Category Archives: Heritage

QUIRPON RADIO LAUNCHED!

I woke up this morning to find out about this exciting new community development endeavour of Radio Quirpon. Wayne Bartlett and Cheryl McCarron  are the creators of something wonderful for Newfoundlanders & Labradorians everywhere to enjoy a little piece of “the Rock”. Radio Quirpon is available at www.radioquirpon.com.

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And ofcourse, others too can enjoy our  unique culture and our music. I especially love the local tunes from the creator, Wayne Bartlett and Straitsview’s own Skipper Hot’s Band.  Little Bo Peep was one I’m looking forward to hearing again :). It is also nice to hear the personal commentary, it gives each song a special meaning when one listens.

Radio Quirpon has a selection of local photos from the the Great Northern Peninsula, as well as videos and a blog. I encourage you all to visit their site and share your thoughts.

Picture2I would like to thank the creators for sharing their talents with the world. It is these types of initiatives that will build a much stronger community, one that reaches well beyond our small populations. I look forward to spreading the word! Let’s keep historic Quirpon with a population of 75 people on the map!

Cheryl operates “Coffee in the Cove”, located in Hay Cove (population 32)  which is just minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Experience where the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago. Coffee in the Cove offers a selection of freshly brewed coffees, espressos, lattes and has a singing kitchen. On Facebook, visit their page called Coffee in the Cove.

The Great Northern Peninsula, where big things are happening in very small communities. Help spread the word!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Related Stories:

Scenic Hay Cove – Your Northern Coffee Experience

 

 

 

Canada appealing WTO ban on seal products

The Environment and Minister responsible for Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Leona Aglukkaq is in Geneva appealing the World Trade Organization (WTO) ban of Canadian Seal Products in the European Union today, which was upheld on the basis of moral grounds.

I support the Minister in our appeal. The Canadian seal hunt is well-regulated, humane and sustainable. It has been a way of life and a significant part of our culture and heritage on the Great Northern Peninsula for centuries.

In fact, St. Barnabas in Flower’s Cove was built under the leadership of Rev. Canon J. T. Richards in the 1920′s. The men and women made seal skin boots, which when sold went into a building fund. The church has been known locally as “seal skin boot” church.

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Local harvesters each year prepare to take to the ice. These are brave and courageous sealers, who risk their lives to provide for their families. My father was a sealer. He knew the art of bark tanning and preparing the skin to make leather products. Depicted below are seals tanning in Savage Cove, by the very talented Mr. Stevens.

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There are more modern products beyond seal skin boots that have been used to keep us warm in some of the harshest weather conditions, as winter can be difficult for those of us in the North.

Below is a patchwork sealskin purse. They are handmade creations by local craftspeople. With pride I promote our very own GNP Craft Producers in Shoal Cove East on the Great Northern Peninsula. If you would like your very own, they can custom-make them. Visit www.gnpcrafts.ca or call 709-456-2123.

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I am a strong supporter of the Canadian seal hunt and will continue to press for more products and new business developments for all involved in the industry.

Supporting the Seal Hunt -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

(Seal skin purse photo credit – Donna Whalen-Grimes)

 

Trails, Tales & Tunes Festival happening May 2014 – Mark your calendars

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The 8th annual Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival takes place from May 16-25, 2014 in Norris Point, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve been attending the festival, since the 5th Annual and it always has me coming back for more. I recommend you visit their website and use the schedule to plan a week, weekend or enjoy the entire festival in the heart of Gros Morne National Park www.trailstalestunes.ca.

In 2012, I pitched my tent and enjoyed the amenities of Norris Point’s own KOA campground. While last year, I made it a personal weekend away and spent it at the magnificent Neddie’s Harbour Inn (www.theinn.ca), which is the perfect get-a-way as it is a waterfront property nestled between the Long Range mountains and the tablelands. There are many options from tenting, RV parks, hostels, cabins, cottages, bed and breakfasts, lodges, inns and motels in and around beautiful Norris Point to fit any budget.

The festival hosts an ideal opportunity to visit Gros Morne early, hear the many wonderful storytellers and musicians at various venues, as well as enjoy the vast walking trails. There is also a long list of food options and various activities and entertainment throughout the week. It is likely one of the best weekend’s you’ll experience in the park.

I encourage you to participate and then work your way up the northern tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The New Land with the Green Meadows

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L’Anse aux Meadows – Summer

L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site has always been a fascinating place to visit. I have been privileged to live near where the first Europeans would re-discover North America imagesV76QS5EZmore than 1,000 years ago when Leif Erikson came on Snorri to the Great Northern Peninsula – a place he called “Vinland”.  A sign on Route 430, which is named the Viking Trail welcomes you to Erikson’s Vinland!

July 2013 saw the unveiling of a new Leif statue in the very place where he became the first European to set foot on American shores. A special ceremony was held in partnership with the Leif Erikson International Foundation, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade and St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated (SABRI). Leif looks out toward the sea.

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I want to thank all the donors, supporters and volunteers, who worked to ensure Leif would be a permanent fixture at L’Anse aux Meadows. This was a remarkable moment, that included an Icelandic Choir, a representative from the Norwegian Embassy, Parks Canada staff, local residents and Benedicte Ignstad.

Benedicte is the daughter of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, the archaeologists who made the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows as the only authenticated Norse site in North America in the early 1960′s.

I have travelled to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to experience more of the Viking/Norse culture. However, Benedicte offered me and others the insight into the process and the way of life in L’Anse aux Meadows, some 50 years ago.

