberry soup, smoked pork, halibut with snow crab, cod and roasted cabbage, or beef tenderloin. During our stay I tried just about everything.
From the moment I arrived, the staff were welcoming, and it’s not hard to see why. Everyone who works at the hotel is local, and the organization supports the community in a number of ways, from working with locals for activities to local artisans who worked to create nearly everything in the hotel, from furniture to art and quilts. You can also buy most of those creations from the hotel too, to bring a little Fogo Island back home.
I fell in love with this place, its vistas, the people, and their tremendous work of art that serves not only the community, but the country. It’s a beacon to how hotels should be run in Canada, and I can’t wait to go back some day.
There is a lot more I could say about Fogo Island Inn, but I’ll save it for another story. For now, it’s enough to say thanks to Ford for the trip, the experience, and for the chance to visit one of Canada’s true treasures.
Watch the whole trip in under 9 minutes, shot in 4K on the Samsung Galaxy Note8: