Gander

Destination Location

gander-newfoundland_city-aerial-view

Overview

The friendly people of the small town of Gander are famous for their generous open-door policy. They've shown their warm-hearted nature on several occasions, welcoming stranded air travellers into their homes when air travel has been delayed for long periods of time – like the massive volcanic eruption in Iceland that shut down Atlantic airspace in 2010.

Although Gander was plan B for many of these accidental tourists, the range of seasonal activities including whale watching along the scenic sandy coast, Nordic skiing, summer golf, kayaking, hunting and ATV areas bumps a return trip to the A list. Other stand-outs include fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Gander River, the Little Harbour Marina and the North Atlantic Aviation Museum.

Air travel has always played a central role for Gander. The city's location was originally chosen as a refueling depot for flights leaving North America for the United Kingdom and continental Europe, giving it the nickname the "Cross-roads of the world". Its location as the most easterly airport in Canada played an important role in World War II as allied aircraft and troops were stationed in Gander before heading over the Atlantic.

After the war, the town of Gander began to spring up a short distance from the airport. Many of the streets and avenues of Gander are named after historic aviators and airline innovators. Other big names brought to Gander for stop-overs (and longer visits) include Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, The Beatles, Fidel Castro and George Bush Sr.

Gander's location at the centre of Newfoundland and Labrador makes it an ideal spot for conferences and festivals. In addition to yearly flight events, Gander holds a number of charity motorcycle rides and a growing triathlon that has been held since 2010. Wintertime sees the return of Snowfari which combines ice fishing, skiing and motorized snow fun with indoor feasts and festivities.

Whether you are visiting Gander, returning home or just stopping over, Gander's history and friendly people make it a great spot to fly to.

Airport served by: YQX

Destination basics

Gander came into being in 1938 with the completion of the Newfoundland Airport, now known as Gander International Airport. At the time of its completion, the airport was the world’s largest and soon came to be a base for the Royal Air Force Ferry Command during World War II. The influx of servicemen during this time spurred the development of a community centered around the airport and barracks. At the end of the war, the town was moved to its present site at a safe distance away from the runways to the west of the airport, and the original town soon disappeared. 

To the east of the town core, the airport remains the focal point of a community rooted in the town’s history as an aviation hub. Along the northern edge of the airport, visitors can stroll through the streets of the Old Town, and explore the few markers that remain of historic Gander. To the south of the airport, attractions like the Silent Witnesses Memorial, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, and the Thomas Howe Demonstration Forest capture the imagination of all who visit.

Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park, Gander Golf Course, and the Airport Nordic Ski Club mark the western reaches of a town core that is hemmed by Gander Lake to the south. At the heart of it all lies a thriving community, with residential areas centered around a cluster of restaurants, malls, sports fields, and entertainment venues to the south of the Newfoundland Trailway.
Gander’s entertainment offer is sure to delight those who enjoy the outdoors, as well as sports enthusiasts and patrons of the arts.

Outdoors
Surrounded by the dramatic beauty of Newfoundland’s landscape, Gander offers ample opportunity to explore the outdoors. Gander’s many trails call the curious to embark upon a journey of discovery through the Thomas Howe Demonstration Forest. At the other end of town, nature trails encircle the scenic Cobb’s Pond, while the Newfoundland Trailway traces the historic route of the Newfoundland Railway across the city. Further away, Terra Nova State Park offers an opportunity to uncover the myriad charms of Newfoundland’s east coast through activities like hiking, fishing, kayaking, and camping at Newman Sound. Closer to home, Little Harbor Marina is a fine place to try your hand at fishing. For winter sports, head to the Airport Nordic Ski Club, or traverse the Newfoundland Trailway on skis.

Performing Arts
The Gander Community Centre and the Gander Arts & Culture Centre both form the core of the city’s performing arts offer. Gander Arts & Culture Centre boasts a varied program of live performances, including concerts, live theater, comedy, and dance. Both local and touring theater groups, comedians, bands, and musicians have been featuring on stage.

Sports and Recreation
Make the most of the summer sun at the Gander Field Complex. Located in the heart of the city, this outdoor recreation complex features a baseball diamond, softball fields, tennis courts, a splashpad, playgrounds, an outdoor skating rink, and a skateboard park, making this a fun-filled destination for the whole family. Nearby, the Gander Curling Club offers curling enthusiasts four sheets of ice to play on. In winter, head to the Gander Community Centre for a run around the indoor walking track, instead of braving the cold. By the shore of Gander Lake, the Gander Golf Course features 18 holes with sprawling fairways and steep inclines for a challenging round of golf. The course also features a driving range where you can practice your swing. For winter sports head to the Airport Nordic Ski Club, or snowshoe across the Newfoundland Trailway. As you explore the city, you’ll find opportunities to enjoy other recreational activities as well, such as swimming at the Arts & Culture Centre, bowling at Peyton’s Pins, and shooting at the Gander Rod and Gun Club.

Festivals
The highlight of Gander’s entertainment offer is the famed Festival of Flight. This annual celebration brings the city to life with a jam-packed schedule of parades, live entertainment, fireworks shows, and kitchen parties. Dine at the food stalls that throng Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park as musicians take the stage, participate in varied games, and be dazzled by the bustling parade at Gander’s Festival of Flight.