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I attended her reading of her mother’s book “The Land with the Green Meadows” by Anne Stine Ingstad. This book was first published in Norway in 1975 and translated in 2006 to English. The Historical Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gained permission from Benedicte to have the book lightly edited and available to a new generation of readers.

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I spent multiple hours of a plane and many more waiting at an airport just over a week ago, when I began Anne’s book. I could not put it down, because it told a real story. It described the people of L’Anse aux Meadows and of nearby Straitsview and the struggles they faced. The Decker’s, Blake’s, Anderson’s, Colbourne’s and others are very real people. The book highlights how a community comes together to look after one another, the building of the highway to connect the communities to L’Anse aux Meadows and the shift from coastal boat to air transport saw a dynamic shift for such an isolated place as L’Anse aux Meadows. Over the course of the book, one got to know Anne and Helge, experience the great discovery, as well as the local people and the kindness of others, including those who worked at the Grenfell Mission.

There was much pioneering happening on the Great Northen Peninsula. There always was and there always will be. From the very first sod buildings to the current day residents, L’Anse aux Meadows is a place you want to visit and experience for yourself in your lifetime.

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The New Land with the Green Meadows – during Winter.IMG_5348

Summer is when the land is green, and the best time to visit. Begin your trip planning today. A Viking Experience awaits!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

“Do Unto Others” – Dower of Conche

This summer, I had the privilege of meeting Alice and Austin Dower of Conche, NL at their home. I had met Austin before playing music for us at the Tuckamore Lodge, Main Brook and again at the Ivy Durley Place in Flower’s Cove.  It is clearly evident he is a man of many talents, especially when it comes to song and stories. We had a great conversation about family, community, the upcoming Come Home Year and the wonderful history that exists surrounding the Town of Conche.

Little did I realize in conversation, that the man I was talking with had such a strong connection to the communities beginning. Austin, a retired teacher had recently penned a book, entitled “Do Unto Others: Dower of Conche”, which is a scripted version of his family history of James Herbert Dower and the settlement of the community.

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It has taken me about six months to begin but only a couple of days to finish reading Dower’s work. The book was a pleasant short read that was filled with intrigue and also a reflection of life’s everyday challenges in community building in rural Newfoundland and Labrador in the early 1800′s. Dower also reinforces the importance of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” Photos at the end also give the reader an understanding and snapshot of the community past and present.

I am grateful the author has taken the time to document and also tell in his own words his family’s story. I hope that this is not the only book penned by Austin J. Dower and I encourage others to find a copy. Even take a visit to The French Shore. Served up nicely with a cup of tea :)

We all have stories to tell and our own family histories is a remarkable place to start.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

Add Raleigh to Your Summer Trip Plan

Raleigh Historic Village is a family adventure, where you can experience cultural tourism and live like a fisherman for a day, two or a week. They have bunkhouses where you can book accommodations, boat tours and various classes around rug hooking, oar making and net mending.

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Their website is: http://www.raleighhistoricvillage.com/

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The historic fishing rooms are being maintained in Raleigh.

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This  attraction is located on Route 437. In the community there is a restaurant, cottages, carving shop, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, walking trails and panoramic scenery. Also it is just a short drive from L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Viking Settlement and the commercial centre of St. Anthony, which is also home of the Legendary Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and his historic properties.

The Great Northern Peninsula has an experience in every outport. Add Raleigh to your list of places to see.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Rural Roots, including Seal Hunt Proudly on Display at MHA Mitchelmore’s Office

 

 

 

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I’m a believer in all things rural, including the seal harvest. I wear my father’s seal skin boots that are more than 15 years old and last year purchased a seal skin coat. I could give it away a dozen times a day from all the people I meet that would also like to have one. More must be done to make these products more readily available to people of the province. The seal skin tie I have, which certainly has “heart” was purchased for $60 from GNP Craft Producers in my District. They have a website http://www.gnpcrafts.ca. They also make great belts for $40, bow ties, slippers, mittens and more. Let’s continue to show our support for the seal harvest, as it is humane, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

As the blog simply states, “Live Rural” and “Experience the Great Northern Peninsula” is all about learning, understanding and sharing my rural roots with the world.

For those who have dropped by our constituency office in St. Anthony, the public gallery has an array of local art from a French Shore Tapestry, photographed seal by Chris Patey, hooked rug, sweat lodge artwork, icebergs, Grenfell embroidery, painted purity products, dories, fish and many pieces that reflect our rural region. There is a collage of images from across the Great Northern Peninsula.

However, my office at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, NL is no different. It includes many handmade items and pieces of art that I have made myself or purchased from others. I am always searching for as much local stuff as possible.

There is a lovely Chris Patey piece of Iceberg Photography on the northern tip, with a magnifying glass and fish handle, La Mousses (The French Fisherman) that I’ve been told resembles me is from The Guardian Gift Shop at the French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche, but was made by Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows. Outport NL by Candace Conchrane is next to a handmade glass plate made at the St. Anthony College of the North Atlantic. The fused glass polar bear comes from the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony. There is a stuffed seal that was given to me as a Christmas present, as well as a fish and smaller seal.

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Here is an explanation of the Gallery below:

I purchased art from Bruce Pilgrim, originally from Main Brook, the former Englee Plant which was framed by his wife Maureen, owner of Island Images Gallery and Framing Shop. It is very pleasing after all the lobbying, letter writing, petitions, telephone calls and more that Government issued a clean-up order which resulted in $1.7M to remove and re-mediate this site.

The iceberg was painted by myself in three hours when I took a class with George Bussey, originally of St. Lunaire-Griquet. I enjoyed this immensely and encourage others to take it up as a hobby.

