Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Team of Labrador Huskies in Happy Valley – Goose Bay

NL NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi) and Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA Straits-White Bay North) had the pleasant opportunity to participate in a short ride at Northern Lights Mushings in Happy Valley- Goose Bay.

Ms. Michael after harnessing a husky took a seat on the basket sleigh as I had the opportunity to lead from behind wearing my seal skin boots. I have been on snowmobile over the years and loved the ride as a child, however, there is such a feeling of tranquility as the smooth ride one feels as the Labrador huskies gently pull you across the snow.

The pure bred Labrador Huskies are magnificent animals, who do their job well. I can only imagine in the early 1900′s when Dr. Wilfred Grenfell would take to the North Coast of Labrador and Northern Newfoundland via dog team to provide essential medical services. It is delightful to see that some people of Labrador are continuing the traditional way of transportation.

There is something unique about the Labrador Husky:

The Labrador Husky originated in the Labrador portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The breed probably arrived in the area with the Inuit people who came to Canada around 1300 AD. Although they were once very closely related to other Northern breeds, such as the Siberian Husky, they became isolated in Labrador. Their history of being bred with wolves does not mean that they are wolf-dogs, nor do they have any recent wolf ancestry. However, they still retain some of their wolf-like physical features.

Of all the northern dog breeds, the Labrador Husky is one of the rarest, with less than an estimated 50-60 purebred Labrador Huskies currently identified in Labrador.[citation needed]. As a result, the breed is not well understood by many dog breeders. (Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labrador_Husky )

My time with the Labrador Huskies was truly a remarkable experience. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend you take the time to ask questions about the breed, their contribution to way of life in the “big land” and enjoy the ride.

A special thank-you to Northern Lights Mushings! You’re hospitality, knowledge and passion for the preservation of the Labrador Husky is to be commended. I hope you continue for generations to come!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

NL NDP Leader & MHA for The Straits-White Bay North to Hold Town Hall Meeting in Goose Bay

Join NL NDP Leader Lorraine Micheal (MHA Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi) and Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA The Straits – White Bay North) as they hold Town Hall Meeting in Labrador this week to hear your concerns, issues and ideas.

Be a part of the conversation…

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Amigurumi Seals – The Perfect Gift

On February 3, 2012 – NDP Housing Critic, Gerry Rogers and I visited Conche, NL. This community is home to the French Shore Interpretation Centre.

I did not expect be able to buy seal product at their gift shop. I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to amigurumi at “The Guardian Gift Shop”.

See my seal below:

Amigurumi (編みぐるみ?, lit. crocheted or knitted stuffed toy) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.[1] Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features,[2] as is typical in Japanese culture.  -Wikipedia

The shop had a lovely assortment of animals from whales, turtles, rabbits, elephants, puffins, seals, fish and more. This is a unique offering that is handmade by local Elaine Dower. If you would like to purchase an Amigurumi Animal, please visit the French Shore Historical Society – their website is www.frenchshore.com. The price of product ranges from $3-$15. A great toy, souvenir or memento to live rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

There are so many talented individuals on the Great Northern Peninsula, making things by hand. Let’s support our local markets, local gift shops and help strengthen rural communities.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Central Park – New York City

Central Park is a wonderful  concept at the heart of Manhatten. While in this special place, you will forget the flurry of activity that surrounds it as the tall buildings before forgotten and you focus on the trees, nature and pleasant surroundings. All around us were aromas of roasted chestnuts, dogs being walked and families spending their day together.

We walked the many trails, yet would need much more time to explore the far-reaching spaces. We saw the iconic horse and carriage rides – often depicted in the blockbuster films set in New York City.  I think of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer is a driver.

On such a warm December day we opted to walk the inner parts of the park – passing the boat house, fountains, castle, Swiss cottage and various other monuments that make up this green space.

We stopped for several photo ops – but also stopped to catch our breath. I loved the park bench below and think this would be a great means to use driftwood and blow downs from the wind gusts that plague the Great Northern Peninsula.

I could spend my free time at Central Park, each and everyday. if I lived in New York City. However, it might not be such a practice – as in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador we have endless amounts of outdoor beauty and I do not always find myself getting outside and enjoy what is offered in my own backyard. My blog has helped me realize that the Great Northern Peninsula has such a unique offering to those who get to live it everyday. We should not take this for granted.

