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Rural Roots, including Seal Hunt Proudly on Display at MHA Mitchelmore’s Office

 

 

 

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I’m a believer in all things rural, including the seal harvest. I wear my father’s seal skin boots that are more than 15 years old and last year purchased a seal skin coat. I could give it away a dozen times a day from all the people I meet that would also like to have one. More must be done to make these products more readily available to people of the province. The seal skin tie I have, which certainly has “heart” was purchased for $60 from GNP Craft Producers in my District. They have a website http://www.gnpcrafts.ca. They also make great belts for $40, bow ties, slippers, mittens and more. Let’s continue to show our support for the seal harvest, as it is humane, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

As the blog simply states, “Live Rural” and “Experience the Great Northern Peninsula” is all about learning, understanding and sharing my rural roots with the world.

For those who have dropped by our constituency office in St. Anthony, the public gallery has an array of local art from a French Shore Tapestry, photographed seal by Chris Patey, hooked rug, sweat lodge artwork, icebergs, Grenfell embroidery, painted purity products, dories, fish and many pieces that reflect our rural region. There is a collage of images from across the Great Northern Peninsula.

However, my office at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, NL is no different. It includes many handmade items and pieces of art that I have made myself or purchased from others. I am always searching for as much local stuff as possible.

There is a lovely Chris Patey piece of Iceberg Photography on the northern tip, with a magnifying glass and fish handle, La Mousses (The French Fisherman) that I’ve been told resembles me is from The Guardian Gift Shop at the French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche, but was made by Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows. Outport NL by Candace Conchrane is next to a handmade glass plate made at the St. Anthony College of the North Atlantic. The fused glass polar bear comes from the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony. There is a stuffed seal that was given to me as a Christmas present, as well as a fish and smaller seal.

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Here is an explanation of the Gallery below:

I purchased art from Bruce Pilgrim, originally from Main Brook, the former Englee Plant which was framed by his wife Maureen, owner of Island Images Gallery and Framing Shop. It is very pleasing after all the lobbying, letter writing, petitions, telephone calls and more that Government issued a clean-up order which resulted in $1.7M to remove and re-mediate this site.

The iceberg was painted by myself in three hours when I took a class with George Bussey, originally of St. Lunaire-Griquet. I enjoyed this immensely and encourage others to take it up as a hobby.

The hooked rug, I did as well under the instruction of Sabrina Gaulton of Anchor Point. It took about 50 hours to make this tiny rug. I would like to do another, when time permits. Thus far, time has not permitted.

The “Lonely Harbour” is a piece I purchased at the Bits’n Pieces Cafe in Conche from local Natalie Byrne.

The splitting table imagery reminds me of Noddy Bay or Raleigh. It was done by William Bartlett of St. Lunaire-Griquet.

The polar bears were bought at Shoreline Flower’s N’ Crafts in Sandy Cove and the ax on the chopping block a gift from Port Hope Simpson.

The “Return of the Sealers” is my most recent purchase from the Savage Cove Come Home Year. It is a Linda Coles piece, who is originally from Savage Cove.

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador surrounds my work space every day. I am proud of my rural roots and continue to…

Live Rural NL -

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
 
 

Get Your Own Sealskin Slippers at www.gnpcraft.com

I am the proud owner of two pairs of sealskin moccasins or slippers as well as other sealskin products. Some people have seen me wearing the slippers at the Confederation Building over the past number of weeks. Santa did bring me a pair.

If you would like to get your own pair, GNP Craft Producers in Shoal Cove East on the Great Northern Peninsula can take your order over the telephone and ship your product. Visit their site at http://www.gnpcraft.com. Their prices range from $115-130 a pair depending on size. They also have children’s sizes and a variety of other products.

All items are locally made, by local people. This social enterprise continues to train and pass on the long-lived traditional skills of making sealskin clothing and boots. They have their own tannery, workshop and storefront.

Support local business, local traditions – let’s create larger local demand for sealskin products!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

MHA visits GNP Crafts – Purchases Seal Skin Products

My father was a sealer. He would prepare the seal skins over a several week process, soak them in chopped pieces of bark and ensure they were tanned to perfection. It is more than 13 years later and I still proudly wear the seal skin boots made due to his hard work and dedication to the tradition.

In the photo above, I try on a seal skin vest. Although, it was not my size. As my mother would say, “you’ll have to eat a few more figgy puddings”. I did try on the seal skin belt, which fit perfectly. I could not resist but to purchase it. A number of people have since complimented me on it. This organization is evidence that there is a market for seal skin products and there always will be no matter how many countries that close their border to the import of this product.

Santa gave me a pair of seal skin slippers for Christmas. I have since purchased a second pair for the Office at the Confederation Building. This local social enterprise is ensuring that seal skin products remain a hallmark of our culture and tradition. I am looking forward to picking up my order next week as they have opted to make a custom skinny tie for me.

In 2011, I wrote a letter in retaliation of Ellen DeGeneres‘ stance on the seal hunt. I stand by that position.  It is time for us to take control of our own destiny and depend less on the global market place to purchase our product but to focus on a co-op or social enterprise model that creates local jobs, teaches long-lived skills, pass on traditions and educate people of the economic and social benefits sealing has had to the people of the Great Northern Peninsula and other parts of Canada.

If you would like to find out more about GNP Craft Producers, visit www.gnpcrafts.ca.

Live Rural NL -

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