The hooked rug, I did as well under the instruction of Sabrina Gaulton of Anchor Point. It took about 50 hours to make this tiny rug. I would like to do another, when time permits. Thus far, time has not permitted.

The “Lonely Harbour” is a piece I purchased at the Bits’n Pieces Cafe in Conche from local Natalie Byrne.

The splitting table imagery reminds me of Noddy Bay or Raleigh. It was done by William Bartlett of St. Lunaire-Griquet.

The polar bears were bought at Shoreline Flower’s N’ Crafts in Sandy Cove and the ax on the chopping block a gift from Port Hope Simpson.

The “Return of the Sealers” is my most recent purchase from the Savage Cove Come Home Year. It is a Linda Coles piece, who is originally from Savage Cove.

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador surrounds my work space every day. I am proud of my rural roots and continue to…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

Caribou and the Great Northern Peninsula

Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, who founded the Grenfell Mission more than 100 years ago, was the first to introduce reindeer to the Great Northern Peninsula. After reading Rompkey’s “Grenfell of Labrador” it is clear Grenfell purchased some 300 reindeer from Scandinavian countries to help provide a food supply to locals of the North.

In North America, reindeer are commonly referred to as the caribou. On the Great Northern Peninsula we are seeing the caribou coming back in larger numbers.

The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique offering including the presence of abundant nature and wildlife. This past winter when I drove from St. Anthony to Green Island Cove I was greeted by a small heard of caribou in Eddies Cove East (Route 430 – Viking Trail) and pulled over to wait for them to cross the road. After driving through this tiny community in “The Straits” to the south I saw a total of nine caribou. It was unusual for them to be grazing for food on the opposite side of the road adjacent to the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador dominating in the background. It was one of those moments when you just stare in amazement.

In late May, when attending the graduation of students at James Cook Memorial, Cook’s Harbour I also saw a bunch of caribou off Route 435.

Enroute to Croque and St. Julien’s, I met these caribou trotting along Route 432 (Grenfell Drive) near the Town of Main Brook.

The Great Northern Peninsula is a place to visit at any time of year, especially if you want to view the majestic caribou (reindeer).  The Christmas season is quickly approaching, reminding us that Santa and his reindeer will be on his way in just a month from today.

Here is a link to another posting with some great shots of caribou on the Great Northern Peninsula: What a view today on the Great Northern Peninsula…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Felting a Family…

Today, I was looking back through some photos I had recently taken and this one happened to get my attention..a loving family that sits on my constituency office desk in St. Anthony.

Division No. 9, Subd. D-20130906-02738Carol Roberts of St. Anthony is a fiber artist. She works with wool product and other textiles to create. Thank you Carol for sharing your talent with me. The concept of spinning wool on the Great Northern Peninsula has only been lost by a few recent generations. The spinning wheel would be found in some early settler homes as they would create their own home spun sheep’s wool to make knitted stockings and other articles of clothing.

This summer Ms. Roberts along with a friend had taken a spinning wheel and started introducing new people to the process at Grenfell Heritage Days this past July. This is an exciting step because we have incredibly talented people in the region that are interested in small-scale craft production. There is opportunity to network, take workshops and make and sell product. I personally would like to see a craft co-operative established.

Rural sustainability is built on our ability to utilize the resources and enhance our skill set to get best value from them. There is opportunity for more raising of sheep in the District, selling and carding of wool and the creation of unique wool products that are of high-value, such as the items depicted above. If you like Ms. Roberts’ felted family or other products, many are available at Grenfell Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony.

Is a fiber arts or textile festival something to consider for the future on the Great Northern Peninsula?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

How does your garden grow?

An old nursery rhyme went like this…

Mary, Mary, Quite contrary
How does your garden grow?

Here are some of our results:

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As a young boy I always helped my grandmother and grandfather tend their gardens. I enjoyed everything from digging the trenches to laying potato seed to pulling stocks and reaping the reward of our harvest. Even as a young lad I certainly didn’t mind rolling up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. One thing I did not like doing though was – weeding. Thank goodness for grandma, who had the patience to ensure our beds were not overtaken by them. My grandma and extended family members continue to maintain these gardens growing a variety of crops.

I still have an appreciation for growing local food stuffs and want to get more involved in maintaining a garden and greenhouse. Now that the harvest time is nearly over on the Great Northern Peninsula, it is a great time to consider growing local in 2014!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Tourism Season Extended with Gros Morne Fall Fest & Craft Fair

Gros Morne National Park is a crown jewel of the province, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors annually. This region of the Peninsula has been expanding its products and experiences for the tourism market by extending the season. I had the pleasure to join the beginning with the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival this past May. It was my second time attending the festival and hear the local talents of Jeff Quilty, Amelia Curran, Sherman Downey, Daniel Payne and many others who came from away, especially the Blue Grass music of the Spinney Brothers. Next year’s schedule will be posted in February at http://www.trailstalestunes.ca/schedule.html. It certainly is the place to be to get an early start on summer fun in Newfoundland & Labrador.

And the season extends into October…

Cow Head is a vibrant community, home to the Gros Morne Theatre Festival and the Dr. Henry Payne Museum. This tiny town has a group of dedicated volunteers that work tirelessly to ensure their Town is a place to visit on the Great Northern Peninsula. The creation of a four-day “Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair“, stems from the success of a one day craft fair. The festival focuses on traditional skills, craft, music and local culture does exactly that. It attracts people to the region, well beyond the peak of July and August tourism season. It is also an opportunity for locals to get involved, as the busy fishing season winds down.

