Your Road to Adventure Awaits…

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Those who live on the Great Northern Peninsula appreciate the true beauty, the mystique and charm that comes with Northern living.

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling many countries of the world, mainly visits to capital cities. They have their exceptional offerings, but one can not compare the authenticity of culture and place. I remember saying, “I’ve been to Dublin three times to my Irish friends and they would say, you have never experienced Ireland”. So in 2010, I took them up on this comment and rented a car and drove 1,800 kilometres from Kinsale to the Giant’s Causeway and all places in between. I can now say, I’ve truly experienced Ireland from the farmhouse dinners to the rugged shorelines to the nightly sounds at multiple pubs.

Now, the same is true with Newfoundland & Labrador, if you come and visit the Capital and never make it up the Viking Trail on the Great Northern Peninsula’s tip, you are truly missing a rural gemstone that will provide lasting memories and conversation pieces for a lifetime.

The road to adventure awaits and it can only be found as you travel up the tip! It is the only place in the world, where the human race came full circle for the very first time, which was 100,000 years in the making (Read: Where the World Came Full Circle)

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The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the only authenticated Norse site in North America at L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Only a short distance away is the Snorri and a Viking Village and Port of Trade. Norstead gives everyone the opportunity to interact and live like a Viking! Sagas, Stories and Tales and more are part of the original experience.

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Multiple cruise ship visits make L’Anse aux Meadows their port of call where they are greeted by a giant statue of Lief Erikson. Restaurants, craft shops, coffee shops, lounges, artisans, economuseums, walking trails, campgrounds to vacation rentals, and story boards make for unique experiences.

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The fishing stages, vernacular architecture and sights and surroundings are unique in itself. If you are lucky you will see moose, caribou and other wildlife.

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In Spring and Summer giant icebergs come to shore…only the biggest can be found the further North you go.

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Lighthouses hunters (Cape Norman, Cape Bauld, Flower’s Island), bird and whale watches and those in search of rare plants will want to trek the Great Northern Peninsula. The Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve has 300 species of plants, thirty of which are rare and one unique to the region.

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Images of wildlife and everyday living can be viewed at Town of Englee Municipal Building at their Mat Hooking Exhibition. Also in the building, is home to Glacier Glass, a glass art studio which has handcrafted items that are quintessentially rural.

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Main Brook and Roddickton-Bide Arm is home to excellent fishing and hunting experiences and adventure tourism. While visiting these hubs one can visit St. Julien’s & Croque and see the French Cemeteries and Fishing Stages or explore the tapestry in Conche, which is home to the French Shore Interpretation Centre. There is also a French bread oven in Quirpon and Dark Tickle is home to the Granchain Exhibit.

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We also have unique thrombolites at Flower’s Cove, or “living rocks” that are between 600 million to 1.2 billion years old.

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A boardwalk will take you there, as will a boardwalk take you back to Deep Cove, which is a winter housing Historic Site. In winter the trails are a great place to leisurely ski or snowshoe.

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Dr. Grenfell is a larger than life man and his work is reflective of the economy in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador today from the expanse of medical services, co-operatives, handicrafts and economic development – one will not want to miss the Grenfell experience at the Historic Properties. Fishing Point Provincial Park, Polar Bear Exhibit, Northern Discovery Boat Tours, The Great Viking Feast and the Legion Kitchen Parties are also for the to do list.

Sir Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

The Iceberg Festival in June and Mussel Festival in August also draw lots of attention and provide fun for the whole family. Let’s not forget the times to be had at the Conche Garden Party and Goose Cove Garden Party.

Wherever the road takes you on the Great Northern Peninsula, the experience will be unforgettable – as the people, culture and place are just that.

