Category Archives: Vacations

Icebergs dominate the coastline on the tip of Great Northern Peninsula

As ice remains a pressing problem for our fishers, with delays in the opening of some of our fisheries, it also sets the expectation that this will likely be another banner year for icebergs on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is always fascinating to see the number of people travelling to L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Lunaire-Griquet, St. Anthony, Goose Cove, Conche and Englee to get incredible close up views of icebergs.

In 2011, we had the Peterman Ice Island land here in Goose Cove. An incredible sight!

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Yesterday, I walked along the shores of my own community of Green Island Cove. It reminded me of a Fall vacation to Iceland, with glaciers and the magnificent sight of ice break-up on a day without a draft of wind.

A little further North on the Peninsula in St. Lunaire-Griquet and surrounding areas, icebergs have their full presence. They are right on time, given the Annual Iceberg Festival begins in on June 6th and lasts until the 15th.  You can visit the Facebook “The Iceberg Festival” where the photos below were taken (Photo credit T. Burden) www.facebook.com/IcebergFestival

The Great Northern Peninsula is coined as “Iceberg Alley”. You’ll want to be here during the 9 day festival (Schedule at http://theicebergfestival.ca), but it not be sure to visit throughout the Iceberg Season! The Great Northern Peninsula will not disappoint.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

Sailing the Mediterranean with my European Amigos!

On August 15th, I departed the rock on an adventure planned many months in advance. One has to do that if you want to use these things called Aeroplan points to travel on the cheap to far away lands. Over the course of these months, I have been quite excited to travel back to Italy, this time the small island of Sardinia and experience a week of sailing for the first time – with the most wonderful friends in the world.

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The Milk Run meant flying from Deer Lake to St. Johns to London to Munich to Olbia. I know when I arrived more than a day and many time zones later I was ready for sleep. The Grand President Hotel would be my resting place for the night, but I would not immediately sleep as they placed me on the top floor on the corner with an amazing view of the port, cruise ships, ferries and the aqua park. Below me, people were playing a friendly game of beach volleyball, the cheers were coming from an amusement ride and for the Canadian traveler, imagine hearing the sounds of Celine Dion from the stage. There was much vigor and life in this small town of Olbia. After soaking in the sights and sounds, I would peacefully drift off to sleep and would be greeted by my friends the next day.

After an amazing hotel breakfast my German friend and I played a friendly game of chess in the hotel lobby. He planned to continue his winning streak from the giant chess match-up in Cuba; however, it was not meant to be in Italy. During this game and others, I was able to come out victorious. Next time Old Sport, next time. We went grocery shopping, along the way we passed a small market and even an Esso gas station. We picked up a lot of groceries :) and made our way to pick up our sailboat. I was very happy with the name of our boat - RELAX. It is so important to just step away from the world sometimes and relax – it is good for the body and good for the soul. It was my first time sailing – I highly recommend. We left Portisco to various places including entering French waters near the island of Corsica.

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Re-united again! We all first met in the Czech Republic in 2007 on an exchange at the University of Economics. We’ve all remained friends ever since and have travelled to places like Switzerland, Denmark, Cuba, Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland), Ireland, Italy, France & Czech Republic having many random adventures.

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Although it took me awhile to recover from jet leg and feeling very congested, I had a wonderful week on the water seeing hundreds of sailboats, yachts, fishing vessels, cruise ships, sailing school and other pleasure crafts. The feel of just moving with the wind is amazing. The view scapes of the Italian coastline and houses built on cliffs is just leaves you in wonder. Each marina has something unique to offer. Each time we stopped at port, I had to ensure I ate “gelato” or Italian ice-cream or a double espresso.

The goggle photo will always have me think of the Minions, every time a second anchor drops and the humor they can bring to any situation. This is only the snapshot of more than 1,000 photos taken throughout the week.