I attended the official opening on Thursday night with a room of 100 people or more as we celebrated the efforts of all those who made this possible, especially organizer Ms. Glenda Reid-Bavis. This followed a Kitchen Party hosted by local talents, Stephanie Payne and Rob Thorne at the Shallow Bay Motel. The accordions, fiddles and song had everyone enjoying their evening.

On Friday, I also got to talk with the instructors and participants of the Moose Tufting and Basket Weaving Workshops. Maybe next year, I’ll get to participate.

Festivals and community events can be built around local instructors sharing their knowledge and teaching others, as we have such incredible talents and those who want to learn. I encourage other communities to reach out and create unique Fall experiences.

The printed schedule is available at the Shallow Bay Motel and there is still time to take in Traditional NL music, kit making, fiddle workshop, fine dining, silent auction, musical soiree, karaoke, craft fair and gospel concert over today and tomorrow. 

This festival is professionally put together by community partners. It is impressive to see what happens when the business, non-profit, non-government agencies, government and volunteers work together to make big things possible in small towns.

The Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair is just the beginning of many more. So mark your calendars, find out the dates next year when Cow Head will be host again to a flurry of Fall activity.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Blast from the Past Walking Trail

Roddickton population has more than doubled over the past week as part of the Come Home Year celebration activities. I have been taking in much of the festivities and will be posting photos and a blog soon to give everyone an update as it has been a highly spirited week. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet Elsie Reid and take her “Blast from the Past” walking trail.

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I met Elsie a couple of years ago, and it was clear her passion for gardening. She has taken this passion and turned it into something unique for the community to enjoy by creating an “open air” museum with static displays that depict rural living. You can click the photos below, but there is no substitute for experiencing in-person the peaceful walk along the forested trail.

Elsie and her husband, Calvin, have volunteered many long hours building a greenhouse, herb garden, bird area, and the heritage walking trail. There are many contributors that have donated items to make this all possible in memory of loved ones and other townspeople, family and friends.

The guided walk begins at the wishing well, where you can drop a coin to make a wish. Next there is a boat, that Elsie salvaged from being burned and was now given a new home. Ironically, this boat was owned by her father and was made about 30 years ago. There are bicycles, an outhouse, Christmas mummers, pot belly stove, saws, trunks and many other household items along the way. I enjoyed the comment, when Elsie pointed to a steel bed frame filled will blooming flower pots and said, “and here is my bed of flowers”.

As the former owner and operator of a museum that depicted rural living on the Great Northern Peninsula, I can truly appreciate the effort and uniqueness that this will bring to the Town of Roddickton. This is truly a project that has taken on a life of its own with bright coloured paint, recycling and reusing of materials, such as old tires and clothing to create flower pots and the preservation of people’s memories.

At the end of the tour, Elsie takes you into her greenhouse, showing the herbs and plants she is growing. She has only the freshest of herbs: parsley, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, savory, marjoram and others. As well, all natural bug spray, lip balms, foot and body cream, stuffed animals and some handmade knitted items.

I purchased several herbs and look forward to a nice cup of spearmint and lemon tea. Your hobby and your passions are incredible business opportunities. Ms. Reid has the potential to sell fresh herbs to local restaurants, grocery stores and specialty outlets. Her all-natural bug spray could be commercialized, as it would have great appeal in the marketplace as we strive to reduce the contact our body has with chemicals. There is also a natural tourism component to the walking trail and resting areas. Ms. Reid could set up an outdoor tea room, where her herbal and natural teas are for sale, while viewing the bird area. She is a wealth of experience, known as the “Garden Lady”, she could teach others how to garden and produce local herbs and natural products that will help us all live healthier lives.

We have great potential on the Great Northern Peninsula because we have incredible people, with ideas, a rich vibrant history and natural landscape. If you have an idea, take that initiative and start something for others to enjoy.

Blast from the Past Walking Trail can be found in Roddickton before the Apostolic Faith Church on the left coming into Town. There is a sign on the property. I truly hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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Seeking a Unique Rural Experience? Raleigh has your Answer

The Raleigh Traditional Fishing Village is a unique rural experience. You can experience life as a fisher with an overnight stay in a bunk house. These hostel-style rooms have bunk beds for eight with feather mattresses and a wood stove for heat. There are no modern luxuries of television on site, but real rustic comfort. I hope to overnight there before the season ends, if not there is always next year.

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Raleigh is a place where you can get away from it all and truly enjoy some serene rest and relaxation. This traditional fishing village operated by the Raleigh Historical Society offers guided tours of the “fishing rooms” and provides opportunities to make a net, craft your own oar or prepare the boat. The society also teaches traditional rug hooking, offers boat tours, hiking tours, provides traditional meals and crafts. One can purchase a package at: http://www.raleighhistoricvillage.com/accommodations.php.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael & I toured the offering at the fishing village on July 28th. It was evident that new marketing and cross-promotion needs to happen to see this site fully utilized within the season. This type of adventure and cultural tourism is a unique product offering on the Great Northern Peninsula. It has potential to be enlarged, create further employment and lasting experiences.

 

Last September on a visit to Iceland, they offered a package of “You can be a fisherman”, which consisted of living at a fishers home, eating traditional meals, touring a fish plant and also having the opportunity to spend a day or two out in boat with a fisher.

