Monthly Archives: August 2010
Newfoundland & Labrador is well-known for a summer of events, activities and festivals.
The Brigus Blueberry Festival is Award Winning and in its 23rd year! I dropped by this summer along with the other 17,000 plus visitors during August 12-15, 2010. It was my first time in historic Brigus on this lovely Sunday afternoon. The event coordinators expected a large crowd and had made the main streets one way to help with the flow of traffic. It took a little while to get a packing space, as it seemed everyone was arriving at the same time. After safely parking in a large field, I was not disappointed as I walked through the streets of this quaint town that boasts beautiful vernacular heritage architecture. There were large crowds and great photo opportunities.
The festival activities include: A Royal Shag Up” – comedy dinner theatre, Steps Through Time – walking tour, Newfie night with Screech Ins, community breakfasts, dinners, and suppers, a two-day Folk Festival with well-known Newfoundland talent, visits by Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador and Miss Newfoundland and Labrador, the Missed Blueberry Pageant, raffles, craft stalls, baked goods, a pie eating contest, games of chance, mooseburgers, cash bar, children’s games, dances, and fireworks at the Brigus Waterfront. (http://www.brigus.net/blue.htm)
We stopped to have a mooseburger and beer, which went down very nicely! It was followed by a good drop of moose soup. It was good, but not comparable to my grandmothers…she makes the world’s best! There was a large queue to enter. The toll was $2.00 for the complete weekend pass. A number of booths and stands were set-up with local artisans, organizations and entrepreneurs selling their wares. We made our way pass the many games of chance and listened to some traditional Newfoundland music.
We decided to drive through Cupids, celebrating 400 years as the oldest Town in English North America! As well as visit Carbonear and Harbour Grace. The SS Kyle still remains aground as you enter this town.
It was a wonderful day, filled with lots of fun, food, sounds and sights! I recommend you to put the Brigus Blueberry Festival on your list of things to do. So make sure you mark your calendars for the 24th annual in August 2011!
Live Rural NL – CCM
On August 16, 2010…I finally traversed the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland after years of saying I would visit. Well, to all you readers it was well worth the wait! The 316 KM road links the capital, St. Johns to the “southern shore” which is predominantly descended from Irish roots and back again. For those of you who can remember, the Government ran cheesy tourism ads that went something like “come to the Irish Loop…Whales and Birds Galore….something, something, something explore” It was forever played on our independently owned NTV channel, “coined Canada’s superstation”. The tourism ads have greatly improved, especially depicting the scenic beauty of the Irish Loop. Visit the follow Youtube video at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aRFuguc7bk.
We stopped at scenic Ferryland. It has incredible heritage structures, beautiful landscapes, historic cemetery, stone church and its own colony. Ferryland was formerly the “Province of Avalon”. A place that is the first permanent settlement and founded by Sir George Calvert. I read about him in a Newfoundland History course during my last semester at Memorial University. He was later titled “Lord Baltimore”. After spending one winter in what is now Ferryland, he returned to Britain and left hired help (the first settlers, commonly referred to as “planters”). These planters began what is most likely the oldest continuously occupied village in British North America. For those who know me, they know how patriotic I am when it comes to my province of Newfoundland & Labrador. I often get the opportunity to educate people about the oldest street in North America, the most easterly point in North America, George Street (most bars, pubs & clubs per sq. ft/capita in North America), only province to land a space shuttle, have four flags, have its own set of encyclopedias, its own dictionary and of course, the oldest English settlement in North America.
As a freelance “journalist” :), I was given a remarkable tour. It started with a short video, followed by artifacts and interpretative panels. Next a guide provided an interpretative tour. It was very windy, but that can be typical in Newfoundland. We started at the outside herb garden, which was very informative. Apparently, “apple mint” was an early form of deodorant. Our tour continued with a stop at the Gentleman’s garden before entering the area that is known as the Colony of Avalon. The start consists of a 400 ft cobblestone street, which we were able to walk later in the tour.
We were offered the option to take a rest at one of the benches (refer to image on the left). The guide said, she would not judge us. I love the sense of humour we have in this lovely province. As we continued the tour we were able to see the remains of the forge, Lord Baltimore’s mansion-house, other dwellings, as well as the archeologists continuing to excavate the site and uncover more evidence of the past. It was noted that more than 1 Million artifacts have been unearthed and catalogued over the past 20 years. We had the opportunity to visit the conservation laboratory at the end of the tour.
