Monthly Archives: January 2011

Will I need my new Snowshoes for Winter 2011?

Snowshoe

Newfoundland Snowshoes

 
2010 was acclaimed a year to build on experiences in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. It is critical to reflect on past traditions and activities we participated as children to ensure continuation of our culture. 
 
When I was a child, snowshoeing was a popular activity. I would always need them when I went with dad in the woods on his old Bravo (Yamaha snowmobile) to check rabbit slips (snares). We would venture off the trail, so the snowshoes laced into our sealskin boots prevented us from sinking to our knees through deep snow. They certainly came in handy and were developed by our ancestors out of necessity.
 
My father, born in 1961 used them during the winter season. In fact, he had the talent and skill to make them, taking much pride in each tug of twine used to lace the frame. He made many pairs, always donating one at the local winter carnival as part of a fundraising event. I have a pair he made for me before his passing, which I will always treasure. Unfortunately, I wasn’t old enough to learn at the time how to make them. It is a skill, I will try to learn from others.
 
Since I have reached adulthood, my feet have grown and I have needed a larger pair. I was surprised when a Secret Santa present delivered a pair made by a local retired teacher during Christmas 2010. I hope maybe he will teach me, so I can pass this skill on to others.
 
I will not forget community winter carnivals held at the local Lion’s Club, where I would participate in the snowshoe race. It was always a quick sprint to the finish. A mad dash with many people racing. We also had a unique “Newfie Snowshoe” Race, which included teams of three or four people standing on two pieces of 2″X4″ with string to loop each of your feet, extending to your hands for steering. You would be pitted against many other teams. It would be important to move as a unit or your would stumble quickly. The first team to cross the line is the winner. Talk about innovative! Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s always think of ways to entertain and have fun. If anyone has photos of this activity, please post a comment and I would love to post them.
 
It is January10, 2011 on the Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland with the temperature remaining above freezing point (+0) and no snow to be found. Like many other’s who enjoy the powdery white stuff  and of course winter activities, which include ski-dooing, ski-ing, ice-fishing, snowshoeing, skating and rabbit catching, we will just have to wait and hope that winter will arrive soon.
 
The video below from www.youtube.com entitled, Snowshoe to the Sinkhole at Gros Morne Newfoundland (posted by kdgdan) shows people snowshoeing in our beautiful National Park.
 
 
It was not so many years ago that we would have snow eight or ten feet high on our properties. As a child I was always digging an intricate network or snow tunnels, slides and caves/houses. It was one of the biggest highlights! I remember many attempts to make an igloo. All I can say, “it is much harder than it looks”. I think they should make an instruction manual.
 
The amount of snow dumped on us each winter certainly required a good set of snowshoes. I would choose a locally handcrafted pair over mass marketed modern engineered versions any day.
 
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore

CBC reports blogger to force PC leadership race

http://www.cbc.ca/m/rich/canada/newfoundland/story/2011/01/10/pc-leadership-cabana-115.html

Opportunity to Hook: Mat/Rug Hooking Training

Grenfell Hooked Rugs

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, founder of the International Grenfell Mission supported economic development on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador. He organized co-ops, especially for local women to help supplement fishing or other incomes from spouses. A visit to Grenfell Historic Properties this summer outlined a quote of the Doctor, asking people to “send your stockings to Labrador”. The women would then take the silks and use them to produce mats or rugs to sale. Some residents today continue with this tradition  and realize an opportunity to preserve tradition, generate revenues and expand your skills.

The College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony, is interested in offering part-time evening Mat/Rug classes in the Flower’s Cove area.

They are attempting to determine the level of interest. Sufficient enrolment required in order for classes to commence.

To express an interest or to obtain more information, please contact Joan Kinden at 709 457 2719 or Sabrina Gaulton at 709 456 2834.

This is a great opportunity for residents of this region to learn a unique talent, make product or gifts that is one of a kind to pass on to family, friends or others locally and across the globe.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Support Needed by Former Resident to Complete Missionary Work!

Valerie Genge, a native of Anchor Point, now resides in St. John’s, NL. She is attempting to participate in an initiative to improve the quality of lives of those suffering serious disease in Africa. This missionary work, shows dedication, commitment and compassion to humanity. She is to be commended on her undertaking, but like most volunteer work abroad, it can be costly and she is asking for your support.

Below is a letter received by Ms. Genge:

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing to you to ask for your help in support of a wonderful cause.  I have been asked to participate in an organization called the Pan-African Acupuncture Project that is playing a significant role in helping to alleviate the pain and suffering of people in Africa with HIV, AIDS, malaria and TB. With your generous support, I can join a team of acupuncturists who will train medical providers in Africa how to use simple and effective acupuncture techniques to treat the devastating and debilitating symptoms associated with these illnesses. Acupuncture has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to be effective in the treatment of many health disorders, and scientific research studies have shown that acupuncture significantly reduces many types of both acute and chronic pain.

