Category Archives: Community Economic Development

Live like a Fisher at Raleigh Historical Village

Visitors to the Great Northern Peninsula can live and work like the traditional ways of a fishing family at Raleigh Historical Village in Raleigh, off Route 436. 

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For a modest fee you can overnight in the red fishing rooms, that have bunk beds with handmade quilts for your comfort. There is a shared kitchen to have a mug up and of course, there are outhouses. The main building does offer shower facilities. For larger groups prepared meals can be arranged. Classes can also be booked to learn the art of rug hooking and other traditional craft production. Boat tours and walks on the historic wharf and fishing rooms are available. Options of learning about splitting fish, mending nets and making oars are also some of the many things you can do.

This social enterprise is another key tourism asset we have on the Great Northern Peninsula and provides the adventure and cultural tourism that people want. One can learn at this site and just a short distance away is the Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade, where you can live like a viking and have unique cultural tourism experiences as well. This site is an anchor attraction that is approaching 10,000 annual visitors and is just a stones throw away from L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Site (only authenticated Norse site in North America – 1,000+ years old). A great means to package, partner and promote our unique tourism offerings. A week will not be long enough to see all we have to offer!

Raleigh has historic fishing rooms, lots of wharves, boats, gardens and viewing areas. If you are unable to make it this season, I highly recommend you begin planning and pre-book for next year. Your family adventure awaits at http://www.raleighhistoricvillage.com/

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

 

 

 

Mussel Festival Growing Exponentially in St. Lunaire-Griquet!

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The St. Lunaire-Griquet Mussel Festival was founded at the grassroots last year, as a hardworking committee wanted to give back to their community and celebrate with music, locally grown mussels and lots of activities. It was a pleasure to be in attendance and walk the grounds on Friday. 

I was impressed by the extremely professional set-up of the bandstand, grounds, picnic tables, kiosks, ticket booth, signage, banners and washroom facilities. The organizing committee had improved upon last years start to host a first class festival. Everything was perfect, right down to the bountiful sunshine. 

Opening ceremonies included all you can eat delicious SABRI mussels boiled in saltwater, lassy bread and hotdogs. There was a cake cutting, speeches and bountiful local entertainment. Youth had set up business and so had a number of local retailers and craftspeople. The nights brought lots of dancing and conversations, when mornings included Teddy Bear picnics, rummage sales, tea parties, punt races and a host of other activities. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy! Today is an outdoor Gospel Concert at 2 PM. 

Communities grow and succeed when the local people support the ideas, business and development initiatives. This is something that does have that local buy-in. The committee circulated a schedule to all residents via direct mail. In future years, some signage on both sides of Route 436 and a sandwich board of what events are taking place may also help drive visitor traffic. As the festival continues to add new events and activities we will hope to see more exponential growth from those visiting our tourism region of L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Anthony and surrounding areas. 

A big thank you to the hard working and dedicated volunteers who have made big things possible in small towns. Mark your calendars for next years festivities! It was indeed, so much fun!

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

Who needs Disneyland when you have Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade?

There is still time this summer to visit the Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade at L’anse aux Meadows, our premier attraction. This social enterprise was opened in 2000 as part of the Viking 1,000 celebration and continues to provide the best in travel experiences 15 years later.

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I’ve visited this site on many occasions with friends from Switzerland, Germany and other parts of Canada, but yesterday’s tour was truly the highlight made possible by the incredible, knowledgeable and talented staff. 

The entrance had clearly marked the site as pet friendly, which is a plus for those travelling with their favourite hairy companion. The gift shop has locally produced pottery on-site, handmade viking ships and swords, nine-man mills viking games and a host of runic stones, jewelry and other items of interest. I purchased a lovely handcrafted jug with viking markings. Just spectacular!

IMG_20140815_163928Walking the wooden boardwalk there was a view of an iceberg off in the distance, former fishing boats that are remnants of what was an abundant inshore cod fishery before the 1992 moratorium. Viking dwellings, could be seen off into the distance. Gardens and livestock are part of the viking way of life. It was nice to see the sheep getting feed and the chickens.

The Chieftain told us incredible narratives at the boathouse and answered many questions as the 54 foot replica of Leif Erikson’s Snorri was in the backdrop. The wonderful thing about this open air museum is that it enables one to truly experience by touching tools and items on site and interacting with the characters in authentic attire. The character will read your runic stones or teach you how to play the viking games.