From rowing the rubber dingy, making giant sand castles, swimming (albeit miserably at sea), playing cards, chess and other games, catching a few laughs and reminiscing about the good ol’ days made me realize how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends and how we were able to each share the tasks of cooking, dishes, weather, anchor drinks, safety, mechanical, supply and treasury in such close quarters and not kill one another. As well, Marcel certainly knows how to crack a coconut and make a feast that fits with the climate. It was also a great experience to sleep under the stars, while anchored in the bay.

One can only imagine how quickly a week can fly by when with a great group of friends having an adventure on a sail boat in the Mediterranean. Far too fast!  I ended up staying after my friends left almost another week before returning to the rock, enjoying Italian food, sun and surroundings. I do look forward to sailing again with Skipper Reto and sailors Tobias, David and Marcel. I waited a year for the vacation that truly was – like all the others it’s been a slice!

Take time to plan adventures with your friends. And always, live rural!

 

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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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Bell Island has many stories to tell…

Bell Island has murals that tell stories around the communities. I am always impressed by those that have murals or art on their buildings. I think our communities on the Great Northern Peninsula could paint murals on Town Buildings, Public spaces, sheds and other areas that tell our storied past that built our region.

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One can clearly see a mural on the Wabana Fire Department. This Department in recent weeks celebrated 100 years in operations. This centennial is a milestone! There have been many fires over the years on Bell Island and many brave souls that have stepped up to put those fires out. We have to commend our volunteer firefighters in Newfoundland & Labrador. They do an amazing service and are on call 24/7 without pay.

I love the geography, geology and views of Bell Island. They are just impressive. There are lots of sea caves, caverns and old mine shafts, given the iron ore mines ran for more than 70 years.

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The lighthouse on Bell Island, has been moved from its original location. As you can see its current placement is not along shores edge. There is Transport Canada signs warning of unstable rock in the area. I do hope this site gets renovated to become a fully operational tourist attraction. I feel all nostalgic for all things rural when I see a lighthouse and recognize the important role they played for safety. I only hope we see Flower’s Island Lighthouse become a fully functional tourist attraction near Flower’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula.

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Bell Island, like any region of our province has many stories to tell. I hope you and others take the time to visit this area, as well as the Great Northern Peninsula on your next visit.

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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

 

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

Budget devastating for tourism industry: Mitchelmore

NDP Tourism, Culture and Recreation Critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA The Straits-White Bay North) is appalled by government’s lack of vision for generating additional revenues from International tourists, demonstrated by the backwards step taken with slashes to its award-winning marketing budget by nearly $4 Million, wiping out years of successive gains.

“At Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Annual Conference, Tourism Minister Terry French touted the $1 Billion dollars in revenue the industry contributes to the economy,” said Mitchelmore. “This feel-good speech did not highlight that most of this revenue is generated from the domestic market and that we are failing make gains in high-yield international markets to reach our goal of $1.6 Billion by 2020.”

Mitchelmore attended a Tourism Town Hall and listened to a presentation by Tourism Industry Association of Canada highlighting the public policy challenges inhibiting tourism growth: marketing, access and product.

Hospitality NL is adapting its Assurance Program to elevate standards of programs and service. They are doing their role to develop product, while the government is pulling back on marketing and even access. The Department of Innovation, Business & Rural Development has completely eliminated the budgetary line item of $4 million in funding for the province’s Air Access Strategy.

“Increases to ferry rates, $500 fees for new business start-ups and 20% increases in out-patients rates for health services to non-residents will all hurt the growth of an industry that impacts every region of Newfoundland & Labrador, particularly rural areas,” said Mitchelmore.

“It is clear to me the Ministers of Tourism and IBRD are taking the same approach as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to rural communities — ensuring there is no viability and sustainability.”

http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr032713TourismSlashes

 

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Free Falling…from an airplane (not to be confused with the Tom Petty song).

I’m not sure how many politicians can say this, but I certainly enjoyed free falling from an airplane in 2007

I just got off the telephone with my former room-mate while I was studying in Prague, Czech Republic. It is always nice to hear from old friends.

