Little Barn on the Beach: A Summer Getaway on the Irish Loop
The summer of 2018 was a challenging time in my life. Stretched thin with endless hours of work and studying, I found myself counting down the days until my week off in August. I had originally planned to spend this precious time sleeping on the couch, but my partner- who perhaps knew I needed a getaway more than I did- surprised me by booking a two-night stay just outside town at a place mysteriously known as “The Barn”. We had heard about it through a family member and decided this was something we needed to experience for ourselves.
So, we packed our bags, hit the Southern Shore road, and drove until we hit the sparkling waters of Bauline East. I never cease to be amazed by the Irish Loop. In a matter of minutes, you can exit the bustle of town and exhale deeply into the rich expanse of land, ocean, friendly people, and occasional farm animals. The tensions you didn’t know were inside of you begin to relax when you hit this road. I had a feeling, as we drove towards the unknown, that we were heading for something beautiful, but nothing could have quite prepared me for what awaited us.
The Barn is one of three cabins, all on the same property, owned by a couple named George and Chabela. Originally from Wyoming, these two moved to Ontario 22 years ago. While visiting a friend in Newfoundland, Chabela fell in love with this property and purchased it without even seeing the inside. They brought their life to this province, made the property their home, raised a family there, and eventually turned the land into the accommodations they are today: The Barn, the Cabin, The Bunky, and the Teepee.
“We spent many summers with friends and family on the property, making changes, adding new structures and just goofing really,” George told The Racket via email. “We always thought we wanted to rent out cabins. When our kids were working age, we found ourselves alone with lots of cabins, it was about the same time Airbnb was coming online. We dove right in. That was about six years ago.”
Since then, they have hosted travellers from all over the world who are drawn to the unique lodgings, the friendly community, and the beachside location ideal for whale watching, puffin patrol, and hiking on the East Coast Trail. George said the most rewarding part of this work is the opportunity to connect with such a diversity of travellers.
“Chabela and I are people [persons], and we enjoy meeting interesting people. Everybody has a story: some are shared, others not. It is also very gratifying that people like what you have created and shared.”
“We have most recently had a lot of Germans and Americans. From Canada, a lot of people come from Ontario and Quebec and of course from other scattered provinces. Canada has a lot of beautiful places but Newfoundland is the Rock and on it live very entertaining and lively people who love to share their culture.”
These hospitable hosts have seen their share of fascinating people over the years. They have no shortage of stories depicting their encounters with folks from all walks of life.
“A Frenchman once reserved the Barn for four nights,” shared George. “He arrived and asked me where he could swim, and I mentioned the pond and the ocean jokingly. When I saw him later he said his ocean swim was glorious. I Google him and find out that he is a world famous cold water swimmer who was on his way to St. Pierre competing in a swim to Miquelon. He spent one night in our accommodation and I did not see him again even though he paid for four nights. I read in the local St. Pierre newspaper about his swim.”
The property has also been the setting of great romances. “Two summers ago, and nice couple arrived. We happened to have a New York photographer staying in one of the other cabins. The guy proposed to his girlfriend on one knee. He had just graduated from the police academy and works in St. John’s. The photographer memorialized the engagement the next day, with reenactments.”
And for me, a burnt-out student who simply needed some fresh salt air, the experience was nothing short of magical. Maybe it was the warm muffins and coffee that George and Chabela set out for our arrival- or the fact that, with a strong breeze, we could feel the wind slightly ripple through our cozy Barn at night. It might have been the friendly dog who stopped by while we ate dinner on the beach and sipped coolers, watching the sun set over Bauline East. Whatever it was, I found solace in this place, and will never quite forget the feeling it left in me. The Little Barn on the Beach is a reflection of its owners- of passionate, creative people who have enriched our province with their presence. Their property is a labour of love- a love that shines through in every nook, every crevice, and every breeze that rustles your sheets.