• Susan Flanagan

Ice Cream in Bishop's Falls | The Kids are Alright | Oct. 9, 2012

Sometimes the best things in life are simple and unexpected.


This summer when I mentioned to a friend that we were crossing the island on our summer vacation with the children, he took a key off his key ring and passed it to me.


“I’ve got a place in Bishop’s Falls,” he said. “It’s right on the Exploits. You’re welcome to stay there.”


“Wow,” I said. “How will I find it?”


“It’s on the main road and it’s green,” was his reply.


What I didn’t know then but know now is that Bishop’s Falls is basically one long snake of a road bordering the mighty Exploits for over 10 kilometres. We would have no trouble finding his house.


I have been travelling by car across the province since the 1970s. In all that time I had never stopped in Bishop’s Falls. It sounded like an adventure.


After spending the afternoon of July 23 at Splash ‘n’ Putt (or Spend ‘n’ Putt as my husband calls it) near Terra Nova, it was early evening by the time we pulled off the TransCanada onto Main Street in Bishop’s Falls. The wall of heat that hit us when we hopped out of the van was reminiscent of when we stepped off the plane in Havana, Cuba. Who knew Newfoundland could get so hot.


Lucky my friend’s green house had a lovely deck overlooking the Exploits and we were able to sit out with ice-laden lemonade and enjoy the sights. After dark what a surprise to hear 30 or so fishing boats complete with lights parade down the river towards the old railway trestle where a shower of fireworks lit up the night. Now I say old railway trestle but I don’t mean old as in some rinky dink thing to be ignored. The trestle in Bishop’s Falls is a massive expanse of steel and granite that spans almost 1000 feet. Built in 1901 it has been transformed into a boardwalk since the demise of the railway.


The next morning we awoke afreshed and ready to follow the rail bed to the trestle. Did I mention how hot it can get in Bishop’s Falls? We were sweltered. We passed dried up frogs on the path. The trestle was worth the heat. By the time we crossed it and were on the rebound, we stumbled upon the best thing yet. Bev Welsh’s Ice Cream Parlour rose out of the heat on Main Street like a mirage of cream and cola. Children who minutes earlier were doubtful they could take another step ran to the door only to discover the shop didn’t open until later. Nos. 3 and 4 almost melted on the step. But then miracle of all miracles, Bev noticed their parched tongues lying on her stoop and invited them in.


No. 3 revived significantly after five scoops of Cookies `n` Cream. No. 4 could barely finish her scoop and a half, it was so big.


Bev’s ice Cream Parlour is impeccably clean. I challenge anyone to find an ice cream shop in this province as sparkling. It’s decorated in Happy Days style with black and white tiles and vintage Coke displays.


This was the ice cream find of a lifetime. We would have pulled off the TCH years before had we know that Bev’s sign on the highway meant such decadent delights as real freshly blended strawberries and bananas in frozen yogurt.


The Ice Cream Parlour definitely warranted another visit. The second time we didn’t come off the dusty trail but rather the spectacular playground and fitness track known as the Bishop’s Falls Memorial Park. Built in August 2010 with the Let Them be Kids volunteer program, the whole community came together to lend a hand in clearing ground, laying foundations and building the park. Children worked alongside adults raking the soil and installing equipment. Surprise Baby wanted to live out his days there. And I was able to swing my legs back and forth on the elliptical while chatting with locals doing laps of the walking track that circumnavigates the park.


By the time we got to Bev’s heavenly Palace it was super busy as I assume it often is in the summer in tropical Bishop’s Falls. Bev was nowhere to be seen but younger staff members were efficiently scooping up cones keeping the line moving and hot customers happy. No. 4 stuck to a kid’s cone. None of that for No. 3. He inhaled another five-scoop special.

On our way back to my friend’s house, the children witnessed their first Pentecostal Assembly outdoor drive-in service and commented how they can’t possibly imagine driving across the island without taking exit into Bishop’s Falls for a strawberry banana frozen yogurt at Bev`s Ice Cream Parlour.