People are coming to rural communities craving authentic experiences. The people of the urban world are flocking to rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as they want to relax and learn something on their travels. We must find a way to reduce barriers that limit tourist from having a fishing experience, with real fishers in rural NL. There are mechanisms to make fisheries-tourism synergies work. This can create a win-win situation for Raleigh fishers and tourism operators in the region. Let’s work together to find the solutions. This is one of the many things to experience when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula! Be sure to add Raleigh Fishing Village to your list!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

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French Shore Historical Society adds vibrancy to Conche

Conche is a small fishing Town of less than 200 residents on the Northern Peninsula East, primary of those with Irish Catholic descent. This community is rebounding from economic instability. In recent years it is home to a very active fish plant and the community has re-branded itself as a tourism destination.

The French Shore Historical Society was formed in 2000 as a non-profit corporation to preserve, interpret and promote the history of the French Shore for education and economic development. This very active Society worked with the Town to turn a former Grenfell nursing station into an Interpretation Centre, studio and office space. This turquoise and brown building stands out and marks the culture and long past of the settlement, first inhabited by migratory French fishermen.

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A tour of the museum contains French & English panels, artifacts and displays. The impressive 222-foot tapestry, the only of its kind in North America is on display. This Bayeux stitched masterpiece was more than 3 years in the making and can be viewed exclusively in Conche, NL depicting the history of the Great Northern Peninsula with a focus on the French migratory fishery to current day.

The Society has been focused on textiles and product development. It hopes to expand its property as it reaches out for investment to expand the property to better display this Tapestry and permit space to focus on its Centre for Textile Arts. A number of art classes, basket weaving, bread making and embroidery have taken place at the centre.

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It has partnered with the regional Iceberg Festival to host a day long session. You too could take a class and learn to stitch your own Viking ship. The Society also does framed pieces upon request or for purchase in their gift shop. The gift shop is typically commissioned-based, but has a host of items, from the colourful codfish t-shirts, mugs, coasters to La Mousses (handmade French fishermen dolls), knitted items, amigurumi animals, post cards, greeting cards, soaps, books and other treasures.

In the studio, three of the nine commemorative panels that will form part of a travelling exhibit for the 300th Anniversary of the Treaty of Ultrecht are complete. Workers here in Conche, as well as Englee are producing these masterpieces, as part of a project funded through Job Creation Partnerships (JCP) through the Department of Advanced Education & Skills. This is a great investment, as it provides unique training and skill development to those participating in the project and will lead to other product development opportunities in utilizing this skill set. Additionally, the Exhibit will tour the province for other communities and regions to benefit. It is preserving, interpreting and promoting our history. There will be net benefits from this project on a much broader scale. These opportunities, will also create new opportunities for Conche, the Great Northern Peninsula and the Province.

Additionally, on site there is a French oven, work station, French boat  and look-out with viewing area. Also when in the community, tour it for a unique outdoor textile exhibit. This is not my first post of the French Shore, nor do I hope my last. The French Shore takes in more communities than just Conche and surely could be expanded to include more of “Petit Nord” on the Great Northern Peninsula. This is a community-based organization that is having a positive impact and must be expanded upon. It like many non-profits needs assistance, if you have an idea, visit http://www.frenchshore.com.

My hometown of Green Island Cove and many others have an opportunity to reach out, collaborate and do something creative to add vibrancy to our communities. There a possibilities for development in our small rural communities, the French Shore is one of our many success stories and a must see on your destination.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

Mat Hooking Exhibition at Englee Worth the Visit

The Town of Englee is actively pursuing new economic opportunities and is the new home to an Exhibition of Hooked Mats at the Municipal Building depicting daily life, culture and heritage of the community.

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Funded through a Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) program a couple of years ago, workers from Englee learned traditional mat hooking skills, as well as other textiles of knitting, embroidery, sewing and fabric works. It is positive to see a cultural tourism element added to the Town that will help regional tourism as the Northern Peninsula East Heritage Cluster continues to grow. Well posted signs in both English and French are at roadside and on the Town Hall. There is no fee for viewing these mats, but donations are certainly accepted. The Town has produced some of the pieces of artwork into matted and unmatted prints for retail.

I had the opportunity to view the exhibitions of colourful homes, fish drying on flakes, work & play, resettlement, mummering, landscapes and other aspects of daily life in the Town of Englee through art. A mat hooked in 1939 was also showcased, which pre-dates the Town (incorporated 1945). These are certainly treasures, both old and new.

The Town also is working with the French Shore Historical Society as a local worker is producing very detailed tapestry that will be part of a nine piece series of a travelling exhibit commemorating the 300 years since the Treaty of Ultrecht. An office space has been converted to a workers studio as she Bayeux stitch of the “Crown Jewels“. A follow-up post will provide additional details about these new tapestry developments.

The Town of Englee is to be commended for their vision, efforts and willingness to partner. It is positive to see new additions to our small communities. We should embrace our culture, heritage, history and tell stories through art. Each community in the District has a unique opportunity to do something creative that will help our region further develop.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
 

A Few Snaps of “the Beauty Spot of the North”

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Conche is tagged as “The Beauty Spot of the North”. It is nestled at the edge of the Great Northern Peninsula East and is home to 181 residents, but there are hundreds more ‘Die hard Conchers’ out there and many are home to celebrate Come Home Year of 2013. It truly is a magical place.

This fishing community has a beacon of activity from an extremely active fish plant, that employs people throughout the region. The fish must be trucked in and trucked out of a dusty gravel road. There is constant commuting and significant economic benefits that Conche has contributed to the economy over the years. There must be serious consideration given to Government to pave the remaining 17.4 KM of gravel road.

