I wrote the script Ferges in Newfoundland as in my third year of Film at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Based on my hitchhiking trip shared in Young Chronicles VII – XX of this blog, it details experiences and conversations from the Newfoundland section of the trip. I have no idea why I called the main character Ferges, except that I wanted a name that was different.
The idea was to have Ferges act as a fly on the wall for different perspectives – RCMP officers, poachers, zealots, old-timers, single mothers, ragamuffins – so that the reader go a small picture of the people of the island.
But it doesn’t work, because Ferges is pretentious and the secondary characters serve only as explication.
Nobody does anything except Ferges, who hitchhikes across Newfoundland in one day so that he can take a boat to the French island of St. Pierre Miquelon. Why? None of it is explained.
The Young Chronicles detail my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the initial Toronto to St. John’s, Newfoundland leg of the journey, this section covers the return trip back across Newfoundland.
June 16, 1983 Mileage 35 miles
Ride One: Fortune to Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Old turquoise pickup truck. 23-year-old man with toothy grin. Wants to get out of Fortune.
Ride Two: Grand Bank to four miles down road. Old pickup truck. Toolbox. Nice man.
Ride Three: To Marystown. Pickup truck. Young guy, moose hunter, works on the oil platforms, six months on, six months off. Off to fish in Gander, Labrador soon.
Stayed in Mariner’s Lodge run by an old guy. “Been everywhere and know everything.”
June 17, 1983 Mileage 418 miles
Ride One: Marystown to Clarenville. Old car. Squeaky 200-pound moose hunter.
Ride Two: Clarenville to Trans Canada Turnoff. Blue pickup truck. Middle-aged guy with no right hand index finger. Electrician moose hunter. Loves screech and special mild cigarettes.
Ride Three: TCH Turnoff too Gander. Old Blue car. Old lady who told story of mongoloid children from a little red bible. “God bless you.”
Ride Four: Gander to Corner Brook. Old Buick. Young guy who took pictures and hunted moose. Quiet except about moose.
Stayed in Bridgeway Motel with two beds. Upcoming Red Rider concert advertised heavily on radio. Ate a hamburger at an old diner. Still cold. High of 24.
June 18, 1983 Mileage 137 miles PLUS ferry trip back to mainland
Ride One: To “a better exit”. Small car with a guy and girl. “I’ll show you a better exit.”
Ride Two: Corner Brook to Stephenville. Canadian army truck. Guy looked a cartoon character with lips jutting out. Moose hunter
Ride Three: Stephenville to roadside bar 25 north of Port-Aux-Basques. Three guys on a multi-day bender. Doug (groom-to-be, bearded, driver, calm, scar on cheek), Pat (married two years, former speed user), Brian (married three years drinker, mustache) and Tefel (fellow hitchhiker, insecure, loves high speed driving).
These guys are all moose poachers and have been jailed four times each. No back seat in the car. Spare tires instead. Shared bottles of beer. I had four. They took us to dump to look for bears and threw empties into the garbage pile. Left them at the bar.
Ride Four: Roadside bar to Port-Aux-Basques Ferry Terminal. Light brown sedan. Mustache and overweight. “Keep all your lanes open in music.”
Young Chronicles is my record of a 1983 Cross-Canada hitchhiking trip. This section details my first few days in Newfoundland.
June 11-13, 1983 St. John’s
Stayed at Will and Helen’s house. (Will was my ride into St. John’s.) They insisted that I sleep in their son’s room who moved into the living room. Sat in the kitchen as Helen rolled cigarettes with a small machine and Will did the crossword. Incredibly friendly people who left me on my own during the day and had dinner with me every night. Treated me to fish and chips on my final night.
Went to Signal Hill where I photographed an iceberg and mused: The massive shiny white behemoth silently watches the land as its turquoise blood seeps ever so slowly into the sea. It knows its time is limited yet continues its silent vigil with its very own evaporation. Its powers is incredible, its size immense, yet it is unable to combat the pleasant rays of the sun. The beast sinks to its mother. A gull glides past and defecates upon its melting brow. The mortal evaporative wisdom of an iceberg, never understood, yet always cursed. The giant melts, and I do not. Does the shining beast acknowledge my presence? I say nay. (Yes, indeed, I really did write all of that.)
June 14 St. John’s to Marystown
Ride One: To Trans Canada Highway. Mother and young girl
Ride Two: To Kelce Goose Turnoff. Brown Rabbit. Old guy. Hair all over back seat.
