Monthly Archives: July 2010
Newfoundlanders’ & Labradorian’s are well-known for their strong work ethic, craftsmanship, hospitality and of course, ability to perform.
This weekend marked the opening of the 4th Annual Big Droke Heritage Festival (visit www.bigdroke.ca for complete schedule). I rushed from work to attend the opening ceremonies. It was certainly a real treat for those able to be at the Big Droke Interpretation Centre. The opening performers were students of Viking Trail Academy’s Youth Choir, their voices angelic and their traditional tunes, spirited and touching. This group had stolen the limelight from Festival Organizers, Board Members, Politicians and other special guests. No spoken words were as powerful of those youth in that room. The power of music and the future in our youth is a bright shining star!
Dinner followed at the Plum Point Motel. A delicious serving of Fisherman’s Brewis was to be had, served with homemade pickles and the freshest of rolls. Tea or coffee was to compliment the choice of bakeapple, blueberry or partridge-berry tarts for desserts. The meal was delectable. All this was enjoyed by the sounds of very talented local entertainment strumming on their guitars. What more could one want, great food and songs in the company of friends. Well…there was more…
Around 8:30, “Rose” had dropped by to pay a visit. Rose is quite the character in these parts, with her well endowed top and bottom, splashy make-up and attire, all complimented with a firecracker personality and some witty humour that would light the place up. Yes, Rose made my night. I could not hold back the laughter, and neither could the others in the audience. Rose has an incredible talent to make others laugh - through her stories, jokes, song and silly antics. She was also complimented by fisherman Skipper George (pronounced Jaarge), who captivated the audience by sharing our local dialect and interacting to engage in some tongue-twisting. This led to 10 CFA’s (Come From Aways) to want to be screeched-in to become Honorary Newfoundlanders (for ceremony and significance, refer to earlier blog post, entitled “Black Gold”). It is pretty safe to say, that George and Rose left an impression with these 10 people, that this moment will be forever engrained the highlight of their vacation.
On Saturday night, I listened to the Wade Hillier Band at Thirsty’s Lounge. A little disappointed with the number people making their way out on this night, as the band really put on a show. They even played some of my favourite tunes. One specifically stands out from Ryan’s Fancy, “Candlelight & Wine” (click for youtube clip).
Last night I attended an evening of Music & Friends and Big Droke Idol. For the many in attendance, all eyes were watching, ears listening and lips smiling as they heard local resident Mr. Kean tell stories of the first settlers; Mr. Doyle play his squeezebox (accordion) and sing some karaoke; Ms. Hartery perform traditional Newfoundland songs, including a counting song that garnered the audience’s participation; Mr. Kennedy was on hand to play guitar, with a special talent to pick up the chords for any song; Ms. House sang a number of songs; Ms. Caines, 74, got up to share a tune among other singers, performers, storytellers and joke sharers. It was an evening to remember, to reflect of where we came from and where we are. Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sinnicks performed and had the crowd cheering. Special Guest Singer from Cape Breton Rita McNeil even made an appearance. Well it wasn’t really her, but if you didn’t know, it would have been difficult to tell. This woman was remarkable, her beautiful voice, body movements and hand gestures had everyone’s attention. Not to mention the entrance and blowing the crowd kisses.
This was followed by an IDOL competition, with contestants ranging in age from 19 – 76. Imagine how much from we have in Rural Newfoundland. Stay young, fun at any age and share your talent, experiences and abilities.
After watching the acts, I realized Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent. Does this mean the CBC & NTV television stations need to jump on the reality band wagon to give us our own show. The answer is…NO. However, we should take time to truly appreciate the talented people around us, that make contributions to our culture and heritage. Some preserve, while others help it evolve.
Still searching for my musical talents -
Friday, July 23, 2010.
Today my mind was centered around the tourism industry and customer service, as I participated in Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s “Super Host Atlantic” program, all I could think about was creating the Rural Experience. We have a distinct product so many yearn to know.
We have an incredible opportunity, especially those of us who live and work in rural communities. We have a product urbanites are demanding, as they grow tired of the same restaurants, malls, and congested streets. This means we do not need to spend time developing business districts in our towns and communities to attract new people. The traveller of today is coming to small towns for an authentic experience. They want to eat where locals do and hang out in our social commons, visiting our wharfs, cafes and shops.
I remember walking the streets of Italy while on vacation three years ago. I was in search of a restaurant that was not in the tourist district, where locals eat. We found a little resto on a narrow street. We were served fresh homemade pasta, with authentic Italian charm. The atmosphere was real, which made all the difference, as you could hear the language of love, Italiano fill the room, not to mention prices were not over-inflated and you could taste the pride and heart placed in the meal, as one’s taste buds we tantalized.
I have travelled many countries, in urban and rural settings and can state that successful small town tourism hinges on collaboration. We must work with other local business owners and not see other operators as competitors. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador can achieve success in this field, if stakeholders work better with the local business community who serve these visitors. A B&B should recommend other accommodations in the region, be knowledgable of events, activities and attractions. We have a distinct cultural collection, heritage, history, cuisine and way of living that is a unique, underdeveloped tourism product.
As individual business entities, we all have motives, goals, objectives and initiatives with limited resources. Working with others, weaving our rural networks and sharing information can help to provide a better service to visitors and more economic benefit for the member businesses.
Let’s look at things with a new approach…Collaborative Community Thinking on a Regional Rural level is market ready.