At the main hall, the women are busy working on the loom, using their needle, whorl and spindles, as well as dying fabrics and preparing the meals. They shared so many stories about viking living and were so in character asking, “what ship I had sailed in on?” and “Did I bring anything for trade?” They were also quite eager to share their talents and showing off their wares. Sitting in the Chieftains chair with the sword and horn was a big highlight. On Wednesday nights there is Viking storytelling of the sagas with local Mike Sexton. It comes highly recommended.

A walk further down the road was a visit to the church and forge. The blacksmith was busy with his fire and making tools and jewelry. He took lots of time to engage visitors in conversation, while multi-tasking and completing his current task. He was quite proud of all the tools he had made for the village and took pride in his work. An incredible talent. I thank him immensely for sharing a piece with me, which I look forward to sharing in a future post.

Upon leaving the forge, two vikings were outside and putting on a great show throwing axes and firing their bow and arrow.  

I tried my best with a few attempts at axe throwing, but will need a lot more practice. It is likely best to keep my day job.

The kids certainly love this interaction and ability to test their own skills. Even the big kids enjoy this stuff :). Norstead has experienced much growth and the skies the limit for its future, with the potential to host Viking Weddings, establish the  World Championship of Nine-Man Mill with giant game boards on the lawn, Skyping with a Viking, weaving or potting classes and spending the night on site in hut or tent. In the next 15 years, Norstead will continue to shine as our premier tourist attraction!

If you have not been, its a must. If you’ve been, it’s likely time to return! This is our gem and we are truly fortunate to have such a spectacular attraction on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Thank you to the Board, management and staff for the incredible tourism experience. More at www.norstead.com. 

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

Family Reunions are Incredible – Way Family Reunited After 25 years

It all started 25 years ago with a family gathering of close to 200 members of Augustus and Susanna Way convened in 1989 at the Flower’s Cove Lion’s Club to celebrate their growing family tree. 

Today, the tree branches are getting longer as more great-great grandchildren and even great-great-great grandchildren have been added to our family tree. In 1989, I was one of the younger members, just shy of 4 years old. 

 On July 24-27 2014, our Way Family reconvened for an incredible weekend together to share stories, meet family members we had not seen in years and also connect with new additions, as well, create new dialogue and memories for many decades to come.

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The Official Opening included a meet and greet, speeches from the organizing committee, Mayor of Flower’s Cove and yours truly, the Member of the House of Assembly for the District and was hosted by our very own Loomis Way. It was followed by a flag raising ceremony, the Flower’s Island song, lots of food and music by Nellie Wilson. The Lion’s Club look amazing with decor, banners, sheets of family photos, a memory wall, news clippings and photo albums taking us through the years.

The nights were late, but no one seemed to tire of anyone’s company, especially with Nellie Wilson, Dwayne Snow and Jig’s Dinner playing consecutive nights. It truly was a celebration of family and fun with large meals, music and lots of dancing. Many opted to participate in the recreational cod fishery over the weekend, plus there were family bbqs, games, shed gatherings, dart tournaments and a family bonfire on the point. One couldn’t ask for better weather, or better timing given the Provincial Government removed the fire ban at 6 PM, in time for our lighting at 7 PM. Wonderful luck indeed!

I can not thank all our family members who dedicated their time to plan, organize and ensure the perfect family reunion was had 25 years later. We are truly lucky to have you as part of the family. I’m impressed by all the musical talent in the family, just wish I had inherited some of it. In the meantime, people will still have to put up with my bad car singing and love for all things rural and traditional Newfoundland & Labrador. 

If you haven’t had a family reunion yet, why not start planning? Family is the cornerstone of our lives and society. 

Looking forward to the next planned family gathering!

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

Mussel Festival returning in St. Lunaire-Griquet this weekend!

Last year, residents in St. Lunaire-Griquet started a community development initiative to host a mussel festival, a fitting name given the Town is the only site of aquaculture on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. 

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I enjoy eating the locally grown mussels from our restaurants in St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove. Northern Delight and the Daily Catch are two fabulous dining establishments. Mussels can also be purchased at Burden’s General Store or Hedderson’s Store (out of town mussels can be found at Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Anthony and through Gloria Barrett, Black Duck Cove). One gets great value from buying 10 lbs for $15.00. Buying mussels supports our local economy, it creates and maintains employment and leads to other economic opportunities that supports our small business and the non-for-profit community. St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI)’s initiative has positive impacts on the 16 communities of Cook’s Harbour to Goose Cove and even the greater region. 