This Colony has a history and is plagued with drama. Baltimore left for the United States. In 1638, Sir David Kirke, his wife Lady Sarah Kirke and their family took up residence in Baltimore’s mansion-house. This settlement became known as the “Pool Plantation” and took on a more business-like role. Tavern licences were sold and Kirke developed a prosperous fishing mercantile business. Unfortunately for him, he did not pay his taxes and was jailed in England. The settlement was disputed among the two families as to who had ownership for years. Eventually, Lady Sarah Kirke took over the enterprise and began most likely North America’s first successful female entrepreneur (another first)! The settlement prospered until its destruction by the French in 1696.
Newfoundland & Labrador’s history books show constant political battles, which led to frequent wars among the English and French over land ownership. This is why the oldest settlement in North America & the youngest province in Canada has very little structures that are more than 100 years. As most structures older than a century were victims of fires. However, what remains continues to be part of our living history.
The tour ended with a visit to the 17th century Reproduction Kitchen. My advice is not to end the tour early, as this is worth the visit. It gives a good reflection of the everyday lives, hardships and even some luxuries of the early colonists.
There is a unique history, Beothuk Indians, early European fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal, Britanny, Euskal and West England are all part of this unique history. If you would like more information, visit: http://www.colonyofavalon.ca/
I will be posting more images on the Facebook Group, “Live Rural NL”.
The Colony of Avalon is another place one can experience something rural – CCM.
The tour began at 8:30 AM at the docks in St. Pierre. We previously purchased our tickets at the Tourist Information Office the previous day for just 60.50 Euro (~$80.00 CDN). At the docks we were greeted by the “tour opérateur” Monsieur Jean Cloony and handed life preservers; then took our seats on a large zodiac with two powerful motors. The sky was a little grey, but the rain held and we had a very nice ride to a sea cave formation, where we crept inside and once beyond we saw a group of harp seals resting on the rocks of the island. It was quite a treat, to see these white coats watch as we passed on. Some decided to plunge into the ocean, maybe they were startled by the sound of our engines or just hungry. It has been a long time since I’ve been so close to such an animal.
The Great Seal Hunt has historical significance and plays a role even today as we continue to live our rural heritage. In winter I proudly wear a pair of seal skin boots. The leather was prepared, barked and tanned by my father. They are the last pair I will ever own that have his talent and craftsmanship. Although they are more than 11 years old, I hope to have them for the rest of my days. A future article will be dedicated to the Great Seal Hunt.
The zodiac ride was 40 minutes. We passed a few fisherman’s camps that were strategically placed between the cliffs, well sheltered from weather and perfect for launching a boat. We landed in Langlade to be met by friendly locals ready to pull our boat to shore. It was time for breakfast at “Chez Janot”, the only restaurant in town!
After a cup of coffee and croissant we boarded an air-conditioned bus with seating capacity for 20 and bilingual audio. We visited Langlade, which has beautiful sites and is basically untouched and uninhabited (excepted during summer months). The population goes from 0 – 200 people. Some of these people have summer houses, but most are like Newfoundlander‘s, they enjoy camping! Our first stop was a lovely French garden. My grandmother certainly would have smiled seeing all the love gone into caring for the variety of flowers. We continued to view l’Anse du Gouvernement, the Bellai Bridge (which crosses the Belle-Riviere), the Ste Therese Chapel, the Belle-Croix, the Debon brook and a lovely view from the Petit-Barachois.
We returned to Chez Janot for a French-style meal, which included wine and a dessert with coffee. Tres Bon! We continued the afternoon on the bus, we drove on a sandy beach and stopped by the campground. One of the proprietors invited us all to stop for an aperitif. This alcoholic beverage was mixed with sparkling water and had hints of licorice. It was quite pleasant! The people on this quaint island we incredibly hospitable to their guests. We continued on our way to pass several wild horses. The children on the bus stopped to feed them some bread. Even the older people were smiling and in love with these animals. A little further up the road, one horse spotted “Chez Janot” bus and decided he would come visit.
This horse was either well-trained or just curious, because none of the others decided to come near. He received some treats and we continued on our merry way to Miquelon.