Let’s promote the authentic rural experience -
Rural Newfoundland and Labrador’s social life reads like the Cheer’s theme song…sometimes you wanna go… where everybody knows your name….and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, your troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
This past Saturday, I decided to visit the local lounge. As I walked through the door and scanned the bar I was surrounded by familiar faces. I made my way to the bar, greeting the bartender, whom I knew. I looked at the coolers and was saddened by the fact that there was no Bennett’s Dominion Ale (brewed only in Newfoundland since 1924). I think I am one of the few drinkers of this product. I have frequently asked retailers to carry it, but have not been successful. As an attempt to continue its production, I called Molson (the producer) and commended them on its quality and mature taste. If you have heard Dick Nolan’s song “Aunt Martha’s Sheep” it is mentioned, “We chugged a lug Dominion and the Mountie walked in the door”. I’d like to say I have Norm’s stool at this location, but it has been months since I last visited the joint. It was a nice evening, chatting and sharing a few laughs. We played a game of pool and then broke out into a mini-dart tournament! Classic rural Newfoundland. In rural Newfoundland, the night didn’t end when the lounge closes, no you head to the after party, typically a shed. These are quite popular. If you are priviledged to attend one, you truly can say you know someone from ’round the bay.
When I lived in Paradise, a suburb of St. Johns. My neighbour Draper always hosted a shed party. In his backyard, late at night there was always a fire going, music and beer. What more can a man want, besides the presence of some beauties. I remember dropping by on occasion after returning from Downtown to participate in the festivities. One thing for sure, even if you don’t know the people that well, you always felt you did. There is something social from a rural upbringing that presents acceptance of others who have grown up in a rural setting.
I remember a few years back, as I was travelling and overnighting at Musgrave Harbour on the Gander loop. A nice off the Trans Canada Highway town. I was looking for some Monday night entertainment, so I called a local lounge listed in the phonebook. The lady picked up the phone, “The Shag”. I was sold! The Muddy Shag was a happening place on a Monday night. There were tables of locals playing cards and having beer. There must have been 50 people there that night. I was able to have a pint of Guinness or two and shoot some pool with a co-worker. What a time!
I find that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are very social beings. We are interested in having a good time and enjoying life. We look forward to sharing that with others who have similar views on life. If you like beer, song, dance, darts and cards….you never know what a local night at the lounge may present.
Always a character….
I decided to stop by the Tuckamore Lodge, a wilderness retreat located in the centre of a vast region of exceptional natural beauty. Upon stopping, I was greeted by the proprietor, Barb Genge and instantly invited into her home. She is a visionary. I enjoy every conversation we are able to have with respect to marketing, packaging, the industry and the great outdoors. Yes, this woman is a titan for the Viking Trail and its remarkable tourism and outfitting offering.
While at the Tuckamore Lodge, I was privileged to enjoy a great lunch, what a “scoff”. You see the cuisine of Newfoundland and Labrador is as diverse as the heritage. We have Jigg’s Dinner, Toutons, Mug-ups and various wild game and seafood dishes that have been passed on from generation to generation. Tuckamore staff strive to provide an experience to its customers and not just a nights accommodation, with the food being a big part of the experience.
The Scandinavian Decor, placement setting and experienced staff set the mood and atmosphere. Lunch was served; on thick slices of freshly baked homemade bread was a gourmet sandwich and side salad so fresh, you would think the vegetables came from a backyard garden. Yes, this lunch was an unexpected treat and so was the dessert that followed. A bakeapple square with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice-cream. This was incredible, as I found my way into dessert heaven. It was so enjoyable to the tastebuds I asked the chef for the recipe. She provided it instantly, despite being very busy with a number of other tasks. Now that is exceptional customer service. I’ve since prepared the dessert, not really comparable to the first, but I will keep trying. If you would like to eat at Tuckamore, it would be best to make a reservation in advance. You will certainly not be disappointed.
I wish, there was more time to inhale the natural beauty of the lake, the sights and sounds of nature and the great outdoors. The countryside teams with wildlife: moose, caribou, black bears, salmon, trout, birds and other animals. Truly, something for everyone – the nature enthusiast, photographer, eco-tourist, hunter and anyone who would like to get-a-way from it all without having to “rough it” since there is a sauna, billiards room, hot tub, library, fitness equipment and more…
Check out their website and see it for yourself: http://www.tuckamorelodge.com/
A Recommended Rural Retreat -
FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, THE EXPLORER JOHN CABOT REPORTED THAT CODFISH RAN SO THICK YOU COULD CATCH THEM BY HANGING WICKER BASKETS OVER A SHIP’S SIDE. HE HAD DISCOVERED THE MOST FANTASTIC FISHING GROUNDS THE WORLD HAD EVER SEEN.
A century after Cabot, English fishing skippers still reported cod shoals “so thick by the shore that we hardly have been able to row a boat through them.” There were six and seven-foot-long codfish weighing as much as 200 pounds. There were great banks of oysters as large as shoes. At low tide, children were sent to the shore to collect 10, 15-even 20-pound lobsters with hand rakes for use as bait or pig feed. Herring, squid and capelin (a small open-water fish seven inches long) spawning runs were so gigantic they astonished observers for more than four centuries. Today, Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishery is limited and over-regulated, as well inland our streams and rivers lie quiet compared to the glory days.