One can see the schedule of events below of this year’s planned activities for the Mussel Festival in which I am delighted to attend the official opening. The volunteer committee has given many hours of their time and have worked with other groups such as the Firettes to help raise needed money for the volunteer fire department, as well drawing upon local talent and events for all ages. They deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to creating new opportunities in their small town.10606521_10152229744921835_3211486857501492555_n

I would encourage local residents of the Great Northern Peninsula and visitors to the region to enjoy a fun filled weekend at the Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet and of course, get a fine feed of mussels. 

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

 

12th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival – August 1st

12th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival  – Featuring “NITE LIFE” and many more talented performers from around the Great Northern Peninsula.

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A great evening filled with incredible talents!

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

Hare Bay Festival this weekend in Main Brook, NL

The Town of Main Brook will be filled with activity this week at the Hare Bay Festival. I encourage everyone to come out and celebrate. This will also be the first activities held at the new community centre. The building of this space was a major accomplishment that has unified a small community and now provides the needed social space to host an array of events for everyone to enjoy.

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

Grenfell Heritage Days A Big Success!

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The legacy of Sir Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell continues to be celebrated by the people of the Great Northern Peninsula at the annual Heritage Day in St. Anthony, NL. Hundreds of people typically flock to the Grenfell Memorial Park surrounded by the hospital, mission store, co-operative, former orphanage, handicraft operation and a network of other buildings – all the wonderful things Grenfell created to improve the social and economic well-being of the region more than 100 years ago. This year’s event was held at the Polar Centre as a change in venue.

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The day began with the Teddy Bears Picnic. I enjoy volunteering for this even each year, which typically involves flipping a few burgers for those that wish to have a grilled afternoon snack. I arrive a little early to see the St. Anthony and Area Boys  & Girls Club had set-up a number of games. They were also making balloon animals and I was able to lose an epic balloon sword fight to Logan. It was great fun! Lots of children, accompanied by their parents or guardians enjoyed games, free books, dancing with Strawberry Shortcake, face painting, Teddy Bear check-ups at the clinic and lots of other activities.

As the evening drew on there were tables set up with games of chance, bake sales, craft sales, 50-50 draws, penny sales, auction, food and music.

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The Skipper Hot’s Band treated us to an evening of music, where some took to the floor for a step or two.

Likely the biggest hit of the evening was the polar bear paws, essentially fried dough with a cinnamon batter with sauce and whipped cream. They created quite the line up! I purchased some delicious baked goods and beautifully handmade craft items, including baby blankets, cardigan and hat and booty set.

A lot of organization goes into these events. Many thanks to all the people involved and those who volunteered their time. Those who can – do, those who do more – volunteer! 

Supporting this event is about giving back to the local health auxiliaries, which helps raise money for priority medical equipment at our local hospital.  The Grenfell Legacy is alive and well, more than 100 years since the recognition of the International Grenfell Association (IGA) and 120 years since Grenfell first came to Northern Newfoundland. His presence is still felt today.

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

Open Studio – A novel concept in Ship Cove, NL

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A visit to Ship Cove, NL on the Great Northern Peninsula was filled with incredible landscapes, rich history and tradition, as well as people who are doing incredibly big things in small communities. Only few dozen people are left in the community, many are seniors which continue their leadership role to press for enhancements and new developments. The residents are well-served by their Local Service District, that continue to maintain a community centre, have established an exhibit, worked with St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) to develop and maintain a series of community walking trails and other beautification that helps entice tourists to visit the area.

I’ve been to Ship Cove on several visits, but this time there was something novel, something new – and that was the “Open Studio” founded by Deborah Gordon. A small social space consisted of a screen porch presents anyone wanting serenity to come and visit for a cup of tea or coffee with the most amazing view.

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As a seasonal resident, Deborah understands the value of how people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador use space in their everyday lives. I was greatly impressed by her 2015 piece of art, which is a calendar depicting clothes on the line in communities across the province. Before I left, I had to purchase a copy. Since then, I’ve seen them for sale at the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony.

A warm cup of herbal tea and a gluten-free cookie, surrounded by her magnificent handmade artwork and a perfect frame with every gaze out the window. We chatted quite a bit about living rural, art, travel and building vibrant communities.