Miquelon and Langlade were once two separate islands. Since the end of the 18th century, they have been reunited by a sand isthmus on which a road was built. The drive from the beach in Langlade to the village of Miquelon is about 24 kms. Upon arrival to Miquelon, which has a population of about 600 people we stopped and viewed the church, craftshop and harbour. We walked the streets and saw the Cap Blanc lighthouse. There is a museum for those that are interested.
After a day of discovery, we returned to the zodiac. We arrived in St. Pierre at 5:30 PM. This enabled us to relax and returned to our friend’s house before we would dine for the evening over some delicious French-style cuisine and good wine!
If you want a memorable visit to the French Islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon you must consider this tour, if you wish to really experience the entirety of their adventurous archipelago.
For more photos of my trip, visit my Facebook Group at: “Live Rural NL”.
From Live Rural NL – CCM
It was nearly a decade ago, during a high school French trip in May 2001, since my feet touched the soil of St. Pierre. I reflect on fond memories with my former classmates to enjoy the unique characteristics of this place – the cuisine, language, architecture and the Franc as the mainstay currency.
Heritage Run, the route on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland & Labrador leads to the St. Pierre Ferry which leaves port from Fortune. As you drive this route you will be captivated by the landscape with your imagination leading you to believe dinosaurs, dragons or some other creature will appear. On August 16, 2010 myself and a friend of a friend from Vienna, Austria had visited beautiful Burin. We had stopped by historic homes in Grand Bank and attempted to stay at Grannie’s Motor Inn, but it was filled. Although, the owner was quite helpful in securing a place at one of his other accommodations in Fortune. We stayed at Fortune Inn B&B for a short rest as we caught the 7:30 AM ferry.
The Ferry Arethusa only takes passengers and is $107.00 return for the 1 hour 30 minute run. You have the option of sitting on deck or below. We started on deck, but after a mist of salt spray, I decided I was better off heading down under. Upon arrival I moved my watch 30 minutes ahead to match the timezone. We dropped by the tourist office to get information and decided to walk the streets to familiarize ourselves with the local boutiques, restaurants, bakeries and bars. After several photos of the architecture and a sweet patisserie, we were greeted by our host Gilles.
After lunch we opted to take a van tour, which lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes for 12.50 Euro (~$16.50). Our guide, Jean-Claude provided us with his take on the island’s economy, history, geography and culture. He started with the post office, which is still in operation, the salt sheds (no longer used for salt due to the moratorium on cod), the old fish plant, views of Ile aux Marins, the news station. Saint-Pierre Cathedral, the cemetery (17th century holding more than 1,000 graves, monuments and vaults), the Fronton (many traditional Basque games are played on site), Point aux Canons and its lighthouse, horses, former fishing rooms, a seabird on the rocks, freshwater swimming holes and saltwater sandy beaches and more. It was certainly worth the price paid.
At 4:15 we boarded the ferryboat that would take us to Ile aux Marins, which is just 10 minutes from St. Pierre by boat (1 KM). There is a low and narrow strip of land laying across the harbour to the East, which once was populated by some 700 fisherfolk and family. Now, the former fishing village is a museum island with no year round residents. Despite the few inhabitants, the island does not lack charm and appeal. There are many homes that are well maintained, others more rustic. Many of the buildings have been restored to their original state including the Archipelitude museum (former school), Mason Jezequel, Notre Dame des Marins (church), city hall, other buildings, cemetery and shipwreck are all for viewing. One can definitely understand the hardship of living on such an island without electricity, running water, indoor plumbing and exposed to the environmental elements more than a century ago.
We arrived just prior to 7:00 PM and decided it was time to get some French cuisine. I certainly recommend a reservation, since the good places fill up, even on a Tuesday evening. We were turned away from Ile de France. La Feu de Braise was the second choice and I was delighted to have a half-liter of Bordeaux with lamb, rice and vegetables and for dessert, my always favourite, Creme Brulé. After dinner, it was off to the bar for a couple of beers before returning to our host. I chatted with him for several hours over wine while he played a traditional instrument before I retired for the night.
Certainly my first day on the island was off to a great start! The following day, I took a zodiac, saw seals and explored Langlade and Miquelon. Check out Part II as it should be posted tomorrow. If you are interested in viewing more photos of these French Islands join the Facebook Group “Live Rural NL”.
