Prepare yourself for an extraordinary and educational journey into history: Carbonear Island has been many things to many people, not the least of which has been a refuge from danger and death during the 17th and 18th centuries. It has also been a fishing station, a navigational beacon for mariners, and most recently the site of an archaeology exploration that is unlocking the secrets of centuries.
The Traces of the Past Exhibit speaks to all of the above and is found in the Carbonear Railway Museum, on Water Street in that beautiful old Town. Upon entering the building, through the farthest door on your right, you begin your journey of discovery in a room that will illustrate the profound impact of the Newfoundland Railway upon Carbonear and its economy for approximately 86 years. Artifacts from that era along with knowledgeable interpreters will inform you of this historic era and add to your store of facts concerning the Railway c. 1898 - 1984 in Carbonear.
Next you will be ushered into the first of two rooms that literally take your breath away. Through six thematic areas which flow one into the other, you are carried along on an historic tide. The present fades as you are immersed into a past that pulls you into an unforgettable historic experience:
Area 1 - During the 1600s early Carbonear visitors literally came on the tide as they pursued the fishery and stayed to become the first settlers or planters. When danger threatened they retreated and defended themselves on Carbonear Island with little more than the instinct of survival, the weapons used for subsistence hunting, and a few small cannons. It proved to be enough.
Area 2 - Armed conflict again drew settlers to the cliffs of Carbonear Island. In the mid-1700s a garrison was built and manned. View the beautiful depictions of three soldiers painted by the late Newfoundland Military historian, David Webber. This area offers interactive activity including a map which indicates the recent archaeological work and how it relates to this historic period in the Island history.
Area 3 - Carbonear Island although a refuge can also be a danger with its imposing cliffs and rocky underwater shoals. Over time many changes have come to the fishery and those who pursued it from on and around the Island. During the late 1800s and until the late 1920s, a navigational lighthouse was built and occupied by local families. Patrons will enjoy the "memory station" where one can not only listen to stories of this era but add to memories about life and events on Carbonear Island and area themselves.
Area 4 - Life on Carbonear Island as a lightkeeper raising a family brought challenges to even the simple day to day living. Experience for yourself how these courageous people lived, worked, and thrived winter and summer while keeping the light burning. Family and friends with ties to Carbonear Island lightkeepers have graciously shared photos, letters, journals, and participated in interviews to tell their story.
Area 5 - Carbonear Island has always drawn interest and people have enjoyed the flora and fauna there for many years. One of the most notable was a budding young entomologist called Philip Henry Gosse, who visited the Island regularly to pursue butterflys and other insects. His pursuits are captured in beautiful detail in this area of the Exhibit.
Area 6 - At the end of your journey, as you reluctantly return to the present you will be amazed at the people who have contributed to the Carbonear Island Exhibit and made it such an interesting experience. The attached photos are for your enjoyment.
Visit the Carbonear Island Exhibit: Traces of the Past and immerse yourself in a learning experience that is both interactive and educational.
This Exhibit is available to the visitor from July until September from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily and also upon request at other times during the year.
Appropriate Ages: School aged and up
Accessibility Notes: This Musuem is wheelchair accessible.