The settlement of Newfoundland, indeed much of North America, was a byproduct of the pursuit of cod. Properly dried and salted codfish would keep for long periods, an important consideration before refrigeration. It was relatively light and easy to transport. Profitable, transportable and easily marketable, cod would rival South American gold and Caribbean sugar in the New World resource-extraction free-for-all.The story of the cod’s destruction, however, begins when Newfoundland’s colonial era ends. For the first four centuries after Cabot, Newfoundlanders had little trouble actually finding and catching cod. There were seemingly endless numbers of them. These large, hardy, generic-looking fish are built to last: adaptable, omnivorous and a large female will produce nine million eggs in a single spawning. Atlantic cod survived in their current form for 10 million years, through ice ages and warming spells that changed world sea levels by some 300 feet
Fishermen benefited from the cod’s tendency to congregate in great numbers. When spawning, cod gather in dense clumps of hundreds of millions of fish. Northern and Grand Banks fish spawned on respective portions of the offshore banks, sowing the ocean currents with trillions of eggs. This made it possible for men to catch them in vast numbers with hand lines and, in recent decades, to scoop up entire stocks with enormous nets hauled by trawlers the size of a small ocean liner. For many centuries, though, it was the cod’s next move that put food on the table.
In 1992 a moratorium was announced in Canada that forever changed the landscape of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Communities were decimated, as the primary source of employment was no more. Alternative and under-utilized species were able to help fishers adapt to losing a stock we fished for centuries. I remember at the age of 12 and 13, cod jigging with my father. I have fond memories of those summer days on the water…memories I will cherish a lifetime.
However, even if left alone, the northern cod may never recover. Industrial technology and human greed may have so decimated these hardy fish that they can no longer hold onto their ecological niche. The crash could be irreversible. What are your thoughts?
Craving Cod….counting down to recreational cod fishery -
The act of mummering actually comes from Rome, which is an awfully long way from Newfoundland & Labrador. The tradition was picked up in Great Britain, a tiny bit closer. It was adapted as one of earliest customs, dating back to the time of the earliest settlers who came to our land from England and Ireland.
Sometime during the twelve days of Christmas, usually on the night of the “Old Twelfth”, People would disguise themselves with old articles of clothing and visit the homes of their friends and neighbors. They would even cover their faces with a hood, scarf, mask or pillowcase to keep their identity hidden. Men would sometimes dress as women and women as men. They would go from house to house. They usually carried their own musical instruments to play, singing and dancing in every house they visited. The host and hostess of these ‘parties’ would serve a small lunch of Christmas cake with a glass of syrup or blueberry or dogberry wine. All mummers usually drink a Christmas “grog” before they leave each house. (Grog-a drink of an alcoholic beverage such as rum or whiskey.)
When mummers visit, everyone in the house starts playing a guessing game. They try to guess the identity of each mummer. As each one is identified they uncover their faces, but if their true identity is not guessed they do not have to unmask.
For a time the old tradition of “Mummering”, or “Jannying” as it is sometimes called, seemed to fade, especially in the larger centers of Newfoundland. However, thanks to the popular musical duo, Simini, who wrote and recorded “The Mummer’s Song” in 1982, mummering has seen a revival. Many people young and old look forward to dressing up at Christmas, knocking on a friend’s door and calling out “ANY MUMMERS ALLOWED IN?” (Here is a video of the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8OPy7De3bk and the song with photos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzJW65XwKPY)
Mummering enables adults to act like kids again. They get all dressed up so that no one knows them and do crazy things. They tell all kinds of fibs, change their voice and act out of the norm! They play with water and make amess on the kitchen floor with their snow covered boots. They dance and sing silly songs. They come crashing down to real life, though, when someone guesses whom they are and they have to take off their masks. While the fun is not over, now they have to behave like adults again.
So when you’ve opened all your presents and you’ve eaten your turkey dinner, you probably feel that Christmas is over. But here in Newfoundland, the most easterly province in Canada, the fun is just starting, for the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 26 to January 6) is the time we’ll be mummering. You can watch for us, but you won’t know who we are!
Mummering in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador, has grown in popularity during the summer season, noting appearances as we promote “Christmas in July” for those who come from away. There is an opportunity to share this experience with others as demand for experential tourism increases as more urbanites yearn for all things rural.
Eagerly awaits for Christmas in July -
I live just 14 miles NW of L’Anse au Loup, Labrador giving me the opportunity to wake up each morning and view the empowering rocks of the “Big Land”. As well, each night see the illuminating lights twinkling before I close my shade and say goodnight to the world. Yes, there is something magical and luring about the pristine landscape of Labrador. I understand why Hubbard was interested and optimistic about his expedition into the unknown.
In 2008, during Labour Day weekend I had the privilege of travelling the south coast and onward to Port Hope Simpson to collect some fishing nets. During the night we visited with a local, named Ben. He invited us into his home and gave us a room for the night and would not hear of us staying at the local hotel. Talk about hospitality! For a youthful man in his eighties, he sure could whip up a great batch of pies, give us a tour of his massive greenhouse and tell us stories from his trapping and fishing years. I think the secret of staying youthful is to keep a good attitude, maintain your sense of humour and of course, stay active!
We had travelled to Charlottetown and another coastal community with Ben, stopping to visit the fishers on the wharf to discuss their daily catches and other news of the sort that gets collected at such a “social commons” and is transferred throughout the communities. It is amazing how fast news can travel this old-fashion and more personalized way in rural regions.