Live Rural NL (from a distance) –
Dear Loyal Readers -
I am away on Rural Vacation. Experiencing the Irish Loop, Colony of Avalon, Burin Peninsula and the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. I will return on August 23 with new postings. In the meantime, please feel free to check out some earlier posts in the June, July and August archives.
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En route to work, while listening to the radio announcement: “MV Apollo Schedule Expanded”. I was ecstatic!
The end of 2009 saw the opening of the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) connecting most of Labrador (with the exception of their northernmost coastal communities) with mainland Canada and the United States. This is of major significance for transportation, business and tourism for the island portion of the province as well.
Labrador Marine operates a ferry service, which is a 1 hr 45 minute run from Blanc Sablon, QB to St. Barbe, NL. Without the TLH, the ferry supported in excess of 80,000 passengers a year. To my knowledge capacity has never been an issue for this ferry, which means that the numbers are up!
There are new opportunities for all stakeholders, which include business owners, non-profits, general public, residents, tourists, government and other institutions.
My hat goes off to a company that is able to adapt to changes needed to operate successfully, meet demands and keep customers happy with the service. Keep up the good work Labrador Marine Inc.
The revised schedule is as follows:
Public Advisory: MV Apollo Schedule Expanded
In order to meet increasing traffic demands, the schedule for the MV Apollo which operates between St. Barbe and Blanc Sablon, has been revised to provide for an extra round trip on Fridays and Sundays.
The revised schedule will see the MV Apollo depart Blanc Sablon on Fridays at 6:00 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 3:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. with departures from St. Barbe at 8:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. On Sundays the vessel will depart Blanc Sablon at 8:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. with departures from St. Barbe scheduled for 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
The additional crossings come into effect on Friday, August 13, and will remain in effect for the duration of the summer schedule, which runs until September 12.
Passengers with reservations for the MV Apollo for a Friday or Sunday crossing should contact Labrador Marine Inc. at 1-866-535-2567 from within the province or 709-535-0810 from outside Newfoundland and Labrador to confirm their reservation time.
For more information visit: http://www.tw.gov.nl.ca/ferryservices/schedules/j_pollo.html
Live Rural NL -
Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s continue to roam the world, passing on talents, exploring and making history. I’ve been reading Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs of the People from the Days of our Forefathers. Compiler and Publisher, Gerald S. Doyle (1892-1956) was one of Newfoundland’s most successful businessman, establishing a province-wide pharmaceutical and home products business. Additionally, he had a passion for preserving culture. His newspaper, “The Family Fireside” was provincially distributed, provided good advice and noted first-hand accounts about the social and economic conditions of rural communities, as well as promoted his products. He certainly was a very savvy businessman. He has done us all a remarkable service through his publications. We now have preserved in time these songbooks for us to enjoy, reflect and compare with current Newfoundland folk songs.
Newfoundlanders are known for being musical and having our own unique folk songs. Today, I will share with you “The Roving Newfoundlanders” taken from Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland
The Roving Newfoundlander
- As I was setting in my homestead on day
- while all alone,
- I was thinking of my countrymen and
- where they had to roam,
- From England to America, Australia and
- Where’er you go you’ll surely find a man
- from Newfoundland.
- They’re the pride of every country, good
- fortune on the smile!
- They climbed the heights of Alma, and
- crossed the river Nile,
- They sailed unto Vancouver, you’ll find it on
- the roll,
- And on the expedition went nearest to
- the Pole.
- It’s way out in South Africa where hogs
- they stand so high,
- They used their guns and bayonets the
- Boers for to destroy,
- Where cannons roar like thunder
- destructions on the plain
- You sons of Terra Nova, you fought for
- England’s fame.
- ‘was Nelson at Trafalgar the victory
- did gain,
- The Americans fought the Spaniards for
- blowing up the Maine;
- She sunk with all of her gallent crew,
- that gay and gallant band,
- They’re sleeping in their watery graves like
- sons of Newfoundland.
- When my mind been bent on roaming, ’tis
- something sad to tell
- Out in the mines of Cuba one of my
- comrades fell.
- His age had scarce been twenty-one, just
- entered in full bloom,
- On the eighteenth day of June was
- summoned to his tomb.
- They sailed the Mediterranean, I’ve heard
- the clergy tell,
- They went out into Egypt, from that to
- Jacob’s Well,
- They’ve fished the Northern and Grand
- Banks from every hole and knap,
- They are the tyrants of the sea, they
- fished the Flemish Cap.
