L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site has always been a fascinating place to visit. I have been privileged to live near where the first Europeans would re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago when Leif Erikson came on Snorri to the Great Northern Peninsula – a place he called “Vinland”. A sign on Route 430, which is named the Viking Trail welcomes you to Erikson’s Vinland!
July 2013 saw the unveiling of a new Leif statue in the very place where he became the first European to set foot on American shores. A special ceremony was held in partnership with the Leif Erikson International Foundation, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade and St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated (SABRI). Leif looks out toward the sea.
I want to thank all the donors, supporters and volunteers, who worked to ensure Leif would be a permanent fixture at L’Anse aux Meadows. This was a remarkable moment, that included an Icelandic Choir, a representative from the Norwegian Embassy, Parks Canada staff, local residents and Benedicte Ignstad.
Benedicte is the daughter of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad, the archaeologists who made the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows as the only authenticated Norse site in North America in the early 1960′s.
I have travelled to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to experience more of the Viking/Norse culture. However, Benedicte offered me and others the insight into the process and the way of life in L’Anse aux Meadows, some 50 years ago.
I attended her reading of her mother’s book “The Land with the Green Meadows” by Anne Stine Ingstad. This book was first published in Norway in 1975 and translated in 2006 to English. The Historical Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador gained permission from Benedicte to have the book lightly edited and available to a new generation of readers.
I spent multiple hours of a plane and many more waiting at an airport just over a week ago, when I began Anne’s book. I could not put it down, because it told a real story. It described the people of L’Anse aux Meadows and of nearby Straitsview and the struggles they faced. The Decker’s, Blake’s, Anderson’s, Colbourne’s and others are very real people. The book highlights how a community comes together to look after one another, the building of the highway to connect the communities to L’Anse aux Meadows and the shift from coastal boat to air transport saw a dynamic shift for such an isolated place as L’Anse aux Meadows. Over the course of the book, one got to know Anne and Helge, experience the great discovery, as well as the local people and the kindness of others, including those who worked at the Grenfell Mission.
There was much pioneering happening on the Great Northen Peninsula. There always was and there always will be. From the very first sod buildings to the current day residents, L’Anse aux Meadows is a place you want to visit and experience for yourself in your lifetime.
Summer is when the land is green, and the best time to visit. Begin your trip planning today. A Viking Experience awaits!
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Roddickton population has more than doubled over the past week as part of the Come Home Year celebration activities. I have been taking in much of the festivities and will be posting photos and a blog soon to give everyone an update as it has been a highly spirited week. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet Elsie Reid and take her “Blast from the Past” walking trail.
I met Elsie a couple of years ago, and it was clear her passion for gardening. She has taken this passion and turned it into something unique for the community to enjoy by creating an “open air” museum with static displays that depict rural living. You can click the photos below, but there is no substitute for experiencing in-person the peaceful walk along the forested trail.
Elsie and her husband, Calvin, have volunteered many long hours building a greenhouse, herb garden, bird area, and the heritage walking trail. There are many contributors that have donated items to make this all possible in memory of loved ones and other townspeople, family and friends.
The guided walk begins at the wishing well, where you can drop a coin to make a wish. Next there is a boat, that Elsie salvaged from being burned and was now given a new home. Ironically, this boat was owned by her father and was made about 30 years ago. There are bicycles, an outhouse, Christmas mummers, pot belly stove, saws, trunks and many other household items along the way. I enjoyed the comment, when Elsie pointed to a steel bed frame filled will blooming flower pots and said, “and here is my bed of flowers”.
As the former owner and operator of a museum that depicted rural living on the Great Northern Peninsula, I can truly appreciate the effort and uniqueness that this will bring to the Town of Roddickton. This is truly a project that has taken on a life of its own with bright coloured paint, recycling and reusing of materials, such as old tires and clothing to create flower pots and the preservation of people’s memories.
At the end of the tour, Elsie takes you into her greenhouse, showing the herbs and plants she is growing. She has only the freshest of herbs: parsley, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, savory, marjoram and others. As well, all natural bug spray, lip balms, foot and body cream, stuffed animals and some handmade knitted items.
I purchased several herbs and look forward to a nice cup of spearmint and lemon tea. Your hobby and your passions are incredible business opportunities. Ms. Reid has the potential to sell fresh herbs to local restaurants, grocery stores and specialty outlets. Her all-natural bug spray could be commercialized, as it would have great appeal in the marketplace as we strive to reduce the contact our body has with chemicals. There is also a natural tourism component to the walking trail and resting areas. Ms. Reid could set up an outdoor tea room, where her herbal and natural teas are for sale, while viewing the bird area. She is a wealth of experience, known as the “Garden Lady”, she could teach others how to garden and produce local herbs and natural products that will help us all live healthier lives.