Live Rural NL –

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

A Walk Down Memory Lane…

It seems almost a lifetime ago, yet my first foray into business is strongly linked to the political world. In March 2002, I left my tiny community of Green Island Cove and went to Ottawa to learn about politics at the Forum for Young Canadians. I knew nothing about politics, except that I was intrigued by it, little did I know I would become a Member of the House of Assembly just 9 years later. This was my first real adventure on my own, the farthest I had ever been away from home and it truly was a life changing experience – from getting a private tour of Parliament to sitting in the Speaker’s Chair while the Speaker took the photo to meeting friends from all over Canada, some of which I would end up in the same class as we completed our University degrees. However, beyond the week of friendship and politics, I was really overwhelmed by the Museum of National Civilization. It inspired me to think about our history, the people who have had an impact on rural Newfoundland and Labrador, especially on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

I remember the return ride from the Deer Lake airport sparked the conversation about creating a museum that depicted the way of everyday living and its people. On the Great Northern Peninsula we are the one unique place where the “World Came Full Circle”, an event 100,000 years in the making. Cultures collided from the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo, and recent Indians, like the Beothuk and Mic’maq to the Norse, Basque, French, English to modern day. By the end of the ride the wheels were in motion to consider establishing a museum at Aunt Betty Spence’s vacant home in Nameless Cove. However, like most good ideas it almost never got off the ground. I applied for a position with the Green Team, looking for security in summer employment versus the ups and downs entrepreneurship would bring. I was unsuccessful in securing a position.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

It was now May and I decided that the concept of the museum could be done, with proper diligence and took all my free time in the remaining six weeks of preparation to conduct research (with dial-up Internet), complete some renovations and prepare the property for what would be a grand opening on July 1, 2002. The beginning investment was a lot of sweat equity and less than $500. The reward for trying, was priceless.

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Flower’s Island Museum opened with Mary Elizabeth “Aunt Betty” Spence cutting the ribbon. She was approaching her 95th birthday and was excited that her old homestead, collectables and story was being shared with the world. Despite higher gas prices, the outbreak of SARS and limited knowledge of this new venture, this operation was able to secure 600 visitors from Australia, Norway, UK, USA and many places in between. I have made friendships that continue to this day, more than a dozen years later.

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After my first season, I re-evaluated the business and look to find ways to generate more revenue streams to make the business model more sustainable. The first season saw great contributions in the form of donations, admission and gift shop sales. That winter, I began drawing up plans to create a Newfoundland themed nine-hole miniature golf course. That Spring the concrete was being laid, with many thanks to family and friends for helping and contributing to its success.

I look back and remember all the fun that happened during those summer months people had playing golf. There was lots of excitement for me on hole number 8 when my golf ball went up the pipe in the lobster trap and it was a hole in one. There were many tournaments that summer and a lot of life in the little community of Nameless Cove.

A summer Fun Festival was hosted in 2003 and 2004 with a partner and the ideas seemed endless. All the magic happened before Facebook, before access to high-speed Internet was available in the community. We focused on printing brochures, doing paper promotions and posters. These are all things of the past to those who have adapted in the tourism world.

It was clear the times were changing and with it some tough decisions had to be made. I was enrolled at Memorial University completing a business degree with summers committed to work terms and education. I worked to help others start-up their own summer ventures and spent a year living and working in Europe. Those decisions would ultimately lead to the closing of the museum’s doors. It was very difficult to see something in which I created, and have to let it go. Though, the experiences I gained overseas have forever changed my outlook on life, on economic development and on community, not to mention the life long friendships.

Flower’s Island Museum was a real high point in my life, as it really let my creativity flow to generate new ideas and share with the world what the Great Northern Peninsula was all about. Is there a possibility to re-visit this concept as it was?

As I walk down memory lane, I reflect with a smile realizing that since 2010, I’ve been continuing what I started more than a decade ago and that is sharing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. This blog has been letting those “Experience the Great Northern Peninsula” in a virtual form reaching hundreds of thousands of people from 191 countries around the world. We’re certainly on the map!

We all have something to offer and all have an impact on our community. I encourage you to take a walk down memory lane and look back on some of your accomplishments and find new ways to look at failure and realize that there are always other paths to success.

