Embroidered Bread & Conche Caplin

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The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.

Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.

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The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.

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It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.

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Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.

Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Serenity by the Sea

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My hometown of Green Island Cove is a quaint little fishing community. Last Sunday, I took some time to enjoy the beautiful weather and get some exercise. The surroundings and views were as inviting and serene as always – this place after all is my home.

As a child I would spend many hours in the “landwash”, the beach or down by the boats. We would skip rocks on the water, look for small crabs, jellyfish or pick some mussels. Some days we would build a sandcastle or just sit and stare off at Green Island, the Big Land of Labrador and watch the activity on the water, while hearing the waves gently crash.

As we get older and our lives get busier, sometimes we just don’t take enough time to stop and take a look around at our surroundings and realize how beautiful things really are when we take the time…

Seeing so many wild mussels growing between the rocks, brought back wonderful memories of picking them with short rubber boots. We did that quite often. The sunshine and the remaining pans of ice and bergy bits just added to the seaside walk. Take time to enjoy the sights and surroundings in your own community. You may be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Iceberg at Tapper’s Cove, Torbay

I’m from Iceberg Alley! There is no better place to see icebergs than on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula – L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Anthony, St. Carol’s, Goose Cove, Conche, Englee and many neighboring harbours are hugged by the 10,000 year old glacier ice. In just a few weeks, the official Iceberg Festival will begin on June 5th, 2015 – check out the fantastic schedule at www.theicebergfestival.ca.

It was a real treat to be on the East Coast a week ago in the beautiful Town of Torbay to capture a few views of the massive iceberg that is watching over Tapper’s Cove.

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Torbay is just a few minutes from the capital city and has experienced rapid population growth. I think some of it has to do with these incredible views and the feel of rural living. There is an expanse of natural trails, farming activity and water surrounding the community.

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I took one of the trails and to my surprise, I would meet my former Finance Professor from Memorial University. It was nice to re-connect, talking about photography, music, international politics and the natural beauty of the area.

The iceberg in Torbay is a nice preview for what is to come on the tip of Great Northern Peninsula. So plan your perfect get-a-way for ten days of iceberg fun and excitement!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

It’s Lobster Season on the Great Northern Peninsula

Lobster traps hit the water in St. John’s Bay and surrounding harbours and coves on the Great Northern Peninsula yesterday morning after significant ice delays. Mother Nature has certainly not been helpful to our fishers, given the delays meant missing the lucrative Mother’s Day markets when demand is high and sales peak. The fact that many were unable to take to the water, enabled prices to soar past the $10 mark per pound for lobster, where today it has dropped to nearly half that price.

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On Friday, I visited Barr’d Harbour. It is a re-settled community on the Great Northern Peninsula, that becomes a bustling with activity from early May until mid-June for lobster season. As a child, most of our family, friends and neighbours would be uprooted for the day the lobster pots would hit the water. As a child this meant a day missed at school to help the family business. We would all have our chores of cutting bait, baiting pots, loading and offloading, truck driving, setting traps in the water or cooking up a pot of soup and feeding the hungry men and women helping ensure lobsters would be return in the coming days. I certainly miss the activity, the day at the Bay and more importantly the time spent with dad doing what was his true passion – fishing!

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I wish all the lobster fishers a successful season and hope to have my fish feed of fresh lobster next weekend! There is nothing like getting them fresh from our very own waters.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

A Little Piece of Heaven Exists on Change Islands, NL

As the sun sets on the horizon, one has a feeling that a little piece of heaven exists on Change Islands, NL,

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On Saturday, May 2nd I found that little piece of heaven as I took the afternoon ferry, the MV Earl W. Windsor from Farewell to Change Islands. The return fare with a vehicle is $7.15. No doubt this 30 minute direct run, which was slowed by heavy pack ice is heavily subsidized by the Province. If you have not yet been, you are missing out on one of rural Newfoundland & Labrador’s best kept secrets.

The 12 kilomentre jaunt into Town, with a population of 160 has incredible views. The southern part of the island is uninhabited, with trees, bogs and marsh dominating the landscape. Before reaching the second island, I pulled over to take photos of clothes hanging on the line. It made me think of Deborah Gordon and her clothesline calendars. I took several dozen photos before I even reached the bridge and was forced to pull over as the views at both sides of the Tickle would not let me go further.

I stood by the boats took some snaps, after looking around, I just couldn’t contain myself and jumped up and down with joy. This place was real, this place was what is rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as the fishery dominated the landscape – the boats, the wharves, nets and the fishing sheds. I knew at that moment, I was really going to like this place.

The Burgundy Squid and Craft Shop is currently closed, as it is still early for the season. The “For Sale” sign in the window presents a unique business opportunity for the right individual. Behind this dwelling is a Knitting Economuseum and views that will take you breath away.

After passing the Seven Oakes, I made my way to the North end of the island where I would take some photos of the lovely vernacular architecture, view the 120 year old St. Margaret’s Church, pass the “Pink” house, see the shed from Harry Hibbs’ squidjiggin’ ground* and make a trek up on Squidjiggers Trail.

*Editors Note: I’ve been informed Arthur Scammell had written the squid jigging grounds and was born on Change Islands. The school is named A.R. Scammell, so it may be named after him? I could only re-call Harry Hibbs version of what is Scammell’s song. Thank you “Proud to call it home” for your comment.

Squidjigger’s Trail was not possible for me to fully navigate, given rubber boots would have been better footwear than my mesh sneakers, but I did get to the top of the hill. It was quite the look out. You could see where the birds would drop sea urchins or crabs to expose the meat. The ice views and dwellings, while the wind gently blew was nothing but awe inspiring.

Change Islands does not only the mind good, but the body as well. The food that is served is nothing but the best of Newfoundland dishes. My supper included fish n’ brewis, with a helping of scrunchions (fried pork fat). To top it all off was homemade lemon meringue pie. One could not ask for a better tasting dish or better hospitality.

Dinner table conversation led to more adventure. Another walk around the island, but as the sun was about to set. Serenity, tranquility are words that come to mind. As that last ferry sailed away for the day, you know you were just that little bit removed from the rest of the world for the night.

I was only on Change Islands for a few hours, but there was a real sense of contentment here – that I felt at home!

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to views like this?

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On Sunday morning, I had a meeting at 11:30 AM, so I made sure to get up early to trek the roads and places I had not been the day before.

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Despite the morning rain it was quite a fruitful experience, from the homes in the NL Tourism Ads, Newfoundland Ponies, trails, wood piles, root cellars, encounters with locals and more postcard perfect views around every single corner – I certainly made the most of my time.

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I met at the Town Hall with the Manolis L. Citizen’s Committee as they continue to raise concerns about the 600,000 litres of oil that must be removed from the 30 year old sunken vessel. Chronic leaks have been detrimental to bird and sea life. Further action must be taken, to prevent a catastrophic spill that would put at risk the environment and economy of the entire Notre Dame Bay Region.

I am very thankful to the hospitality exhibited from the residents of Change Islands. I feel now, I have friends on these islands that I look forward to continuing to have conversations and learn more about the storied past and the ever changing future of this dynamic island economy.

Time had passed very quickly, as I waited for the MV Earl W. Windsor to depart the harbour. The heavy pack ice was ever more present that day, requiring ice breaking assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard. It was smooth sailing as I made my way back to the busy city life. Reality was setting pretty quick – it would be another week before I would get back to the authenticity and beauty that is home.

The photos are wonderful, but the views and experiences are even more brilliant in person. Thank you all for making Change Islands the destination that is worthy of being known as a little piece of heaven here on earth. You too, can experience this magical place too!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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