Our next morning would take us to Mary’s Harbour, where we would catch the ferry-boat at the former Grenfell Mission Shed to take us to “Battle Harbour” (known historically as the Capital of Labrador), an island just 17 kms away. The wind was not strong that day, which provided for good steaming and the opportunity to capture some fantastic scenery along the way.
I snapped images of former fishing rooms, dwellings and coastlines as we came into port. Battle Harbour is full of history. In the 1770′s a mercantile salt fish premises was established, spurring economic and social activity. It posed to be a significant stopover for those who became involved in the Labrador offshore bank fishery in the early 19th and into the 20th century. I recall my grandfather speaking of stopping there on some of his longer journeys. Hundreds of fisherman flocked to the area, the Grenfell Mission provided medical services.
Battle Harbour, in its current form presents an opportunity to visit historical buildings, walkways and work areas, while receiving an interpretative tour. Upon arrival you also get a meal. Additionally, it has a distinction of being the only historic site in Canada where you can overnight in the historical buildings http://www.battleharbour.com/home/. I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, but next time I certainly will, as Battle Harbour is the perfect get-a-way from it all retreat.
We are blessed to have many Rural Retreats in Newfoundland and Labrador. Around every corner if we stop, take a look and breathe it all in, we will see that we have a great quality of life that many can only dream. I have visited many large centres and rural villages on my travels, but there is no retreat comparable!
Yesterday I began reading The Lure of the The Labrador Wild – The classic story of Leonidas Hubbard, written by Dillon Wallace, which is an account of an expedition undertaken by these two into the unchartered interior of Labrador in 1903.
As I thumbed the pages, my youthful sense of adventure spurred. Leonidas Hubbard was co-editor of an Outdoor Magazine, Explorer, Adventurer and Enthusiast. I felt similar traits as I took stock of myself, after scribing several articles, traversing 27 countries and yearning for new experiences both near and far.
As Hubbard and Wallace trekked the rivers, Hubbard cast his rod and caught many trout. It brought back memories as a teen when I would walked with my comrads to a friend’s cabin in the wilderness. We were 5 and spent a weekend fishing during July. It was salmon season and two of our party spent their day on the river, while the rest of us cast our rods for trout from our little rowboat on the brook. The lucent sun was warm, nature was all around us – a beaver was swimming to his home, birds chirped, wild geese flew overhead and how can I forget the swarms of flies. Yes it was a sure sign of summer!
On one occasion I remember catching a fair size trout, one of my first. I was quite ecstatic! A sense of accomplishment overcomes a person when they are able to provide for themselves. I think it is a part of a person’s coming of age. Later that day, the trout was gutted and fried in the pan and it was delicious! My mouth waters for the flavourful fish. Can you reflect on a fishing experience, one of your first? Share with us, by posting a comment.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 5-10 fresh trout
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4-5 slices of salt pork (optional)
Wash trout well. Remove entrails and wash again. Dry trout and dip in a mixture of flour and salt. Fry trout in hot pan on fried-out salt pork until golden.
We were truly with mother earth -no internet, television or cellphones and content with our lack of ammenities. We were not far from civilization, but for those days in the wilderness, the rest of the world could have been a million miles away. I certainly yearn for those boyhood days of summer where we fished, boated, built fires, camped and had fun; a time when we were carefree, spirited and daring. Those days are no more, as I have grown into a man, my friends too. As well, we have since went our seperate ways. Although, times and situations change, the experiences can remain. I look forward to more days of summer when I take to the water and paddle my canoe. Freely flowing down a river and back again, exploring Rural NL. I post pictures when I do again.
Live in the moment, experience earth and all her beauty -
This post is dedicated to all my Mainland and International friends. Some of you may have heard me pose the question, “How ‘is yer boots, me ol’ trout?”.
K posted a comment earlier today about Newfoundlanders & Labradorians and our wonderful sense of humor. Well I have certainly turned a few heads when I asked someone “how their boots are?” The look of confusion and lost stares are ever present on their face, because it is somewhat odd to ask someone about their boots, especially as a conversation starter. However, this is an expression I have either created or adapted as a friendly way of saying, “How are you today?” and well “Me ol’ Trout” or “My Old Trout” is just an expression for “old buddy” or “(good) friend”. I enjoy the humour and providing an explanation of this saying, because it is a great ice-breaker. It is an instant way for me to smile and tell the person what I really mean and begin to share aspects of my Newfoundland culture, heritage and upbringing.
We certainly have a unique local language and regional dialect. However, local language variations and dialects are not uncommon and exists all around the world. French is much different in New Brunswick and Quebec than in France, because of expressions and adapted slang. As well, the North & South of France have regional language variations and barriers. Are language variations part of an urban and rural divide? If so, what happens as the world becomes more urban? Will languages be adapted and integrated? It is a curious concept.
I often wonder if the Newfoundland & Labrador language and our never ending list of unique vocabulary is a result of the integration of the many cultures that inhabited Rural NL throughout history. We have had Maritime Archaic Indians, Groswater & Paleo-Eskimo, Recent Indians, Norse, Basque, French, English, Irish, Scotish and other European settlers all living here at one point in time. Was the result the Dictionary of Newfoundland English (the only province to have its own)?