Conche has also transitioned to be a sought after tourism destination. It is at the heart of the French Shore, with an interpretation centre, 222-ft tapestry depicting the history of the French Shore, textile exhibits, WWII memorial, archaeology digs, cafe, writer’s retreat, B&B, playground, walking trails, icebergs, bird and whale watching, as well as much more activity from talented artists, writers, singers, dancers, crafters and more.

The community understands it must add new economic opportunities by working to establish a fully functional RV site,  beach volleyball and other recreational services. It has carefully placed yellow chairs around viewing areas of the Town. This is similar to an initiative that Gros Morne National Park has done for its 35th Anniversary. These are important and relatively low-cost initiatives that make a community more inviting and tourist friendly. There are storyboards and panels and certainly more room for murals.

I am encouraged  by the economic drive of such a small community. There is much room for growth. It is persevering, despite continuous neglect and inaction from Government that treats residents and road users of Route 434  as second-class citizens. It is unacceptable in 2013 to be driving over a gravel road with no calcium chloride program. Government has invested $6M a few years ago to re-build and re-align this road. Each year there is no pavement,  this investment is being eroded to the bedrock and will cost more to complete. We need better, multi-year planning to protect our investments. Conche road should have been paved years ago.

Please contact Hon. Paul Davis, Minister of Transportation & Works at padavis@gov.nl.ca asking him to take the necessary action to pave Route 434.

It’s Time!

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Going underground – Miner Chris visits Bell Island

Last week I returned to the beautiful “Bell Island” on a short ferry run across the tickle leaving Portugal Cove. A year had passed since I explored Lance Cove, Wabana, the craggy coastlines, Dicks’ Fish & Chips, the lighthouse and more with my German and Swiss friend.

On this occasion, I decided to be a tourist and visit a major tourist attraction, the #2 Mine. In fact, my 81-year old grandmother recently took the tour. It is quite an experience. Bell Island was a boom town with an iron ore mine spanning over seven decades of active operations. However, in the 1960′s the mine closed. It would only be re-opened 17 years ago, not to mine ore but tourist :).

Ed, our very talented and knowledgeable tour guide provided exceptional context. His personal connection to the mine was very strong, with his father and grandfather as former employees. I highly recommend him as your tour guide.

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The hard hat is quite the change from sitting behind a desk at Confederation Building. It was not my first time underground or in a vacated mine. In 2007, I toured a salt mine in Poland. I like being an experiential tourist. From the highlights of the tour, I certainly could not imagine the working conditions and poor lighting miners  faced in the early 1900′s.

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I am quite proud of the efforts of those involved in the re-development of a vacant mine into a tourist attraction. It is so important that we tell our stories. On this particular tour we were the only two Newfoundlanders & Labradorians of twelve on the tour. There are likely other assets and unique aspects of rural life that could be developed into burgeoning tourism attractions in our own regions that expand our current product offering.

The tour is 45 mins to an hour. There is also a museum and incredible photography highlighting the island life in the mid-1900′s. The museum has a gift shop and cafe.

Well, it looks like Miner Chris is calling it a day :) Be sure to visit Bell Island on your next visit to the Avalon Peninsula. Be sure to get your Dicks’ Fish & Chips too!

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Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
 

A Billion+ Reasons to Visit the Town of Flower’s Cove

The Town of Flower’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula, is formerly known as French Island Harbour, as it too is steeped in French history and part of the French Shore. Flower’s Cove as it is known today, is the administrative hub of the Straits region with a regional hospital, regional K-12 school, regional community youth centre, community-based daycare centre, non-profit 33 bed personal care facility, retail co-operative, pharmacy, restaurant, B&B, gas station, retail outlets,  construction companies, RCMP detachment, banking & financial services, tax services, recreation opportunities, churches, Lion’s club, seniors, youth groups and other organizational clubs.

The Town of Flower’s Cove, working in consultation with the now defunct Nordic Regional Economic Development Board (due to Federal & Provincial budget cuts) had worked on helping Flower’s Cove grow its tourism assets by adding two informational pull-offs that promote the Town’s business community and tourism attractions, as well as a mural and good signage throughout the community. Many of which are depicted below in key chains that are available for sale at the L&E Restaurant:

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Flower’s Cove was the home base of Rev’d Canon John Thomas Richards, who was an Anglican minister in the early 1900′s. He operated without a church, but by encourage the women of the community to establish a building fund by making and selling sealskin boots. St. Barnabas Church was built circa 1920 and is known locally as “Sealskin Boot” Church.

Flower’s Island Lighthouse, first lighthouse keeper was Peter Flower, shortly thereafter it was operated by the Lavallee family for decades until automation. The Straits Development Association has developed an interpretation and viewing area, as well as continues to pursue opportunities to develop the area into a working site to add to the Town’s tourism assets. Icebergs are often spotted in the harbour, so have your cameras ready!

Marjorie Burke’s Bridge has been restored and leads to 600 million to 1.2 billion year old thrombolites. These micro-organisms form a clotted bun-like structure that area  special find, only in a few places around the world. The calcium carbonate from the limestone rocks create an environment for these unique formations.

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The White Rocks Walking Trail is an easy stroll that gives nice views of limestone plains, forested and water areas at a pace for the walker of any age. There are certainly great photo opportunities and resting areas as well. A perfect place for a picnic.

Flower’s Cove may be a tiny town, but there is plenty to see, do and experience! A billion+ reasons to visit on a trek up the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

I found “Love” in St. Lewis…

Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.

I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.

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There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990′s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.

The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.

It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.

