Blog Archives

Mummer’s Walk A Big Hit at Green Island Cove

Nearly forty mummers braved a -16 temperature with a wind chill that reached -31 to keep the tradition of mummering alive and well with the 4th Annual Mummer’s Walk at the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club.

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Mummers came from near and far from communities of Anchor Point, Savage Cove, Flower’s Cove, Green Island Cove, Green Island Brook, St. Lunaire-Griquet and many citizens from surrounding communities visiting the Lion’s Club, such as Sandy Cove, Deadman’s Cove and even from mainland Canada to see what the Mummer’s Walk so all about and enjoy the fun!

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The rig-up started shortly after 2 PM and just after 2:30 PM, Sabrina and I started the event noting the original idea of hosting a community event that would bring people together and would encourage more active mummering in rural Newfoundland & Labrador, especially since we remembered large groups of mummers from our childhood.

The first was held in Flowers Cove, followed by Anchor Point and last years was in Savage Cove.

This years event all started with the talented Way Brothers performed a couple of traditional tunes on the guitar and accordion, including the famous Simini tune, “The Mummer’s Song“.

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The group broke out into dance on the floor. It was great to see such a crowd turn-out and participate in the Mummer’s Walk and a number of youth watching the festivities. These are the future generations to learn the tradition and pass them on.

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Due to high wind we opted to get rides to the head of the Cove and walk back to the Lion’s Club. Some Mummer’s jumped in the pans of trucks and we were off…

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The residents, especially seniors were perched at their windows anxiously waiting for the long line of mummers to pass by their homes.

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They were people waiting in vehicles, residents waving from windows or door steps, excited to see the large group of mummers. A group this large, likely not seen for decades in the community of Green Island Cove.

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The walk was a lot of fun. We would all return to the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club and have hot chocolate, Purity Syrup and Chocolates for a treat. It was a great time to mingle and talk about going mummering tonight or another in Christmas.

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So if you hear knocks on your door, please let the friendly mummers into your home and enjoy the tradition that is forever in our hearts and souls, making rural Newfoundland and Labrador that perfect place to celebrate Christmas and the place we call home.

Below is a sampling of some other photos I managed at the event:

A big thank you to all who took the time to dress up and participate, the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club for providing the venue, all the visitors who came to the event and watch, Ryan and Monty for playing a couple of tunes, Loomis for coordinating music, logistics and bringing lots of spirit and to anyone else who helped in any way. I encourage you all to go Mummering this Christmas. I’ll be doing my part to continue to keep the tradition alive.

We’ll keep you all posted on the 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk in the New Year….

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Underground Salmon Pool – A Natural Wonder

The Underground Salmon Pool is the only known place in the world where Atlantic Salmon swim through underground river caves to get to their spawning grounds. Hiking & walking interpretative trails. Guide service provided by Mayflower Adventures in Roddickton. (According to the Province’s Tourism website www.newfoundlandlabrador.com.)

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I encourage residents and visitors of Newfoundland & Labrador to enjoy this natural wonder. Interpretative panels explain the nature of the old growth forest, the rich lumbering history of the Canada Bay Area and the boardwalk offers incredible viewing vistas.

Here are some photos taken on a visit, where I captured anglers casting in designated area, birds, squirrels, views of salmon, natural erosion of limestone and the underground river. There are two entry points if you take Route 432 (Grenfell Drive) you will see the signage directing you to this destination.

Share your angling stories in the comments section. Have you visited the Underground Salmon Pool? If not, add it to your next “To Do” list. You simply could not be disappointed if you like the beauty of the great outdoors!

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Icebergs are your doorstep

In June the icebergs scatter the coves, bays and shores along the Strait of Belle Isle and surround the entire Great Northern Peninsula.

These icebergs were taken from the doorstep in L’Anse au Clair, Labrador this past summer:

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The Peterman Ice Island left these icebergs in Goose Cove, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in July 2011.

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The Great Northern Peninsula hosts an annual iceberg festival, which is scheduled to run from June 6th to June 15th, 2014. Check for updates at www.theicebergfestival.ca.