We learn from others and can share valuable experiences and knowledge. Culture, traditions and language does not remain stagnant and surely evolves over time.
I invite you all to post comments regarding some of your favourite Newfoundland & Labrador words or expressions and your thoughts on our language.
Linguistically Living Rural NL -
Each community has a character or iconic individual that is memorable or does something out of the extraordinary. For the Town of Hawke’s Bay on the Northern Peninsula that person is 90-year-old Great-Great Grandmother, Cecilia (“Celie”) Smith.
Over a pot of rabbit stew today at dinner, the conversation between my great-aunt, great-uncle and grandmother turned to bear sightings. I had mentioned to my uncle that while on vacation travelling to Conche (the French Shore) I saw a small cub near roadside. Then travelling on the Trans Canada Highway later in the week I saw another black bear. I have lived in rural NL for nearly 20 years and have never seen a bear until this summer. This re-called a recent article in the Northern Pen, Western Star and Telegram newspapers with the title, “90-year old bags bear”.
This is not the first bear for this spry woman. I recall back in 2007 watching an episode of CBC’s Land & Sea, which profiled her at 87 & 88 years of age having trapped at least two previously (Celie’s story can be viewed at: http://www.cbc.ca/landandsea/2009/04/celies-story.html). This woman built her own home, a home for her parents and others, provided maintenance and worked 32 years at the Maynard’s Motor Inn, worked as a fisherperson and logger. She still maintains a large garden, does woodwork and other daunting tasks that most people my age and younger wouldn’t tackle, yet at 90, she makes it look easy.
She has a real love for the great outdoors, the forest (woods) and at her cabin, which she built. She enjoys rabbit snaring and does so on her own snowmobile, accompanied by her great-grandson. To me she is one pretty cool great-grandmother. Even today she continues to beaver trap with her son and continues to hold a bear hunting licence.
Celie Smith has the right attitude about many things including:
- Trapping or growing her own food instead of eating products at the grocery store with ingredients we can’t even pronounce
- Staying active and getting fresh air
- Keeping a good sense of humour
- Having that one drink of whiskey at night
I remember a book given to me by an elementary school teacher, called The Legend of Princess Sheila NaGeira, which I read 15 years ago. The book left an impression on me because I remember she lived to be 105 years old according to the Legend and that she lived by the philosophy that “it is better to wear out, than to rust out.” So let’s take a page out of Celie Smith’s book, get outside and enjoy rural living.
Slowly Sipping Whiskey -
Before the expeditions of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot, 1497), Christopher Columbus and Captain James Cook - we had visitors and inhabitants. More than 1,000 years ago the Norse (often referred to as “Vikings”) were the first Europeans to re-discover Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Norse established a settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows (translated “Jellyfish Cove”) which consisted of eight sod houses. This site was officially discovered by two Norwegians in 1960-61, after a local resident Mr. George Decker directed them to this site. In 1978, L’Anse aux Meadows was declared a World UNESCO Heritage Site. For more details visit Parks Canada’s website: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/index.aspx.
On June 28, 2010 I had re-visited the site and experienced a feeling of re-discovery. This is a place I had not returned since I was a little boy almost 20 years ago. Some aspects I remember clearly, other elements are more vivid. At first, the replicated sod houses and all the artificial artifacts were real to me, thinking in the mind of a child. I remember the interpreter vividly in much different clothing. A butterchurn that was on display intrigued me since it must have been a difficult process to make butter all those years ago; that it simply did not come pre-packaged at the local general store. Growing up in a lovely home with all the modernities of electricity and indoor plumbing of the 20th century (at the time), I could not imagine what life was like for these people more than 1,000 years ago. But, I certainly thought it was cool and would loved to have spent a night or two there, just for the experience! Hey, it couldn’t be that much difference from camping, right?
The Norse had stayed only for a short period of time (circa 8-10 years). Why did these people leave after only a short time and never return?
Significant findings give evidence that their was a blacksmith shop with forge for iron work, workshop and boat repair facility. The simple answer is that these industrious explorers established a site at Jellyfish Cove to repair their vessel and continue with their quest to find “Vinland”. Others have written accounts that there was much conflict with Natives, painting the Norse to be violent warriors. Although these people may be seafaring, they were also agriculturalists (farmers). We can not travel back more than 1,000 years ago to ask these questions and know the answers. However, when you read pieces of history or historiograhy (the writing of history) or an article, take a critical viewpoint of who is the writer, what is his/her motive and remember that most history is written from the viewpoint of the victor, possibly skewing events that actually occurred.
The Norse culture had strong tradition of retaining oral history through storytelling, which later became part of the written sagas. The fact that this group of people had made a written account, enables historians to better piece together history with their findings. It is evident that Rural Newfoundland & Labrador for more than 1,000 years has been home to many cultures and should have many pages in our history books.
Rural Retrospect – when viewing the impressions in the ground left from the Norse settlement, I felt somewhat sadden. Overtime these impressions will become less visible, but I believe their mark is forever left as part of our heritage and will be preserved. It is up to us to keep written accounts of our history, our people, traditions and experiences. It is a way to define who we were and who we are today, where we have been, where we are and provide insight into the future as to where we are going.
