As you cross the causeway heading onto the island of South Twillingate in Newfoundland’s Notre Dame Bay, you can’t help but notice the giant sei whale skeleton off to the left. It is a testament to the small town of Twillingate’s long history of cod fishing.
The skeleton marks the site of the Prime Berth Twillingate Fishery & Heritage Centre. Across seven different buildings, the museum brings the heyday of the local fishing industry to life. Visitors can see cod liver oil, trawl tubs, splitting tables (there are also cod-splitting demonstrations on “most days”), and a wide array of other fishing tools and antiques, even petrified whale baleen. Among the folk art mannequins demonstrating scenes in a fisherman’s life, there are also cod trap displays, models of shrimp dragger boats, and other fishing artifacts. These displays have a very personal touch with pictures and stories of local families, as well as poignant and humorous poems written by the owner, Dave Boyd.
The museum offers guided tours, as well as fishing and boat tours (often to nearby icebergs, as Twillingate is located along Iceberg Alley). Once you pay the admission fee, you might even be treated to a song featuring a traditional Newfoundland instrument known as an “ugly stick.”
Know Before You Go
Heading north on NL-340 toward Twillingate, this is the first building on the left once you’ve crossed the causeway into Twillingate, and the last as you leave. It takes about one hour to explore the museum.