Category Archives: History

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!

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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.

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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…

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

In Honour of Remembrance Day – Recognizing Korean War Vet, Frank Slade

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Frank Slade of St. Anthony, served with the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Korean War, followed by two years in Germany. This past Memorial Day he was awarded a Korean War Service Medal in conjunction with 60 years since the end of the war. I was privileged to be in attendance for his receipt of such an honour.

I have had the pleasure to meet Veteran Frank Slade on a few occasions. I remember my first visit to his home during my campaign in Election 2011. For those of you have been, one could spend hours chatting and viewing the displays. His home is like a museum, with Mr. Slade presenting the oral history. I spent quite the time during my first visit, but looked forward to others, as I enjoy learning more about people and their life experiences.

Frank Slade also wrote the following poem in honour of Remembrance Day:

The reason I wear a poppy on this 11 November day,
To remember all those brave men who lie in graves so far away.
I remember some, but there are many.
Especially on this day I remember, my buddy Donald Penney.
Cruel men like Hitler and Hussein is the reason men die in far away land.
I don’t understand, I cannot say,
why they cause men to die this way.
In a war you cannot run, you cannot hide, you have to stand and fight the opposite side.
On land, in air, or sea, those men died for you and me
Some were lucky, some were not, they had to fight if they agreed or not.
War is a terrible thing we know so many innocent had to go.
To me war isn’t very nice, too many have to pay the price.
To bad wars have to be, to take someone dear from you and me.
I’m proud to wear a poppy remembering those men.
I hope and pray
All wars will end. – F. Slade

I encourage everyone to talk with our veterans who are still with us. But also take time on Remembrance Day to reflect upon those that gave freely their tomorrows, so we all could enjoy our today. Lest We Forget.

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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.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

A Milestone Moment – Happy 100 Years to Grenfell Memorial Co-op

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A co-operative is formed when people are empowered to work toward a common goal. They are virtually involved in every sector of the economy, including finance, housing, fishing, forestry, childcare, film, craft, farm and retail. Co-ops are owned and run by its members – they share the profits, benefits and meet the local needs of people, because they are the co-op.

Last night, as the MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, I had the pleasure of applauding the members, employees, management and board members of Grenfell Memorial Consumer’s Co-op in St. Anthony on a milestone moment – turning 100th on June 7, 2013. A centennial is a milestone for any organization and certainly a reason to be proud of all that has been accomplished to date. Grenfell Co-op is the oldest consumer co-op in Newfoundland & Labrador, and one of the oldest in the country.

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I am a proud supporter of co-ops, because I believe in the co-operative principles. Co-ops are socially responsible,  sustainable, meet local needs, put people over profits, and are democratically run, as they are based on one member – one vote. I had the pleasure of attending a “Cultivating Coops” Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in affiliation with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and could see first hand that diversity and great work co-ops were doing there and hope to see more started on the Great Northern Peninsula.

As a Member of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland & Labrador, I stated the importance of rural and regional co-operation, highlighting Eagle River Credit Union, Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Barbe Consumer’s co-op and NorPen Regional Waste Disposal in my maiden speech.

I am not alone in believing in co-ops, as 1 Billion people worldwide are members, accounting for 100 million jobs with the world’s largest 300 coops having sales of over $1 Trillion. 2012 was named by the United Nations as the “International Year of the Cooperative”.

Co-operatives empower people! Grenfell Memorial Co-op’s success is a true reflection both of the legacy of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and the importance of cooperatives to communities such as St. Anthony and area.

Grenfell originally set up his work in Newfoundland & Labrador to focus on health care. However, he recognized the importance of employment and education to healthy lifestyles. His mission expanded to include schools, orphanage, co-operatives (fishery, retail, forestry and the world-famous crafts), industrial work projects, agriculture and aspects of social work. Grenfell was much more than a missionary in my view, he was a cultural politician, who fought the concept of colonialism that brought riches to the very few. He believed in a social democracy that would give back a greater share of the wealth to those who had the resources. The co-operative model was the best way to break the merchant truck-system, increase quality of life and ensure long-term sustainability for people of the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador.

The cooperative business model is one government should encourage and nurture, as well as people especially in rural areas embrace. When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success.

On June 7th, I visited the co-op for it’s 100 year celebrations which featured free refreshments and a cake cutting by the oldest co-op member, Violet Decker, and the youngest kids’ club member Jaycee White. Traditional music was performed by Adam Randell and Brandon White.

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I encourage communities and individuals to come together, be proud of and support your local co-op –  it’s yours. Encourage others to be involved. As a politician, I’ve seen the Grenfell co-op, their mascots and employees giving back to the community in the form of sponsorship, donations and volunteer hours at numerous community events throughout the region.

To Grenfell Memorial Co-op Members – it has been a pleasure to be at your 100th Anniversary, Annual General Meeting and the celebration dinner and dance. You have much to celebrate!