Live Rural NL –

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

Destination Towns: Conche, NL

There are destinations one must experience when visiting Newfoundland and Labrador. The Town of Conche is one of the those unique spaces that offers a package of culture, authenticity, nature, history, adventure and so much more. I have a t-shirt from two young entrepreneurs from the community, which states “good food, good drink and good company”. That line sums it up nicely that there is incredible hospitality that exists past Sailor Jack’s Hill.

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Conche is a vibrant town with an active fish plant that employs dozens of people from across the region, a tourism economy with the French Shore Interpretation Centre and it’s tapestry on fine display. There is an artist retreat, bed and breakfast, cafe convenience store, zodiac tours, playground, walking trails, lounge and lots of learning and entertainment for all.

The people of Conche are resilient, working hard to find solutions to complex problems. A 25 ft extension has been added to the present wharf infrastructure, water supply improvements are occuring and the fire hall received an expansion. The Town Council has been very active working on these matters and also successful in obtaining new pavement throughout the Municipal boundaries, after a failed chip seal program. This will greatly benefit those who want to experience the beauty or settle in this Town. Residents get relief by saving their vehicle from mountains of potholes. However, there is a caveat of having to drive over 17.6 KM of gravel road, which requires paving to expand the economy of not only this Town but the entire region of the Northern Peninsula East.

It is truly a pleasure to work with those who have a strong sense of community and press hard to economic development and long term sustainability. The communities of the Great Northern Peninsula have natural leaders, attractions, amenities and new opportunities. They await your visit, your investment of time to experience our destinations.

Conche is one of those destination towns. Come and stay for awhile.

Live Rural NL,

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

The Majestic Caribou is another reason to come and stay awhile…

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The Great Northern Peninsula is a magical place where many natural treasures are ever present. We are home to the Viking Settlement a World UNESCO site in L’Anse aux Meadows It is the very place where the world came full circle – an event more than 100,000 years in the making. It is also home to Gros Morne National Park, the Grenfell Legacy, a community of 50 centuries, the French Shore, economuseums, ecological reserves, destination trails, giant icebergs, whales, pristine waters for fishing, hunting and full of unique experiences.  We have a strong business community that caters to tourism and hospitality industries.

We are also home of the mighty caribou. Almost every trek I make on Route 430 between my home to the Northern Peninsula East or North to St. Anthony and surrounding area I am greeted by a herd of caribou at the St. Anthony airport.

If you have never had the opportunity to see this majestic animal, I encourage you to make the trek up the Great Northern Peninsula and stay awhile, we have weeks of adventure awaiting.

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-Wheite Bay North

My First Visit to Prague was January 2007…I’ve had many returns

I moved to Europe in January 2007 to attend a semester abroad at Memorial University’s campus at Harlow in the United Kingdom. This was a big step for me – I was a 21 year old rural Newfoundlander who had spent some short family vacations in the Atlantic provinces and a week in Ottawa was as far west I had ventured. It was a decision that forever changed my life!

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After trekking the streets of London and a group trip to Berlin, Germany I choose to visit Prague in the Czech Republic with Elizabeth and Meg. I will have to admit that it wasn’t love at first sight given a number of unfortunate circumstances we encountered when it came to trains, trams, poor weather, getting lost, adapting to a foreign language and so much more.The first night proved to be quite a nightmare. All was not negative though and as time passed, our lows became highs as we truly experienced the beauty of the the Old Town, Astronomical Clock, Castle, Charles Bridge, famous Czech beer, music and many other sights and sounds.

I never knew after that visit that I would end up travelling back to Prague for many returns. As time passed throughout the winter semester at Harlow, I would visit France, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Austria and other parts of Europe. I learned a lot about culture, society and various life skills that had me interested in continuing my education abroad. I applied for an exchange as part of the my Bachelor of Commerce with Prague, Czech Republic being my number one choice, Uppsala, Sweden as number two and Mexico as my third choice.