I would recommend anyone to make the trek to Ship Cove for all it has to offer, you will not be disappointed by the scenery, hospitality and will have a unique experience at “Open Studio”. Incredible things happen in our tiny communities of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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

 

 

 

Planting Potatoes & Roadside Gardens

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Maintaining a garden of root crops has always been practiced in my family for generations. I remember spending time there with my father and grandparents, tilling the soil, placing seed and typically digging. For some reason I seldom was around for the weeding process. It was my grandmother who did most of that, as she is the ultimate green thumb. Our family still continues to plant potatoes, as well as carrot, turnip, cabbage, beets, onion and lettuce. I’ve been experimenting with other seeds and spices, and hopefully soon will have a greenhouse to help expand what I am able to grow.

What was needed for subsistence years ago, is now unnecessary given easy access to vegetables at grocery stores. However, it is gratifying to know that so many are continuing this generational tradition. As I travel throughout the District, I see many roadside and backyard gardens that were likely started by their parents or grandparents. There is also renewed interest from younger people to grow different vegetables, establish community gardens, use various techniques and use the space they have available to them in the most productive form.

We have exceptional opportunity to expand farming on the Great Northern Peninsula, in both small and large-scale. We are also lacking a coordinated effort to establish a farmers or local market in many communities. There is opportunity to establish a weekly marketplace where locally grown produce, jams, preserves, crafts and handmade wares are for sale. Coffee and teas and other booths could be set-up, with picnic tables and even some local music.

There are some spaces in the District, where a local marketplace could thrive. Let’s move this idea forward.

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

 

 

 

Community Kitchen Party Thrives on Tradition – Green Island Cove, NL

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Our rural communities will thrive with active participation of residents. We saw significant success on July 11, 2014 with the first ever promoted community kitchen party to be hosted at Green Island Cove wharf. The event ended up being held at the neighbouring fishers’ gear shed and drew throughout the evening upwards of 200 people from under eight to nearly eighty years of age. It was truly a gathering to celebrate community, tradition and enjoy each other’s company at one of the busiest times of year.

Music brings people together and we are blessed to have local people willing to share their talents. Guitars, accordions, ugly sticks, brooms, spoons and kajoons paired with a vocals of Clara and Loomis made for an incredible night where tradition thrived. I’ve always heard my grandparents talk about the old-fashioned time and this is likely the closest I’ll get to experiencing those community celebrations of food, song and dance. With fishing nets as the backdrop, songbooks distributed, the waltz, two-step and jigs began to play and the old wooden floor of the gear shed got some action.

There was a little magic in the room that evening as we all embraced our small fishing community way of living, as those who came before us would always take time throughout summer to have a time. Even the little kids were eager to learn the dance moves. A tumble or two would not deter them.

A group of men and women also treated us to a good old-fashioned square dance. This dance was once commonplace and now only a handful know all the moves. When these dancers took the floor, all eyes were on them. A couple of brave souls joined in with the group and learned the steps as they went. I believe everyone else wish they knew the moves, so they too could take to the floor.

It has become quite clear that the success of our rural communities is about how we interact with the space we have in our everyday lives. I think ensuring that a gear shed or a wharf can also be the gathering place as they were pre-moratorium of 1992 is vital to maintaining and sustaining our outport communities.

I must commend the leadership of Dr. Kathleen Blanchard, President and Founder of Intervale. This organization produces programs and services in the fields of conservation, heritage interpretation, and sustainable development. Her interest in sustainable fisheries and community economic development was the driving force to documenting and organizing with fishers Loomis and Brenda such a tremendous event, which can be shared with others.

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The success of the evening has already sparked talks to host another, possibly make this an annual event like the Conche and Goose Cove Garden Parties. The evening also stimulated discussion of hosting another Come Home Year in 2016 – one for Green Island Cove and Pine’s Cove. The dates have been set, so mark your calendars – August 15-21st, 2016 because home is where you will want to be. Please join us!

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

Expanded Childcare on the Peninsula Helping Retain & Attract Youth

Accessible and affordable childcare is key to building a stronger community. Rural regions of the province also need these services for recruitment and retention of professionals and workers. In The Straits-White Bay North, the people have been getting it right for 20 years, as the Riddles & Rhymes Daycare in St. Anthony celebrated two decades of operations at the local College of the North Atlantic campus.

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Riddles and Rhymes Daycare offers childcare services for the general public and for College of the North Atlantic students. This is an ideal environment, especially for a parent wanting to pursuing further post-secondary, as they can drop their kids off at the daycare and check on them during break time.