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Icebergs are at your doorstep on the Great Northern Peninsula. You can see them on boat tours, at Festivals, with binoculars, on walking trails, up close or on the distance.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Mitchelmore recognizes Barbara Genge Induction into Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame

I made the following statement in today’s House of Assembly:

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Christopher Mitchelmore
MHA, The Straits-White Bay North
Private Member’s Statement
Barbara Genge – Tourism Hall of Fame 

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Barb Genge, a successful entrepreneur, engaged community leader and champion for sustainable development for being inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.

Barb is President of Tuckamore Lodge Ltd., an award-winning hunting, fishing and adventure tourism lodge located in Main Brook, which is considered one of the best outfitting lodges in all of Canada. She believes in full economic utilization, without abuse, of nature’s resources and operates her lodge by these principles.

Barb is an inspirational entrepreneur and true leader of the north, exhibited through a lifetime of advancing the profile of tourism on the Great Northern Peninsula. She was a founding member of Viking Trail Tourism Association and its predecessor which levered millions in funding for Viking Millennial Celebrations at L’Anse Aux Meadows. She served 15 years as an Economic Development Officer at White Bay Central Development Association establishing community partnerships and investing millions into environmental and tourism related-projects.

In addition, she is a recipient of the Sustainable Tourism Award, Entrepreneur of the Year, and PRIDE award for excellence in tourism.

I ask all hon. Members to join me in congratulating Barb Genge on her business and community success.

Thank you.

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Happy Thanksgiving…

I’ve spent some time today looking at old photographs of times spent with family and friends over the years. This also included travels to Europe, USA, Caribbean, Africa and many parts of Canada, especially my home on the Great Northern Peninsula. It certainly made me realize how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

Today is the Canadian Thanksgiving. It is a holiday to celebrate the harvest and the blessings of the past year. 

Here is a snapshot of some events in which I am thankful since last Thanksgiving:

October 2012 was a celebration of one year in office as the Member for the Straits-White Bay North. It is also the month of my birthday and of course the celebration of Halloween.

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November 2012 is a time of reflection, especially on Remembrance Day for those who fought for the freedoms we have today. I placed a wreath at the St. Anthony Legion’s War Memorial on behalf of the people in the District.

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December 2012 is filled with activity from Christmas Parades, hanging lights, decorating trees and celebrating the spirit of season. Last December, I spent many hours in the Newfoundland & Labrador legislature, as a filibuster on the Muskrat Falls enabling legislation had us going around the clock until the early hours of December 22nd. My comments of the Monopoly Bill was one of the last before the vote:

I would like to reflect, Mr. Speaker, upon an episode of The Simpsons, when monopolist C. Montgomery Burns planned to block out the sun, to have the ratepayers of Springfield pay for his monopoly power. Having to consume more, pay more and not conserve, Smithers, the longest-serving employee, jumped from his party faithful and the people of Springfield suffered and so did he. In the end it did not go well for the monopoly company, but the people did prevail.

I only hope the people of the Province are not impacted to the degree this legislation offers, that Muskrat Falls does bring the employment and long-term benefits as touted, and that it also allows and permits new opportunities for wind, small-scale hydro, and other energy options. (Hansard, December 20 http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga47session1/12-12-20.htm). 

Christmas was spent with my wonderful family. Good food, good drinks and good company. I thoroughly enjoyed mummering. A tradition we are keeping alive.

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January 2013 - The Great Northern Peninsula is filled with incredible beauty and an abundance of wildlife. The fjords fill the backdrop around Gros Morne National Park. I had the pleasure of seeing these caribou, as they were grazing.

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February 2013 was filled with culture, from seeing the Great Northern Peninsula’s own Megan Coles’ play “Our Eliza”, as well several hockey tournaments, Air Cadet performances, the Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador convention and trade show, coffee-house and the big announcement of Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-North Boat Harbour’s Let them be kids playground for summer 2013.

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March 2013 I was able to celebrate the success of community groups and the important roles they play in Community, like the Green Island Cove Lions. Also, Winterfest, carnivals, town halls and lots of community engagement happens in March. Not to mention the presence of seals.

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April 2013 brought me back to Labrador. There is a pristine and natural beauty. Everyone should take time to experience all regions of our province.

