Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada
Port au Choix National Historic Site © Parks Canada
Activities and Events
Discover the mysteries and remarkable ingenuity of four ancient cultures that once inhabited Port au Choix. In the Visitor Centre, see original artifacts including spearheads, bone needles and religious artifacts from the Maritime Archaic Indians, Groswater Paleoeskimo, Dorset Paleoeskimo, and Recent Indian groups. Tour interactive exhibits, and see a life-size, replica Dorset dwelling. Hike limestone barrens and coastlines to view sacred burial grounds, ancient settlements, and rare arctic wildflowers.
Beauty and the Barren: Discover the Limestone Barrens
As you venture through the wild and windy limestone barrens of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, see the area’s rare and colourful arctic alpine plants. Limestone bedrock is formed by the compaction of coral plant and animal remains on the bottom of the ocean. In this extreme and exposed environment, some 114 hundred rare plants thrive, including the elegant yellow lady slipper orchid. Keep a look out for three rare plants, endemic only to Newfoundland: barrens willow (a woody shrub with reddish-brown stems), and the Fernald's braya (small white flower clusters with fleshy basal leaves), as well as the taller Long’s braya. Admire the plants, but be sure to take nothing but photos. In this wild and windy landscape you’ll also find rare fossils along the shoreline. Register at the Visitor Centre.
Experience Dates: July 2 – August 28, 2015
Seal for All Seasons
For close to 3,000 years, seals from this bountiful coast have provided residents with the necessities of life. Discover why the coast’s rich marine resources were so important to the early Paleoeskimo cultures and why seals remain such an important part of the local culture today. In ancient times, seals were used not only for meat and fat, but the sealskins were processed for use as clothes, boots and other items critical to living in a harsh climate. Some evidence suggests that even the walls of the subterranean Dorset shelters may have been made of sealskin. In this hands-on program, you will use ancient tools (from scrapers to stretchers, endblades and microblades), learn the process used to prepare seal skins and discover the different ways past and present cultures have used seals to sustain their livelihoods through the seasons.
Experience Dates: June 15 – September 11, 2015
Hiking in Port au Choix
On the windswept Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, walk in the footsteps of the ancient Aboriginal cultures, hunters and gatherers who thrived on the sea’s bounty and inhabited this unique limestone geology. Three diverse hiking trails are available at Port au Choix: Follow the Dorset trail to experience the rugged geology and rare botany of the limestone barrens and with arctic plant species found nowhere else in Canada. On the Philip’s Garden Trail, explore the ancient remains of one of the largest Dorset Paleoeskimo settlements in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. The excavated site contains at least 50 house depressions and has yielded thousands of artifacts. Scour the rocks for fossils, and search for caribou, seals, seabirds, and whales along the Point Riche trail, leading to an octagonal lighthouse built in 1892. Search for the series of sculptures that celebrate the Aboriginal heritage of this remarkable place.
Experience Dates: Year-round.
Parks Canada Xplorers at Port au Choix
Curious explorers and passionate adventurers from ages six to 11 can take part in the free Xplorers program at Port au Choix. It’s a whole family adventure as children receive an Xplorers booklet filled with fun activities, learning about the four ancient cultures that once lived off the sea’s bounty. Go on a fossil hunt across the unusual limestone barrens. Learn the Snowy Owl hop, enjoy a game of I Spy and discover rare and fascinating natural wonders. After completing the experiences, children will receive an Xplorers certificate and souvenir. The Parks Canada Xplorers program is also available in Newfoundland at Gros Morne National Park, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and Red Bay National Historic Site. Visit them all! Each site brings new challenges and the Xplorers souvenirs are unique with each stop.
Experience Dates: Operating season (June to mid-September)
Explora Port au Choix App
Discover ancient Aboriginal settlements and the unique limestone barrens of Port au Choix, with an interpreter in your pocket! This GPS-triggered guided tour app is like having your own local expert lead you through the historic site’s archaeological riches, pointing out ancient burial grounds and exploring prehistoric tools and rare arctic plants. You’ll find photos of original artifacts from the four ancient Aboriginal cultures who once inhabited the coast, as well as images of rare arctic plants, some found nowhere else in Canada. Keep a look out for the threatened Fernald's braya plant, but please take nothing but pictures. Engage with the site’s people, places and regional wildlife through fun quizzes, and take the time to uncover site’s many mysteries at your own pace. Explora Port au Choix is Parks Canada’s official guided tour app for Port au Choix National Historic Site.
Experience Dates: Operating season (June to mid-September)
National Aboriginal Day
June 21, 2015
July 1, 2015
Join Parks Canada staff, visitors, and local residents for Aboriginal games and Canada Day cake at Port au Choix National Historic Site. Your park pass is free on July 1!
Community events will also be taking place at the Maritime Archaic Indian Burial Ground, the French Rooms Cultural Centre, and throughout the town of Port au Choix.
July 18, 2015
1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Activities will include:
Campfire and Games at Dorset Doorway at Point Riche
Limestone Barrens Plant Activity & Exhibit Visitor Centre
Parks Day Cake and Refreshments