- And now my song is ended, I think I have
- done well,
- My birthplace and my station I’m trying
- for to tell.
- I’ve spoken of every nation, I’ve freely won
- my race,
- I am a Newfoundlander belongs to
- Harbour Grace.
My grandfather at 80 years, passed away this June. He had a remarkable memory and ability to rhyme off anecdotes, jokes, stories, poems and other lines from days gone by. I only wish we had greater written accounts of all his knowledge and tales. He is sadly missed. So take time and write down that traditional song, story or event, it can help us preserve our Newfoundland & Labrador culture as we continue to advance in society. In the early 1900’s we may have been required to own a newspaper company to reach the mass of a province; however, today we have social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and others to reach the world.
Live Rural Newfoundland -
A friend, travelling from Quebec City to the island of Newfoundland for the first time had scheduled a visit. Prior to waiting for the Ferry Service to dock at port in St. Barbe, I decided to take a “Look Back in Time”.
Black Duck Cove Seashore Day Park was my first visit. This rest point’s highlight is a collection of miniatures that represent the architecture-styles of rural communities of the past. There are two saltbox homes, slightly modified; a church, schoolhouse, wharf, fishing rooms and lodge. There are beautiful & well-marked walking trails, captivating views of waterways and binoculars to view sights of Labrador. There is a small playground and picnic area for you to stay for a while. However, many travellers would not easily find this place, at it is not well-marked in terms of signage or on any main highway route. If you can, take the time to ask for directions. I’d recommend a fresh coat of paint to the replicas and some minor repairs, unless the organization responsible is going for a more rustic look of the past. Just moments away, you can see neatly stacked lobster traps, two adjacent graveyards and piles of unpacked wood for winter stoves.
These replicas made me realize that the vernacular architecture styles are fading from local communities in the Strait of Belle Isle region. Vernacular architecture is a term that categorizes methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances, as defined by Wikipedia.
I decided to drive the area in search of the traditional folk house type, found commonly all over Newfoundland & Labrador, which is the Salt Box style. It is named for its shape, which resembled the boxes used for shipping salt to Newfoundland & Labrador and was one of the earliest forms of house construction. The Salt Box traditionally had a shorter steep roof line in front and a longer steep slope in back. This gave the impression that the house was much larger than it actual size.
Talking to residents and elders, they noted that logs were sawed into lumber using a “pit saw”. The simple design of a two-story “salt-box” used simplicity of design and maximized space and limited the amount of resources required. This saltbox home depicts a more modern-style where the rooftop peak is central to the home for even distribution.
Today, Live Rural NL sees a more modern home, split-level, bungalow, two-story, pre-fab home, mobile with an array of designs and styles. I’ve suppose we have gone modern, with very few residents living in this traditional home design with bright vibrant colours. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect changes of culture and society. I certainly hope that these homes do not disappear forever entirely in the region.
There is much charm in an older traditional home. I had to stop for a moment as the structure to my left continues to tilt to its demise as it lacks an apparent caretaker. The field is quite large as the water it in the background. For this place, we can only stop and “Look Back in Time” at the memories that were made by the people who lived here before us.
A Rural Reflection –
This article was written by CCM and appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of the Northern Pen Newspaper:
Negative stereotypes portrayed in the media have influenced the mindset of how some perceive life in Labrador. FINALY! (Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Youth) hosted a five-day cultural exchange entitled Experience Labrador from April 12-17, 2010. The program enabled 21 youth and three FINALY! staff aged 15-35 from all over the island portion of the province travel to Labrador, serving as a unique avenue to experience diverse cultures, traditions, employment opportunities and self-government in Labrador. Five youth from the Northern Peninsula were selected to attend, including myself; CP, St. Anthony; EP, St. Lunaire-Griquet; RM, Flowers Cove and NC, St. Lunaire-Griquet.
Ernie Maclean of the Labrador Heritage Society spoke to the effect some people may preach youth are our future and this is certainly true, but in his view youth are also the present. These words were effective, powerful, and positive. A group icebreaking activity reinforced this comment as participants were asked before the trip to give organizers one fact about themselves. All participants then had to match each person with their fact. Facts included a noteworthy classical guitarist and the founder of Helping Hands for Haiti, yet extended to include long-term plans for one youth to be future Prime Minister and another to blossom as an actress. A diverse group dynamic filled the week with enthusiasm as the people of Labrador presented the many positive initiatives occurring in the region.