We have great potential on the Great Northern Peninsula because we have incredible people, with ideas, a rich vibrant history and natural landscape. If you have an idea, take that initiative and start something for others to enjoy.
Blast from the Past Walking Trail can be found in Roddickton before the Apostolic Faith Church on the left coming into Town. There is a sign on the property. I truly hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Live Rural NL -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
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The Town of Bird Cove is quite scenic. One could get lost in the beauty of your surroundings. I had taken the trek around parts of Long Pond and some of the archaeological sites.
Bird Cove is a Community of 50 Centuries. People have inhabited this peninsula for more than 5,000 years. So many cultures collided, from the first Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo, Recent Indians, Basque, French, English to the current settlers. So it is certainly “About Time…”
I was tempted to take this small boat out for a row. It has been awhile since I’ve been rowing on the water, I miss it terribly. On the walk, I would recommend bug spray as there were many gnats and dragon flies skirting around me. I saw a fine winter’s wood neatly piled along the walk.
The trail continued with pebbles that would lead me to various plant life along the trail.
I was told that it is not uncommon to see a caribou while walking this trail. I did see a small squirrel and several birds. They were singing :). It was a beautiful day.
One could be with nature at one turn and at the other see civilization of Bird Cove with a view of dwellings and the water tower. The trail continued to a boardwalk into the “Big Droke” (thickly forested area)
There was lots of space to sit down for a rest or to have a bite to eat. The trails were well-maintained. However, some of the signage was missing, so at times when I came to a fork I was a little unsure as to which direction to take. There were no bags in the limited garbage containers, so I held my Gatorade bottle. I was pleasantly surprised garbage was absent. Despite this, I found the trek very enjoyable. The larger panels had good images and useful information.
There were many other trails, as there are more than 30 register archaeological sites. One could walk Dog Peninsula and see Captain James Cook’s Cairn. I did not enjoy the fact that the trail did not loop around, as I was sporting my beige shorts with black dress shoes (very under-prepared for this walk, as I left from work wearing dress pants, shirt and tie). I ended up having to walk down a road of houses and make a turn to get back to the Community Centre. The additional walk did permit me to take many great photos of lobster traps, a rest area, fishing boats, seabirds and the Big Droke Cultures Foundation before making my way back to the Centre.
You too could find your way in Bird Cove! Remember “It’s About Time”
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
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- White Rocks Walking Trail – Flower’s Cove, NL (liveruralnl.com)
The fishery continues to make headlines, unfortunately not the type I have an appetite for reading.
VOCM reported the following protest at Black Duck Cove, NL http://www.vocm.com/newsarticle.asp?mn=2&id=14203&latest=1
The Black Duck Cove Fish Plant has a ready, willing and able workforce. There is raw material on the Great Northern Peninsula being caught by local fishers. However, this material is being trucked away, along with it all the economic value it should add to the local economy. Sadly, it appears we are losing control of our natural resources, something that Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has in abundance.
If we do not act strongly on this matter we will continue to say good-bye to our jobs, not only of the plant workers but many others will be indirectly and adversely affected. There is a significant domino effect as small businesses and communities will be rationalized.
Continue your voice, co-operate and show unity my friends. Let this and other issues be heard by the Government. Get your MHA speaking up on this matter, representing his constituents and do meet with Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman.
It is time for a better solution than what we have currently. I believe if we work together as a collective group, we can achieve as we have in the past.
Live Rural NL writing from Las Vegas -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
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- Escalating Gas Prices Continue to Leave Local Consumers Poorer, especially in Rural Regions (liveruralnl.com)
The Napoleonic Wars had an impact on the settlement on the Island of Newfoundland during 1803-1815. The withdrawal of the warring nations from the salt cod fishery gave Newfoundland a monopoly in such a lucrative industry. During these years prosperity came with increase in standards of living and brought great social change.
The Invalides complex with Dome Church, built in 1670 was a military hospital. It has beautiful gardens, which are lined by canons. There is a focus of Napoleon’s life and death.
It is one of the places you can see while in France.