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May 2013 many graduations were held. It had me reflect that it has been 10 years since I graduated from high school with 19 other classmates. A number of people are now married, have children, new homes and wonderful careers. It is always nice to see former classmates and remember our time shared together. This September when I went to Edmonton I was able to re-connect with a few, as well I get to see others at weddings and special occasions on the Great Northern Peninsula, while some have chosen like me to live rural.

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June 2013 we celebrate the Iceberg with an annual iceberg festival. It was also a time when I saw communities come together and build an incredible playground in Cook’s Harbour. To also learn about people and their talents, such as boat building and hear about the flurry of fishing activity happening along our coast. Summer is always a busy time. We have much to be thankful, from the land and the sea.

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July 2013 After a Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony, I decided to host my family for a Canada Day shed celebration. A big bbq spread was for all to enjoy neighbours, friends and family members. We even broke out the accordion. These are the moments you’ll remember all year. It is so important to take time to celebrate with your loved ones. July continued with Come Home Year celebrations in Conche and were followed in August by Roddickton and Savage Cove.

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August 2013 I was reunited with my friends from Europe. We all first met in Prague on an exchange in 2007. I was thrilled that all five of us were able to make the sailing trip in Sardinia, Italy. We have been many places together, including Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Cuba, Edmonton, British Columbia, Toronto, St. John’s and the Great Northern Peninsula. I look forward to our next expedition :)

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September 2013 Labour Day was spent with family enjoying food, games and each others company. I am so thankful we got to spend a weekend where we were all together. I also was happy to travel to Edmonton to see a very good friend of mine marry the love of her life. It was such a great weekend helping and hanging out. I don’t think I laughed so much all year. So good to see former co-workers, family and friends in a city I lived and worked.

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I’ve had some very incredible experiences throughout 2012-13 engaging people. There are high points and there are low points, I’ve made new friends and have had to say good-bye to some old ones. There are demands during special occasions and evenings that may take you away sometimes from your family and loved ones but when you can spend time together make it count. Family is the cornerstone of our lives and society.

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On Thanksgiving 2013, I’ll be spending it with my sister and extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. May next year’s harvest, blessings and experiences be ones of which you can reflect back upon and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving and as always, live rural…

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

 

Republic of Doyle rolls out the red carpet

On Wednesday, October 2nd people from across the country tuned into CBC for episode 501 of Newfoundland & Labrador‘s own “Republic of Doyle” as the cliffhanger ending of Season 4 left us all wondering what would become of star Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco)?

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Last year’s shows were attracting 2.5 million viewers tuning in to the father and son, private investigators from St. John’s for a mix of comedy and drama. This is an exciting endeavor as we showcase the talents of our province and build a growing film and production industry that is made right here. We are creating opportunity, jobs and marketing Newfoundland & Labrador to the world. The Republic of Doyle is a great addition to the Newfoundland & Labrador brand and we should be doing more to encourage local film, production, theatrical and forms of entertainment to develop here at home.

Republic of Doyle rolls out the red carpet…

I had the pleasure of attending the premiere at the St. John’s Convention Centre with hundreds of others to watch it on the big screen. The red carpet was down, banners depicting the actors and a place for group photos. The cast was mingling with the crowd, as well as the crew and others who played a role in the shows success.

It was quite the celebration, a room full of exuberant energy. Before watching episode #501, we were given a viewing of a short film that captured the attention of the audience. After the show people continue to talk about the success of the cast, crew and opportunity for local production. It appears only bigger and better things are in store for the Republic of Doyle. Their success also helps build the business case for other shows, maybe about “The Vikings” or “Outport Life” that showcases the Great Northern Peninsula.

The Republic of Doyle airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. in Newfoundland and southern Labrador, 9 p.m. in the rest of Canada, on CBC Television.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Another Summer of Come Home Year Celebrations

Last summer was another banner year for Come Home Year Celebrations with the Town of St. Anthony; Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet; Town of Main Brook; Town of Anchor Point and Deadman’s Cove each hosting events for a week or more. This summer, the Town of Conche kicked off celebrations on July 25th. On August 5th the Town of Roddickton will be holding a week of activities, followed on August 12th by the Savage Cove Come Home Year.

