Bernadette’s Take on
Bettina Lori, Norris Point, Newfoundland
Being crazy Swiss style
Winter is the best time for people from Switzerland to look at properties in Canada.
Because then you know what you are in for when you live here.
Canadian winters are not for the faint of heart.
But Bettina Lori is not afraid of snow.
She and her husband Herbert Schumacher had to take a snowmobile to go to see the piece land in Western Newfoundland they were interested in.
Bettina (59) remembers the day vividly. “When I sank into the deep, deep snow, my boots stepped on the tops of small fir trees”, she says.
The snow (and the snow storms) in Newfoundland did not deter her and Herbert to settle on this rugged East coast island, lovingly called „The Rock“.
First the couple operated a hiking tour company in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But their dream was a environmentally friendly hotel, and with a lot of luck, they found what they wanted. In the middle for Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site where private land is as rare as diamonds!
The owners of an old people’s home sold a property with a million-dollar-view of the famous table mountains and Bonne Bay. Bettina and Herbert bought it within a heart beat.
It took quite a bit longer to renovate it, rebuild it and add extensions. Three years, to be precise, until it opened in 2007.
Today, Neddies Harbour Inn in Norris Point which is about one hour from Deer Lake airport, is a jewel of the Newfoundland tourism industry.
If you listen to Bettina, a former journalist and teacher from the Swiss canton Graubünden, (Herbert is a former policeman from Zurich), you also get to know that a lot of Swiss perfection and quality went into it.
“We wanted a hotel that is ecologically sustainable”, Bettina says. “But we had to compromise. Solar energy, for instance, would have been too expensive.” But whenever possible, the building material came from the area. The floors in Neddies Harbour Inn are made of birch wood from Newfoundland. Furniture, linens and table cloths are locally made.
Bettina also makes sure that for the kitchen of their restaurant The Black Spruce local food is served, whenever possible. “We always have fresh fish, that is why I don’t know in the morning what the fisherman`s catch is”, Bettina says.
In the hotel’s sun-drenched reading room, Bettina keeps pots with herbs. She is very practical.
Neddies Harbour Inn attracts tourists from Canada and from all over the world. Bettina talks with her guests in Swiss German, German, English, Italian, Rumantsch (a language from the Swiss Canton Graubünden, one of the four official Swiss languages) and French. Usually she is casually dressed in cargo pants and sandals.
Even today, Bettina jokingly calls their enterprise “crazy”. But their craziness has paid out.
Five years ago, Canada’s most glamorous couple, politician Justin Trudeau, son of the legendary Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (and maybe Canada’s next prime minister himself), and his wife Sophie Gregoire, stayed at Neddys Harbour Inn for an entire week.
A few years ago, the Swiss run hotel received an award for „Accommodator of the Year” from the tourism organisation Hospitality Newfoundland/Labrador.
When you ask Bettina why she emigrated to Newfoundland, she says: “It just happened to us. We did not really want to leave Switzerland, but we really wanted to live in Newfoundland.”
They had traveled to the island in 1994
and fell in love with its landscape and the friendly people.
In Norris Point, they are embedded in a wide circle of friends. At Christmas and New Year, they are invited so often that they find hardly time to have friends over themselves.
In the winter when the hotel is closed, Bettina and Herbert, both Swiss certified search and rescue dog trainers, work with a group of locals and their dogs.
These dogs are ready to search for missing people in the mountains and forests, summer and winter. “This is important as more and more people go on ski and snowmobile tours in Gros Morne National Park”, Bettina says. “There are avalanches out there.”
I told you: This woman is not afraid of masses of snow.
Go and have a look at their website:
Neddies Harbour Inn, Norris Point, Newfoundland (rooms and two vacation homes)
phone 1 709 458 30 89
Here is the Can-Swiss Quiz with Bettina:
What gift do you bring home from Canada (or Switzerland)?
From Canada: Bakeapple syrup
From Switzerland: Chocolate
Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?
Environmentally conscious, direct democracy, punctual.
Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?
friendly, relaxed, multicultural
What triggered a culture shock for you in Switzerland?
Exiting Zurich airport on arrival in Switzerland: the rush, noise, traffic and bad air.
Which Canadian or Swiss personality fascinates you?
Swiss personality: Sina Semadeni, an author of fairytales, children books and a book about the famous Hotel Waldhaus in Flims, Engadin, Swiss canton Graubünden (www.sinasemadeni.ch)
Canadian personality: Elisabeth Penashue, an Innu elder from Sheshatshui, an Innu village in Labrador/Newfoundland, who teaches young people about the Innu culture (elizabethpenashue.blogspot.com)