After seeing several ducks to feed, we decided to go outdoor skating in Central Park! I put on my bright orange socks and laced up the skates – off I went. I am not a very good skater, but as the MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, I certainly felt alive. There is energy in excise, just like there was with door-knocking, climbing stairs and jogging from morning until dusk. Skating in Central Park is magical – you often forget where you – unless you look up and see the towering buildings.

The view from all around is amazing.

We stopped and drank a nice hot cup of Starbucks Specialty Coffee and Whip. Our day at Central Park could be described as anything less than – Perfect!

I have since purchased a pair of ice skates and plan to practice – I will be satisfied with improving my stopping. I do not have any ambitions to enter the National Hockey League. However, if the Habs are ever looking for an Assistant Coach – there is no better person to hire than my Grandmother!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Look Up, Way Way Up – New York, New York

“Look Up, Way way up” – is a line I remember from the Friendly Giant. It is fitting in New York City where the skyscrapers are far-reaching. A visit to the 102 story Empire State Building – currently the tallest building in the City, stands at more than 440 metres. We took the elevator up 86 floors.

The skyline of New York City is breathtaking. The buildings seem to go on for miles at 360 degrees. It is not my community where if you do look both ways – you could see it all.

We arrived at the top as the sun was setting and darkness began to fall. The sky had magnificent hues of yellow, orange, red, pinks and blues as the lively city began to turn on its ever so bright lights!

There is wonder in the architectural surroundings of this city. We were successful in being photo-shopped into an image with the Empire State Building in the background. A great family portrait!

On the Great Northern Peninsula it would be difficult to find a building that reaches more than 3 stories. The views are quite different – the homes, water and boats in the background.

Every place I visit, offers something unique – New York is one that will take your breath away.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
P.S. Happy Birthday Mom! 

A Walk on Wall Street – New York City

The New York Stock Exchange is located on 11 Wallk Street – which trades in the multi-billion dollar range daily and has trillions of dollars of stock in its holdings.

Wall Street and the NYSE has experienced significant highs and lows since its formation. In my lifetime, I can only remember the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and most recent mortgage crisis which saw stocks free fall in 2008 and send many countries into Recession. The turmoil has been felt around the world as the European Union struggles to deal with debt-ridden countries, USA tries to reform tax structures and rebuild the economy and Canada feels the pains for slower than forecasted economic growth.

Does this have an impact on you? The Occupy Movement is an International Protest directed against economic and social inequality. Their recognizable political slogan “We are the 99%“. There is a growing divide between the rich and the poor as the top 1% are controlling more and more of the world’s wealth and contributing less in taxes.

There must be lessons learned to limit poor banking regulations from having such an impact on everyday people from employment, to retirement savings, to impacting interest rates and lending.

We want a bullish market – job growth and stronger economies. A walk on Wall Street and around the financial sector of New York City is a reminder how quickly prosperity for those that are not in the top 1% can be taken away. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador knows all too well when an industry they depend on is in free fall – the impact lack of appropriate action and strategic planning has on future growth.

Let us place a focus on maintaining Main Street – on the everyday people who work hard to sustain their communities. A weaker Wall Street should not send the world into free fall.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

P.S. While my brother-in-law and I walked Wall Street, my sister and mother spent lots of time exploring the retail sector.

Live Rural NL’s Weekend in the Big Apple – December 2011

 Manhatten, New York, New York - Taken from the Empire State Building

After more than 8 months of having tickets booked on Aeroplan points, the excitement peaked, the waiting over – December had arrived and my mother, sister and brother-in-law boarded flights to the Big Apple!

Without the wonderful world of Aeroplan Points, my travels would be significantly reduced. Imagine a return flight to New York City for $140.00 versus $1846.00 via regular fair.

The metropolitan area of New York is more than 8,100,000 people – a stark contrast from the 167 residents that live in my community or the nearly 20,000 that live on the Great Northern Peninsula and even the 500,000 that live in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. A city with hundreds of languages spoken around every street corner and buildings that reach near the clouds.

The hustle and bustle of a city that boasts the largest financial sector – home of the NYSE, endless shopping from Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany’s, Macy’s, top name Designers and many other retailers (would this be the reason my sister wanted to hit up the streets of the city that never sleeps?). It is home of the NY Yankees, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, as well Broadway Musicals, Time Square, Statue of Liberty, Museums, Restaurants and many other wonders. Whatever the reason for its appeal, the city certainly has a lot to offer, even for the rural Newfoundlander & Labradorian.