On my 1,000 Places to See Before you Die calendar (thank you Karrie), yesterday’s page had a quote I liked:
“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way” – Colette
Enjoy her beauty -
If you grew up in Rural NL part of the experience is tasting many of the locally grown berries, such as the partridgeberry (lingonberry), squashberry, gooseberry, and most of all for me the beloved bakeapple (cloudberry). I have fond memories of picking these berries on the marshes and barrens not too far from my home. I would have a small jug as a boy and my parents larger ones. My father would always have three or four times the amount I would pick. I look forward to when the bakeapples ripen again, sometime later this month to early August so I can start picking. The reward is fresh jam, pies, squares and toppings for icecream and cheesecake.
Yesterday, I had supper (supper is the evening meal) with my grandmother. We talked about bakeapples as she poured a heaping amount of freshly made fluffy “doughboys” (or dumplings), which we were about to eat with garden vegetables and salt meat. I love eating with my grandmother, she makes the best traditional foods, it may be her years of experience and knowledge not to follow every direction and still have it turned out as sweet and flavourful as the person she is today. A meal spurs lots of conversations as we discussed staples of yesteryear, gathering and harvesting from the land and how one learns to make bread, doughboys, jams and the like.
While on vacation on June 28, 2010 I decided to stop at The Dark Tickle Company, in very scenic St. Lunaire-Griquet and enroute to L’Anse au Meadows, National Historic and World UNESCO Heritage site. This is an economusuem.
® is a craft or agri-foods business whose products are the fruit of an authentic technique or know-how. The business showcases artisans and craft trades by offering an area for interpreting its production and by opening its doors to the public.
ECONOMUSEUM®, which are self-financed through the sale of their products, make an innovative contribution to the cultural tourism sector. (Source: http://www.economusees.com/iens_en.cfm)
The owners, Steve and Gwen Knudsen have done a remarkable job of establishing a true working economuseum. As you enter the facility you can view a worker preparing product behind the glass, they also have a tasting station, various interpretative panels, inviting NL music and their Granchain Exhibit, which is the winner of the Manning Award, as well as a large gift shop with a variety of their products and other artists. These entrepreneurs have taken making preserves to a new level as they have greatly expanded and developed their products to include non-traditional items residents would not typically make from berries, these include teas, vinegars, sauces, syrups and chocolates. You can visit an incredible website to see for yourself and even order their products on-line. Check out: http://www.darktickle.com/. I was quite pleased with the cup of bakeapple tea and the blueberry infused NL Screech chocolates I purchased.
Tradition can be retained, but it can also evolve with the right mindset. Steve, Gwen and their family are part of that process. My hat goes off to people like these, that take simple ideas and turn them into something so wonderfully pleasant to enjoy. Their power of ingenuity and innovation has truly made me proud to say this business exists in Rural NL.
We need more people like Steve and Gwen, that will take a simple concept and create an experience. We have a rich culture and heritage that is unique and should be shared with others in today’s global world.
Live Rural NL…
We Will Grow and Prosper.
As I continue with my vacation on June 27, 2010…no trip to St. Anthony could have been complete without a visit to Grenfell Historic Properties. The scene was 1892 when Dr. William Thomason Grenfell, a new practitioner of the UK decides to join the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fisherman. Dr. Grenfell came to rural regions of Labrador during that first year. Medical and social conditions were so deplorable that led Dr. Grenfell to return, but with the help of a couple of doctors, nurses and a hospital boat. His mission had began to bring medical, social services and hope through preaching to the people to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Grenfell had a passion and strong belief to make life better for those around him. His faith in himself and the inspiration he had on others led to monumental developments which started the Grenfell Mission.
He began developing cottage hospitals, fundraising and expanding services to various regions. By 1912 he had established the International Grenfell Association, which gained international recognition by 1914. Dr. Grenfell had began to take on many ambitious projects including developing schools, orphanages, social services, preaching, industrial projects (Grenfell Handicrafts), co-operatives, and agricultural sites, as well as authoring books, articles and creating artwork to sell in the form of Christmas cards. Additionally, Dr. Grenfell began promoting the mission to many renown and influential figures from across the world including former Presidents of the United States, Prime Ministers of England and Prime Ministers of Canada, as well as industrialists and other philanthropists who became supporters and donors.
Dr. Grenfell was an icon and has forever left his mark on the development of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In his career he had established a number of hospitals and medical services, founded the International Grenfell Association, written 33 books, numerous articles, was knighted, inducted in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Memorial University’s Western Campus is named in his honor, he has his own distinguished fabric, known as “Grenfell Cloth”, Grenfell Drive carries his name and he has forever left a special place in my heart.
Sir Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell is a role model. A man who stood for something, especially for the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The life changes and improvements that occurred in these regions because of him is expansive. After a visit to the interpretation centre, I asked myself, how did he manage all of these things? You could say he was well-rounded and a “jack of all traits”.
One short post can not do justice to this titan of a man, so there will be more on him and his contributions in the future. I’ll leave on the note that we are privileged to have many explorers, adventures, pioneers, missionaries, industrialists and settlers come to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and build the roots for the special place it is to all that has had the opportunity to experience it for themselves. Dr. Grenfell may be gone, but he is not forgotten and his legacy gracefully lives on. There are others who have come and gone since him and many more to follow. We all have our place and contributions to make, ensuring that Rural Newfoundland and Labrador flourishes with all the success it rightfully can achieve!
Stealing a line from Dale Carnagie, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” Tell yourself that three times out loud.
