The Ancient Ones

From soft and sensual, to jagged and sharp, the icebergs slip silently by along the east coast of Newfoundland.

story and photography by Spencer Wynn

Carved from the massive Greenland glaciers, new icebergs are born with a thunderous roar as they violently explode from the glaciers with a force that could (and sometimes does) swamp a small fishing village.

Each year during iceberg season, huge chunks of ice, ushered along by the North Atlantic current, slip past the east coast of Newfoundland. On some occasions, fierce winds blow the bergs close to shore, giving residents and visitors a grand display of ice as old as 100,000 years.

I’ve had the chance to get up close and personal with these giants, along the Greenland coast, as well as in and around St. John’s. Nothing is more thrilling than to simply watch, look and contemplate what has happened on this planet, while these Ancient Ones were still far up the glacial flow.

Captain Barry

Iceberg season occurs, roughly, between late May and early June – followed by whale watching season – and the best way to take in the spectacle is by jumping aboard the big orange Iceberg Quest tour boat. Captain Barry is an experienced pilot, one who knows how to find the bergs while safely providing optimal views. And you can take it from me: it’s a photographer’s fantasy ride.

Captain Barry also takes smaller groups in his Zodiac Hurricane boats. These trips have a higher cost, worked out in advance, but the trade-off is well worth the extra spend. The images seen here were all captured from the Zodiac.

I find icebergs almost sentient: they seem to possess a personality all their own. It’s hard to put into words, but when just metres away from a monolithic wall of floating ice, it’s humbling to imagine the history that these Ancient Ones have witnessed. And it does, indeed, put life into perspective.

Iceberg off the coast of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

As the most easterly point on the continent, Newfoundland greets North America’s first sunrise each day. It’s a land of ancient mystery and natural beauty. While in St. John’s, I stayed at the modern Alt Hotel by Le Germain, a hostelry that offers incredible views of the harbour. Furthermore, it’s within walking distance of the Iceberg Quest, and close to other attractions including Fort William, the Cape Spear Lighthouse, Signal Hill and the Ocean Science Centre.

Just the facts:

• For more on Newfoundland and Labrador tourism, go to NewfoundlandLabrador.com

• To book a tour at one of Iceberg Quest’s two locations (St. John’s and Twillingate), go to IcebergQuest.com

• To find out more about Alt Hotel, go to GermainHotels.com/en/alt-hotel/st-johns

Spencer Wynn is a veteran designer, journalist and photographer.

A small fishing outpost near Twillingate, Newfoundland.