This is a non-profit corporation established by a concerned group of working parents that worked hard fundraising and gained the attention of Government to ensure access to childcare was available to those of the St. Anthony Basin Area (Cook’s Harbour to Goose Cove and all places in between). At the celebration event in May, we heard the centre had some difficult years in the beginnings, but they were able to prevail and are a very successful model for other communities to follow. A timeline of events throughout the years clearly illustrate the impact this service has had on our children, employees, employers, students and the region as a whole. Affordable and accessible childcare helps build stronger communities.

In June 2013, a second daycare, “Little Folks” opened in the regional administrative centre of Flower’s Cove primarily serving a region of Castor River to Eddies Cove East

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The Little Folks Daycare is an initiative that shows how all things are possible when people, organizations and Government come together to fill a need and find rural solutions. This resounding group of parents, concerned citizens, Town of Flower’s Cove, Regional Economic Development Board and other partners never gave up – their work is to be commended.

I am especially proud to see a building re-purposed to provide a much larger contribution to the regional community. This former clubhouse was built with public funds to serve the softball field, which seldom saw the use to justify maintaining such a wonderful structure. We have many more buildings in our communities, either public buildings, former business, church owned property that could become a multi-use to expand the dynamic and help diversify our economy on the Great Northern Peninsula. It just takes a strong will from a small group of individuals to have a big impact.

Investing in this initiative with the support of Government also helps with recruitment and retention of workers for business, organizations and government. These are the type of investments in which we are proud, as they provide a safe, caring and structured environment that fosters strong education and advances social skills, giving our children an early start. 

I must commend all parents, volunteers and organizations that saw this need and encourage everyone to do what they can to support both Riddles & Rhymes and Little Folks Daycare, as they are two key entities for sustaining and growing our region.

This may also be an initiative for the residents of the Northern Peninsula East to consider working to establish a non-profit daycare in the regional centre of Roddickton-Bide Arm.

If you are considering starting a business or moving to the Great Northern Peninsula for employment or education there is exceptional childcare services available if you are thinking of starting or continuing to raise your family. You too, can enjoy everything this great place has to offer.

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

 

Sustaining a Community takes Commitment – Raleigh, NL

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Raleigh is home to the awe-inspiring Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, boasting over 300 plant species with 30 being rare. The Burnt Cape cinquefoil is found exclusively on the Northern Peninsula, as it is the only place in the world where this species grows. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has failed to live up to its obligations when it eliminated all interpretation at this Reserve. It has also neglected to install appropriate signage, develop educational material such as guidebooks and panels to preserve, educate, maintain road infrastructure and make available our natural areas to interested parties. These short-sighted decisions by Government impact and harm our rural communities. Where is Government’s commitment?

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Additionally, rural communities are facing pressures from out-migration, aging population and changes to the dynamics of the economy that sustained them since their beginning all across the globe. Sustaining our small towns takes commitment and I see that in entrepreneurs Marina and Ted Hedderson  of Raleigh, NL.

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Yesterday, I was amazed by the creativity, commitment and desire to see the Town of Raleigh with a population of less than 200 survive and thrive. The current owners have been running Marina’s Mini-Mart & Gas Bar since 2001. They saw an opportunity to get into the accommodations business to compliment the neighbouring Pistolet Bay – Provincial Park, which is typically at capacity for tents and RVs throughout the season.

I was given a tour of the cottages, which include 4 two-bedroom, 3 one-bedrooms and a newly added vacation home that has the most incredible ocean view. The vacation home is very spacious and family focused with two queen and a twin bed, laundry facilities, BBQ and a view you won’t want to leave. The two bedroom cottages are very immaculate, offering two queen beds, laundry and wooden finished interior. The three one-bedroom cottages have leather furniture and laundromat access, but the best feature is that they sit with a breath-taking ocean view from a large deck to sit and enjoy your morning coffee or evening beverage. There is an entertainment area for evening fires right at water’s edge. There 4-star accommodations are priced at an incredible value, ranging from $109-169.

The Burnt Cape Cafe is a must if you are in the area. It truly understands the importance of experiential tourism. The Cafe takes lobster to a whole new level of fresh. The patrons, if they choose can go to the local wharf and select their own lobster and get their photos taken before and after. An incredible experience!

After stepping into the cafe, my attention was immediately drawn to the back which includes a comfortable seating area, big screen television playing traditional Newfoundland music and I thought was a great place to sit and relax. They also know the value of WiFi, which is provided for free.