It’s Time to re-visit our past successes and replicate them to have such success in the future. We need to begin the process of setting up more co-ops – whether a community marketplace, craft co-op or other endeavor. The future is brighter when we work together to find co-operative solutions.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Seals on the Ice

Last Sunday, I had left my home to drive to grandmother’s house in Nameless Cove for a big turkey dinner on Easter Sunday. Driving through the community, I saw a black spot on the ice.

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The seal is at the edge of the beach.

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Another seal is close to shore, as pack ice had blocked the Strait of Belle Isle. The land in the background, well that’s “The Big Land” – Labrador. I’m not sure people believe me when I saw, “I can see Labrador from my window,” but it is true.  Just a short 15 kilometres between us and still no plan to connect us by a fixed-link. Advancing transportation and telecommunication networks will be key to Southern Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula‘s future long-term sustainability. Quebec is completing Route 138 (Lower North Shore Highway), this means Montreal will be just 13 hours drive from this province. It will transform the shipping of goods and services. The current administration promised a feasibility study – a link has not yet materialized. Instead it has opted to build a multi-billion dollar energy project, laying cables on the ocean floor that will interfere with our way of life, the fishery – our mainstay, versus going underground with a tunnel. It was noted in a pre-feasibility study that if both projects were paired, savings of nearly $400 million would be realized. More work is needed exploring a fixed-link, but advancing transportation networks is imminent, we can not continue to be plagued with annual increased rates at Marine Atlantic and an unreliable schedule for shipment of goods and services. These costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer.  We need to be more strategic and consider where we need to go over the long-term, but not forget our roots – our beginnings.

Seals played a critical role in the development of our as a permanent settlement. In the early 1800′s they were a major food source, as the island had only 9 types of mammalia. Additionally, as a British Colony, we shipped both whale and seal oil to the homeland. This oil was used in lamps and correlated with the Industrial Revolution. Today, this product is banned in the United Kingdom.

It will be another couple of days before the sealers take to the ice. I wish much success in this years hunt, as the seal provides valuable meat, oils and pelts that are harvested in a humane and sustainable way. Sealing is part of our tradition, and will continue to remain that way well into the future.

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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!

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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.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Community Spirit Soars in Town of Main Brook

The Town of Main Brook may have a small population of about 250 people, but it soars with community spirit. The Come Home Year Celebration brought hundreds of people back home in 2012 and it was evident that residents and those with a connection to the community are there to support it. It is quite exciting to see the Town, Recreation Committee, Development Association, Come Home Year Committee, businesses, residents and others are pooling together to raise the roof to building a community centre. Working together, sharing resources is the best way to reach a common goal! All the volunteers deserve a big round of applause. The workers are doing a wonderful job in putting together the building in bone chilling temperatures.

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It is important for any community to have a meeting place for friends and family to gather. This will piece of infrastructure will certainly help attract more families and retirees to this tiny town that has a K-12 school, service station, meat shop, wilderness resort, accommodations, food services, sawmill, grocery store, fire department, fish plant, post office, liquor store, development association, Town council (water & sewer services), high speed Internet, cell coverage, near airport and larger business centres of Roddickton-Bide Arm and St. Anthony.

Main Brook is a part of the French Shore, with a presence of French before the English settlers. People came to Main Brook because of the rich forest resources. Bowater‘s created a company town in the 1940′s. The population grew to more than 300 and Government appointed a town council prior to confederation. The economy thrived for decades with several expansions, until a downturn in markets and new technologies would devastate this one-industry Town in the late 60′s, early 70′s.

There appears to be such a rich history around the Bowater lumber camps. I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his days with Bowaters. It would be an interesting economic development to re-create the Bowater lumber camps as a new economic driver. One could learn about the forest industry of years gone by, get fed at the cookhouse, sleep in the bunkhouse and also spend some time learning to saw a cord of wood. This would pair well with the outdoor hunting, fishing and recreational experiences this town offers locals and tourists. It may be time to create an open-air museum and re-visit our roots.

The Town has not been sitting idle with an active sawmill that has been in the Coates’ family for generations. In addition, it has transitioned to be an inclusive fishing community, where a number of residents and those from surrounding area maintain seasonal employment at a local fish plant.

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There are many unique photo opportunities when you drive around this planned community. Bring your camera!

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You will find no homes for sale, but land is available and there are planned sub-divisions. Get yourself a view of Hare Bay, bring your ideas and be a part of a community that has a lot of spirit.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
 
 


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A Winter Wonderland – Roddickton, Newfoundland & Labrador

Roddickton coined “Moose Capital of the World” is also a winter wonderland. I took some time to visit some residents, talk about local issues and take a few snaps a long the way.

