Arch Rock, Catalina, Trinity Bay

March 2017

FLIPPING THROUGH older issues of Newfoundland Quarterly, I’ve started to notice many of the same photos popping up over and over, sometimes decades after they first appeared in the magazine. This distinctive silhouette keeps catching my eye:

It first appears in 1932, in the corner of an article titled Newfoundland Destined to Become an American Playground. It reminded me of Paul-Émile Miot’s photo of Album Rock (from about 1857), which I’ve been working on a long essay about:

Both photos have a playful sense of scale — at first glance I perceive the rock as being much smaller. Then I notice the tiny figure perched on top and it changes the scale drastically, zooming me out.

Last summer, as part of my research, I travelled to Ship Cove to visit Album Rock. Although I’ve been to Catalina many times, I’d never heard of Arch Rock. My friend Mike lives there, so I sent him the photograph and asked if the arch was still standing. Mike said he thought it was, somewhere between Catalina and Little Catalina, but that he’d never visited it. So this past weekend, when I happened to be out that way, we decided to find the arch.

A photo of Catalina from the September 1958 issue of Newfoundland Quarterly.

It didn’t take long. From Little Catalina we spotted the rock across the water, then drove as close as we could and snowshoed a short ways in. There’s a walking trail called “Arch Rock Trail,” and some picnic tables near the site. I took this photo standing on one of them:

Up close the rock was magnificent, bright snow articulating every crevice of the dark stone. Although the arch doesn’t seem to have eroded much over the years, it also doesn’t look as sturdy in person as it does in the old photograph. Even if the tide had been out, and even if it was summer, I doubt any of us would have ventured up there.

What you can’t see from these photos is that the rock not only has the large and small arches you see here, but another huge aperture in its side. It’s more like a table or a tripod (or maybe a Henry Moore sculpture) than an arch:

For an even better view of the rock, try watching this drone footage by a resident of Little Catalina.

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