On a such a cold day on the Northern Peninsula, it gave me the opportunity to revisit some of my travels and adventures in the Fall of 2007. It’s always nice to take a stroll down memory lane…from the Nation2Nation celebrations, drinks at the Academic Club, $1 slices of pizza en route to the university, Tram #9, dancing at the 5 floor disco, Palac Flora shopping centre, booking one of the two washing machines in a building of 16 floors with no dryers to eating at “steakie”.

One of the biggest highlights was my experience “free falling” when I jumped from an airplane some 4,000+ metres over a rural village in Prague. A group of students from England, America, Canada and parts of Europe took the train and then piled into this little airplane to experience skydiving for the first time.

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After getting all suited up we were very enthusiastic about the thrill we would were about to get. I decided to capture the memory with a video. I’ve watched it a few times since. The words of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck plays in the background. From my last post, you know I’m a fan of The Beatles but I also like Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and also AC/DC.

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I can not describe the experience of just falling at over 130 KM per hour from the sky. I will say I do not think I’ve ever felt so alive. It’s also a great feeling when the parachute pops open and you gently float and make for a safe landing. :)

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My time in Prague had a significant impact on my life and I have returned three times since 2007 to this beautiful central European city that has a rich culture and history, that combines with modern flare.

Life is all about experiences. At 27 years old, I reflect on the times before me and look forward to my next random adventures – because life was made for living. If you have a “bucket” list you may want to add experiencing the Great Northern Peninsula where the Norse were the first Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago. It was a place where the Basque, French, English, Irish, recent Indians and Maritime Archaic Indians lived before us dating back more than 5,000 years. There is a rich legacy of co-operation and advancing health care under the leadership of Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, a natural landscape that includes the last of the Appalachian Mountains, unique lifestyle and incredible people you have yet to meet.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Live Rural NL blogger visits Penny Lane

There are places I remember, all my life…the Great Northern Peninsula will be one of those places. The line is from one of my favorite  songs, “In My Life” by the Beatles. For many years now I’ve love their music, but certainly didn’t appreciate Paul McCartney’s stance with former wife, Heather Mills-McCartney about the Canadian seal hunt in 2006. I will continue to support this humane hunt; it has been a tradition in my family for centuries as a means of both income, subsistence and necessity.

After living in Europe during 2007, I travelled nearly 30 countries but did not make it to Liverpool, UK. It would be 5 years later, September 2012 that I would walked Penny Lane.

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While on a taxi tour with an American, Aussie and two die-hard seniors from New Zealand got a get day trip experiencing many facts about the Beatles, former residences, milestone moments in the city and where they got inspiration for many of their sounds. It had to have been the best 10 pounds I spent, unless one counts the pints of English ale.

In Penny there is a Barber Shop…we had the opportunity to stop in and say hello.

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Strawberry Fields Forever…nothing to get hung about despite what John’s Aunt had told him.

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A visit to the church yard to see all the lonely people – Eleanor Rigby Father McKenzie (Vicar McKenzie)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, yellow submarine…

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This one was belted out from all of us while on the taxi tour. We’ve played a few of these tunes at home on the Great Northern Peninsula on the Beatles edition of Rockband. I’m typically the drummer, but certainly can not compare to Ringo Starr. It’s pretty inspiring when music crosses generations. I like many of the bands my parents did and my mother will even chime in with her rendition of eight days a week on Rockband. I’m not sure that we will sell any platinum albums, but we certainly know how to have fun.

There is something wonderful and uplifting about music. We certainly have that ability in Newfoundland & Labrador to write, play and sing about our way of life through our traditional Newfoundland folk music. Where do you get your inspiration? For me, I get inspired by the sights, sounds and people around me and write about them on this blog, liveruralnl.com.

I later toured the museum of The Beatles Story, which had memorabilia, story boards and displays tracing the group through the years.

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That evening I decided to visit the Cavern, where The Beatles would perform in their early years. Live music was played covering many of my choice Beatles songs.