I couldn’t resist capturing this snowman. It reminded me of family and how they are the cornerstone of our lives and society. One evening back  in senior high I was studying for a biology exam with my cousin when the snow began to fall. You know that perfect wet stuff? Well, we could not resist. Our inner child said, “build a snowman”. So we listened! We even got a chair to help lever the snowballs. It was spectacular! I love seeing when individuals, children, parents and others bring out their inner child and build there very own snowman.

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Roddickton is known as a lumbering town – home of Lumberjack’s Landing and it surrounded by big drokes, towering trees and rich forests. Dr. Wilfred Grenfell founded local cooperatives and started a saw mills and farm in Canada Bay more than 100 years ago, as he understand having paid employment was another means of promoting good health. This initiative would lead to the eventual development of the Town of Roddickton. Despite challenges in the forest industry, it remains a vital part of the Town’s economy today. I snapped a photo of a nicely packed tier of firewood. There is nothing like the heat from an old wood stove on a cold winter’s day.

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Does anyone know more about this vehicle? It certainly appears to be resting during the winter.

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Agriculture has played a role in this Town, with grants going back to pre-confederation. There is opportunity for more growth and it’s nice to see the presence of a tractor.
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This Town, like Englee was dealt an economic blow when it lost its fish plant several years ago. It joins many other Towns in the District that are left with former fish plants that were once a pulse of the community and are now idle and derelict. There are still fishers in the community, lots of life and activity. Below is a picture of the ‘Jolly Rogers”.

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Roddickton – boasts a mountains backdrop and is surrounded by both water and rich forests. It is a nature lover’s paradise! If one enjoys winter life, then come visit this Town of great snowmobiling and outdoor adventure. If you are unable to make a winter visit then why not join the summer fun? 2013 is Come Home Year in Roddickton from August 5-11th.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

A Snow Covered L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland & Labrador

L’Anse aux Meadows located 41 KM from St. Anthony, is home to WORLD UNESCO heritage site. It was originally named  L’anse aux Meaduses (Jellyfish Bay) by French migratory fishermen; the latter presence of English settlers, would alter it to the current name.

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This community boasts panoramic view scapes and has been well-captured under the lens.  During summer tens of thousands of tourists flock here and even a number cruise ships pull up to the dock.

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Today, I visited the snow-covered community and was able to talk to local residents. One resident loved  how she was fortunate to be surrounded by water from the front and rear of her property. Another couple also liked the peacefulness of the community at this time of year. I was told the Mummer’s also made their presence known in during the holidays.

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L’Anse aux Meadows, like many Newfoundland & Labrador outports’ primary economy is maintained by fishing.

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It has also grown to be a burgeoning centre for tourists. Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site, several thousand visit the open-air museum “Norstead – Viking Village and Port of Trade”, while others frequent the Gaia Art Gallery and experience the fine dining of the Norseman Restaurant.

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To experience North America’s only authentic Norse site, you have to drive Route 430 ‘The Viking Trail” and turn at Route 436 to L’Anse aux Meadows. There are many lovely B&B’s, Cottages, Efficiency Units, Motels, RV Parks, and Heritage Rentals along this route.

It is another truly unique place to experience on the Great Northern Peninsula. Start planning your visit today for summer 2013!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Family Time – Remember when the capelin rolled in…..

I remember the excitement in Green Island Cove when the capelin rolled in the beach one summer around 1991.  It was the year my father made my little dip net. With all the fuss we rushed to the shore to join other members of the community with our buckets and started filling them with our dip nets. You had to be quick, because it was only a matter of time and they would be gone.

My great-great-aunt Lavinia, who turns 98 years-young this year was on the beach that day. She arrived a bit later and didn’t quite have her bucket full, so we helped her top up her catch. She remembers that day and we have talked about it on occasion in my past visits. She’s a lady full of energy and she has a remarkable way of telling a story. I know from our conversations she was always up for a good joke or a bit of fun.

If you ever get the opportunity to see the capelin roll, it’s one of natures wonders. As they rolled around Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove this past summer on the Avalon, it brought droves of locals and tourists alike, creating much traffic congestion.

The capelin – a small forage fish is often the lunch of cod. It is good to see them a plenty. I certainly saw much capelin coming ashore in Englee this past summer. The cod are back and there are giant cod-fish out there.

I have a capelin that was made locally, which I hang on my Christmas tree each year.

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There are many opportunities to show off your talents. The College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus has a glass art studio and Norstead – Viking Village and Port of Trade, L’Anse Aux Meadows has a pottery studio available for us to make unique product. Why not carve and create a capelin mug, bowl, jewelry, Christmas ornament, glass coaster or pendant? We have so many opportunities, potential markets from local shops, craft outlets, on-line, Come Home Year celebrations and a number of cruise ships that visit the area. Now is the time to start marking product, be ready for those who visit and experience The Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

“Here’s to Great Ideas, Great Experiences and a Great Friendship” – 2013

Welcome 2013 – A new year to share with you all, more experiences of the Great Northern Peninsula and rural Newfoundland & Labrador in general.