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One thing about Come Home Year celebrations, they are incredible social and economic contributors to the province and region. These locally organized events are helping to drive the Province’s tourism industry, that reached more than $1 Billion in 2012.  The number of travelers by Marine Atlantic, Deer Lake Regional Airport or personal automobile is in the thousands when you total up all the homecomers. Local businesses, such as gas stations, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and retail outlets benefit from the influx of guests. In addition, hardware and furniture stores also see additional business because of renovations to one’s property whether in the form of flower bins, flooring or a new bed.

These celebrations instill great pride in the community of which you live, lived, have roots or a some other connection. They are pulled off by dynamic community leaders, who tirelessly commit hours of preparation time, make difficult decisions and spend every waking hour ensuring that everyone is enjoying the festivities. These individuals, who undertake such a big initiative are truly to be commended for all your hard work and efforts.

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I had the pleasure to take in the Parade and Opening Ceremonies of the Conche Come Home Year this past week. A long line of vehicles covered every roadway, including Crouse to turnaround. This was likely a record for the number of  vehicles there in such a short time span. After the parade, there were greetings by brought by the Deputy Mayor, Committee, myself and others. Conche’s own Clara Genge sang a song she wrote called “Northern Beauty” and local legend Danny Carroll belted out a tune or two. After the opening, one could get your memorabilia. I bought some placemats, mug, shot glass, Clara Genge CD, Apricot jam, Christmas ornament, Do Unto Others – Dower of Conche and a number of pieces of jewelry from Youth Ventures participant, Shelby. It is great to support local artisans.

Although weather did not co-operate well with the Conchers, they took it all in stride and re-scheduled several events. NDP Leader Lorraine Michael and I had the opportunity to take in some of the softball tournament, chat with locals and watch people get dunked. The variety show was a great mix of song, dance, recitations, and skits that displayed the abundance of local talent that exists in Conche. It was a fabulous week and enjoy taking in many of the events. The committee deserves a big bouquet. Now tomorrow, begins Roddickton CHY. I look forward to a follow-up posting.

Come Home Year celebrations can also bring people back, as the atmosphere creates that desire to be home, that renewed drive to retire or plan more frequent visits to the family homestead. In fact, it had that effect on me.  It was during a week-long Come Home Year Celebration in my hometown of Green Island Cove in 2009 that I decided to quite my job working for a Professional Association in Alberta and move back home at the earliest possible convenience. It was just three weeks later and I began my cross Canada tour with all my belongings packed strategically in my little Honda Civic. I’ll have to save that experience for another posting.

I started work in Community Economic and Business Development with CBDC Nortip and worked there for two years, before being elected to the House of Assembly as the member for The Straits-White Bay North under the New Democratic Party banner. As you can see, that decision has dramatically changed my life, but I would never look back. Being a politician is no walk in the park, but in my role, I see good things happening all around me. I encourage the people of the District to continue to work together, plan community and regional events and let us work together to ensure we are building resilient and vibrant communities.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve needs Interpretation restored.

Budget 2013 saw the ax fall on Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh with the Minister of Environment & Conservation showing no remorse for not ensuring both the protection and education of the Province’s newest ecological reserve. The loss of two interpretation positions, left the site without any staff to provide educational tours and be visible on site daily. It is quite a contradiction to the Government sign posted en route to the site, as they clearly do not see the importance of protection, preserving and educating others about our natural treasures:

Burnt Cape is one of the most important botanical sites in the Province. Its unique landscape, cold climatic conditions, and calcium rich soil allow northern plant species to grow in a rich and rare variety. The reserve is home to more than 300 species of plants, over 30 of which are rare.

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The Department of Environment & Conservation is failing to live up to ensuring the protection, preservation and education of this site, evident from lack of maintenance on the gravel road, no signage directing to the Reserve once in the Town of Raleigh, lack of restroom facilities and refuge containers. I have been actively reaching out to groups, organizations and individuals to help this cause and press Government to reverse this decision.

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NDP Leader Lorraine Michael and I (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) visited the site. It is with regret that interpretative tours were not restored, as this was not deemed a priority from the Minister of Environment & Conservation. Despite a barrage of emails with compelling arguments that were sent to him, the Premier, Minister of Tourism and myself calling for the reinstatement of these knowledgeable guides. They have ignored the call from Nature Conservancies, Environmental Awareness Groups, Ph. D holders, experts and concerned citizens from Newfoundland & Labrador, other parts of Canada and the United States of America. This only tarnishes our reputation of preservation, protection and education with the international community.