I received a letter of acceptance to Prague to attend the University of Economics and I was ecstatic. I was eager to experience more of this city as after my visit in January, I knew I would be back and this place would have a special piece of my heart.

After accepting the exchange and making arrangements, I was also offered a job to work for London Offshore Consultants, an international marine and engineering consultancy. This meant I spent the whole year in Europe and fulfilling a dream of visiting Egypt. I spent my Fall of 2007 in Prague where I truly experienced the rich culture, history and made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I’ve returned to Prague again in January 2010 and also in September 2012. I’ve had my friends I met in Prague visit Canada in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and visited them in Europe every year since 2009. I could certainly write a book or two about my many “Random Travel Adventures”. These travel experiences have helped shaped who I am as a person and does provide a different perspective when I look at the opportunities and challenges that exist in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I would encourage anyone to study, work or travel abroad (and it can be done on a shoestring). Today, I am a little nostalgic given an 8 year anniversary since my first visit to this magical city. I love reflecting and returning, because each time offers something new and a stronger connection to this special place. I always look forward to my next return.

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula has a similar impact on people. Once you experience the landscapes, architecture, heritage, history and other unique aspects of our culture, you too will want to have many returns.

Live Rural NL –

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

Bay Roberts Fire Department is a Shining Example of Answering the Call for St. Lunaire-Griquet

The Bay Roberts Fire Department is a shining example of answering the call and doing their utmost to protect personal property and save lives. I had the privilege of visiting this Department on November 1st, meeting Fire Chief Norman, firefighter Dean Franey and Mayor Wood. I was given a tour of their Department, discussed equipment, sharing of services and gained a much broader understanding and appreciation of the work they do to serve a large population of more than 6,000 people in conjunction with their Municipal Council.

I arrived in Bay Roberts after a significant loss on the Great Northern Peninsula when a cornerstone business of Hillier’s Automotive was gutted by fire in St. Lunaire-Griquet in October. In a newspaper article, Deputy Fire Chief Humby had highlighted their lack of protective fire suits as a major concern for their growing department members. He highlighted the Firettes, would be raising money to try to purchase eight suits that were needed.

Hillier’s Automotive destroyed by fire, Northern Pen, October 6th, 2014

I sent this information our via Twitter and was surprised to get a response from Bay Roberts Fire Department saying they may be able to be of assistance in helping St. Lunaire-Griquet with their need. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to accept on behalf of St. Lunaire-Griquet Fire two full bunker suits and third jacket. This was an amazing contribution by Bay Roberts and illustrates their giving spirit and the importance of helping those who have a need.

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Offering Protection, Northern Pen, November 5th, 2014

It was very pleased to see they had a Memorial space dedicated to firefighters in the Town, who have passed away and also the Heritage Society have posted interpretative panels. They still have their number one fire truck since the 1946, which gets used in parades, but not for active service. This type of initiative could be replicated in other Towns and Departments to give recognition to those who give their service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Fire Chief Snow became a new dad and was at the hospital for the delivery upon my return to the District and I wanted these suits to be with the Department as soon as possible, as one never knows when a fire call may strike. I presented President of the Firettes, Mona Snow with the bunker gear. This will help them greatly with respect to their fundraising goals for the remaining suits they need.IMG_20141114_143847

A tour of Bay Roberts illustrated a vibrant Town  with respect to tourism, fishery, small business, growing sub-divisions, a planned business park and community economic development initiatives such as festivals. I enjoyed seeing the Mad Rock and network of walking trails, well-marked signs and a visit to the Mad Rock Cafe for a delicious meal. I would highly recommend a visit and look forward to a return in the near future.

The Town of Bay Roberts is poised for future growth and ideally located to capitalize on future opportunities. They are also capitalizing on the use of social media with active Twitter accounts, Facebook Pages and a visually appealing website to keep people informed and engaged. Towns, organizations, business or volunteer groups not active on Twitter and Facebook should consider adopting. It’s a New Year!

I want to extend a thank you to Bay Roberts for your kindness, hospitality and generousity. Bay Roberts, like the Great Northern Peninsula, is a place you will want to experience.