To elaborate, the Nunatsiavut Government is focusing on eco-tourism and resource management, language coordinators are using Rosetta Stone software to help preserve the Inuktitut language, elders are sharing their stories, employers are diversifying the economy, communities are coming together to promote heritage and a Friendship Centre exists to offer traditional craft instruction, drum dance performances and to bring communities together. I have travelled 27 countries, both large cities and rural regions; yet experiencing Labrador was enlightening. It proved that success is obtainable with perseverance and the right attitude. As residents of the Northern Peninsula if we reflect on our past way of life, culture, and values we will realize they are not so different from that of Labrador. There are common issues challenging both rural and urban Newfoundland and Labrador; however, as in the past through understanding and community co-operation we can overcome adversity.
“All the negative impressions and stereotypes that we get from the media, limited my desire to visit the interior of Labrador. This experience made me realize that Labrador is not as bad as what we often hear. In fact it is really similar to the small communities in Newfoundland,’ states RM, ‘a well-organized exchange enabled cultural involvements, such as Inuit games, a session on Inuktituk language and meeting a Labrador Huskie dog team. Overall, an incredible week spent with amazing people and a lifetime of memories.”
“I am so glad to have gotten the chance from FINALY! to participate. I had many views of Labrador prior to participating, sadly most were negative’, says NC. ‘Now those negative views are gone because I got to experience just what Labrador has to offer. The people are very passionate about their land and their culture and are doing what they can to preserve both. Nunatsiavut, meaning ‘beautiful land’ perfectively depicts Labrador. I hope FINALY! is able to hosts more exchanges, the benefits are significant and I will do my part to recommend them to other youth.”
“Programs like Experience Labrador help greatly in reducing negative stereotypes that are portrayed in the media through active education and real life experience”, notes CP. An overwhelming group consensus would rate this project a great success for the youth in attendance, FINALY! and the province. A special thank you is extended to the Newfoundland and Labrador Government and their Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy making funding for this project available.
If you’d like more photos check out Facebook Group: Live Rural NL. Join the FB Page: Live Rural NL (Newfoundland & Labrador) and follow me on Twitter: liveruralnl. Share with all your contacts, spread the word about Live Rural NL!
Loving the Labrador Experience, just like living the island portion of the province -
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others” (French Shore Historical Society)
This statement is very powerful as it notes the relationships we establish and contributions we make towards the lives of other people and society. Our history, memories and character is not forgotten once we pass on and simply noted by a name on a tombstone. No, we all touch the lives of others and leave behind elements that carries on long into the future.
On July 27, 2010, The French Shore Historical Society cordially invited me to attend their official grand opening of the French Shore Tapestry, at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche, NL. Other commitments prevented me for being there on this day. However, the newspaper noted that more than 200 people showed up for the festivities, which more than doubled the Town’s population.
I did visit the facility back on June 29, 2010 with a friend who lives in Montreal, Quebec. Enroute, to Conche I saw a black bear cub. My first bear sighting ever on the island of Newfoundland! The road is a number of unpaved kilometers, but certainly worth the trip. As you loop into the Town of Conche, there are look-outs and well placed signage directing you to attractions of the French Shore. At the centre (formerly a nursing station established by the International Grenfell Association) there are informative panels and artifacts, as well as pleasant staff to answer any question you may have.
The crown jewel of the exhibit is a 222 foot Tapestry that depicts the history of the French Shore of Newfoundland and Labrador from the very beginning. The stories were designed and sketched by renowned artist J.C. Roy. Then the images were stitched by a group of women from Conche onto Jacobean linen and embroidered with crewel wool. The process had taken three years to complete, many long tiring hours, the trial of more vibrant colours and increased levels of difficulty to produce this extraordinary hand-stitched piece of art, that is simply one of a kind and forever a part of our rural Newfoundland & Labrador history. The tapestry includes animals, native Aboriginal groups, the Norse, Basque, English, Irish, French and transitions to the current settlers. It is a remarkable timeline from the beginning to present.
A walking trail pass the French Bread Oven, led us to a magnificent view of a quaint little down that is rich in history and big on charm. This Town has an Artist’s Retreat. It is no wonder! The perfect place to truly get-a-way from it all and find your inspiration. Another noteworthy stop was a visited to the remains of a World War II plane crash. The occupant survived, but remnants of the wreckage are preserved on site to this day.