There has been much irreparable damage done already to the site, with vehicles unknowingly parked on rare plants like the Longs and Fernalds  braya, to more direct movements of rocks and tire tracks that clearly illustrate a vehicle has driven over a protected area. In addition, visitors to the region are losing out on the experience of what Burnt Cape offers and some are opting not to even bother. The lack of interpretative tours leaves very important details and information of such a provincial treasure. Unless you are an expert in botany, this reserve has lost much of its meaning to the general populace with an interest to explore, learn and understand the uniqueness of this protected area on the Great Northern Peninsula.

The Minister noted about 500 people visited the site annually. It is clear there are many vehicles and people visiting the site on this Sunday afternoon. I believe the stat of visitors to the site is likely understated. Nevertheless, these well-trained guides should never have seen their jobs eliminated.

The Raleigh Historical Society Inc. has applied for permits to have its staff and vehicle bring people to the site during the season. They have stepped up, although it will be a reduced service without the knowledge of trained guides.

Government must also step up. I encourage you to email: Minister Tom Hedderson, Environment & Conservation (thedderson@gov.nl.ca) and myself, Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (cmitchelmore@gov.nl.ca). We must continue to voice our discontent of this decision that is leading to the destruction of a geological, botanical and pale-ontological treasure.

Thank you for any support you can provide.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Going underground – Miner Chris visits Bell Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Marketing Outport Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland & Labrador has marketed ‘outport’ or rural parts of the province in its award-winning tourism ad campaigns.

Innovative rural companies like Auk Island Winery in Twillingate are continuing to add flavour to the tourism experience. Newfoundland & Labrador takes pride in its unique local berries, such as patridgeberry, bakeapples, squashberries, as well as our very own Screech Rum. This company typically makes berry wines and sells quintessentially on Newfoundlandia.

I have tried bottles that are called, “Moose Juice”, “Krooked Cod”, “Jellybean Row” and “Funky Puffin”. I believe part of my purchasing of this product is curiosity, but primarily to support a local business that prides itself in all things Newfoundland & Labrador.

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The imagery on Outport Wine, which includes an iceberg, outport boats and fishing rooms. The splash of Screech just adds to the authenticity and certainly begins the storytelling process.

This season I hope to tour Auk Island Winery and taste many other wines they have produced in various shapes and sizes. Let’s keep being creative and expand the rural economy and our visitor experiences as we celebrate traditional and modern-day outports.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Fishing Remains Our Mainstay

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

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

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

Boats at Sandy Cove

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

The Iceberg Festival

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Join us on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula as we celebrate our Iceberg Festival from June 7 – 16,  2013.

The Northern Peninsula known as Iceberg Alley. In 2011, the Peterman Iceberg landed in Goose Cove with some massive bergs.

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Experience culture, tradition, local landscapes, art and people this season. For more information visit www.theicebergfestival.ca

A Winter Wonderland – Roddickton, Newfoundland & Labrador

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Rabbit with Sunday’s Dinner

Newfoundland & Labrador has a traditional Sunday’s Dinner with some form of meat, potatoes, turnip, carrot, cabbage (greens when available), peas pudding, salt meat, puddings and gravy.

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Sunday’s Dinner is a meal that us rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians look forward to, especially if grandmother is cooking it. A near mornings work with many pots, pans and hands in the kitchen serves up a delicious meal.

The rabbit was snared during last season. I look forward to getting a fresh  one as this past weekend a light powder of snow fell on the Great Northern Peninsula. My father would spend a week or two after Christmas with his buddies in what we referred to as the rabbit camp, as it was located way inside the country. Each year, he always brought back a good bounty of rabbits for our family and his parents. I remember when I was younger, going in the woods with him to check his slips. He showed me how he set up the snares and how to increase your chances of catching a rabbit.

