Blog Archives

A Puffin Playing by the Sea – The 12 Days of Christmas in NL

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The Great Northern Peninsula continues to showcase the many talents of the people with connections to this place we call home. Gina Noordhof, has spent her lifetime involved in the tourism and hospitality industry from the early years of helping her mother, Bella at the Vahalla Lodge B&B in Gunner’s Cove. As the youthful age of 21 she established the Norseman Restaurant and Gaia Art Gallery at L’anse aux Meadows, which is home to North America’s only authenticated Norse site, which has been given World UNESCO status.

I’ve been impressed by Noordhof and the quality experience she is able to provide visitors at her fine dining restaurant, nightly entertainment, traditional artworks and unique lodging of heritage home rentals or a bed and breakfast experience.

During a visit to her restaurant early this summer, an employee showed me a copy of her draft version of her book “A Puffin Playing by the Sea” – The 12 Days of Christmas in Newfoundland & Labrador. I was greatly impressed by the creativity of utilizing our provincial bird to create a character and illustrate the carol with local icons such as the mummers, norse, lighthouses, seals, fiddles and more.

The book provides a perfect balance for the child as a keepsake of Newfoundland & Labrador to be captivated by the illustrations and authenticity of our traditions, culture, heritage and history. As well, the columns to the right provide details and images that would appeal to adults and give insight to who we are as a people and a snapshot of the past, as well as showcase our unique nature and natural beauty.

Gina’s involvement with the Canadian Tourism Commission Board has certainly proved beneficial as she shared her knowledge and experience but also saw an opportunity to create a series of books. Her first focuses on Newfoundland and Labrador, but she plans to replicate this concept across all provinces. It is a wonderful gift, perfect for the holidays. Priced at $16.95 Canadian one can get a copy by contacting Gina Noordhof at puffinchristmas@gmail.com. Books are also available at a number of local businesses on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Visit http://www.valhalla-lodge.com/puffin.htm for more details on how to purchase, includes Free Shipping if mailed within Canada.

It is wonderful to see such entrepreneurial activity being pursued right here to advanced the economy and experience of the Great Northern Peninsula and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Many of our people are doing incredibly big things and sharing who we are with the world. Congratulations Gina and thank you for the copy! I wish you much success on your future endeavours and look forward to writing about more of our authors like Earl Pilgrim and Megan Coles in future posts.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

L’Anse aux Meadows makes for a Unique Port of Call

IMG_20140902_154221Cruise the Edge of the North America and experience where the world came full circle for the very first time at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Great Northern Peninsula Newfoundland & Labrador - an event more than 100,000 years in the making where those who went East meet those who went West. The secret is out because 9 cruise ships had scheduled this port in the 2014 season, where they experience the land of the Vikings!

As one comes off the port they are first greeted by Leif Erikson (depicted above)who was the first European to land in North America. This statue is one of just 5 in the world, making Lief’s journey and placed by the Lief Erikson Foundation in Seattle.

More than 1,000 years ago the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America as they went further west than any of their ancestors. The Maritime Archaic, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and Recent Indians were all here on the Great Northern Peninsula from archaeological digs authenticating those who went East to be in Newfoundland around 5,000 years ago but unable to cross the barrier of the Atlantic Ocean. There is a complete history of cultural encounters, great explorers such as Captain Cook, breath-taking landscapes, whales, icebergs and authentic rural people willing to share with you a unique experience.

L’Anse aux Meadows is poised for cultural learning and adventure with a World UNESCO Heritage Site at L’Anse Aux Meadows discussing the only authenticated Norse Site in North America. There is also Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, which is an open-air museum that enables you to live in the day of a Viking at their site by listening and engaging the rein-actors on site (learn about the Snorri, interactive and learn about weaving, axe throwing, nail making at the forge and more). There are wonderful walking trails, fine dining restaurant and local entertainment provided. Just a short distance up the road one can experience a singing coffee shop that hosts its own radio station of Newfoundland and Country music in Coffee in the Cove. There is a French Oven in Quirpon and a Granchain Exhibit depicting the French culture and influence on the Great Northern Peninsula at the only wildberry economuseum of Dark Tickle Company. Not to mention one can become an honorary Newfoundlander at participating in a Royal Screech-in at Skipper Hot’s Lounge and listen to their band play to dance the evening away! Up the road at more restaurants, live and fresh seafoods and more incredible experiences and this doesn’t even get into what St. Anthony and the Grenfell story has to offer. There is something for everyone to experience when they visit the Great Northern Peninsula by Cruise. I look forward to expanding on this post soon.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

PASSING TIME IN TROUT RIVER, NL

Trout River is a small fishing town on the Great Northern Peninsula that continues with the tradition of rural living, evident from the many fishing boats, lobster traps, wharves, stages and even cardboard signs selling salt cod. It is a quaint place that is snuggled in a gentle cove surrounded by hills that extend to the Tablelands, which is a World UNESCO Heritage Site. If you would like to know more about Trout River, please visit their website at http://townoftroutriver.com/.