Ride Three: To Argentia Turnoff. Military man from Maine. No talk by his request.
Ride Four: To Marystown Turnoff. Red LTD. Cool Scottish guy with wife and kid. “Watch yourself down there. It’s backwood-sy.”
Ride Five: To Swift Current. Three guys. Quiet times.
Ride Six: To Marystown. Avis Rental. Money-minded Oil jerk.
Ride Seven: 45 Kilometers short of Fortune. Silver car. “If you don’t get a ride, drop out.”
Ride Eight: 30 kilometers short of Fortune. Chrome pickup. Local who loved Red Rider.
Ride Nine: 10 kilometers short of Fortune. Red car. Man named Schneider; hates Toronto.
Ride Ten: Fortune. Young couple from Toronto.
Stayed in Seaview Lounge and Motel. A dump. Cheap curtains, chipped walls, ugly lamps, semi-intact luggage rack and rude inhospitable staff. Went to see the capelin run where many were out with buckets to catch them on the beach. “Hey, kids, out of the water. Let ’em come in!” A number of teenaged boys approached me. One thought I was an undercover cop. He was a bootlegger who dealt acid. Another boy, Corry, was formal. “When you address him, do it politely.”
The ferry to St. Pierre/Miquelon, France was cancelled. I tried to get a ride with a fishing boat but they left without me. Cold and foggy. I went to camp in the bog the second night but was too cold and freaked out by all the bog noises. Went back to Seaview Lounge and Motel and watched Butterflies are Free with Goldie Hawn.
The following excerpts are from my journal from hitchhiking across Canada in 1983, heading out east from Toronto to Newfoundland and then back across to British Columbia.
Day Nine Mileage 1345-1507 (Includes PEI-Nova Scotia Ferry)
Ride One (Cavendish to Hunters River) Ford Granada. Nice old farmer. Talked about weather, bugs, gas, cars and tourist season.
Ride Two (Hunters River to Charlottetown) Beat-up brown pick-up. Sailing fanatic. Said that the “Hey Hey” song originated in Chicago.
Ride Three (Charlottetown to Georgetown turnoff) Old Chevy. Older woman with daughter and son. Many stories of getting out of the jailhouse.
Ride Four (Georgetown turnoff to Harbour Island Ferry Terminal) Sports car. A continual interrupter who talked about drugs, including snorting coke and shrooms in the school yard.
Ride Five (Caribou Island N.S. to Westville) Old green two-door. John Lennon look-a-like and attractive girlfriend.
Ride Six (Westville to Port Hawksbury) Company van. Terry, a native of St. John’s, an oil rig inspector. Very little conversation.
Ride Seven (Port Hawksbury to North Sydney, Ferry to Newfoundland) White Cougar. Clive on his way home to Newfoundland from Toronto. Very tired. Did some weaving and shoulder sliding. Prefers female hitchhikers “because you never know”.
I learned the following Newfie expressions from Clive on the ferry: Proper Ting (affirming a proposed action), Mare (tomorrow) and Nipper (mosquito). Ferry cost: $10
Day Ten Mileage 1507-2207 (Includes Newfoundland Ferry)
Ride One (Portes-Aux-Basques to Grand Falls) This terrain, flat and deserted, is much better suited to Clive’s wild style of driving.
Ride Two (Grand Falls to Clarenville) Old manual pick-up, slow on the upgrades. Very friendly moose hunter. Average moose gives 1000 pounds of meat. Stories of the Screwdriver Murders. Belief in capital punishment.
Ride Three (Clarenville to St. John’s with a stopover at Finney’s Pond) Small white pickup. Will and Bob. Very friendly guys took me fishing in mostly frozen pond. Bobby appeared in the film Orca. Will loved junk food. Truck couldn’t make it back up the hill. We had to leave the truck behind and hitchhike together to St. John’s with a drunk van driver who nearly had several accidents on the drive.
While camping on Prince Edward Island at Cavendish Beach for two days in 1983, I reflected on “being alone”:
Solitude is a necessary state, that I feel that all men should experience for some intended period of time. But also, it must be noted that man should not be in this state for too long a period, lest he lose his sanity.
Man is an insecure beast – so be it. The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence. It only clarifies our insecurities. Man in his comfortable and unnatural state has time to reflect on more than the today. Man cannot enjoy life as it is, because he worries of the future. And so do I.
I hitchhiked from Prince Edward Island to the North Sydney, the ferry terminus to Newfoundland, seven rides in all, the last driver who told me that he preferred female hitchhikers because “you never know what might happen.”