Live Rural NL –

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

The Mayflower Inn & Adventures has been in business for more than 40 years…

The Mayflower Inn is Roddickton’s longest continuous running business, opening its doors in 1974 with just eight rooms. The family business, a key employer in the region is in its second generation, expanding in size and services to include outfitting and adventure tourism operations. This past November, I the privilege of wishing Trevor and Shanna Pilgrim much success on their current milestone and look for all they will bring to the Great Northern Peninsula as they achieve new accolades.

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This business has been recognized by its peers and was honoured with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Tourism Business of the Year Award in 2009. The Pilgrim’s continue to be innovative with significant room upgrades and an offer of unique packages and tours, such as the “Iceberg Trails and Teasures Tour”.

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Their 40th Anniversary celebration brought local school groups, residents to enjoy tours, teas and an adult wine and cheese. It also was the official launch the opening of their new gift shop with locally produced products, books and other wares. The shop presents a warm feeling that is steeped in tradition with its displays pertaining to the rich forest history of this Lumberjack Town.

The Mayflower Inn can be that perfect escape to relax and unwind, or experience a unique adventure. The Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm offers an expanse of walking trails, interpretation about wildlife, lumbering history and the story of resettlement, as well local attractions like the Underground Salmon Pool. The business is at the heart of the French Shore and a short drive to French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche and the unique glass art studio, known as Glacier Glass in Englee.

Supporting locally owned and operated small businesses are key to maintaining and growing sustainable rural communities. The Mayflower Inn and Adventures has been a pillar in the community for 40+ years and a place you too can experience in 2015. Congratulations!

Live Rural NL,

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

Picturesque St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove, NL

The Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet  and Gunner’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula are completely picturesque and there is no wonder more than 30,000 visits during the summer season. This place is steeped in history from the Aboriginals, Vikings, French, English and other settlers given the presence of the mysterious markings at St. Brendan’s rock.

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The presence of traditional saltbox, biscuit box or two-story homes can be viewed along winding roads with ocean views and craggy coastlines. There are many unique pieces of vernacular architecture you will not want to miss on your visit.

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There will be root vegetable gardens near roadside and flakes of salt cod drying in the sizzling summer sun. A host of accommodations are available from motels, cottages, cabins, bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals and hotels to meet any travellers needs.

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There are unique attractions, a network of walking trails, eco-museums, craft and carving shops, boat tours, festivals and an array of activities in the surrounding areas from the Viking Settlement, Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh Historical Fishing Village, Grenfell Historic Properties, Radio Quirpon, Coffee Shops, Kitchen Parties at the Legion and Screech-ins at Skipper Hots with traditional music by the Skipper Hots band.

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People come and are wowed by the icebergs of the Great Northern Peninsula. They are much larger as they snuggle into our harbours and coves. Watch small boat fishers as they bring in their daily catch or have a yarn at the small wharves. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is truly about interaction with out people. The Great Northern Peninsula offers a truly unique and authentic experience.

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The culinary experiences are exceptional, with two of the restaurants ranking in the top 10 for the best fish n’ chips in Newfoundland & Labrador. The Daily Catch, Snow’s Take-out  and Dark Tickle Cafe are in St. Lunaire-Griquet, with Northern Delight in Gunner’s Cove. L’Anse aux Meadows is home to the Norseman Restaurant, Coffee in the Cove at Hay Cove and Burnt Cape Cafe in Raleigh.

Northern Peninsula eateries praised for their fish and chips

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The tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is the perfect get-a-way to be one with nature. Moreover, it has the distinction of being the one place in the world where humanity came full circle – an event more than 100,000 years in the making!

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Now that you know there are lots of places to stay, eat and experience – pack your camera and begin planning that trek up the Great Northern Peninsula and start snapping images of the picturesque communities of St. Lunaire-Griquet and Gunner’s Cove on Newfoundland’s tip.