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A wonderful evening. I met two Brits, who worked for the Red Cross (one who resembled a local Telegram reporter) and a Spanish lady as we traced the footsteps of the Beatles after the band finished at the Cavern. We would go to the Grapes and chat with other locals. It made for a memorable last evening in Liverpool. The Beatles story is a magical experience and I would recommend to fans, if you can  take the time to visit this modern-day city.

It is amazing sometimes how you can live in a place, as I did in London and not take the time to visit Liverpool. However, I am not richer for having had the experience and most likely the wait made me appreciate it even more. For those of you that have yet to experience the Great Northern Peninsula, I encourage you to come to the very Northern Tip…it is well worth the experience, maybe you too will find your inspiration around every corner.

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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.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Tourism tips from Copenhagen

I had visited Aarhus, Denmark, in 2007. Being the second largest city, the  influx of young people and students pursuing education make it a natural place for cultural activities and meetings spaces, which include cafes, theatres, museums, social spaces, concerts and festivals. Additionally, it has a history of Viking culture dating back to the 7th Century. I live near L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site where the Vikings were the first known Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago (Read more at Parks Canada www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/index.aspx). Therefore, I was interested in visiting the Viking Museum, which was in a small room in the basement of a financial institution. The city had much to offer, so much that I planned a vacation to return to Europe in 2012 that incorporated this country and Iceland as I pursued some further exploration of the Viking.

A weekend in Copenhagen with a Swiss and Swede proved to be quite exciting, from walking the waterfront to riding the world’s oldest roller coaster in Tivoli, it was more than memorable. I’ve selected a few images, which I thought would get the movers and shakers of the Great Northern Peninsula thinking of new ways to share our unique experiences.

A walk through a park incorporated a number of notable figures. It was interesting to see the bar code by the statue’s nameplate, highlighting a simple scan of a tablet or mobile device would link to a website with more information about the attraction, history and artist. This use of technology is adaptive and  tapping into the new wave of tourist. Websites can list additional information and can be translated in many languages, which is far more limiting with storyboards and panels. However, you need to have basic telecommunications infrastructure to fully utilize this marketing initiative.

Just across the courtyard at the castle, prior to entering there was a sign. It notes, “if you have a similar 2-D scanner you can scan your way through the castle, or explore just a little bit more. Throughout the castle are stickers, that reveal a small story.”

The Town of St. Anthony in partnership with Grenfell Historic Properties may want to consider adopting this technology given the number of tourists and good cellular coverage. Additionally, Parks Canada’s L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site and Norstead – Viking Village & Port of Trade would also benefit, yet they have less desirable or nil cellular coverage.

On the waterfront there is a Speakers Corner set up. This is a simple offering, but certainly one of which we stopped and delivered compelling speeches on issues. There is an Agree section and a Disagree section where people can stand. It may be fun to take a minute or two with friends or group of passer-bys. Whatever the case, this simple addition is a photo-op waiting to happen.

The iconic 4 foot little Mermaid statue is nearly 100 years old and a relative long walk from city centre. Yet, a place tourists flock to get a snap. A simple statue has created economic spin-offs that have local venders, buskers selling miniatures, postcards and another reason to visit. Manneken Pis is another small iconic statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain in Brussels, Belgium. The statue gets dressed in costumes several times a week. While in Brussels in 2007 I paid admission to the museum which is home to the hundreds of past articles of clothing inspired by countries all over the world he has worn. The Canadian outfit was past Montreal Canadians hockey attire. If we get creative we can develop unique economic spin-offs. People may want to purchase a souvenir of this small statue wearing their countries clothing or begin a collection of their own.

Volkswagen hosted a two person racing competition in the street. There were line-ups of people wanting to participate. The business community can sponsor an event, get involved to promote their products and services.

Every place I visit, either large or small has a unique offering. I get inspired by visiting new places, talking with new people and encourage you to do the same. The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique product – if you choose to visit, you surely will take away memories that last a lifetime.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Central Park – New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

The view from all around is amazing.