Those who continue to earning a living there, do so from the land and sea. Fishing communities are vibrant places, they are steeped in tradition and rich in folklore. It is wonderful to see the establishment of regular gatherings in this town, called “Passing Time in Trout River”, where local talents and musicians gather and share music, jokes, and stories. Every communities has a remarkable story to tell. In fact, my hometown of Green Island Cove utilized its gear shed to host a community kitchen party. It was quite a night of coming together and celebrating our song and dance. It was an incredible experience that could be replicated. Community is stronger when it embraces the talents of the people that live there. We must continue to share our knowledge and teach others our traditional ways, so that our rural living remains a very vibrant part of the future in a very fast past, technological modern-day world.

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Trout River also has the fortunes of the Tablelands, World UNESCO site at its doorstep. It is quite the place to visit, you certainly feel like on Mars, or maybe Arizona? Certainly not the Great North of Newfoundland & Labrador. If you haven’t been, add it to your bucket list.

Further north is L’Anse aux Meadows, another World UNESCO site, an event 100,000 years in the making where the world came full circle 1,000 years ago. Also across the Strait of Belle Isle, a short distance away is a third World UNESCO site, in the Basque Whaling Station of Red Bay, Labrador.

We have incredible assets on the Great Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador that illustrate how meaningful these places are in the world in terms of geography, history to people. We have an incredible connection to the land and sea, and always will. When you come to Newfoundland & Labrador, be sure to pass some time in Trout River and make your way to the gems at the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

Where the World Came Full Circle: 100,000 years in the making and it happened right here!

L’Anse aux Meadows with a population of about 30 permanent residents continuously see more than 30,000 visitors annually to a Parks Canada and World UNESCO site, which depicts the only authenticated Norse site in North America. However, the story is much bigger than the first place the Europeans re-discovered North America more than 1,000 years ago – in fact, it is the place where humanity came full circle – an event more than 100,000 years in the making!

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All our ancestors originated in Africa as the super-continent parted more than 100,000 years ago as they set off to explore and discover the world. These ancient tribes went to all corners, those who turn left to Europe were stopped with the uncross-able barrier of the Atlantic ocean, while those who turned right entered Asia and eventually crossed the narrow Bering Strait, giving them access to North America.

Discoveries on the Great Northern Peninsula at Bird Cove at the 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre (www.facebook.com/50Centuries) authenticate the Maritime Archaic Indians were in our region more than 4,500 years ago followed by the Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians. They two were faced with the barrier of the Atlantic ocean preventing them from meeting up with their relatives that travelled left.

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It was the Vikings that would close this gap, where the world would come full circle. It was right here on the Great Northern Peninsula at L’Anse aux Meadows after 100,000 years that Leif Erikson would encounter what he referred to in the Norse sagas as Skraelings in which for the first time in history those who went left encountered those who went right. The passage from mainland Europe to Iceland to Greenland to our very own “Vinland” (tip of the Great Northern Peninsula) made all this possible. We have a much bigger story to tell!

The very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is where the world came full circle. Think about that for awhile. Then begin planning your visit because you will want to visit the one place in the world where humanity came full circle for the very first time. It only took 100,000 years :).

The Great Northern Peninsula is full of history, incredible culture, tangible and intangible assets, natural beauty, nature, wildlife, heritage and people that make this place a top destination for anyone wanting to experience something only a few have the privilege  of living each and every day.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA
 

Everything Handcrafted at Stagehead Carving Shop

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting with Norman Young at his carving shop in St. Lunaire-Griquet. 

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The shelves boasts a variety of carvings that were handcrafted by Norman from a variety of stones, bone and antler, just as the outside sign states. A beautiful sword, masks, inukshuks, animals and Northern figures capture your attention upon entry.

