Paddle on: kayak around NewfoundlandROLF HICKER/GETTY

The lady at the car-rentals desk at Deer Lake airport has never hired out a vehicle to a foreign licence-holder before. She’s having trouble entering the UK details on the computer. The local tourist board rep steps in. So does her husband. Soon four of us are crammed behind the desk, trying to crack the code. It’s all rather jolly.

Newfoundlanders are some of the friendliest people it is possible to meet, but even for Canadians, the island of Newfoundland (pronounced “New-f’n Land”) remains a place apart. Subsumed into the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s a seven-hour ferry ride across the Strait of Belle Isle from Nova Scotia, the nearest neighbour. It’s huge, too — roughly the same size as Iceland — yet it’s undiscovered country,…