We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

It’s All About Regional Marketing…

In 2010, my mom and I traveled to Ireland. We rented a car and went from Cork-Kinsale-Killarney-Galway-Sligo-Belfast-Giant’s Causeway-Dublin-Kilkenny-Waterford-Wexford-London. Cork is Ireland’s second largest city (about the size of St. John’s, NL), however, just a short distance away is Kinsale, a small town that is known for its food culture. With 2,257 people it is about the size of St. Anthony on the Great Northern Peninsula. The regional marketing had us take the drive to the neighbouring community. It was an experience!

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The Provincial Government has cut its marketing budget by 25%. Despite winning 183 awards and being internationally recognized, the market for the International, out-of-province and local market is highly competitive and stakeholders will have to do more to market their business to maintain their bottom lines. I believe it’s all about regional marketing, let’s pool our resources and develop vacation guides, business directory, updates, mini-sites and more in a modern Viking Trail Tourism website.

Check out how Kinsale market’s itself: http://kinsale.ie/.

The Great Northern Peninsula has many reasons for which one must visit. Here is a short-list:

  • Gros Morne National Park, WORLD UNESCO Site – home to the Table Lands and 155,000 visitors annually.
  • L’Anse aux Meadows, WORLD UNESCO Site – more than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America. The only authenticated North American viking site. Nearby, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade is home to the replica viking ship, the Snorri. Wonderful cuisine en route: The Daily Catch, Northern Delight, Snow’s Take-out and The Norseman Restaurant.
  • Community of 50 Centuries, Bird Cove – for more than 5,000 the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Gros-Water Eskimo and recent Indians. As well, a Basque presence and Captain James Cook cairn. Port au Choix National Historic Site has unique interpretation of archaeology and history.
  • The French Shore (Petit Nord) – Conche’s Interpretation Centre is home to a 222 ft tapestry depicting the French history, the Granchain Exhibit is found in St. Lunaire-Griquet
  • Grenfell Historic Properties - highlights the legendary Sir Doctor Wilfred Grenfell, his International Association, residence and his economic development through the co-operative process. Grenfell Historical Foundation and Handicrafts remain an integral part of the continuing story. Grenfell Memorial Co-op is the Newfoundland & Labrador’s oldest consumer co-op. Nearby are the Jordi Bonet Murals, Northland Discovery Boat Tours, Polar Bear Exhibit & Fishing Point Park.
  • Burnt Cape Ecological Reservehome to more than 300 plants, 30 of which are rare and one Burnt Cape cinquefoil, which the Great Northern Peninsula is the only place in the world where this species grows. Raleigh is also home to a fishing village and carving shop.
  • Leifsbudir – The Great Viking Feast is the only sod restaurant in North America, built into the rock of Fishing Point, St. Anthony
  • GNP Craft Producers – a unique gift shop that makes seal skin products and shares the history of seal skin boot making. In nearby Flower’s Cove one will find “Seal Skin” boot church. The community is also home to thrombolites (existing on just a few places on earth).
  • Deep Cove Winter Housing Site - a National Historic Site is an open air museum which highlights the way of life residents experienced in both summer and winter living. It is south of Anchor Point which is home to the peninsula’s oldest consecrated cemetery.
  • Torrent River Salmon Interpretation Centre - the Interpretation centre in Hawke’s Bay is a must for the salmon enthusiast. Beyond the mighty Torrent, many salmon rivers exist in Main Brook. Roddickton-Bide Arm is a great place to also participate in recreational hunting and fishing, it is home to the natural Underground Salmon Pool.

An array of walking trails, nature, wildlife, icebergs, whales, recreational hunting and fishing, picturesque outport communities, attractions, shops, restaurants,  crafts, festivals, events,  local culture and heritage and people who will make any visit a treasured experience on the Great Northern Peninsula. We make need to take a page out of Kinsale’s book, and work as a region to pool our marketing resources and create a more dynamic on-line presence that takes in our region’s unique offerings!

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & start planning your vacation today!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

We all have stories to tell…

We all have stories to tell. We share them with our friends, family and even the world through the social media. There is a time and space for this type of art form. I use my blog as a forum to share knowledge of culture, people, landscapes, business, heritage and history of the Great Northern Peninsula.  Our way of life has been viewed by nearly 180 countries world-wide and edging closer to 200,000 views. I may not have the talents of my grandfather Mitchelmore for storytelling, but I do my best to convey what is truly authentic to rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

This past weekend, my sister and I had a unique opportunity to be in the audience at the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre and were spectators to a performance scripted by a local playwright, Megan Coles.

Our Eliza is real – authentic. A true depiction of what life was like growing up in rural Newfoundland & Labrador not so long ago. It is masterfully crafted – capturing the audience from the first soundbite as it works its way through a powerful coming of age story. One exuding Newfoundland humour and wit, colourful language and actions that will keep you wanting more, long after the curtain closes. Our Eliza is the type of story that must be told beyond centre stage, it should be shared with Outport Newfoundland & Labrador – one of which we can all reflect upon as to who we truly are as a people – a society.                                                                                                 -Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA

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When I picked up my tickets at the box office, I was asked my address. I responded, “Green Island Cove”. The person asked where that was and I said, “The Great Northern Peninsula”. She said, I will be in for a real treat with tonight’s showing and that it has been getting great reviews from those in attendance. This certainly raised my expectations, especially since Friday and Saturday night’s performances had sold out.

The very first soundbite set the stage of framing for the audience the hardship the moratorium would have on our way of life in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Actors Greg Malone (Author of “Don’t Tell The Newfoundlanders”), Joel Thomas Hynes and Renee Hackett turned the clock back more than twenty years and had us reminiscing only in the stories our parents and grandparents could had told us. Our Eliza, is the typical Newfoundland girl, who becomes a woman and the glue that kept many of us together especially when times got tough. The modest, yet powerful story that lasted about 1 hour and half was filled with humour, wit and antics in which I could easily relate. I do not want to give away the story-line  I want you to go experience it for yourself.