Our planes arrived just a few minutes apart in different terminals at Laguardia Airport. My mother and I took the shuttle bus and met my sister and brother-in-law. We waited in line and grabbed on of the symbolic yellow taxi cabs to our hotel near Times Square.

There we were in Time Square at night, surrounded by the overpowering flashing lights of advertisements – as far as the eye can see.

On our first night we ended up having a pint of Guinness at a packed Irish-style Pub off-Broadway before we headed to the Gershwin Theatre where we would see the Musical Wicked. After reading the book, it was interesting to see the theatrical performance of just how the Wicked Witch of the West turned out the way she did. A very talented cast!

Over the next few days, I’ll share with you Live Rural NL’s experience in the Big Apple.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Another Reason to Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador

There are many reasons to Live Rural NL – the image above is certainly one of those. This winter scene from Croque, NL instantly brought warm feelings and a smile to my face, despite the cold day of January 24, 2012.

The proportion of snow on the rooftops of the fishing rooms is the perfect contrast to the slowly fading red paint. It is evident the burgeoning fishery is in decline. Although, the community like Grandois, faces a decreasing population – it offers endless opportunities for tranquility and is a photographers dream.

Croque is 20 km via gravel road from neighbouring Main Brook. This community has a French cemetery, waterfront properties, walking trails and many natural wonders.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Lure of Labrador – When will we be connected?

The Strait of Belle Isle at its shortest distance is just 9 miles of water. In the 1970′s there was drilling on both ends of the Strait to build a tunnel connecting the island to mainland Canada. All of this ended with a change of Government. A tunnel does not appear to be on the radar of Government at any level. It makes practical sense to work with Quebec to cost-share this project as they complete the Lower North Shore Highway, Route 138 in the next 5 or so years.

This completion of this Route will significantly change the way one travels, as commercial traffic will be re-routed from Montreal using this highway and a much shorter ferry crossing. I would even be able to drive to Montreal to see the Habs play the Leafs. With or without a tunnel, there must be appropriate planning to deal with capacity on the Route 138, Route 430 and Trans-Labrador Highway. There are services and business opportunities that will come with these new highways. The opening of the Trans-Labrador Highway saw an increase in 18% ferry passenger traffic in the Strait of Belle Isle from May-October from 65,000 passengers to 77,400. Will we be ready for Route 138?

Why not build a tunnel? They have built the Chunnel connecting London, England to Paris, France by underground tunnel and train. The Scandinavian countries have several underground tunnels spanning a far greater distance than just 9 miles and comparable, if not worse weather conditions. There may be significant cost-savings by completing this project, as the Feds would not need to subsidize Marine Atlantic at their current levels. A greater focus could be placed on passenger traffic and promote tourism, as well as reduce user rates.

As a means to re-ignite economic activity on the Great Northern Peninsula, this is one of the many answers. Newfoundland & Labrador is one province and should be connected. We should be a part of mainland Canada, as is the case with every other province and territory in the country.

In the meantime, I continue to see the Big Land every day when I awake from my bedroom window and the lights twinkle at night. Some day that Lure of Labrador will be that much closer.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Firewood on the Hills – Grandois, NL

On January 24th, 2012 I returned to the quiet community of Grandois or St. Juliens (currently used interchangeably). In 1980 this community was connected via road to neighbouring Croque and to Main Brook – which remains today a 30 km gravel road craving some crush stone. Although, the blanket of snow cushioned the numerous potholes.

The view from the harbour is worth the ride. The tiny islands and hamlets showcase the remnants of re-settlement. During the summer a boat tour can be arranged to see the Ghost Towns that remain on these islands.

On this chilly day in January, one could see the chimneys burning, heating the homes. I stopped and took the photo of the tiers of firewood on the hill. A view of the community can be seen from here. There are very few homes, of which many are currently vacant. The closure of the cod fishery in 1992 – left the community, like many other outports struggling to survive.

