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.
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.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA
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.
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!
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA
This summer, I had the privilege of meeting Alice and Austin Dower of Conche, NL at their home. I had met Austin before playing music for us at the Tuckamore Lodge, Main Brook and again at the Ivy Durley Place in Flower’s Cove. It is clearly evident he is a man of many talents, especially when it comes to song and stories. We had a great conversation about family, community, the upcoming Come Home Year and the wonderful history that exists surrounding the Town of Conche.
Little did I realize in conversation, that the man I was talking with had such a strong connection to the communities beginning. Austin, a retired teacher had recently penned a book, entitled “Do Unto Others: Dower of Conche”, which is a scripted version of his family history of James Herbert Dower and the settlement of the community.
It has taken me about six months to begin but only a couple of days to finish reading Dower’s work. The book was a pleasant short read that was filled with intrigue and also a reflection of life’s everyday challenges in community building in rural Newfoundland and Labrador in the early 1800′s. Dower also reinforces the importance of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” Photos at the end also give the reader an understanding and snapshot of the community past and present.
I am grateful the author has taken the time to document and also tell in his own words his family’s story. I hope that this is not the only book penned by Austin J. Dower and I encourage others to find a copy. Even take a visit to The French Shore. Served up nicely with a cup of tea :)
We all have stories to tell and our own family histories is a remarkable place to start.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Savage Cove has about 150 current residents, but that certainly didn’t hold them back for organizing a Come Home Year Celebration that would see hundreds return to their roots and enjoy a week-long celebration from August 12-18th. When a community has a belief and goal, they tend to set the bar high and in many cases exceed expectations.
Despite a windy day at the start, no one’s spirit was dampened. This was a first for the community and the waves likely reflected the energy of having everyone home again. In the weeks leading up to the event, people volunteered many hours building a structure to add to the Harbour Authority Building to ensure they could handle capacity.
The committee dedicated many hours and was heavily supported by the community and those expats away to ensure monies would be available for materials, bands, bags and other events through their fundraising efforts.
I enjoyed marching with the crowds, as family banners were held high. There were so many, I may not have captured them all. Last Christmas we held the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk in Savage Cove, with about 40 mummers walking the same path as those registered for Come Home Year. It was incredible to see hundreds march proudly from St. Mark’s Church through the community to end up near the point.
The week of activities was impressive and added something for the whole family, such as a bon fire with fireworks, kids activities, play day at the playground and recreation cages in Flower’s Cove, seniors card game, bingo, Newlywed Game and nightly entertainment. There were craft producers, daily breakfasts and most importantly lots of new memories being made.
Savage Cove is another small community that shows, even small communities can do big things. Next year, Eddies Cove East will be holding its first Come Home Year Celebration. I want to thank everyone involved, from the committee, other volunteers, residents, those who came back and others from the region who supported this Celebration. I’m proud we can celebrate our communities in a big way, it builds a stronger rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Thank you for doing your part.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.
I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.
There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990′s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.
The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.
It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.
We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.Live Rural NL - Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
The Town of Main Brook may have a small population of about 250 people, but it soars with community spirit. The Come Home Year Celebration brought hundreds of people back home in 2012 and it was evident that residents and those with a connection to the community are there to support it. It is quite exciting to see the Town, Recreation Committee, Development Association, Come Home Year Committee, businesses, residents and others are pooling together to raise the roof to building a community centre. Working together, sharing resources is the best way to reach a common goal! All the volunteers deserve a big round of applause. The workers are doing a wonderful job in putting together the building in bone chilling temperatures.
It is important for any community to have a meeting place for friends and family to gather. This will piece of infrastructure will certainly help attract more families and retirees to this tiny town that has a K-12 school, service station, meat shop, wilderness resort, accommodations, food services, sawmill, grocery store, fire department, fish plant, post office, liquor store, development association, Town council (water & sewer services), high speed Internet, cell coverage, near airport and larger business centres of Roddickton-Bide Arm and St. Anthony.
Main Brook is a part of the French Shore, with a presence of French before the English settlers. People came to Main Brook because of the rich forest resources. Bowater‘s created a company town in the 1940′s. The population grew to more than 300 and Government appointed a town council prior to confederation. The economy thrived for decades with several expansions, until a downturn in markets and new technologies would devastate this one-industry Town in the late 60′s, early 70′s.
There appears to be such a rich history around the Bowater lumber camps. I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his days with Bowaters. It would be an interesting economic development to re-create the Bowater lumber camps as a new economic driver. One could learn about the forest industry of years gone by, get fed at the cookhouse, sleep in the bunkhouse and also spend some time learning to saw a cord of wood. This would pair well with the outdoor hunting, fishing and recreational experiences this town offers locals and tourists. It may be time to create an open-air museum and re-visit our roots.
The Town has not been sitting idle with an active sawmill that has been in the Coates’ family for generations. In addition, it has transitioned to be an inclusive fishing community, where a number of residents and those from surrounding area maintain seasonal employment at a local fish plant.
There are many unique photo opportunities when you drive around this planned community. Bring your camera!
You will find no homes for sale, but land is available and there are planned sub-divisions. Get yourself a view of Hare Bay, bring your ideas and be a part of a community that has a lot of spirit.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- “Here’s to Great Ideas, Great Experiences and a Great Friendship” – 2013 (liveruralnl.com)
- A Winter Wonderland – Roddickton, Newfoundland & Labrador (liveruralnl.com)
- Conche, Newfoundland & Labrador on a Winter’s Day (liveruralnl.com)
The Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive held on December 29, 2010 at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre is touted as a big success. The event started at 2:00 PM with mummers finding their way to the centre, dropping off food items for the Straits Food Sharing Association and ready to have fun.