Susan Flanagan is a writer who learned that hockey players George and Alex Faulkner are from Bishop’s Falls. Susan can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca


Ice Cream feedback

Jackie Devilla writes: “We haven't received the… Telegram for a couple of years, but my husband bought Tuesday's paper on a whim and I'm so glad he did! I was born and raised in Bishop's Falls and moved away to attend university. We only go "home" now for Christmas and a visit or two in the summer. My husband is from Grand Falls so it's habitual to refer to Central NL as home. It was refreshing to see Bishop's through new eyes. I have to say my parents, too, live on the river bank and it is truly a piece of heaven on earth when you are sitting on their deck overlooking the river and falls.


When I came to St John's to go to school I had terrible insomnia because I missed the lull of the falls and the river! The place where your children are standing in front of the trestle is where my father grew up. His father and grandfather operated a business that supplied essentials to the "depot" now the site of the Max Simms Camp. I would have participated in the Salvation Army version of the open air services as a teenager and my aunt is a sister to the infamous Faulkner brothers. As you may guess your article pulled on my heartstrings! See you at Bev's next summer!”


Tom writes: “Just read your story about ice cream - nice little story. Your stories bring a little light in another dull day for most when they read the paper.”


Peter Budgell, a councilor in Bishop’s Falls writes: “Thanks Susan for the great story. As a Council Member in Bishop’s Falls, I am more than happy that your experience in our town was pleasant enough to warrant writing about... I note that you mentioned that you probably would not pass by our town in the future, without dropping in. You are very welcome at any time! I too watched our “first” boat parade and am confident that it won’t be the last. On behalf, I’m sure, of all the citizens of our town, I thank you for taking the time to write about our little community.”


Gerald who was responsible for the fireworks in Bishop’s Falls writes: “I just read a copy of your experience to our little town {Bishop’s Falls} and was glad to hear you had such great time. Hope you will come back again. Thanks so much.”


Lindsay writes: “On August 7th you wrote the story “Yes You Can” which focused on a project Based in Business that the SIFE team at Memorial University of Newfoundland developed and implemented in partnership with CYBF and the Prince’s Charities Canada. I wanted to reach out to you about the team and let you know they are heading to the SIFE World Cup in Washington, DC this week to compete against other countries around the world showcasing this project and others which they have run throughout the year. Below is a release about the team and the World Cup, the competition will start on Monday October 1st. If you are interested in receiving updates on how the team is doing, please let me know.”


Northwest Passage feedback

For those of you interested in the progress of Philos, the sailboat that cruised through the Northwest Passage this summer, here’s a note from Roger, the captain, on September 12, 2012: Hi Susan, as you must have realized I have had no email contact since Upernavik (in Greenland). Actually, it was already a problem at Ilulissat. As we rounded Point Barrow Alaska, we started to get a signal again. The trip has been great but I will tell you the full story later, not now, I just wanted to say hello. As I write we are approaching the Aleutian Islands & from there we will head for Kodiak, Seward or Homer for the winter. Winter is coming on fast here & I am looking forward to stopping for a while. More when I get somewhere.”


And again on September 24, 2012: “We are at Sand Point in the Aleutian Islands and the weather is very wild. I think we will be held here until next Saturday at best then we will head for Homer which is on the mainland almost opposite Kodiak Island. The snow has not started here yet but the bad lows keep coming across from Siberia making progress difficult. Our comms (communications) are back to normal again so that’s good.”


And this one from the young engineer on board, Scott Bishop: “Roger, Gerry, and I arrived in Nome, Alaska last week, and celebrated finishing the (Northwest) passage with some pizza and beer. The passage was an amazing experience with very good weather and lots of great adventures. Now we are trying to figure out where to store the boat for the winter. Nome looks like it will be difficult, so we are looking at places around Kodiak, Alaska, another 10-day sail, but it should be very beautiful and fun. When we arrived in Cambridge Bay the girl at the Visitor Centre found an article you had written on the Internet and was expecting us. It was a great article. I enjoyed it. Thanks again for all your hospitality. It was greatly appreciated, and hopefully I will get to see you again in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia.”


Learning feedback

Tiffany writes: “Great to read articles about everyday lives of working parents with kids!”

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