The original six hockey jerseys are proudly displayed as in the off-season this area becomes on Monday nights, open to the dart league.  There is a wide-selection of crafts, souvenirs and other products. I purchased a Mummer’s shot glass, as I love the jannies.

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The Newfoundland tartan on the tables is a nice touch to compliment a menu that caters to those who love high-quality seafood dishes. I was treated to some phenomenal chowder, it comes highly recommended to start. It comes with generous portions of salmon and cod, great creamy flavour that is amplified with a touch of cheese melting as you eat. As a main, I’ve had pan-seared scallops and shrimp in garlic butter that would melt in your mouth with Parmesan mashed potatoes that kept you wanting more. To top the meal off, the deep-fried ice-cream was superb. The rich coating ensured the ice-cream was cold and in tact while I slowly enjoyed this treat drizzled with bakeapples. If you have not eaten at the Burnt Cape cafe you are truly missing out.

Small business and innovation is the key to dynamic growth, especially in small communities. Ted and Marina have a vision for their Town, their home. The business currently offers everything you need at your fingertips. However, they have more big ideas on how to  add accommodations, entertainment and experiential offers that appeal to locals and visitors. They are a partner with the annual Iceberg Festival, believe in strong promotion and understand the value of packaging and providing their customers with the highest in services and unique experiences.

Sustaining a community takes commitment and these two truly have what it takes to build a stronger community. I would encourage you to drop by and support this locally owned and independent business that is doing incredibly big things in a small town.

Visit their website at: www.burntcape.com

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

The Fire Still Burns – Conche, NL

The fire still burns in the small town of Conche, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula East. This community has embraced its storied past, which includes early visits from the French through the migratory fishery in the 17 and 18 hundreds to their shores. On a recent visit, the French Shore Interpretation Centre had their French oven lit, in preparation for a tour group to their Centre.

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The census may list the population of Conche at 181 people, but there is much more support than that for the survival of this small Town. The people of this community are hardworking, resourceful and full of hospitality.

An active fish plant, Conche Seafoods Ltd., employs dozens of people from across the Great Northern Peninsula and parts of Western Newfoundland. This fishing Town is bucking the trend and seeing increased activity and additional employment, not less. A recent tender was called by DFO for wharf expansion and improvements in the range of up to $1 million. All signs of a strong economy. Each year hundreds of commercial trucks travel over a 17.6 KM gravel road. It is long overdue the provincial Government live up to its commitment and pave Route 434.

The community is supported by a strong local business community and amenities for residents and visitors to engage.

Museums and Heritage Facilities include:

  • Casey House Artist Retreat, the French Shore Interpretation Centre
  • A traditional harbour lighthouse
  • Remains of a World War II Boston BZ277 plane crash
  • The Casey Store, a Registered Heritage Structure – one of the oldest fisheries buildings remaining on the French Shore, and Martinique Bay, the site of a 1707 confrontation between English warships and the trapped French fleet – a designated Site of Historic Significance
  • Chaloupe Exhibit
  • Crouse Beach – a half-buried flat pebble beach that was the site of a vast French codfish drying operation in the 19th century. The beach offers a view of picturesque wharves in Southwest Crouse
  • Boat tours can be arranged upon request

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Recreation Facilities:

  • Conche Ball Field
  • Conche Playground
  • RV and Camp site
  • Beach Volleyball area
  • Array of walking trails

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Religious Institutions:
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Parish Hall
Schools:
  • Sacred Heart All Grade
  • Northern Peninsula Family Resource Centre

Business:

  • Bits-n-Pieces Cafe
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Convenience Store
  • Lounge
  • Fish plant

Municipal:

  • Town Hall
  • Volunteer Fire Department

The community also has unique vernacular architecture you basically wont see in other communities on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Traditional stick homes are still fashionable here and  full of colour!

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Artists and artisans can thrive in Conche. They have talented painters, authors, storytellers, dancers and folk signers that will gladly put on a performance. Summer is when Conche truly comes to life. In 2013, Conche celebrated a successful Come Home Year bringing hundreds of residents home. The committed volunteers truly make amazing things happen in small communities. The Annual Garden party is certainly a wonderful experience for anyone wanting an authentic rural experience.

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Only a few kilometres away in Roddickton-Bide Arm is a 24/7 health centre, banking, Government services and a suite of retail, manufacturing and other small businesses. Partnerships have also been established with the Mayflower Inn & Adventures to provide zodiac tours and cross-promote regional tourism.

