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NSHLQ Come Home Year Celebration a Major Achievement – Then, Now & Forever!

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When communities come together for a common goal on the Great Northern Peninsula anything seems to be possible. I only have to think about the $100,000 Breath of Fresh Air Playground that was established in Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour with three communities of about 200 people.

The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration saw five communities all with a total population of less than 300 come together to make something unforgettable happen for residents, those with a connection to this special place and some to make their mark for the very first time. The last Come Home Year was in 1997, it was decided long overdue to host another and this time Quirpon would be added. This inclusion of Quirpon also invigorated interest to save their local hall to allow for events and activities to take place throughout the week.

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After months and months of planning by a dedicated group of youthful committee members, the day would finally arrive on July 27th and they were certainly ready. Leading up to the event, the Facebook page would keep everyone up to date. A full schedule was also advertised in the local newspaper, the Northern Pen. Not to mention a Twitter hashtag, showing their innovation and adaptation of technology. I was greatly impressed by their organization, what they offered registrants, how they partnered with all their key businesses and community groups to share in the success of this community celebration would bring. There is much strength here – then, now and forever!

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The Viking RV Park would be the primary site of activity throughout the week, with the official opening started after people registered at the fire hall. The crowds flocked, enjoying the weather and meeting those returning home as they fended off the flies. After the speeches, the cafe was cut, music was played by our multi-talented Calvin Blake, Adam Randell and Brandon White, mussels were steamed, faces painted and the mood set for a massive fireworks display.

The fireworks display was impressive, it seemed to go on and on and on. There were many awes and an astounding round of applause as the show concluded. A truly successful evening that could not have ended with a bigger bang. Cue the music!

The week would follow with fish frys, hikes, coffee shop visits, exercise programs, kids activities, duck races, memorial events, old-fashioned times, kitchen parties, row boat races, family days and so much more! This was no small feat for a small group of organizers, that should great leadership. So many others would step up and give time in a volunteer capacity to ensure all of these activities could happen. I’m amazed by the generosity and community spirit during these Come Home Year celebrations and always look forward to the next.

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A sampling of some of the activities:

I’m confident Skipper Hot’s band was rocking every night, that many screech-ins were had and the conversations lasted into the early morning hours and likely will continue until the planning of the next Come Home Year celebration begins. Be proud of your major achievement for making big things happen in small communities!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Hay Cove is a Happening Place

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For a population of less than 30 people, Hay Cove is a happening place. A tour of the community will set you smiling as you see the water, hills, coastline and traditional way of life still being employed in a small fishing village next door to L’anse aux Meadows which is home to a World UNESCO site. One can take a walk on the trail leading you to a neighbouring community of Noddy Bay, as you pass a flake sometimes with local codfish drying the sun for winter.

The fishing boats are still moored to the wharf, gardens are planted and clothes is freshly drying on the line. There is a home for sale and others that have been converted to Bed & Breakfasts, Coffee Shop or Studio. While in Hay Cove you can stay at Viking Nest, Viking Village or Jenny’s Runestone House (formerly Marilyn’s Hospitality Home), drink heavenly coffee, access free WIFI , enjoy a singing kitchen compliments of singer/songwriter Wayne Bartlett and listen to Radio Quirpon at Coffee in the Cove or find authentic Norse jewelry at the Thorfinn Studio. Whales regularly visit and so do those iceberg beauties. Try your hand at bird watching or berry picking, this place is trendy, traditional and quintessentially rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

This tiny community during the summer season is full of life, laughter and is a thriving place to live, work and experience. When you come to the Great Northern Peninsula, you won’t want to miss this happening place!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

A Viking Experience that is only found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland & Labrador

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L’Anse aux Meadows is where the world came full circle, an event 100,000 years in the making! When the super-continent Pangea broke up, people had the choice of going left or going right – they did not meet up until  just over 1,000 years ago when the Norse crossed the Atlantic met Aboriginals in L’anse aux Meadows on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a story that is completely untold and undersold as a reason to visit this community of 37, which is home to a World UNESCO site.

I love going to L’anse aux Meadows, to see the only authentic Viking site in North America, to enjoy the views of the islands, walking trails, visit Leif Erikson statue, dine at the Norseman Restaurant and of course, visit my favourite open air museum “Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade”.

Norstead is just 2 KM from the UNESCO Viking Settlement and was established in 2000 as part of the millennial, celebrating 1000 years of the Vikings’ arrival to the New World. During it’s inaugural  year it saw 28,000 visitors, making it a top destination for visitors.

At Norstead you get to join costumed interpreters in the dim light of a lit fire at the Viking-style Chieftain’s Hall and listen to mysterious Viking tales. One can step aboard the Snorri, the Viking replica ship that sail across the Atlantic, marking the journey of the Vikings from Iceland to Greenland to Northern Newfoundland. An active pottery studio, enables workers to shape clay into pottery the way the Vikings did. The workers also proudly spin sheep fleece into yarn using ancient drop spindle technology, dying the yarn bright purple, pink, or rusty yellow using local plants and berries and weave it into cloth at the loom. You can watch workers make nails and other items in the forge, throw axes at the woodpiles, play nine man mills and tour other buildings such as the Church and visit with the animals. You can also get your Runes told, by the Runes Teller, visit the marketplace and even conduct trade at the trading station if you bring something to exchange.

Truly this is a unique hands on experience that offers something for all ages! Even I enjoy being a Viking for a day :)

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Tip of Great Northern Peninsula Best Place for Iceberg Watchers!

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The icebergs continue to dominate our harbours – can you imagine this view from your window? It is a common occurrence.

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Tourists come in the tens of thousands to St. Anthony, Goose Cove, L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Conche and Englee to see the dominance of the ice beauties as they hug the shores.

My friend Marilyn took this snap in Goose Cove yesterday. It is quite the capture:

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Get up close and personal with these big bergs. Next weekend is the beginning of the Annual Iceberg Festival.

From kitchen parties, to iceberg carving, painting, iceberg beers & spirits, tours of local attractions and special events. There is a Hypnotist and Magician performing next Saturday and a celebrity chef cooking up a feast at L’Anse aux Meadows. Get your limited tickets while they are still available. See details below:

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Learn more about all the fun events planned from June 5th-14, 2015 at http://theicebergfestival.ca/schedule/.

Until you see these giants up close and personal, you’ve yet to really experience the uniqueness of the Great Northern Peninsula and rural Newfoundland & Labrador .

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Embroidered Bread & Conche Caplin

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The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.

Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.

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The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.

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It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.

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Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.

Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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