I do not eat rabbit that often, and still today only enjoy the legs. So there will be no fighting for the head when I sit at your table, as is in most cases. One memory that comes to mind when I eat rabbit, is off my late Uncle Douglas. He spent many hours in the countryside, trapping, snaring and berry picking. He would always supply me with a rabbit, either bringing it to my house  or  I would be equally as happy to go to his small trailer to pick it up. He may have been hard to understand at times, despite at times calling me or others a “Frenchman”. I believe this was his ironic sense of humour and whenever he was around he was a mountain of local knowledge as he knew the daily catch of local fishers and other happenings in the community. He would always ask if I spotted a moose or caribou on my drive from work and listening attentively for the answer with details. Uncle Douglas was a gentle man, who loved children and gave freely of what he had to the benefit of others. I miss sharing those conversations with you, but still enjoy a feed of rabbit whenever I get the opportunity.

RIP Uncle Doug.

I hope when traditional food is placed on your table, you can think of a memory, occasion or person that brings a smile to your face.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Cod Jigger Coat Hook

A couple of weekends ago I visited the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre as the Craft Council had hosted their annual Christmas Fair. There were many artisans, artists and authors – all exhibiting their wares. A wide selection of textiles, stain glass, sculptures, Newfoundland & Labrador publishers, chocolates, ornaments, jewelry, photos, prints, sealskin and more.

I had made many purchases that day but I wanted to highlight my cod jigger coat hook in the photo below, which was handcrafted at the Green Family Forge.

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The Green Family Forge has been a fixture in Trinity for more than 250 years in this province. The Trinity Historical Society proudly operates an active forge and has its handcrafted products for retail online. If you would like a custom-made product or purchase directly on-line to support one of our heritage industries their website is: http://www.trinityhistoricalsociety.com/shop_online.htm. The Historical Society realizes the importance of product development and gift shop sales to a non-profit. They have gotten creative by hammering out letter openers, coat hooks, fire pokers, key chains and more.

I am encouraged they are encompassing an important element of our culture, the “cod jigger” in a modern coat hook design that can be placed in the home or office. It is a conversation piece, a fixture – a realization that the cod fishery was the reason for the established permanent settlement in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Thirteen summers ago, I spent some time fishing cod with my father and had the opportunity to try my hand with the cod jigger. It will be a cherished memory, until I can take to the water and jig for cod again. This cod jigger coat hanger will be proudly placed in my home as a reminder of the importance of the cod jigger to our culture, heritage and history.

Live Rural NL -

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

Marketing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador & the VTTA

Today I attended the Viking Trail Tourism Association’s Annual General Meeting at the Plum Point Motel. The chairs were filled tourism operators, employees, government workers and development organizations. We recognized our role and the role we have in advancing tourism on the Great Northern Peninsula. There was much talk of partnership, packaging and being creative!

The Viking Trail Tourism Association is a member-based non-profit industry association that promotes  its members and the greater region since 1988 – entering a milestone of 25 years of service. It continues to purchase advertisements in magazines such as “Downhome” and “Sledworthy”, attend trade shows, and provide members updates. However, it recognizes that it must reach out beyond traditional means of print advertising and is also focusing efforts on the social media.

  • Facebook Page: Viking Trail Tourism Association.
  • Twitter/@vikingtrail

I encourage you to like/follow them and share with friends. Start interacting, ask questions and post your own travel experiences and stories about the Great Northern Peninsula. Visit www.vikingtrail.org/contact.php or email info@vtta.nf.ca if you would like to contribute, become a member and help this non-profit member-based group advance its tourism initiatives.

Today’s meeting got me once again thinking about marketing the rural experience…it’s sometimes the little things we do…

I recently stayed at the Battery Hotel & Suites, which has the most amazing view of St. John’s harbour, NL en route to Signal Hill. As I checked into my room, I had to pass Room 400 Flower’s Cove which is just 14 KM from my hometown and has a unique tourism experience of Thrombolites (living rocks), White Rocks Walking Trail, Marjorie Bridge, Seal Skin Boot Church, Flower’s Island Lighthouse, local foods and great conversations. I immediately felt at home! A place I truly could relate…I immediately told other guests about Flower’s Cove.