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We talked about small business, trade shows and opportunities for partnerships, as his products truly deserve a broader audience. If you are en route to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO site, as tens of thousands of people do, I recommend you drop by Stagehead. I purchased a lovely set of whale bone earrings for $30. They will make a lovely present.

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 Before I left, Norm showed me how baby powder was made, as he filed a soapstone to create a talc dust. 

We have incredibly talented carvers, weavers, knitters, potters, artisans and artists of all kinds throughout the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Start exploring today!

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

 

Who needs Disneyland when you have Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade?

There is still time this summer to visit the Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade at L’anse aux Meadows, our premier attraction. This social enterprise was opened in 2000 as part of the Viking 1,000 celebration and continues to provide the best in travel experiences 15 years later.

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I’ve visited this site on many occasions with friends from Switzerland, Germany and other parts of Canada, but yesterday’s tour was truly the highlight made possible by the incredible, knowledgeable and talented staff. 

The entrance had clearly marked the site as pet friendly, which is a plus for those travelling with their favourite hairy companion. The gift shop has locally produced pottery on-site, handmade viking ships and swords, nine-man mills viking games and a host of runic stones, jewelry and other items of interest. I purchased a lovely handcrafted jug with viking markings. Just spectacular!

IMG_20140815_163928Walking the wooden boardwalk there was a view of an iceberg off in the distance, former fishing boats that are remnants of what was an abundant inshore cod fishery before the 1992 moratorium. Viking dwellings, could be seen off into the distance. Gardens and livestock are part of the viking way of life. It was nice to see the sheep getting feed and the chickens.

The Chieftain told us incredible narratives at the boathouse and answered many questions as the 54 foot replica of Leif Erikson’s Snorri was in the backdrop. The wonderful thing about this open air museum is that it enables one to truly experience by touching tools and items on site and interacting with the characters in authentic attire. The character will read your runic stones or teach you how to play the viking games.

At the main hall, the women are busy working on the loom, using their needle, whorl and spindles, as well as dying fabrics and preparing the meals. They shared so many stories about viking living and were so in character asking, “what ship I had sailed in on?” and “Did I bring anything for trade?” They were also quite eager to share their talents and showing off their wares. Sitting in the Chieftains chair with the sword and horn was a big highlight. On Wednesday nights there is Viking storytelling of the sagas with local Mike Sexton. It comes highly recommended.

A walk further down the road was a visit to the church and forge. The blacksmith was busy with his fire and making tools and jewelry. He took lots of time to engage visitors in conversation, while multi-tasking and completing his current task. He was quite proud of all the tools he had made for the village and took pride in his work. An incredible talent. I thank him immensely for sharing a piece with me, which I look forward to sharing in a future post.

Upon leaving the forge, two vikings were outside and putting on a great show throwing axes and firing their bow and arrow.  

I tried my best with a few attempts at axe throwing, but will need a lot more practice. It is likely best to keep my day job.

The kids certainly love this interaction and ability to test their own skills. Even the big kids enjoy this stuff :). Norstead has experienced much growth and the skies the limit for its future, with the potential to host Viking Weddings, establish the  World Championship of Nine-Man Mill with giant game boards on the lawn, Skyping with a Viking, weaving or potting classes and spending the night on site in hut or tent. In the next 15 years, Norstead will continue to shine as our premier tourist attraction!

If you have not been, its a must. If you’ve been, it’s likely time to return! This is our gem and we are truly fortunate to have such a spectacular attraction on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Thank you to the Board, management and staff for the incredible tourism experience. More at www.norstead.com. 

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA                                                                                                                                               The Straits-White Bay North                                                                                                                                                 @MitchelmoreMHA 

Dinner at the Daily Catch

The Daily Catch Restaurant in St. Lunaire-Griquet is located on the top of the hill with a wonderful view. I love dining at this place  because it offers such a great atmosphere.

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It’s a trendy little spot that specializes in seafood dishes. They always have local mussels, crab, lobster and selection of other seafood, paired with delicious salads and rice. They offer unique berry drinks, iceberg beer and cross promotion of local attractions. It is great to see a small business supportive of places like Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade. The owner also understands the value of WiFi, as an early adopter of offering customers free access to wireless Internet.

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If you like the traditional deep-fried fish n’ chips, they have that too. Usually they serve with homemade fries, which goes down really well with malt vinegar.

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I highly recommend the deep-fried ice-cream served with bakeapples.