Before I look forward, I must look back on the year that was. In fact, on the last day of the year I pulled out a book from the shelve my father made me some years ago. It was a Christmas present my cousin gave me in 2011 that I had yet had the opportunity to read. It was, Steve Jobs’ Biography written by Walter Isaacson. I think the sheer size and weight made it a little intimidating, since I’ve yet to complete War & Peace after several attempts. My new role as a politician has not helped my reading for pleasure, as I generally focus on reading reports, news and current affairs. However, since I’ve picked it up, I’ve been reluctant to put it down – even pulling it from my nightstand at 4 AM to continue on. I am fascinated by the creativity, determination, flaws and charisma Jobs had – his influence revolutionized the way we think of the computers, electronics, brand loyalty and consumer behaviour. I’m about halfway through Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and look forward to the next opportunity to pick it up. It’s certainly a worthy read.

I dog-eared page 217, which had the quote:

“Here’s to great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship! John.”

This line resonated with me, because life is truly about this – great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship. I only hope we act on this line more in life.

I reflect on my blog, as a means to share ideas, experiences and a great friendship with the world as well. In 2012, http://www.liveruranlnl.com received more than 100,000 hits across 166 countries around the globe. To me that is exponential growth, since sharing stories, culture, ideas, heritage, landscapes and other experiences would be quite difficult to reach through traditional means, since I live in a community of 167 people, represent a District of less than 9,000 people and live in a Province of just over 500,000 people. I was able to add just 87 posts for a grand total of 339 posts.

I’ll share with you some of this past year’s highlights:

January 2012 (48 posts)

I rang in the New Year in the Capital city of St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador with a Swiss and German friend, whom I met while studying in Prague in 2007.

On January 2nd we visited beautiful Bell Island, had some Dicks’s Fish & Chips and explored. The chilling air would not deter us from experiencing the well-carved coastline.

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My friends and I had ice-fished, mummered, visit Gros Morne National Park, fjords, L’Anse aux Meadows, Norstead, Tea House Hill & Grenfell Historic Properties, Jordi Bonet Murals, Snowmobiling, Screech-ins, Night at the Cabin, North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Joey’s Lookout, Deep Cove Winter Housing site and more. Needless to say January 2012 was quite eventful.

As MHA, I continued to hold Town Hall Meetings, in Conche and Main Brook, as well visited the communities of Wild Bight, North Boat Harbour, Croque and St. Julien’s/Grandois. I called into question the future of the Marystown Fish Plant Facility and repeated calls for the removal and remediation of the Englee fish plant. I also toured GNP Craft Producers, as I continue to advocate for the local marketplace and development of the sealing industry with future value-added products. Also attended pre-budget consultations hosted by Minister Marshall in St. Anthony.

February 2012: (16 posts)

Returned to Cuba.

Served as an opportunity to travel the province with NDP Housing Critic, Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) attending the Housing Roadshow, which started in St. Anthony. This continued to Norris Point, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand-Falls Windsor, Clarenville, St. John’s, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Marystown.

As NDP Fisheries Critic, I joined with three NDP MHA’s to support the picketers at Bay Roberts to oppose scab labour on an offshore vessel.

Gerry & I toured the French Shore Interpretation Centre – getting a view of the 220 foot tapestry designed by the local women of Conche on Jacobian linen. While there I got to purchase an amigurumi seal. It would be during summer that I would meet the creator during the Conche Garden Party Celebration.

We experienced traditional food at Lumberjack’s Landing and also toured Holson Forest Product, getting a demonstration on pellet heating.

Attended a Fisheries Forum

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I returned to Labrador – visiting Happy Valley-Goose Bay with NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. The highlight of my visit was to experience a traditional ride on a pure bred Labrador Husky Dog Team with Northern Lights. A remarkable experience.

March 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly opened on March 5th, 2012. The first time since I was elected on October 11, 2011. I raised issues of air ambulance, Englee Fish Plant removal, alternative fisheries models, fishery research funding, roadwork, cutting small business tax, co-ops, improved broadband, enhanced cellular coverage, 911 service, search & rescue and safe drinking water.

I also attended the Federal NDP Leadership Convention, supporting Thomas Mulcair for Leader. With thousands of New Democrats present in Toronto and 9 candidates, Tom Mulcair was voted Leader of NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition.

April 2012: (4 posts)

I had visited Trinity Bay North, as they had been dealt two economic blows – the closure of the OCI fish plant and sealing plant in 2012. I spoke with locals, visited Seaport Inn, and Coaker Foundation. Port Union is the only “union-built town” in North America.

Easter had me visiting Hockey stadiums – in St. Barbe, Placentia and St. John’s as I cheered on District teams.