Nightlife
Whether you’re looking for a place to unwind at the end of your day or some night-time fun, Gander’s bars and pubs will not disappoint. While the city boasts several nightlife options with a full bar offer to quench your thirst, Legends and Oasis feature at the top of the list of Gander’s best. At Legends, mingle with friendly strangers over a game of darts, or try your hand at pool instead. You can also play board games, poker, and shuffleboard at Legends as you savor classic bar fare. Oasis, on the other hand, is known for live music, DJ and acoustic nights, and the best chicken wings in town.
Gander offers a mix of casual eateries, laid-back pubs, and fast food restaurants alongside a few more formal dining options. While most of the city’s restaurants are clustered around Gander Mall, Fraser Mall, and the Trans-Canada Highway, several of the city’s hotels are home to some of the city’s top restaurants. 

Alongside popular fast food restaurants, Ches’s is a local alternative for a quick and delicious serving of fish & chips. For pizza and donairs, Louis Gee’s is a local favorite, while Legends serves up a full bar menu and classic pub grub in a casual setting. For a more wholesome meal, enjoy traditional Newfoundland fare and homestyle eats at Lilly’s Landing, or head to the Gander Golf Course for club sandwiches at the 19th Hole with a scenic view of the course. For seafood, the Albatross Hotel Dining Room should be your first choice.

Enjoy great Asian cuisine at Fraser Mall’s Tai Sun, New Highlight, and East Ocean. For a refined, formal dinner, the Bistro on Roe, Alcock & Brown's Eatery, and the Mystic Dining Room at Sinbad's Hotel are Gander’s top choices. 
Gander

Province: Newfoundland and Labrador

Country: Canada

Gander by the Numbers
Population: 11,688
Elevation: 128 meters / 420 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 127 centimeters / 50 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 451.9 centimeters / 177.9 inches
Average January Temperature: -7.1°C / 19.2°F 
Average July Temperature: 16.3°C / 61.3°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-3:30 (GMT-2:30 Daylight Saving Time); Newfoundland Standard Time (NST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 709

Did You Know?
In honor of the city’s proud aviation history, nearly all of the city’s streets are named after renowned aviators and astronauts, including the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Marc Garneau.

Despite advances in modern technology, the exact depth of Gander Lake remains a mystery even today. Although several attempts have been made to measure its depth, the lake’s unusual topography, shifting tides and currents, and innate ability to absorb sonar signals have foiled every attempt, giving rise to the legend of the “bottomless” Gander Lake.

Orientation
The town of Gander is located on the northeastern shore of Gander Lake, in the northeastern part of the island of Newfoundland. The town is located 43 kilometers (26.72 miles) to the south of Gander Bar, 96.2 kilometers (59.78 miles) to the east of Grand Falls-Windsor, and 334 kilometers (207.53 miles)  to the northwest of St. John’s.
Gander’s role as a hub for transatlantic aviation forms the core of its identity. In 1935, the site was chosen for the construction of an airfield, and in 1936 work began on what would become the world’s largest airport. In 1938, Captain Douglas Fraser became the first to land at the newly completed “Newfoundland Airport” in his single-engine biplane, marking the start of Gander’s love affair with aviation. 

Through the course of World War II, the airport’s strategic location close to the northeastern edge of North America transformed Gander into a hub for the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. Thousands of American, British and Canadian soldiers descended on the scene, housed in barracks clustered around the runways. For years, the airport remained shrouded in secrecy, even as a bustling community began to form around the airport, as small businesses set up shop in temporary quarters to meet the needs of the servicemen. 

At the end of the war, the airport reverted to civilian use, and the present town site was developed to move Gander’s residents to a safe distance away from the airport. In 1958, the present municipality was incorporated, granting Gander the official status of a town. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Gander thrived as the mid-point along transatlantic routes where airplanes halted to refuel. Gander welcomed visitors from around the world, and came to be the rest stop for the rich and famous as they made their way across the Atlantic, earning Gander the moniker “Crossroads of the World”. Even the Cold War did not dampen the town’s global allure and was one of the few places where American and Soviet pilots could be seen mingling. 

Two tragic events will forever remain a part of the town’s history as a testament to the residents’ generosity of spirit. In 1985, Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed near Gander, going down in history as the most devastating aircraft accident across Canada. Far from forgotten, the Silent Witnesses Memorial and the Cross of Sacrifice commemorate the 256 lives that were lost on that day. 

On September 11, 2001, New York’s World Trade towers were reduced to rubble by a series of terrorist attacks that shocked the nation. As the world mourned this fateful day, Gander sprang into action, housing, feeding and entertaining over 6,600 air passengers whose flights had been diverted due to the closure of North American airspace in the wake of the attacks. The kindness and generosity of Gander’s residents in the face of this trying time has inspired books, movies and theatrical plays that tell the tale of the Yellow Ribbon Operation.

Although advances in aviation have made it possible for airplanes to travel longer distances without having to refuel, Gander remains at the forefront of aviation and aeronautics research, serving as a testing ground for new technologies even as it continues to welcome visitors from across the globe.

Points of interest in Gander

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