Live Rural NL -
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting CURRA Researcher Pam Hall. She is a remarkable individual with adept artistic talent and her initiative will help us all continue to experience and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
The following article is being distributed from “The Western Shorefast Fall 2010″ Newsletter:
My [Pam Hall's] PhD research explores art as a form of making and moving knowledge. Traditionally, we have seen science as the main and often the only source of knowledge in western society, and my research will work to expand, deepen and make visible many others forms of knowledge that have been undervalued and consequently under-used. My work with CURRA will involve a major collaborative creative project that will take place in communities throughout Bonne Bay and the Great Northern Peninsula. It is called Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge and hopefully will include participants from school children to elders, who will share their own knowledge to be included in the Encyclopedia.
Often, we think of “knowledge” in narrow ways that exclude many kinds of knowing and many kinds of knowers; my work as a scholar and an artist begins with the assumption that everyone knows something interesting and important about where they live and how they live there. My goal is to make that knowledge visible so it can be shared and used within and beyond the communities where it emerges.
Even children “know things” about their homes and communities, whether it be which are the fastest paths home or where there are good places to hide or where important things happened. Fishers and hunters know a lot about their local ecology but also about how to make things, find things, or interpret the weather. Some women know not just where to find berries, but how to preserve them: some know not just who their relatives are, but where they came from, and what their ancestors did in previous generations. Schoolteachers, convenience store workers, grandparents, mechanics, teenagers, union officials, waitresses, nurses, fishers, truck drivers, and carpenters, ALL have particular ways of knowing their place and know particular things about it.
Everyone has some expert knowledge and Towards an Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge will gather ecological, social, historical, technical, material and cultural knowledge from voluntary “experts” up and down the west coast of the Province. It will build on, expand and extend some of the community-specific knowledge that already exists and make it visible, alongside new knowledge -so it can be shared and presented- honoured and celebrated.
Everyone who participates will be acknowledged as a co-author, and many kinds of traditionally “invisible” forms of knowledge will be included. For example, local and CURRA researchers have already begun to gather fishermen’s ecological knowledge (FEK), which, in the Encyclopaedia can be set beside I am excited to begin the search for women and men up and down the Northern Peninsula who will share their time and knowledge to help me create the Encyclopaedia of Local Knowledge.For more information on my work as an artist, visit http://www.pamhall.ca and for more information, contact me directly at email@example.com.Pam Hall, CURRA
On August 16, 2010…I finally traversed the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland after years of saying I would visit. Well, to all you readers it was well worth the wait! The 316 KM road links the capital, St. Johns to the “southern shore” which is predominantly descended from Irish roots and back again. For those of you who can remember, the Government ran cheesy tourism ads that went something like “come to the Irish Loop…Whales and Birds Galore….something, something, something explore” It was forever played on our independently owned NTV channel, “coined Canada’s superstation”. The tourism ads have greatly improved, especially depicting the scenic beauty of the Irish Loop. Visit the follow Youtube video at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aRFuguc7bk.
We stopped at scenic Ferryland. It has incredible heritage structures, beautiful landscapes, historic cemetery, stone church and its own colony. Ferryland was formerly the “Province of Avalon”. A place that is the first permanent settlement and founded by Sir George Calvert. I read about him in a Newfoundland History course during my last semester at Memorial University. He was later titled “Lord Baltimore”. After spending one winter in what is now Ferryland, he returned to Britain and left hired help (the first settlers, commonly referred to as “planters”). These planters began what is most likely the oldest continuously occupied village in British North America. For those who know me, they know how patriotic I am when it comes to my province of Newfoundland & Labrador. I often get the opportunity to educate people about the oldest street in North America, the most easterly point in North America, George Street (most bars, pubs & clubs per sq. ft/capita in North America), only province to land a space shuttle, have four flags, have its own set of encyclopedias, its own dictionary and of course, the oldest English settlement in North America.
As a freelance “journalist” :), I was given a remarkable tour. It started with a short video, followed by artifacts and interpretative panels. Next a guide provided an interpretative tour. It was very windy, but that can be typical in Newfoundland. We started at the outside herb garden, which was very informative. Apparently, “apple mint” was an early form of deodorant. Our tour continued with a stop at the Gentleman’s garden before entering the area that is known as the Colony of Avalon. The start consists of a 400 ft cobblestone street, which we were able to walk later in the tour.
We were offered the option to take a rest at one of the benches (refer to image on the left). The guide said, she would not judge us. I love the sense of humour we have in this lovely province. As we continued the tour we were able to see the remains of the forge, Lord Baltimore’s mansion-house, other dwellings, as well as the archeologists continuing to excavate the site and uncover more evidence of the past. It was noted that more than 1 Million artifacts have been unearthed and catalogued over the past 20 years. We had the opportunity to visit the conservation laboratory at the end of the tour.