Attended the Seal of Approval Dinner to support Seal Industry. NL’s top chefs prepared delicacies.

May 2012: (1 post)

Launched Orange Tent Tour in Corner Brook & attended the Trails, Tales & Tunes Festival

Orange Tent Tour 2012

I also spend many weekends attending graduations in the District.

June 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly continued to sit through the month of June and a number of rural issues continued to pressed including, alternative energy (wind), energy efficiency program for non-profits, agriculture development, fleet separation, lobster co-op, wood cutting permit discounts for seniors, aquaculture, forestry certification, Regional Economic Development Boards, Englee & Sandy Cove fish plants, condition of primary & secondary roads, crown land & land use planning, a host of petitions and a number of other issues.

My first experience with a filibuster – Bill 29: Access to Information, which led to 70 hours of debate. Government passed a bill that increases secrecy and reduces transparency and accountability.

I participated in the annual Iceberg Festival and got to meet the Ennis sisters, Karen & Maureen for the first time. Also, continued to attend graduations in District.

July 2012: (1 post)

  • Participated in Memorial Day events at St. Anthony Legion War Memorial
  • NDP MP Ryan Cleary’s Empty Nets event: 20 Years after the Cod Moratorium
  • Community Meetings: Roddickton-Bide Arm, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet & Flower’s Cove, visted residents of Eddies Cove East
  • Added Salmon Fest with Aerosmith in Grand Falls-Windsor
  • Experienced the South Coast – visiting Bay D’Espoir, Belleoram, St. Alban’s and Harbour Breton.
  • Camped on Brimstone Head on Fogo Island, met Philanthropist & visionary Zita Cobb, visited Seldom, Little Seldom, Fogo, Fogo Central, Joe Batt’s Arm (get Growler’s Ice-cream & eat at Nicole’s Cafe), Tilting and attended Stag Harbour Days

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  • Grand Opening of St. Anthony Come Home Year
  • NDP MHA Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) visits Public Library, College of North Atlantic Campus, meets with residents in St. Lunaire-Griquet
  • Re-opening of L’Anse aux Meadows UNESCO Site with Senator Norm Doyle
  • Visited Green Island Cove & Englee residents
  • Grand Opening of St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove Come Home Year

August 2012 (0 posts):

  • Announcement by Government that Englee Plant would be removed and site re-mediated
Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

  • Grand Opening of Main Brook Come Home Year
  • Visit from NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (Sandy Cove, St. Anthony, Main Brook)
  • Tour of Southern Labrador -Port Hope Simpson, Mary’s Harbour, West St. Modeste, Pinware, Forteau, L’Anse au Loup, L’Anse au Clair
  • Grand Opening of Anchor Point & Deadman’s Cove Come Home Year
  • Attended Canadian Public Accounts Committee Conferece in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Aug 19-21)
  • Joan Simmonds, French Shore Historic Society Presented with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at MHA Tea Party
  • 1st Public Accounts Committee Meeting after 6 years of dormancy

September 2012: (0 Posts)

  • Labour Day with Federation of Labour and St. John’s District Labour Council at Swiler’s Rugby Club
  • 102 NDP MP’s congregate in St. John’s/Hosts Kitchen Party at O’Reilly’s Pub on iconic George Street
  • NDP Municipal Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA St. John’s East) visited Town of Englee, toured Roddickton-Bide Arm, held St. Anthony Public meeting and discussed regionalization in The Straits
  • Guest Speaker at St. Anthony & Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Visited Czech Republic
  • Toured Iceland Fish Plants, Buyer’s Markets, Geothermal Facilities, Gullfoss Waterfalls, Glaciers and many other natural wondersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Spent a weekend in Copenhagen with friends from Switzerland and Sweden. Riding the World’s Oldest Rollercoaster and experiencing the culture
  • Visiting Liverpool and taxi touring the old stomping groups of larger than life Beatles. Spent three days soaking up the culture and enjoyed visiting the Cavern.

October 2012: (6 posts)

  • Participant at the International Fisheries Symposium held in Norris Point by CURRA
  • Reflected on my first year in offices. There were accomplishments and so much more to achieve
  • Suggested opportunities for expanding tourism opportunities
  • Participated in Public Account Committee hearings
  • NDP Convention
  • Re-newed call to support sealing industry. Purchased sealskin coat to show support industry (see pictured below with co-owner, Kerry Shears of Natural Boutique).

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  • Met with protesters from Fortune on the steps of Confederation Building
  • Turned 27
  • Enjoyed Halloween as Professor Plum from Clue, made costumes from a Salvation Army visit. Those who know me well, know I collect Board Games.