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

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

Live Rural NL -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

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

A Walk on Wall Street – New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Beauty by the Sea – Deep Cove, NL

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Sealskin Snowshoes – Perfect for the Great Outdoors

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

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

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

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

At my office I have a plaque that reads:

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Newfoundland Squeezebox – Accordion

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Feed of Moose Meat in the Woods

A little salt and a shake of pepper at the flavour to savour as I cook the moose patties and thin moose steaks. The result – A double moose cheese burger, steak and well we had some hash browns as a side. This is not a menu item you will find at McDonalds or other fast food chains in Newfoundland & Labrador. If you are lucky you may find a restaurant or two that actually sells moose on the menu. This is surely not for lack of demand. Moose Burgers are a hot item at Jackladder Gas Station outside Deer Lake on Route 430 or the MayFlower Inn & Adventures, Roddickton, NL.

Since we had an extra burger we opted to share between the three, creating the 1/3 burger not the 1/3 pounder or 1/4 pounder but the 1/3 burger. Maybe these will catch on with a toothpick as a party appetizer?

The Great Northern Peninsula would not be the place it is today without a feed of moose. We have to be careful, and may need to reduce licences in the Straits-White Bay North as moose are getting scarce. Even in the Moose Capital of the World – Roddickton, there are fewer and fewer moose.

If you get the opportunity when visiting, try a moose burger! Why are moose not being ranched to produce moose meat for retail at supermarkets and restaurants on a larger scale, without impacting the annual hunt?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Royal Screech-In from the woods

There is a rite of passage for those who visit Newfoundland & Labrador and want to be an honorary citizen – this ritual is known as the Screech-in.

I brought this custom to the Czech Republic as part of the Canadian Nation to Nation celebration in 2007. With 1500 people at the Face2Face Club, some dressed in Halloween Customs (myself a Canadian Mountie), enjoying pancakes with maple syrup, nanaimo bars, Ceasers and lots of trick or treat items. The visitors were given a presentation of all-things Canadian and then a game was played. The Canadian Lumberjack Challenge for Honorary Citizenship:

Round 1 – Three Individuals chug a bottle of Canadian Maple Syrup

Round 2 -Two Individuals chugging a giant Molson Canadian Beer

Round 3 – Had myself as Captain Jack and my trusty assistant Sparrow deliver a Screech-in wearing a poncho and yellow rubber boots. We determined the stage was owned temporarily by the Newfoundlanders, which permitted the Screech-in ceremony. As the person completed the tasks he was made an honorary Newfoundlander. In turn, because Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 – he would also be an honorary Canadian.

This was the first visit to Newfoundland and Labrador for my German friend, my Swiss friend had been before and was Screeched-in at Christians Bar on George Street. It was my pleasure to break out the South Wester and let the ceremony begin. My first from the woods…

Each Screech-in ceremony has a few variations depending on who is delivering it. I always ask “where ya from?”  “Do you want to be a Newfoundlander?”

We begin by talking like a Newfoundlander and throwing out a few lines. After talking like a Newfoundland. I ask ‘em to get down on their ‘knucks. It typically gets a puzzled look. After a few repeated requests they get down on their knees.

Then they get the stamp of the Newfoundland map drawn on their forehead. Since, I was in the cabin, I improvised with an ice candle (icicle). Then I usually take the salt water and baptize them; however, in this case I used pond water.

Next we sang a tune and danced a little jig. After talking, dancing and being christened, next the person must dress like a Newfoundlander.

Since we were in the forest, I did not have my trusty rubber suit, rubber boots or hat. Instead I handed over my South Wester’ hat and had him put on my wooden rackets (snowshoes w/sealskin). I was not handing over my sealskin boots, belt or wallet.

After looking like a Newfoundlander – one must eat like a Newfoundlander…First Newfie Steak which is bologna.

Normally, I’d have some Purity Rum n’ Butter Kiss candies (quintessentially,  from Newfoundland & Labrador). Instead this time, I included my Swiss friend and he handed over a Lindt chocolate ball.