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Conche benefits from strong organization (especially from their Town Council past and present), an ability to embrace their past and ability provide the services any small community would want and ensure their local businesses are supported. This is the only way in which our small communities will survive and thrive. It must be through local innovation and a strong will to give back to your friends and neighbours to ensure the services we want and expect can be provided. Small business is certainly a means to rural communities growing.

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Conche is one of those towns that has incredible potential to be further developed. More than 2,000 tourists go out of their way to trek down this gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula East to visit this picturesque town. It has worked hard to establish itself as a destination. Conche is on the map for so many reasons.  The establishment of the French Shore Interpretation Centre has truly helped accelerate this growth.

A 222-foot tapestry on Jacobian linen depicts the history of the French Shore. It is proudly on display, designed by J.C. Roy and made by the women of Conche. This summer there centre spent close to a year developing 9 new exhibits that remember the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. This now has the potential to travel the province or other parts of the world as a touring exhibit to further promote the community of Conche. These initiatives are building blocks to growing a rural community.

 

Conche is truly a destination on the Great Northern Peninsula that must be visited an experienced by residents and visitors alike. There is potential for new business endeavors in town and more development. Their success can be replicated! Let’s keep working together to build stronger communities.

Rural success is occurring! The fire still burns…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Kitchen Party tonight at Green Island Cove Wharf

Tonight there will be a unique experience at my hometown community, which has a population of 187 residents. Let’s hope the wharf will be fill with spectators as our very own multi-talented Loomis Way and a band of musicians perform traditional music, hosting what is likely the first Kitchen Party at the Green Island Cove wharf.

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Join us tonight to celebrate the Spirit of Newfoundland & Labrador Inshore Fishery & Fishing Communities. Details are below:

KitchenParty

 

The inshore plays a vital role in our rural communities. It has been our reason for existence. There is no secret the return of the mighty cod is nearing. Now is the time for policymakers to  involve the inshore fishers in this process so we are ready to deal with cod quota increases, when they occur.

Rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians believe in their community and sustainably harvest the resources that are available to them. We have exceptional cultural assets as well that stem from the activities in which we live in our daily lives. Tonight’s Kitchen Party will be a prime example as we celebrate our small fishing communities through song and dance in the surroundings of friends.

Come out tonight if you can, for a truly authentic rural experience on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Grandois to host Come Home Year in 2015

The census lists the population of Grandois (St. Julien’s, used interchangeably) at 50, but there are far fewer reside there today. I visited this picturesque community a few weeks ago and took in a service at St. St. William’s Church which overlooks the harbour.

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St. William’s Church houses a wooden folk altar built by Jack Fitzgerald in the early 1900s. The intricate details was carved by a pocketknife. It is a wonderful piece of history and depicts the talents of the people in the region.

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The community is steeped in French history and has beautiful walking trails that lead you to old French fishing sites, such as French Point. There are tent platforms, barbecue pits and picnic tables along some of the trails. Visitors can also experience St. Julien’s Island, Fischot Islands and Harbour de Vieux, which were re-settled communities. A boat tour can be arranged in summer, which may include up close views of icebergs and whales.

Additionally, the community Grandois (St. Julien’s) sits on an abandoned copper mine that has been re-discovered in recent years with high concentrations of deposits. The population would drastically increase for this and surrounding communities with the development of a commercial mine. There are lots of untapped mining exploration on the Great Northern Peninsula, waiting to be unearthed.

 

I would encourage people to experience the beauty of this tiny community, which requires nearly 30 km travel over a gravel road (Route 438 Croque road) off Route 432 near Town of Main Brook. Grandois will host Come Home Year from July 17-20th, 2015 and it surely will be a wonderful celebration of community and place. Population may increase or surpass historic highs.  I look forward to it!

Big things happen in small communities.

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

 

 

The Grenfell Foundation hosts Heritage Day on July 8th in St. Anthony

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The Grenfell Foundation hosts the annual Heritage Day fundraiser to purchase priority medical equipment for Labrador Grenfell Health south chapter. I encourage all residents and visitors to drop by St. Anthony’s Polar Centre on Tuesday, July 8th.

Last year’s activities was a huge success. I enjoyed watching the old-fashioned square dancing, playing games of chance and enjoying all sorts of fish and barbecued dishes.

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The Teddy Bears picnic also kicks off in the afternoon, with many kids games put off by volunteers at the Boys and Girls club. Many other organizations are represented with booths set-up. It was a pleasure to bring greetings at last year’s event as the Member of the House of Assembly for the District and volunteer.