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I was also impressed with the delivery of a jug of ice water, which had a big piece of iceberg ice. These little extras go a long way in adding to the experiences on has when dining at The Daily Catch.

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The Daily Catch is certainly delivering on all levels, an all-round incredible product by having great atmosphere, great food and great service. It is one of several fantastic restaurants en route to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site. I highly recommend dropping by and stay for a while.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Have you been to the Hut?

The Hut is en route to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site on Route 436 in the tiny community of Noddy Bay. This local craft shop offers a wide selection of Norse and Newfoundlandia – from pins, jewelry, jams, an assortment of clothing, handmade quilts and knitted mittens and stockings like grandma use to make.

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The Hut is the only stand alone seasonal craft shop in the region and is supported by an influx of tourist visiting L’Anse aux Meadows Viking Settlement, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve and various other walking trails and local businesses in the area.

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I chatted with the owner and some customers about the region and checked out the wares. I purchased a Christmas ornament carved from moose bone and made by local Viking re-in-actor Mike Sexton of Goose Cove. We have so much talent and I like to support local artists.

The Hut has some pretty remarkable Norse style jewelry too! It is worth dropping by if you would like to take a Norse memory or something from Newfoundland & Labrador as a souvenir home with you from your visit.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

20 Years of Gourmet Meals Served at the Norseman Restaurant, L’anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows with a population of 37 residents is a quaint fishing village that has been placed on the map for being the first part of North America to be authenticated as site of first contact for the Europeans, when the Vikings landed more than 1,000 years ago.

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Each year tens of thousands of tourists flock to this community and they are not disappointed by the historical context of the viking discovery provided by both the World UNESCO Heritage Site L’Anse aux Meadows and the social enterprise, Norstead – A Viking Village and Port of Trade. Last year St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) partnered with Norstead and the Leif Erikson Foundation to have placed a statue of Leif to commemorate his discovery, there are only four in the world of this type and this will be the last.

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Additionally, the community is proudly the home to a gourmet restaurant and art gallery and has been for some 20 years! The only of its kind on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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The Norseman Restaurant and Gaia Art Gallery (http://www.valhalla-lodge.com/restaurant.htm) is a local treasure. It has been a thriving success due to the entrepreneurial owners desire to provide the best visitor experience possible. Their quality food during lunch and dinner meals have a wonderful presentation. I always enjoy the duck or lamb dishes served with a nice glass of red wine. They have an extensive wine list. If you enjoy seafood it is locally caught and the lobster, well you will not get fresher than the Norseman. The lobsters are kept in an enclosed crate in the ocean, just feet from the restaurant where you can pick your own with the chef.

There is local music playing on many evenings, by the talented Wade Hillier of St. Lunaire-Griquet. I love it when he belts out the tune, “Aunt Martha’s Sheep”, it has to be one of my favourites. The service is extremely friendly, professional and they ensure all your questions about ingredients are answered. Truly a great front line and kitchen staff.

The restaurant also supports local artists through their artwork all for sale, which is displayed on the walls, the tea dolls in glass cases and the carvings from antlers on the tables.

The view as well is picture perfect as you see icebergs around every corner of L’Anse aux Meadows. I would encourage you to experience the wonders of the Norseman in its 20 years of operation! There is much more to say about this business and other initiatives by owner Gina Nordhoff, which I’ll save for future postings. Enjoy all L’Anse aux Meadows has to offer, come stay for a while.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North 

 

I’m from around the Bay, and I throws rocks!

Noddy Bay, NL is a beautiful community that loops around both sides of the bay, with houses scattered along the coastline. It is just minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site – The Viking Settlement and always seems to have an abundance of icebergs.

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On a recent visit to Noddy Bay, I saw two women enjoy the remarkable beauty and partake in a traditional activity experienced by anyone who grew up near water, “throwing rocks”, skidding or skipping them. I remember many summer days down in the beach or “landwash” and find some smooth and flat rocks with my friends as we would give them a toss on many afternoons. Every now and then someone will here me say the line, “I’m from around the Bay, and I throws rocks!”

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The Great Northern Peninsula is a playground for these types of experiences and ability to re-live your youthful days. I encourage you to come and explore the beauty of all things rural.

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Not to mention all the icebergs hanging out in every nook and cranny of the tip of the Peninsula. So practice your arm swinging so you too can make a big splash when you see this view.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

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