November 2012: (10 Posts)

  • Marketing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador dominated the postings
  • Visit to residents of Englee, Great Brehat, Green Island Brook, Pine’s Cove and Shoal Cove East 
  • Attended Remembrance Day Ceremonies & annual hockey tournament in St. Anthony.
  • House of Assembly re-opened November 19th

December 2012: (4 posts)

  • Third ecounter meeting Ennis Sisters. They perform in St. Anthony
  • Participate in the St. Anthony & St. Lunaire-Griquet Christmas Parades with Granny & Mummer’s
  • Attend Straits Regional Fire Department Appreciation Dance
  • Englee Christmas Tree Lighting & Diamond Jubilee Awards to Mayor Rudy Porter and Councillor Robert Keefe.
  • SABRI Christmas Party
  • Filibuster #2 – 86 hours that would run until December 22nd
  • Fisheries Minister sells out Rural Newfoundland & Labrador Friday, December 21st at 7 PM  (http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr122112QuotaSellout)
  • Returned home in time for Christmas Eve, wonderful holidays with my family
  • Record-breaking mummer’s parade with 40 mummer’s participating in 3rd year

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I’ve shared with you a sampling of some of my experiences during 2012. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many rural places on the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador and beyond. Many more than I’ve actually been able to write about; however, I look forward to sharing with you great ideas, great experiences and continue that great friendship in future posts of 2013.

Happy New Year to All -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

REYKJAVIK OPEN AIR MUSEUM ARBAER

During September 2012, I traveled to Iceland on the low-cost orange airline, EasyJet, for less than $200 return from London. I wish there were more direct connections to Rekjavik from Newfoundland & Labrador, as one doesn’t have to go far to find similarities, especially my home of The Great Northern Peninsula.

I’ve talked about open-air museums in previous posts. I value these types of experience so visiting Arbaer Open-Air Museum was an obvious choice. Arbaer is a collection of older homes, representing a working village of the past inclusive of fishers, farmers and significant cultural values.

Typically this is a working village in peak tourism season with more than a dozen workers dressed in period attire and able to share their experiences with the visitor. During the off-season tourists can wander around the open air museum; however, unable to view the interior of the buildings. They do offer once a day, a tour at 1:30 PM. I arrived a few minutes late, was told that the I could catch the tour at the farm houses on the corner. I hurried down to what I thought looked like a farm-house, only to crash a lecture given to students of architecture. Needless, to say, we shared a good laugh and off to the farm I went (farmhouse depicted above).

In passing, there were sheep, Icelandic horses, chickens, pigs and other livestock.

The interior of the farmhouse illustrated how the older homes were built and insulated. The farm animals were kept in a compartment of the house, partly for warmth. We were able to see the cooking areas, stables and where the workers slept.

Inside the main house was typical living quarters of dining, one upstairs bedroom for all and a kitchen with cast iron stove. Below the iron is a cast iron waffle maker, has anyone seen one in Newfoundland & Labrador?

The tour continued to other small homes. These were typically fishers. The people on the corner are the architectural students, which I crashed their class earlier, measuring the home. The interior was quaint but had all the necessities.

After visiting the farm house, farm, multiple homes and a large warehouse filled with a period model of the city, transportation elements, including one of the island’s two locomotives the tour concluded. For more information visit http://www.nat.is/Museums/reykjavik_arbaejarsafn.htm.

I had the opportunity to ask many questions, feeling much richer about Icelandic culture and way of living.  I had mentioned to the guide that we have a similar open air museum called “Norstead – Viking Village & Port of Trade”. During summer, one can visit L’Anse aux Meadows and live like a viking. Maybe we can create a network of Norse sites?

I was able to sit in the Chieftain’s chair, hold his sword and drink mead. Visit http://www.norstead.com for more information. I’ve been to this site many times and so have thousands of others.

You too can find your route to the Vikings on the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador just minutes from North America’s only authentic Viking site, L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Site. A must see if visiting and learning our rural ways.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Man on the Ice: The Rex Saunders Story

This summer I met Rex Saunders at the St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove Come Home Year as I circled the tables of crafts, baked goods, artwork and books. I was impressed by Mr. Saunder’s youthful manner as he started telling me about his story, which encompasses his life experience, from childhood in St. Leonard’s (today’s St. Lunaire) to a bout with near death on the ice flows. Along with many other registered guests, I was able to purchase a signed copy that day and chat with the author.

Good Luck. God Bless.  -Rex Saunders

I met Mr. Saunders again a week later at the Main Brook Come Home Year Celebration. I had still yet to read his book and certainly did not realize his strong connection to the community. His family had moved the family there for employment and Mr. Saunders attended school in Main Brook as a small boy. The Town was bustling of activity, as it was home to many lumber camps. I’ve heard my own grandfather recant stories of his days at Bowaters.

Later in summer on Nightline with guest host, Bill Rowe, Mr. Saunders spoke of his story and talked about the sealing expedition that ended up in a fight for survival. I was in the queue, noting I had a copy and commended Mr. Saunders for getting his story on paper and published for others to experience for themselves.