Since March 2003, the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project has trained 200 health providers in 12 Ugandan Districts and in Kenya. These trainings have resulted in relief for thousands of patients with two-thirds of them reporting either significant relief or complete resolution of their symptoms. The effects of this project are far reaching because our role as acupuncturists is not to provide direct treatment, but to train health care providers in Africa who will in turn proceed to treat hundreds. It is estimated that every provider trained can treat between 416 and 572 patients per year. At the present time, this translates to providing acupuncture to between 68,000 and 94,000 individuals.

I am asking for your help in raising $5,500 to sponsor my trip in February to train more health care providers in these highly effective acupuncture techniques. The organization is an independent 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax-deductible. Any excess monies raised beyond this amount will go towards providing necessary supplies and expansion of the project into other areas.

I will need to raise these funds by February 28th. I know that these are challenging economic times, but it is also uplifting to know that we can make a tangible and important contribution to those who are very much in need of our help.

You can mail contributions by check made out to: The Pan-African Acupuncture Project at:

The PanAfrican Acupuncture Project                                                                                113 Summit Avenue                                                                                                      Brookline, MA 02446-2319

561 Nfld Dr
St John’s, Nl
a1a 5a2
 
or at the clinic:
 
Mount Pearl Wellness
835 Topsail Rd
Mount Pearl ,NL
709 364 7110

(If donating by cheque, please write my name, Valerie Genge, in the memo section at the bottom to ensure this money assists in paying specifically for my trip).

 Or you can make a secure credit card payment online indicating that you are donating on my behalf at:

http://www.panafricanacupuncture.org

I am very grateful for your support and appreciate your generosity in donating whatever you feel that you can part with at this time. I will be taking many pictures to share with you so that you can see the direct impact that you had in helping countless unknown people on the other side of the globe who are able to experience physical, mental, and emotional relief because of the help and support that you so selflessly gave.

In heartfelt gratitude,

Valerie Genge, D.Ac, R.Ac

You can follow her story on the FACEBOOK group entitled,  Pan African Acupuncture Project. Become a supporter or request additional information.

I admire those who take on challenges and aspire to help others. The importance of volunteerism and charity work is needed, internationally and close to home.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact a local non-profit in your area today! You can make a world of a difference just by sharing some of your time with others.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Our Beloved Purity Factories…

 Our beloved Purity Factories resounds to all Newfoundlander’s & Labradorians as being quintessentially “home grown”.  The Purity brand since 1924 has been served in households and played a big part of growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador. Ask any Newfoundlander & Labradorian about their ever so popular Cream Crackers, Syrups and Candies (Peppermint Nobs, Climax Mixture or Assorted Varieties of Kiss Candies). According to Purity’s website, they make more than 50 products.

Even today, following a dinner out of office, our employer had a package of the famous Peppermint Nobs in his car. It was the perfect after meal treat. Who really needs tick tacks anyway?

The company touts itself as a leader in family tradition across the island for nearly a century. In a recent article about the Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive, I noted the syrups were served as they would be locally when the costumed “Mummers” would come ’round at Christmas. In the Lure of the Labrador Wild, on the Exhibition – Wallace and Hubbard had taken many pounds of hard tack or hard bread – a staple of many Newfoundlander’s & Labradorian’s diet; especially for fish n’ brewis.

This holiday season, there were worries as no Purity Hard Bread could be found at local retailers and other related products. This occurred in part by the company locking out its workers,  affecting production. I searched online selling and auction sites, eBay and Kijiji to find a couple of sellers with the product willing to part with a bag at a premium price tag. Tuesday night brought good news! After four months of a lock-out, the union and management reached an agreement, which means our favourite products will be available locally in abundance and other specialty retailers outside of province.

First of all, I love Jam Jams! Secondly, I will never forget visits to my grandmother’s house when I was younger. I would always ask for a glass of the Strawberry Purity Syrup. She would know exactly how to mix it, so that it had an extra special feel for the tastebuds. As well, can not forget disliking the brewis and eggs we had some Sunday dinner‘s when church service was in the morning. Now, I certainly enjoy a heaping serving of the Purity Hard Tack! When I travel to Europe and other destinations, or want to give someone a treat from my home province, I ensure to bring Purity Kiss Candy. They have become popular with my friends. This past fall, two German girls couchsurfed at my house and they really loved the variety of flavour, as well as the classic packaging. These are memories made in part by an iconic company that truly is local, unlike companies such as Tim Horton‘s, Molson and the Hudson Bay Company which started Canadian  are now owned by foreign stakeholders.

Buying local supports local jobs, builds a stronger economy and allows our communities to prosper. Next time you consider making a purchase, the savings from a big box store to a small local business may be nominal when you consider all the costs, foregoing customer service and the potential loss of the service in your own community when there is an essential need and the distance to the big box store is beyond reach. Many small towns in Europe survive and thrive on small business, complimenting each others services so they are not competing for same small pool of consumers in the local market.

To close, memories can be made with Purity products, or with other local products. We have a rich culture and tradition, why not build your own brand? Opportunities are around every corner here in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

A Brief History of Mummering…

The act of mummering actually comes from Rome, which is an awfully long way from Newfoundland and Labrador. The tradition was picked up in Great Britain, a tiny bit closer. It was adapted when some of the planters from Great Britain settled in Newfoundland, they brought the tradition of mummering with them.