Finally, not trip to Conche could be complete without a visit to Bits-n-Pieces Cafe (which is also Stagehead B&B). This old salt-box home has been completely restored after receiving a lot of tender loving care. It now shines with a splashy blue coat of paint and bright sunshine trim. I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee served with homemade French fries from potatoes grown in the garden and delicious fish cakes. If this place is not recommended by Where to Eat Canada, it damn well should be! It certainly was a treat to meet the youthful owner. It is refreshing to see people follow a dream and choose entrepreneurship as a viable career option.
Before leaving I purchased an original piece of art, entitled “The Lonely Harbour”. It was painted locally with a transparent fisherman alone, mending his net. There were others, but this one stood out as my father was a fisherman. It certainly can be a struggle. I admire the passion of those who continue to choose fishing as a profession. There are many challenges, long tiring hours, typically modest income and significant dangers. I am waiting to frame this print, most likely it will hang in my office. Each glance will bring me closer to my father.
My advice to you dear readers, when the opportunity arises whether you are local or from afar take time to put Conche, NL on your 1,000 Places to Go Before You Die.
Savouring the French Shore -
Three years ago, I was in Dartmouth, Devon County, England visiting Churches, Cemetaries and Archives in search of records from the past. My Aunt and I have taken an interest in digging into our family history and trying to map out our geneology. My great-great-great grandfather came from Europe to settle in the community I grew up and currently reside back in 1853. However, we knew nothing of his parents, extended family or reasons why he may have opted to leave.
While in Dartmouth, some of my questions were answered. However, in finding the answers certainly led to more questions. I did find tombstones with those bearing my last name as well met a person with the same last name as mine. I have been able to find the parents and siblings of my ggg-grandad bringing, extending the history to the 1720’s. Furthermore, I was told my relatives moved to a town just a few miles to the south. I will return again this November in search of more answers.
Today, I pulled out a copy of a document that was written more than 110 years ago. It is his last will & testament, which goes:
In the Name of God, AMEN:
I, T.M. being sound of mind do make this my Last Will and Testament.
I give bequeath to my two sons Austin and John, the two dwelling houses situated in G.I.C. together with the bed and bedding therein. (The house in which William Henry now lives to be his and his herein). My stores, stages, puncheons & all my fishing gear I give to my sons Austin, Henry & John:
To William I give my “Spare Bed”. I desire that my wearing apparel and all my books be equally divided among my six sons now residing in G.I.C.
I give bequeath to my three sons Austin, William Henry & John all my cattle to be equally divided between them. All my gardens & hay ground to be worked and owned by my (crossed out) the same three sons as at present. Nut should occasion arise for them to separate, then the ground in question to be equally divided between them.
I hereby revoke all former wills. Dated this 17th day of Match One thousand, eight hundred and ninety-nine.
Signed by the Testator in the presence of us, who thereupon our names in his and each others presence.
My great-great-great-grandfather left his mark, as well as another resident and a Clerk, who would be considered a Justice of the Peace today.
This is such a remarkable document to reflect upon, noting the structure of society. In the past, it is evident that the eldest children received the largest inheritance as they were to take over the family fishing enterprise of their father and continue to carry on a legacy. It is noteworthy, that consideration was given in the document to commonly share property, but if their was disagreement or separation of family members that land be equally divided. It certainly seems like a democratic way to do things. Additionally, this man had three daughters, but there is no mention of them in his will. This is not uncommon, a female living in rural Newfoundland during the 1,800’s were expected to marry and would receive an inheritance through her husband’s family. How times have certainly changed.
The house I now reside is on land used by my forefathers. The community has grown significantly as this man was the first permanent settler. There is limited land in the community for gardening and new housing developments, but new sub-divisions have been created. This man may be gone, but he has left his mark. The family tree continues to grow, with more than 1,200 names connected to its many branches. As we dig deeper, we will find additional roots and as time passes our tree will rapidly expand.
A lot can be understood about society from old letters, wills, church records and other documents. Take some time to think about where you have come from and if you too or your ancestors has experienced something truly rural.
This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.
While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society. The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.
Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps; a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.
Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.
There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.
After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!
As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland, I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Let’s Save Our Rural Economy -
Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.
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