Together we can achieve the things we think we can not. Believe and we will prosper…
On June 28, 2010 as I continued my vacation and could not resist a visit to the rotunda of Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital. I have frequented the hospital on many occasions, typically to see a sick friend/relative or a new birth. Usually, I am in such a rush and take the attitude of disliking hospitals that I tend to rush past one of the most unique aspects of the hospital and even on the whole peninsula. The rotunda houses the Jordi Bonet Murals which depict life in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador.
Jordi Bonet was born in Barcelona, Spain (his work reminds me of the remarkable abstract and contemporaries of Gaudi’s work, which is greatly influenced by forms of nature and this is reflective of Gaudi’s Barcelona architecture. When in Barcelona, check out his marvels.)
Bonet at the youthful age of 9, lost his right arm. He had will and determination that he would not give up and learned to paint with his left arm. He came to Quebec, Canada and learned the technique of tiles, mosiacs and ceramics. In 1967, Bonet designed and fabricated the murals for the friends of the Grenfell Mission. In taking the time to look at each image, you will note that some are quite realistic, with native peoples, fisherman, water and the forest. While, others are more abstract and certainly open to individual interpretation. His use of color in the project creates a soothing, harmonious feel as we circle the room and realize that these images tell a story about us, our people and that it continues to circle.
I’ve learned two lessons from this visit. One, is to take time out in our everyday lives to really appreciate true beauty. You will find that it is all around you. Two, Jordi was strong willed and determined and so are the people of this peninsula, those who have passed on, those who remain and those who have adventured to other parts of the world. We can all make strong contributions and are a part of the living history, culture and heritage of the people of Rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Grenfell Historic Properties coins The Jordi Bonet Murals as one of the Peninsula’s best kept secrets…..well I say lets not keep something so wonderful to ourselves. It is up to you to take the time to visit a meaniful piece of our history and heritage that in my mind compares with any piece of art or structure found in any gallery or museum, but I am probably a little biased.
We are talented people, those who have roots in Rural Newfoundland.
The Great Northern Peninsula has many worldy treasures, fabulous businesses, natural wonders and characters in every community. As I reflect back on my vacation, it would take me weeks to describe all the places I’ve been, people I met and experiences I’ve had…the good thing is that I have the time to tell you a little bit….the rest you may have to experience for yourself….
June 28, 2010 – St. Anthony, NL
At the very tip is the peninsula’s economic hub with various industry, government services, tourist attractions and yes….for all you quintessentially Canadians out there…it has a Tim Horton’s! It is also coined ICEBERG ALLEY….rightfully so as it boasts the province’s longest season for iceberg sightings. You don’t have to take my word for it, just visit www.icebergfinder.com.
One can often view the lovely ‘bergs from scenic Fishing Point. It was my first stop!
Fishing Point has pristine views of the Town of St. Anthony, Harbour and peaks off into the ocean. It is comparable to Signal Hill, St. Johns with respect to its offering and viewscapes. We had the ability to see an iceberg off in the distance, as well as fishing boats and Northland Discovery Boat Tours setting sail for its first expedition of the day (http://www.discovernorthland.com).
Fishing Point has numerous walking trails and rest stops. It is a social commons for the locals as much as it is for tourists and other visitors. I am glad this space is shared because it is breathtaking, tranquil and beautiful.
The Lightkeeper’s Cafe, which has remarkable sea food and sits on the hill with the best views in Town. Just underneath is the Great Viking Feast and Dinner Theatre, “”Leifsburdir”. It is the only sod-covered restaurant in North America. It seems the Great Northern Peninsula has a lot of firsts, unique findings and other oddities that appeal to me and many others as those who live or chose to visit enjoy the fabric of everything rural!
As well, the Fishing Point Emporium has a wide selection of souvenirs and a textile exhibit which includes a polar bear display and many interpretative panels noting the wildlife that lives in the region. After spending some time it was certainly time to take in more this fair Town has to offer. However, when leaving my friend wanted to take a photo of the cemetary I was passing. He noted that our graveyards are so much different than in other parts of Europe. I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries and never thought the way we bury our dead as being different, but after recalling all the cemetaries visited in Europe, I understood. I guess you often don’t question your own culture and heritage as you do with others. I don’t have an explaination for this difference, but I do know it exists. I guess growing up rural we accept our way of life and continue with some traditions, despite being exposed to the world around us. We are unique in many ways and have many things to offer…..Fishing Point is just one of those great places you must go again and again….
Take another look…
June 27, 2010
As I continued my rural vacation driving Route 430 overlooking the marvellous Strait of Belle Isle, I make a stopover at the Town of Flower’s Cove.
Marjorie Bridge and walking trail lead to micro-organisms that resemble the earliest forms of life on earth. Thrombolites or “Living Rocks” were the only known form of life from 3.5 Billion to 650 Million years ago.
These magnificant bun shaped rock structures are simply amazing. One can take the time out to have a lovely picnic. The walk is just a quite 20 minutes and certainly worth the visit. If you are a resident and haven’t taken the time to check out this worldly wonder in our backyard, please do so. Thrombolites are very rare, one other place they are found is Western Australia. The Town of Flower’s Cove has developed panels and other walking trails to inform locals and those visiting the vast ecological, botanical and geological findings stemming from the Limestone Barrens.