Next is the Screech Rum! Before we drink though – we always get the person to say:

“Indeed it is me ol’ cock and long may your big jib draw”  - I point out my translation:

“indeed it is’:  here we are

“my ol’ cock”: cock comes from Olde English meaning buddy or friend. So: my old friend

jib: sail of a ship

draw: gust of wind

If a good gust of wind hits a sail of a ship, one will have smooth sailing.

Translation: Here we are my old friend, smooth sailing.

Leave it too a Newfoundlander to made a long and fancy way of saying cheers!

Down the hatch. Next comes the Kissing of the Cod. Now since the moratorium in 1992, it is quite difficult to get a cod fish. I won’t get on a rant about that today. So instead we used a whitefish or smelt that was caught by us a few days prior.

The facial expressions are priceless…Pucker Up

After completing all the tasks, my friend has been granted the rite of passage by the Royal Order of Screechers – presented his certificate of being an honorary Newfoundlander.

If you come to rural Newfoundland & Labrador, check with the local pubs. If you are not successful, look me up as I would be happy to conduct the Screech-in ceremony, so you too can be an Honorary Newfoundlander.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Cabin in the Countryside

One of the many wonders of living in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is the ability to get away from it all by venturing across the highway on a snowmobile and heading to the cabin – even if it is only 5 or 10 minutes away and still has access to cell coverage.

I am grateful to my aunt and uncle for letting me stay at their cabin. It was my first time in the woods and on snowmobile in years. There is something wonderful about being surrounded by trees, snow, the old wood stove crackling and pond water boiling to have a spot of tea.

This was my two friends first experience in a Newfoundland cabin and on snowmobile. I hope they enjoyed riding around the pond and trail that evening. I did not realize how the snow on the trees were something that one had not seen before, as in Switzerland the snow would blow away from the limbs. My friend had taken several images.

The woods is the perfect get-a-way. I understand why many ruralites go to the cabin for the weekend to really enjoy the beauty of nature. The warmth from the wood stove made for great conversation as we planned out a supper of moose meat and a Screech-in.

If you have the opportunity, spend some time in nature and truly appreciate the peacefulness and wonder of it all.

Stay tuned for more tales from the forest.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Lovely L’Anse Aux Meadows – Population under 30


L’Anse aux Meadows has a population under 30 – although not by years of age but by people. It is a quaint little community that is truly nestled at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is home to Norstead – Viking Village and Port of Trade, the Norseman Restaurant (Fine Dining) and the Gaia Art Gallery, as well a World UNESCO Heritage Site that was incorporated in 1978.

During the winter, the traffic is much less and the town is even quieter. As we drove around a community of less than 30 we say some snow hardened and clinging to rocks, it could not possibly be an iceberg at this time of year.

The shed depicted below, no doubt that of a fisherman as the splitting table is still present on the private wharf. It is nice to see these structures maintained. They become less and less around our shorelines as storms have wreaked havoc on many causing much hardship.  Also, there is an impressive rack of antlers over the door.


L’Anse aux Meadows is not a question of if I visit, but when and how? There are cruise ships that dock at the wharf with planned excursions, access by car and air (St. Anthony Airport or Deer Lake Regional Airport). This place may be just what you need to truly live Rural.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

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

 

Weather is unpredictable in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador

My friends from Europe quickly found out how the weather can change on the Great Northern Peninsula. There were days when it felt like we experienced the Four Seasons – and I am not talking hotels.

I think gloves were probably in order?

The ice can quickly build as temperatures can be warm to freezing at almost any moment. There were days on the vacation when my friends could see the Strait of Belle Isle start freezing. Although, it is not  until late February or early March that the pack ice typically block the Straits. It often boggles my mind why the Labrador Ferry does not continue its run to St. Barbe longer than mid-January?

I will have to settle for the beads of ice on my Honda Civic and stare at the power of the ocean – while I dream of the warm sandy beaches of the South. This is just the beginning of the snow, ice and outdoor amusement.

Winter is incredible for the outdoors enthusiast on the Great Northern Peninsula, just make sure you have an ice scraper and brush in your vehicle as it will come in handy.

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


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