A total of 20 people shared in the traditional spirit by taking time out of their day to partake in this regional community economic development (CED) activity by dressing up. The mummers along with many citizens showed their kindness by donating to their local food bank, which became the recipient of many staple items consisting of flour, sugar, cereals, can foods and other necessities. This comes at a time when food banks face severe shortages and are greatly needed.
Organizer’s Christopher Mitchelmore, Emerging Leaders co-Chair (Canadian Community Economic Development Network or cCEDnet) and cCEDnet Intern, Sabrina Gaultan decided it was well overdue to instill greater uptake, creating a rural revival of this once flourishing Christmastime tradition and support a worthwhile local cause. Christopher had noted that a community event around a revival of mummering should take place during the holidays. Some discussion led to a number of ideas, but with a very short time frame it was agreed to start with a small activity and enable it to grow. This led Ms. Gaultan to become very busy, as she created a visually appealing poster, handled necessary logistics by contacting local food sharing association, RCMP detachment and Lion’s Centre. In a short timeframe the marketing, location and partnerships were created. Rural regions can improve by becoming more organized. As residents, let us focus on unique traditions and plan more activities and events in our regions for all of us to enjoy. It all starts with an idea!
Local community leaders, volunteers and participants were discussing the potential for next year’s walk. The excitement was there to better promote and continue the Mummer’s Walk. It is very positive to see this type of outcome. Maybe 2011 will bring forth a Mummer’s Ball? There is all sorts of potential for this tradition to be revived. With the right partnerships formed our sense of community with continue to grow and prosper. I commend all those who actively participated, came to watch, donated food items, supported and helped in any way build on the spirit of our community and made this event a success! We look forward to what this year’s event will bring. Happy New Year to All!
Article taken from “The Western Shorefast Fall 2010″ Newsletter:
A forum on transportation in the Great Northern Peninsula was held at the Straits Arena, St. Barbe on September 8th, 2010. The forum was planned to discuss the findings contained in a report on the possible business opportunities resulting from the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. You can review the entire study on the Nordic Board website at www.nedc.nf.ca.
The two regional economic development boards (Economic Zone 6 and 7) on the Great Northern Peninsula, along with other partner organizations such as CBDC-Nortip, Innovation, Trade & Rural Development (INTRD), the Rural Secretariat NL, ACOA, and municipalities in the region organized this forum “for all stakeholders wishing to learn and/or have input on these emerging transportation business opportunities. The primary focus will report on the recent completion of the Trans Labrador Highway and its overall impacts on the Great Northern Peninsula as related to the road, marine and air transportation routes.”
Additionally, the forum wanted to “seek input towards developing both short and long-term strategic directions for the entire Great Northern Peninsula with respect to business development linked to transportation. Recommendations from the Forum along with the recommendations outlined in the Trans Labrador Highway Study will help shape an overall Transportation Business Development Strategy for the Great Northern Peninsula moving forward in 2010 and beyond.” The organizers sent the attendees a discussion document that spoke of opportunities to discuss: the transportation study; business opportunities and gaps; highway development, signage and webcams; high-speed Internet; emergency services and response; language services; and ferry-related topics, such as schedules, wharf improvements.
All of the presenters identified the following as major issues that will need addressing in the near future:
Impact of heavy trucking and increased traffic on existing roads
- High Speed Internet Access
- Inadequate Human Resources for service industry and tourism operations
- Highway upgrading and development
- Improved ferry service to and from Labrador, especially in winter
Several presenters spoke of the eventual need for a fixed link between Labrador and the Island, outlining proposed routes and possible costs.
The meeting concluded with an invitation from Chris Mitchelmore to prospective and existing entrepreneurs to avail of the business planning services offered through the development boards and the Community Business Development Corporation (Nortip). He encouraged entrepreneurs to work with existing networks, such as The Viking Trail Tourism Association and the Northern Peninsula Business Network.
Newfoundland & Labrador has kilometers and kilometers of beautiful landscapes and coastlines. It boasts three national parks, two world UNESCO sites, first re-discovered by the Vikings (more than 1,000 years ago) and over 5,000 years of inhabitation. We are proud Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, known for our hospitality! An earlier post notes some interesting facts and firsts from our province and people.
The rural economy has an abundance of natural resources including, fish, forests and farms, which all support the urban economy. The success of rural regions and urban economies are interlinked. Infrastructure and services are put in place through local revenues. However, most rural economies are feeling the crunch as revenues decline and cost of services increase. It is no wonder our municipal leaders scratch their heads when it comes to planning for future development. What services will have to be cut to ensure that essential services can be maintained. We see all too often this challenge as we enter small towns and noticed their paved roads are less than acceptable. One will almost get swallowed up in the Town of Flower’s Cove as they drive to the only Bank for service.
However, the reality is – there are less local dollars flowing back into the local economy. The budgets are shrinking and costs are escalating. There are fewer babies in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Kids are moving away after high school and not choosing to live in rural areas. The baby boomers are getting grey and there is an aging workforce. This presents an evident labour shortage. How can we keep doing more with less? Where is the sustainability? Property taxes can not be increased to meet adherent demands.
No town or community is immune. Even Minnesota, with more than 800 cities are feeling the crunch as noted in the Youtube video below. With less money we will see parks and trails not mowed and other services cut back, longer wait times for medical and emergency services.
According to this video, the solution is community co-operation:
Everyone participating is the fix – no matter what political strip you are. The right mix of dollars and common sense. So off the fence, we need your talents to find balance. Time to share and be aware and care about unity in our communities. Minnesota is our home, we can’t postpone. We must proceed to think and choose services we need and how to pay.
Individually our communities face these challenges, but together we can gain sustainability. We must work together with our neighbouring communities and regions to plan for a stronger more vibrant tomorrow.
- Offer More Grants to Towns – Less Grants to Big Business (liveruralnl.com)