This Colony has a history and is plagued with drama. Baltimore left for the United States. In 1638, Sir David Kirke, his wife Lady Sarah Kirke and their family took up residence in Baltimore’s mansion-house. This settlement became known as the “Pool Plantation” and took on a more business-like role. Tavern licences were sold and Kirke developed a prosperous fishing mercantile business. Unfortunately for him, he did not pay his taxes and was jailed in England. The settlement was disputed among the two families as to who had ownership for years. Eventually, Lady Sarah Kirke took over the enterprise and began most likely North America’s first successful female entrepreneur (another first)! The settlement prospered until its destruction by the French in 1696.
Newfoundland & Labrador’s history books show constant political battles, which led to frequent wars among the English and French over land ownership. This is why the oldest settlement in North America & the youngest province in Canada has very little structures that are more than 100 years. As most structures older than a century were victims of fires. However, what remains continues to be part of our living history.
The tour ended with a visit to the 17th century Reproduction Kitchen. My advice is not to end the tour early, as this is worth the visit. It gives a good reflection of the everyday lives, hardships and even some luxuries of the early colonists.
There is a unique history, Beothuk Indians, early European fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal, Britanny, Euskal and West England are all part of this unique history. If you would like more information, visit: http://www.colonyofavalon.ca/
I will be posting more images on the Facebook Group, “Live Rural NL”.
The Colony of Avalon is another place one can experience something rural – CCM.
This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.
While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society. The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s.
Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps; a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.
Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.
There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.
After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!
As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland, I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Let’s Save Our Rural Economy -
Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.
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Before the expeditions of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot, 1497), Christopher Columbus and Captain James Cook - we had visitors and inhabitants. More than 1,000 years ago the Norse (often referred to as “Vikings”) were the first Europeans to re-discover Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Norse established a settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows (translated “Jellyfish Cove”) which consisted of eight sod houses. This site was officially discovered by two Norwegians in 1960-61, after a local resident Mr. George Decker directed them to this site. In 1978, L’Anse aux Meadows was declared a World UNESCO Heritage Site. For more details visit Parks Canada’s website: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/index.aspx.
On June 28, 2010 I had re-visited the site and experienced a feeling of re-discovery. This is a place I had not returned since I was a little boy almost 20 years ago. Some aspects I remember clearly, other elements are more vivid. At first, the replicated sod houses and all the artificial artifacts were real to me, thinking in the mind of a child. I remember the interpreter vividly in much different clothing. A butterchurn that was on display intrigued me since it must have been a difficult process to make butter all those years ago; that it simply did not come pre-packaged at the local general store. Growing up in a lovely home with all the modernities of electricity and indoor plumbing of the 20th century (at the time), I could not imagine what life was like for these people more than 1,000 years ago. But, I certainly thought it was cool and would loved to have spent a night or two there, just for the experience! Hey, it couldn’t be that much difference from camping, right?
The Norse had stayed only for a short period of time (circa 8-10 years). Why did these people leave after only a short time and never return?
Significant findings give evidence that their was a blacksmith shop with forge for iron work, workshop and boat repair facility. The simple answer is that these industrious explorers established a site at Jellyfish Cove to repair their vessel and continue with their quest to find “Vinland”. Others have written accounts that there was much conflict with Natives, painting the Norse to be violent warriors. Although these people may be seafaring, they were also agriculturalists (farmers). We can not travel back more than 1,000 years ago to ask these questions and know the answers. However, when you read pieces of history or historiograhy (the writing of history) or an article, take a critical viewpoint of who is the writer, what is his/her motive and remember that most history is written from the viewpoint of the victor, possibly skewing events that actually occurred.
The Norse culture had strong tradition of retaining oral history through storytelling, which later became part of the written sagas. The fact that this group of people had made a written account, enables historians to better piece together history with their findings. It is evident that Rural Newfoundland & Labrador for more than 1,000 years has been home to many cultures and should have many pages in our history books.
Rural Retrospect – when viewing the impressions in the ground left from the Norse settlement, I felt somewhat sadden. Overtime these impressions will become less visible, but I believe their mark is forever left as part of our heritage and will be preserved. It is up to us to keep written accounts of our history, our people, traditions and experiences. It is a way to define who we were and who we are today, where we have been, where we are and provide insight into the future as to where we are going.
On my 1,000 Places to See Before you Die calendar (thank you Karrie), yesterday’s page had a quote I liked:
“The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes and goes on his way” – Colette
Enjoy her beauty -