The Grenfell Foundation was able to purchase over $200,000 worth of priority equipment, with assistance from $150,000 donation from St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. This year the goal has been set to over $100,000 to purchase a number of pieces of equipment that will be distributed at a number of facilities including the John M. Gray Senior’s Residence.

If you can drop by and have an afternoon and evening of fun, while supporting the health care needs of the region.

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

6th Annual Iceberg Festival A Resounding Success

The 6th Annual Iceberg Festival was held from June 6th-15th from Port au Choix to L’Anse aux Meadows to Conche to St. Anthony and many points in between. This is truly a regional festival that celebrates the beauty of the iceberg.

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The official opening brought out a crowd, including the Knudsen’s Newfoundland dogs “Neives” and “Sebastian”, Vikings, Painters, Ice Sculptors, Cooks and Performers.

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The opening offering something for everyone, from the exclusive “Iceberg” donut (found only at St. Anthony Tim Hortons location), to St. Anthony Seafoods crab. Calvin, Adam and Brandon performed traditional Newfoundland songs, including Calvin Blake’s iceberg song he wrote for the festival. They even had visitors from Kentucky play the “ugly stick”. Many children got their faces painted and also took a quick lesson in iceberg rock painting from George Bussey.

The highlight of the evening was Randy Cull’s ice sculpture, which the ice was collected by St. Carol’ own Richard’s family, stars of the TV show “The Iceberg Hunters”. The image is depicted below with Iceberg Festival Chairperson, Lavinia Crisby.

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The Iceberg Festival brought the Wonderbolt Circus for three events, which saw more than 1,000 in attend. Additionally, there was boat tours, ATV iceberg hunting, wine tasting, Iceberg Hunter premiere night, Iceberg Jubilee, Newfoundland Night, Kitchen Parties with Mummers, Iceberg glass art marking, Dark Tickle tours, zodiac tours, French tours, scavenger hunts, kids games and much more.

I encourage you to plan your holidays on the Great Northern Peninsula around the “Iceberg Festival”, it happens every year in early June and does not disappoint. Visit http://theicebergfestival.ca/. A big thank you to all the businesses and organizations that got involved to make this regional festival truly a success. Special recognition must go to the volunteer committee members for taking on a big task, that delivered dynamic results for a stronger Great Northern Peninsula. We have so much to offer those who want to experience the beauty of this place.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

 

 

St. Anthony Hosts Cancer Concert on May 30th!

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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.

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

QUIRPON RADIO LAUNCHED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Related Stories:

Scenic Hay Cove – Your Northern Coffee Experience

 

 

 

Canada appealing WTO ban on seal products

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

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

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

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

sealskin

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

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

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

Supporting the Seal Hunt -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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

 

Local Culture Depicted at Pebble Beach Studio

Marjorie Dempster is the artist behind the Pebble Beach Studio at Plum Point, NL on Great Northern Peninsula. We are lucky to have such talent that is one of our own, that truly depicts rural living. She should inspire us all to follow our interests.

Majorie was one of many families in rural Newfoundland & Labrador to experience re-settlement. Her move was in 1972 when her family left the Fishot island, which is just a few kilometers from the scenic Town of Conche to settle in Port au Choix. Marjorie grew up around the fishery and outport Newfoundland. After raising her family, she opted to change her focus from painting walls to painting on canvas.

Who would have thought that an acrylic Christmas present from her husband, would create an opportunity to depict our culture on canvas?

I purchased one of her tree liver designs (depicted below) in Red Bay, Labrador during the summer of 2012 from the Women’s Institute Gift Shop. I loved the way the lighthouse was shaped on the craggy coastline from the natural product. This has value! In 2002, in starting Flower’s Island Museum, I felt a much closer connection to lighthouses and the important role they played for our fishers. Those who earned their living from the sea.

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This past Monday, I again saw more of Marjorie’s brilliant work. This piece was donated in aid of Breast Cancer Research. The color and shape of the flowers in bloom, along with a unique sky background reminds me of impressionism.

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Both pictures have seal products next to her art. This is also a very important part of our living culture on the Great Northern Peninsula.

 I really enjoy  my new hobby, I  do hope to continue as long as…..God Guides My Hand. – Marjorie Dempster

I am impressed by Marjorie for finding her talent and pursuing it with entrepreneurial action. We all have talents to share. If you like her work, visit www.pebblebeachstudio.com.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

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

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

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

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

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

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