Experience Everything Rural -
Anchor Point, NL has declared that it is the first English settlement on the Viking Trail (Route 430) on the Great Northern Peninsula. The Town was first settled circa 1740 by Robert Bartlett and his nephew Bob Genge from Somerset, England. The area was used for fishing, sealing and trapping which led to the establishment of merchant trading posts bolstering its local economy.
I had the opportunity to visit Deep Cove – A Winter Housing community, which neighbours the Town of Anchor Point and has historical significance as Deep Cove’s inhabitants have strong ties to Anchor Point. During summer, the settlers of Anchor Point had taken up an abundance of activity that surrounded the sea, as the rich waters could be viewed from any resident window. However, during winter the families moved inland to smaller homes they built in Deep Cove. Some shared houses with other families. This enclosed site provided to be more efficient and protected the settlers from the elements and harsh conditions in rural Newfoundland during the 19th and into the 20th century. Settlers would move back to their permanent homes in Anchor Point after winter. Deep Cove is noted as the last inhabited winter housing site in Newfoundland.
A beautiful boardwalk and walking trail leads you to the site. As you walk were past residents before you walked there are interpretative panels noting the history of the community, how houses were built, what residents did for fun, the role of education/religion/man/woman and explanation of several structures and necessities.
A piece of history awaits your eyes… make sure you take the time to reflect on our past. While there you can note that you do have cell coverage and data browsing capabilities, which will probably help establish why modernization through the years led to a cultural evolution, one that no longer required Winter Housing sites.
A Rural Reflection -
After living in Edmonton for just 11 months, I realized how much the ocean meant to me. However, you sometimes do not realize the things that matter most until they are gone. The Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland has many hidden gems and most of its residents, including myself have never taken the time to experience what there is to offer.
This summer, I took a “stay-cation”, meaning I vacationed at home. But not in the typical sense that I just watched re-runs of All in the Family or the Golden Girls, I got out there and did things and spent money helping local businesses and trust me I was not disappointed.
Friday, June 25, 2010…it was still raining in the AM. However, being a smart camper I had my car packed the night before. I left before lunch and my first stop was the Anchor Cafe, Port au Choix. The food at this restaurant is soooo good that I drove off route about 30 kms just for lunch. I had a bowl of their delicious fish chowder and Mussels a la Byron. The mussels were to die for!!! Earlier in the week, I tried blueberry pie at two other locations, so I couldn’t resist theirs with a scoup of vanilla ice-cream. A real contender with grandma’s! If you want a great meal while sitting on board a well-theme restaurant this one is it for you!
My resting place for the night was Kampgrounds of America, Rocky Harbour, known locally as “Spirity Pond Park”. To start, they have the cleanest restrooms and showers that I have seen at any campground that I have stayed. I pitched the tent and headed down to the office to rent a canoe, as it is Gros Morne National Park and the sun was beaming! It felt good to be alone and in charge as I paddled my canoe on a serene pond. It gave me a chance to relieve the stresses work may bring and gain a sense of freedom and power with every paddle I did take. (Thank you again Sandi Boucher – I will paddle my canoe with great confidence in whatever waters life so chooses to take me).
Later in the evening I drove to airport to pick up a friend, who I met while studying abroad in the Czech Republic almost three years ago. This person has worldly experience, lived in many parts of Canada but yet to experience the Rock! Needless to say it was great to see him again and telling him its the rural life. He believed me, when his FIDO cell did not have coverage (note to those needing cell coverage; Bell or Telus only).
June 26, 2010
After cooking up a scoff on the imitation Coleman stove, eggs, bacon, ham, toast and hot chocolate we ventured off to get an interpretative tour of the Tablelands, which are designated a World UNESCO Heritage Site.
I had no idea that the formations were due to the tectonic plates, faults and the inner layer of the earths crust ending on top of the surface. As well, that later in the week I would be going to Africa (the Avalon Peninsula). A visit to the Discovery Centre proved to be more than informative. As well Trout River was quite scenic and the restaurant well it had a nice view of the ocean and was mentioned in Frommer’s for all you travellers out there. The mussels and chowder were very good (no blueberry pie though for me this time) :).
The evening was spent at Gros Morne Theatre Festival with a cast from Theatre Newfoundland. The first viewing was the Ethie, regarding a ship wreck that happened near the coast of Sally’s Cove. The cast remarkable, allowing for humor and great interaction as the meal of pan fried cod, whipped potatoes, vegetables, fresh rolls, tea and patridgeberry cheesecake were served in the galley by cast members. Despite the storm, no one got sea sick and all 92 of us survived! The show was so good that we decided to take in an encore presentation – Double Axe Murder. I can’t wait to see the other shows this summer! If you hadn’t heard, Tempting Providence, which is one of Gros Morne Theatre Festival’s shows has gone on tour in California. It depicts the life of Nurse Myra Bennett, who was a missionary for the people of Daniel’s Harbour and surrounding areas. I stopped in to visit her home, which is now a historic site and got a remarkable interpretation from two lovely nursing students. A great $5.00 investment to learn a lot local legends and about the way of life in the area in the 19th and 20th centuries. Well worth not by-passing the community to all you readers out there!
I was only two days in my vacation when I began to realize I would not be able to fit all I wanted to do….which made me quite satisfied because I live here and can see what the Great Northern Peninsula is all about and will choose to experience all the wonders we have at home! Tomorrow, I will write about Lambi, Vikings, Fine Dining, Dr. Wildfred Grenfell, Spanish artists, icebergs, polar bears and more….
Keep Living Rural -