I have since completed his story and I have to say, I am impressed with the simple writing style, colourful language that at times certainly brought a smile. I could relate many of the stories Mr. Saunders was telling of growing up as a curious child to those of family life, to stories that of my recently passed grandfather would often tell. It is truly important to document oral history before it is too late. We must make greater efforts to write about of family history, heritage, culture and way of life in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. I won’t go into detail about his sealing expedition because you truly need to read it for yourself, but I will say, I do understand why Mr. Saunders signed my book, “Good Luck, God Bless”.

During trying times, having faith can go a very long way. I thank Mr. Saunders for also putting into his book many photos including those of his fishing boats, his homemade ice fishing shelter and living off the land and sea. You can order your own copy on-line or purchase an e-book at the following link: http://www.flankerpress.com/man_ice.shtml. This book is an excellent short read, just in time for the holidays!

Thank you Rex Saunders for sharing your rural life with us! We all have a story to tell, so grab your pens and paper or just click the keys on your laptop to share with the world.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Show Your Support for the Canadian Seal Hunt

Seals are a valuable natural resource, and the seal harvest is an economic mainstay for numerous rural communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North. As a time-honoured tradition, Canada’s seal harvest supports many coastal families who can derive as much as 35% of their annual income from this practice. (Department of Fisheries & Oceans, http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm).

My father was a sealer, his father before him, his father’s father on down the family line since the early 1800′s. Like many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s the commercial seal hunt added to the viability of rural living, providing an additional source of income as the meat and pelts were sold to merchants to be shipped to the European marketplace.

The seal was a way of life for us. The meat was eaten, sometimes preserved. The flipper is still considered a seasonal delicacy today. Seal fat was rendered for oil to provide light for lamps. It’s interesting how the seal hunt correlated with the Industrial Revolution in Europe to provide much-needed oils, yet today the product is being banned. The seal skin was also used for clothing. I still have my seal skin boots from 14 Christmas’ ago. It was the last pair my father bark-tanned before his passing. I continue to wear them proudly.

We have a history that must be shared as we made and continue to make our “Home from the Sea”. This past winter I attended the Seal of Approval Dinner, where 5 of Newfoundland and Labrador‘s Top Chefs served up a menu of seal dishes, including seal oil ice-cream. Look out Ben & Jerry’s, as my mouth still waters at the thought of getting another scoop. The Home from the Sea Campaign is raising money to build a Sealer’s Memorial and Interpretation Centre in Elliston, NL (root cellar capital of the world). If you would like to read more or donate visit: http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

Home from the Sea: Seal of Approval Dinner

 I believe seal meat should be available as a specialty item at our grocery stores and served at local restaurants, especially in tourist season. Whenever I travel to other countries I try localize food as much as possible. Last month in Iceland I tried Puffin with blueberry sauce. Moose burgers, stews, soups and poutine is a big hit, why not seal?

I’ve purchased a seal skin tie, multiple pairs of slippers, gloves, purse and a belt at GNP Craft Producers, visit www.gnpcraft.com to view their on-line store. As well, own a bark tanned wallet designed by Sabrina Lisa and bark tanned business card holder given as a gift too. While on Fogo Island at the Wind & Waves Artisan’s Guild, Joe Batt’s Arm, I bought a sealskin compact and seal skin cufflinks. The product possibilities are near endless.

On October 20th, 2o12 I visited NaturaL Boutique, which is operated by two locals from Rocky Harbour on the Great Northern Peninsula. They have a variety of what I would consider to be more modern seal apparel. You can visit their store at 152 Water Street, St. John’s, NL. They also have a booth set-up at the Avalon Mall in preparation for the Christmas Season. Their website is www.naturalboutique.ca.

I purchased a seal skin jacket from NaturaL Boutique, shown below with co-owner, Kerry Shears.

I will wear it proudly as I continue to support the Canadian Seal Hunt, the sealers who risks their lives each year as they take to the ice as well as the local artisans and crafters. We have a history and a future of sealing in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Let’s continue to show our support for the industry.

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

Our Historic Raleigh in Newfoundland (not North Carolina)

Hockey fans may be well aware of the Carolina Hurricane’s home base of Raleigh since 1997. However, that Raleigh is not to be confused with our Historic Raleigh near the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Historic Raleigh is a tiny fishing village of less than 200, formerly known as Ha Ha Bay. A place to visit when you trek the Viking Trail Route 430 en route to L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site.

On a summer visit to Raleigh one will see the beauty of Pistolet Bay - including the many wharves and stages, painted fishermen red scattered along the shoreline. The fishing activity in this Town has been in decline since the cod morotorium of 1992 and so is the population with the closure of the school in 2007. We’re continuing to lobby for a cellular tower in the region to service Cook’s Harbour, Raleigh, St. Lunaire-Griquet, L’Anse Aux Meadows and surrounding communities and waterways. However, there are bright spots for those wishing to get-a-way from it all.