At that time there were three types of mummering (or “jannying” or “mumming“). The oldest form was the parade. In St. John’s, Newfoundland‘s capital city, the Mummer’s Parade was a yearly event. This parade was not like our Santa Claus parades of today; it was very loud and rowdy, even to the point where people got hurt. In 1861, one hundred and fifty years ago, mummering was actually banned in Newfoundland because a man was killed by a group of mummers. Mummering, illegal?

Mummers also gave a performance visit. A group would go to someone’s house and put on a small play for him or her. The play always had a hero who was killed by a bad guy. Then a doctor would bring him back to life again. The actors in the play would ask for money before they left the house. This kind of visit stopped in Newfoundland and Labrador shortly before World War I; that’s more than 90 years ago.

The one kind of mummering activity that can still be found in Newfoundland and Labrador is the house visit. But years ago even this form of mummering was often violent and unpleasant. Mummers often carried “splits” or large sticks and fought with other groups of mummers or attacked innocent people. Horns, tails and skins from goats, sheep, caribou and seals were all used in costumes. They did a lot of damage to houses, wharves and fences. Many people were afraid of them.

Just under thirty years ago, in 1982, Bud Davidge and Sim Savoury released “The Mummer’s Song“. This silly song, written in true Newfoundland dialect, tells about a visit of the mummers who come in and dance. “Be careful the lamp and hold on to the stove. Don’t swing Granny hard ’cause you know that she’s old.” This catchy tune has probably caused more people to start mummering again. This time, however, most mummering is not violent, but fun. It is a really enjoyable way to visit your friends, and when they guess who you are, you invite them back to your house for a similar visit.

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.

Although mummering has faded in large urban centers, with the exception of the re-introduction of the Mummer’s Parade held annually in St. Johns, the spirit of mummering continues in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. So when you’ve opened all your presents and you’ve eaten your turkey dinner, you probably feel that Christmas is over – here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the most easterly province in Can, the fun is just beginning, 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!

There is still time to mummer, as tomorrow night is OLD CHRISTMAS NIGHT!

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive a Success!

Mummer

The Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive held on December 29, 2010 at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre is touted as a big success. The event started at 2:00 PM with mummers finding their way to the centre, dropping off food items for the Straits Food Sharing Association and ready to have fun.

A total of 20 people shared in the traditional spirit by taking time out of their day to partake in this regional community economic development (CED) activity by dressing up. The mummers along with many citizens showed their kindness by donating to their local food bank, which became the recipient of many staple items consisting of flour, sugar, cereals, can foods and other necessities. This comes at a time when food banks face severe shortages and are greatly needed.

Organizer’s Christopher Mitchelmore, Emerging Leaders co-Chair (Canadian Community Economic Development Network or cCEDnet) and cCEDnet Intern, Sabrina Gaultan decided it was well overdue to instill greater uptake, creating a rural revival of this once flourishing Christmastime tradition and support a worthwhile local cause. Christopher had noted that a community event around a revival of mummering should take place during the holidays. Some discussion led to a number of ideas, but with a very short time frame it was agreed to start with a small activity and enable it to grow. This led Ms. Gaultan to become very busy, as she created a visually appealing poster, handled necessary logistics by contacting local food sharing association, RCMP detachment and Lion’s Centre. In a short timeframe the marketing, location and partnerships were created. Rural regions can improve by becoming more organized. As residents, let us focus on unique traditions and plan more activities and events in our regions for all of us to enjoy. It all starts with an idea!

Mummer's Bucklin

Photos below will illustrate the time had by all! There was Purity syrup, Jam Jams, cookies and chocolates served as a treat. No visit from the mummers would be complete without a “bucklin’ the floor” to Simini’s famous Mummer’s song and having those in attendance play a guessing game to figure out those in disguise. Like the song, “there were big ones, small ones, tall ones and thin, men dressed as women and women dressed as men”! A highlight for me was to see some small children participating in the activity, probably for the very first time. One mummer brought a sign that stated, “Janny in Training”. Absolutely perfect!
 
At 2:20 PM the mummers were off for a walk around the harbourfront area of Flower’s Cove, cheered on by the Mummer’s song. Along the trek spectator’s from local businesses, houses and vehicles wavedand cheered the mummers on! The Mummer’s walk concluded at 2:50 PM at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre. 
 

Treats for Mummers

Local community leaders, volunteers and participants were discussing the potential for next year’s walk. The excitement was there to better promote and continue the Mummer’s Walk. It is very positive to see this type of outcome. Maybe 2011 will bring forth a Mummer’s Ball? There is all sorts of potential for this tradition to be revived. With the right partnerships formed our sense of community with continue to grow and prosper. I commend all those who actively participated, came to watch, donated food items, supported and helped in any way build on the spirit of our community and made this event a success! We look forward to what this year’s event will bring. Happy New Year to All!

 
Additional photos will be posted to Facebook Group “Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador (NL)”. Additional articles to follow on Christmas Mumming origins…..stay tuned.
 
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Guess Who?Janny in Training & Guess Who?

 

Janny in Training & Guess Who?

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