Despite the star marking the location of Flower’s Cove being a little too far south I thought this little marketing initiative was powerful. My own room was historic Cupids, the oldest continuously settled British Colony in Canada and the second oldest in North America – what a view the room boasts. Neddie’s Harbour Inn (www.theinn.ca) on the Great Northern Peninsula also has local names for their rooms.

Now imagine if each room at the Battery had content from across the Province. Why not have a story board of Flower’s Cove with local sights, history and stories inside Room 400? Let’s create a means to further cross-promote regions, businesses & attractions. There may be a role for the VTTA, Destination Management Organizations, Business & Department of Tourism, Culture & Recreation to find new creative ways to ensure we reach out in new ways to share the beauty of rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

I commend the VTTA and your efforts to date. I know you will work with your members and others to build upon the tens of thousands of tourists that experience Route 430: The Viking Trail every year.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Show Your Support for the Canadian Seal Hunt

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

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

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

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

Home from the Sea: Seal of Approval Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Bring Rural NL to Life on MHA’s 2012 Christmas Card

K-Grade 3 Students of The Straits-White Bay North are invited to submit drawings, paintings or photos for the MHA’s 2012 Christmas Card. The student’s name will be listed. Deadline is Monday, Oct. 24, 2012. See image for details.
 
This is a great opportunity to share  an image from your community, a tradition, landscape, event or thought around Christmas of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Will someone submit Christmas Mummering? A popcorn strung Christmas tree? Sledding on the old tobaggan or riding the old-fashioned snow mobile? We look forward to your creativity as we display the art at our public gallery. Please include name, grade and school with your submission.
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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Could the Harp be the Next Tourist Attraction?

 On September 17th, 2012 I had visited VIKIN Maritime Museum situated on the waterfront of the old harbour in Reykjavik, Iceland. It had impressive displays of boats, engines, gear and equipment. Exhibits outlines the process of drying cod-fish on flakes and lines, as well as the transition to on land processing of fresh and frozen product.

Maritime Museum – Reykjavik, Iceland

Beyond taking one through the life, household and culture of the fisher – history came to life with a depiction and video of the cod wars. A dock was designed to highlight important transportation links the waterways presented. This museum had a lot to offer its visitors and I was more than satisfied to pay the $8 admission. I did not realize when I bought entrance that I would also get a tour of the de-commissioned coastguard ship ODINN. It was an unexpected treat! The tour guide had studied history and was extremely knowledgeable of the subject matter and exhibited much interest in his work.

ODINN – De-commissioned Icelandic Coastguard Vessel

From on deck to below we toured got to see the sleeping quarters, engine room, galley and more.

We got to sit in the Captain’s Chair

I realized that in Newfoundland & Labrador with our rich and vibrant fishing history and dependency on the ocean that we do not have a dedicated Maritime Museum of this nature. We have some elements of fishing villages in the Town of Raleigh, Broom Point in Gros Morne National Park has an interpretative fishing exhibit, there are other museums with elements of the fishery, Maritime Archives at Memorial and of course The Rooms. We may have an untapped opportunity to present something similar to this offering. The announced decommissioning of the Canadian Coastguard vessel the Harp may allow for tours in the Town of St. Anthony or other port.

Why not consider the Harp as the next tourist attraction?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 

Community Recreation Development Grant Program Open for Applications

Applications are currently being accepted for the Community Recreation Development Grant Program. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is encouraging communities and recreation committees to submit an application. Funding will be used to help provide recreation programming and services to residents across the province.

 “The Community Recreation Development Grant Program is designed to offset the cost of recreation, sport, and active-living programs available to communities with less than 6,000 people,” said Minister Dalley. “Support from this program gives citizens of all ages the opportunity to become more physically active by participating in local recreation programs and services offered in their respective communities.”

The deadline to submit applications is April 30, 2012.

Applications are considered based on their alignment with the priorities outlined in the province’s recreation and sport strategy, Active, Healthy Newfoundland and Labrador (2007). These priorities include providing increased access to programming for all residents; making the best use of community facilities; building community capacities, and promoting the inclusion of traditionally under-represented groups, especially Aboriginal groups, women, seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities.

For program guidelines and applications:

A Team of Labrador Huskies in Happy Valley – Goose Bay

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

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

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

There is something unique about the Labrador Husky:

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

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

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

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

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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