For the avid camper, Pistolet Bay has a well-maintained Provincial Park just outside the Town. As well, there are efficiency units, cabins and fishing rooms one can overnight once in Raleigh. Tours can be arranged to understand more about the fishing and culture of the area. A visit to Raleigh will not be complete without a stop at Taylor’s Carvings where 3rd and 4th generation carvers display their unique skill set.

For the nature lover – one must visit the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. The area boasts several species of plants found nowhere else on earth except Burnt Cape. There are three dozen rare plants surrounding the Cape. When in Raleigh you can watch passing icebergs, find fossils, spot wildlife and if your lucky, you may even get a boat ride! As well, in winter, Raleigh is an excellent location for ice fishing.

This tiny Town may be small in population, but it is full of authentic life experiences. Take some time to talk to the locals and if your lucky you may even get to share a story and cup of coffee with the dynamic Mayor.

Put Historic Raleigh, Newfoundland & Labrador on you list of places to visit when you make your plans to travel to the rock. You will not leave disappointed.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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

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

Where have all the Vikings gone?

L’Anse Aux Meadows is home to a World UNESCO Heritage Site – as the Vikings came more than 1,000 years ago to a place they called “Vinland“. To celebrate the new millennium and 1,000 years of history a non-profit entity of Norstead was established. It is near the UNESCO site further on Route 436, a sign will guide you down a short gravel road to a Viking Village and Port of Trade. I travel there several times throughout the summer, it should also be on your list.

Norstead has a really cool landscape as it is nestled in its own little part of the cove. The ocean and  islands are forever in the backdrop, making for a photographer’s paradise.

My European friends are posing by a symbolic rock that has an image of the viking ship. The long sod covered building in the background is home to the Snorri. The boat house boasts a life-size replica and was actively sailed from Scandinavia, Greenland, Markland and finally Vinland. During the summer season you would be greeted by the colourful Lambi, all too willing to explain the ship and viking life.

The Viking church and forge are part of the Village. During summer one will find the Blacksmith hammer out some nails, a sword, helmet or other necessary item to survive in rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the year 1,000.

I would make a pretty serious blacksmith’s assistant. I am not sure I have the look of the Vikings though with all that British and Irish Ancestry.

The Vikings and the animals that spend late-Spring until early Fall have all gone. The site is quiet during the winter. I would imagine the Vikings 1,000 years ago found the weather on the Great Northern Peninsula extremely harsh.

As we walk away, we know there is a valuable experience waiting for the everyday visitor. Be sure to visit Norstead on your next time on the Viking Trail Highway, Route 430.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

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


Polar Bear Visited St. Anthony, NL…Many Moons Ago

This was not the first or the last Polar Bear to find its way into the Town of St. Anthony on the Peninsula`s Northern Tip.

The bear is quite impressive in size as my friend stands at over 6 feet in height. I had taken the time to read the article again which made the Northern Pen Newspaper many moons ago. There is a back story as to how it ended up being preserved and how it died. I won`t spoil it for you, but recommend if you are in Town to visit the preserved bear at the Town Hall during regular business hours.

This is about as close as I`d like to come with a Polar Bear.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Where the Norse settled 1,000+ years ago…

This is where the Norse lived more than 1,000 years ago. The remains of houses, workshops and outer buildings are present by the impressions still left in the ground. Imagine living in L’Anse aux Meadows and having to withstand the harsh winter climate. Today this is a Parks Canada and World UNESCO Heritage Site which in season has more than 30,000 visitors.

A look from the mounds one can see a re-constructed site, where one can get educated on a day in the life of a Viking. This was my first time visiting during the winter. It was bitterly cold, as the wind came from the water. If I was living as a Viking, I would stay near the fire or make sure I was wearing my sealskin boots (they probably used sheep skin).

The Great Northern Peninsula is home to many firsts – including the Norse being the first to re-discover North America, as Native people were already inhabiting this island. We have a connection to many parts of Europe as a point of first contact with the Basque coming in the 1500′s, Captain James Cook, the French, English, and Irish settlers shortly thereafter. We have a long-standing history from the First Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-eskimo, Groswater-Eskimo and recent Indians to the point when Europeans came to North America. The proof is at L’Anse aux Meadows, NL on the Great Northern Peninsula – you may want to find yourself here too!

This site has been showcased in the Province’s Award-Winning Tourism Ads – you too may want to find yourself exploring the Viking Trail, Route 430 and experiencing what life was like living as a Viking more than 1,000 years ago.

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

 

Does Anyone Know the Story behind this Snowmobile?

A miniature replica of an old snowmobile was displayed on the yard in the Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet while I was searching for the Petermann Ice Island! I passed by this item, but was told to take a snap.

Does anyone know the history behind this piece of art?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

 

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