The community of Grandois at its peak had 135 people. Today, those numbers have dropped drastically into the low double digits. Despite the population decline, limited water supply and lack of community services – the residents are extremely hospitable and a pleasure to talk about the past, present and future. We must savour the beauty this place offers the people who continue to call this place home. There is a wealth of history in this community on the French Shore. It may just be the next place you want to visit.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Beauty by the Sea – Deep Cove, NL

Scenic Deep Cove – could there be a place that grabs ones attention? This photo earned its place as the header for the Live Rural NL blog banner and is my current screen saver. Deep Cove may be one of the areas well-kept secrets, as it has so much unrealized potential. The local development association continues to pursue funding to bring the site up to par so one can be educated about “Winter Housing” and also experience what life was like having to move from the summer home to a winter site.

Along the trail I have capture the broken ice pans that have filled the mouth of the cove. The wooden structure in the bottom of the photo above was used by two men and a long pit saw to produce lumber to build homes, boats and other necessities. People worked with what they had, and certainly used common sense, building on a hill to reduce the workload.

A boardwalk takes you along the valley nestled between the trees, which provided the protection from the elements. Along the way are panels explaining the people who lived here and what their life was like. All that remains are a couple of fallen houses. They should be erected and the winter housing site developed as a working village.

Imagine in summer the rein-actors could be planting a garden, drying fish on flakes and maintaining the homestead as they would throughout the years. The opportunity for winter tourism is even greater with dog sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, ice-fishing and more. There could be lessons provided, accommodations and food in an experiential package. Location is ideal, as there is an adjacent ski hut and trail system. During summer, why not have campsites and offer a nature park?

In the meantime, I will enjoy some childhood fun and slide down the hill! Be sure to visit Deep Cove, just a few kilometres from the Town of Anchor Point.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Sealskin Snowshoes – Perfect for the Great Outdoors

Snowshoeing in the great outdoors on the Great Northern Peninsula is a favourite pastime for many residents. I decided that this is an activity my two visiting friends must also experience. I took my three pairs and off we went.

The woods is the perfect place to get-a-way from it all!

The powdery white stuff is quite magical stuff. After walking several kilometres, we say footprints of rabbits, snow on trees and could breathe the clean pristine air on the Great Northern Peninsula.

When one turns around to look back at the road just traveled, one may find the journey was not easy getting to this point, but the experience worth the push. We certainly made a detour, but that was part of the fun.

At my office I have a plaque that reads:

“Don’t worry about the destination, even if you stray,  the most important thing is what you have learned along the way” – All roads lead to success, even detours.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     -                                                                                                                                                                Anon.

So grab your sealskin snowshoes and experience the great outdoors. Don’t worry if you get lost, the detour will be worth it.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Community Meetings in Norris Point & Corner Brook with NDP Housing Critic Gerry Rogers and MHA Christopher Mitchelmore

The Newfoundland Squeezebox – Accordion

There are many long-lived traditions in Newfoundland – one of them is our love for the music. We have embraced the accordion as a means to get those feet stepping. My friend from Switzerland is giving my Grandfather’s Hohner Squeezebox a try. For those of you that know me, you all know I do not have a musical bone in my body, despite my attempts to sing karaoke or play an instrument. I’ll continue my musical fortunes as the drummer of K’s Kitt on Rockband.

I hope you enjoy the sounds of the accordion, as I do. It is powerful how the music can just lift your feet up and down, getting you in the mood to dance a jig!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Be a Part of the Conversation…

Traditional Newfoundland Cuisine – Rabbit

A visit to my Grandmother from Nameless Cove after being in the cabin was quite the treat. A wonderful meal of wild rabbit, stuffing, peas, carrots, turnip and potatoes – all topped off with gravy. I enjoy this traditional meal as it brings back memories.

As a young boy, I would go with my father to check his slips (or rabbit snares). We would go on his Yamaha Bravo! He had the skill to well place a slip, adding twigs or tree limbs to ensure the rabbit would have to hop through the hole. Sometimes we would take our snowshoes to prevent us from sinking too deep into the snow.

My uncle Douglas, who has since passed. He would spend a significant amount of time in the woods, whether it would be trapping, rabbit catching or berry picking. I would be assured that there would be a rabbit or two for me each season.

For me it is important to now learn the process of rabbit catching from my uncles who continue this tradition. I must learn these skills to pass on to future generations. As well learn how to skin a rabbit and prepare the meal.

For me it is important to learn the ways of the land, that has enabled people to survive for thousands of years – well before the Vikings came more than 1,000 years ago to this Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

 

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