These talents have engaged in putting our culture, our life experiences into performance, which brings together many art forms. We can all learn something about our roots and the role in which space plays in it. I took a Newfoundland Society & Culture, in which I learned much about community order and our every day space. It was pleasing to hear writer and co-producer Megan Coles, and co-producer Shannon Hawes, founders of The Poverty Cove Theatre Company open the show highlighting the minimalism utilized in staging, as well as the desire to be able to tell this story in non-conventional spaces. On March 2 & 3, the performance has found a home in the Library of the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre. You can purchase tickets at www.artsandculturecentre.com.

Thank you Megan Coles for sharing with us your creative talents and all those involved with the current production. You have made Our Eliza, a part of all of us. I only hope this story gets told throughout rural Newfoundland & Labrador where it can be at home, especially the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Inspired by our Lifestyle & Fishing Heritage

The Great Northern Peninsula has been known as “Petit Nord“, it has been inhabited by the Aboriginals, Vikings, Recent Indians, Basques, French, Irish, Scottish and English settlers. Life has existed because of the fishery, and continues even today.

Products created by local artists dominate my office at the confederation building and complement our rich fishing heritage. Hanging on the wall is an original painting done by Danny Rose that depicts Flower’s Island Lighthouse and continues to include an iceberg and shipping vessel. The lighthouse played a critical role for safety, with radio operators on-site as well.

The fishers are splitting their fish, near Noddy Bay on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in another. This piece was done by William Bartlett. The artwork has a very unique look, especially when you take a closer look at the facial expressions of people.

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My most recent purchase is “Le Mousse”, the French fisherman. I purchased this on-site at the French Shore Interpretation Centre’s Guardian Gift Shop in Conche, NL (www.frenchshore.com). This was created by the very talented Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows. She is much better at staging her photos, so I borrowed this image (full credit to Loretta Decker below). I’m told this fisher could resemble me, you will have to be the judge.

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Ms. Decker also does Viking Troll dolls. Images can be found at Norstead Viking Village Inc.’s Facebook Page. We must support our local artists and craft producers. Their ideas and creativity touch the lives of many and do so much more to promote the region, its history, heritage, people and culture.

We must continue to develop unique products that illustrate our rich and vibrant culture on the Great Northern Peninsula. It can be done. There are lots of new opportunities to create, market and share the wonderful stories of our past, present and future.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Happy National Heritage Day – I took time today to explore the Grenfell Legacy

Today is National Heritage Day and Canadians are invited to celebrate Heritage  by learning about our country’s immense historical, cultural and natural heritage. Newfoundlanders & Labradorians have  deep roots and are strongly connected to our many aspects of heritage.

I took the opportunity today to explore one of our cultural icons off the Great Northern Peninsula – Sir Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. I began by reading a couple of new chapter’s of Ronald Rompkey’s “A Biography Grenfell of Labrador“. This work of Canadian History had received such comments from The Globe and Mail:

Ronald Rompkey shows that Grenfell went beyond being a doctor or a missionary to become a cultural politician who intervened in a colonial culture. Grenfell of Labrador provides a vivid picture of the man and the social movements through which he worked.

There is an abundance of social history here and all of it is worth knowing                                                                                                                   – The Globe and Mail

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I still have many pages of this work to read, and look forward to hearing about how Grenfell set-up his missionary work focusing on health care. He believed that advancing employment and education was a means to promote healthy lifestyles, so his mission developed schools, an orphanage, cooperatives (fishery, retail, forestry, craft), industrial work projects (agriculture), and aspects of social work. His mission, the International Grenfell Association gained international status in 1914. It will be celebrating its 100 year in 2014.

The legacy continues, even today as the Grenfell Historical Society continues to operate a museum, archives and interpretation centre that has thousands of visitors throughout the year. There are regular craft nights and a focus to retain the Grenfell Handicrafts and use the famous “Grenfell cloth” in its clothing.

I dropped by the Heritage Gift Shop and purchased the coaster below. If you would like to make a purchase on-line visit: http://www.grenfell-properties.com/STORE/

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I encourage you to take some time today to reflect on an aspect of heritage. We can learn much from where we have come, as we plan for the future.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 

Fishing Remains Our Mainstay

Newfoundland & Labrador has been known for hundreds of years for being a fishing economy – even today it is the mainstay of our Great Northern Peninsula. The weather may be colder at the moment as local residents put a log on the fire to heat their home by the old  wood stove.

As I peered out my window today I could see the Strait of Belle Isle in a deep freeze as pack ice began connecting the island to maintain Labrador. Maybe in the future there will be a permanent link that creates a transportation hub that will radically transform our local economy.

In the meantime, the days are getting longer with Springtime quickly approaching. These little boats in the photo below are tied up at the Sandy Cove wharf, they will take to the water. The small boat fisher will be seeking to harvest lobster, herring, mackerel, cod and other species. It will only be a matter of time before the pots, nets and gear hit the water. A flurry of activity will commence through the busy summer season and into the Fall.

Boats at Sandy Cove

The wharf is an essential piece of infrastructure. In the past many fishers had their own private wharves, which led to fishing rooms, drying and gear sheds. One can view many properties driving the Great Northern Peninsula. They make for the perfect photo op.

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We pride ourselves in our rich fishing culture in the District. It is our reason for being here, our  mainstay.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

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