Live Rural NL –

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

Christmas Parades on Great Northern Peninsula Exude Community Spirit

The month of December marks a number of community events from Christmas concerts, annual award nights, church functions, tree lighting, breakfast/brunch, socials, appreciation dinners, Santa visits, dances, hockey tournaments and of course the Christmas parade. On the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula there is so much activity. It shows signs of an active volunteer base, supporting strong, vibrant communities as each place offers something unique to bring together residents to enjoy a sense of community, a sense of involvement and just exudes the spirit of Christmas.

I plan to focus, primarily on parades given they were hosted in St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Flower’s Cove, Conche, Englee, Main Brook, Roddickton, Bide Arm, L’Anse aux Meadows, Hay Cove, Noddy Bay, Straitsview, Savage Cove and Anchor Point.

St. Anthony (December 13th)

St. Lunaire-Griquet (December 13th) – Held on December 20th, 2014

Weather postponed the St. Lunaire-Griquet Christmas parade and the event was held the following Saturday and I was unable to attend. If there are people who have photos this parade and are willing to share, please email mitchelmorec@hotmail.com.

Flower’s Cove (December 13th) – Held on December 14th, 2014 which enabled me to attend.

Conche (December 19th, 2014)

Englee (December 19th, 2014) – Held on December 22nd, 2014

This event was originally scheduled for December 19th, but weather greatly impacted the viability of a successful parade. The event was held on Monday, December 22nd and I was unable to attend. If anyone has a few photos they would like to share, please send to mitchelmorec@hotmail.com.

Main Brook (December 20, 2014)

Roddickton-Bide Arm (December 20, 2014)

L’Anse aux Meadows, Hay Cove, Noddy Bay, Straitsview (December 20th, 2014)

If anyone has photos of this event and would like to share, please send to mitchelmorec@hotmail.com. I had committed to attending the Roddickton-Bide Arm parade several weeks in advance.

Savage Cove Christmas Parade (December 21st, 2014)

Town of Anchor Point Christmas Parade (December 23rd, 2014)

There was much time, organization and volunteer efforts put forward by many community leaders, business and residents to ensure these Christmas parades and a host of other activities were successfully held on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, some for 50 years. The people of the Peninsula continue to make big things happen in small communities!

Let’s keep building in 2015!

Live Rural NL –

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

For the Love of Jannying – Mummer Memorabilia for the Holidays!

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Most readers know by now I have an exquisite love and passion for the tradition of mummering or as we always called it growing up – jannying. I continue the tradition each year, as well with a friend co-organized for five consecutive years a mummer’s walk in the Straits.

I have numerous mummer ornaments that include those handmade hooked-mat ones, clay to those store coming from St. Anthony, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Woody Point, King’s Point, Lord’s Cove, Flower’s Cove and places in between. I would like to see Glacier Glass of Englee, NL produce specialty “Mummer Pieces” for this years holiday season.

I’ve seen more locally produced Mummer memorabilia, but they too compete with mass produced products from China. I much prefer my crybaby size mummer doll made in Roddickton-Bide Arm or the four mummers with the knitted sweaters I bought at St. Anthony Come Home Year 2012, which were made in Goose Cove. It is also where I got my miniature ugly stick too!

I love my new mummer’s stein, which makes a happy pair if one wanted to have a drink of ale with a friend. The charms are a nice compliment when sharing a glass of wine or hosting a tasting. My new ornaments from this Christmas are hung on my tree, the Simini singing ornament, granny, the old stove and the checkered top hat mummer playing the fiddle. I really love that one! Finally, one can curl up to the cozy traditions of a throw that depicts the unique sounds of Newfoundland & Labrador. It truly is part of any band of mummer’s attire, an accordion, fiddle, ugly stick and a set of spoons.

Thank you to all for the lovely gifts, they had added to my traditional Newfoundland & Labrador Christmas tree and made the spirit of Christmas mummering that much more enjoyable!

Let’s keep celebrating traditions that have lasted through the centuries.

Live Rural NL –

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

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