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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.

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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.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

Coffee in the Cove Serves Only the Finest and Fairest Brews

Coffee in the Cove, Hay Cove is literally located in the backyard of L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site. This bright orange homestead offers fresh, friendly and fair specialty coffees, teas and authentic homemade treats. It is also home to Radio Quirpon (www.radioquirpon.com).

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure to drop by this brightly coloured and welcoming local business in which I’ve wanted to visit for some time. As I walked up the stairs some customers greeted me. They were in fact distant relatives visiting from Stephenville and Ontario. It was quite an exciting feeling as we exchanged hugs, took photos and also talked about seeing each other again at the Family Reunion planned later in July.

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We are so fortunate to have such a cool and groovy coffee shop with the perfect atmosphere and ambiance to enjoy freshly brewed coffee beans. I had a delicious almond flavoured latte and date square. I hear there cinnamon buns are a must try too!

Proprietor, Cheryl McCarron took time to have a friendly chat with me about how her business got off the ground,  exciting new additions such as the on-line radio station and the nifty Newfoundland sayings that are written all around her establishment. She has big ideas, is optimistic about our small rural communities and the promising future we have if we tap those opportunities.

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The back deck or a table by the window presents the most perfect viewing area for the icebergs, which dominant her backyard. The experience simply can not be matched by any city shop or cafe.

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Coffee in the Cove is to be enjoyed not only by tourists, but the local market too! It was positive to hear so many local residents are dropping by to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and support a local business.

One can sit down with one of the shops books, such as the Treasury of Newfoundland Humour and Wit by J. Burke, listen to the traditional music of Radio Quirpon, get lost in conversation or the tranquility and beauty of the view.

Coffee in the Cove is one of our newest gems. I encourage you to embrace this social space and enjoy their offerings. You simply could not be disappointed. Eagerly looking forward to my next visit.

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

Icebergs dominate the coastline on the tip of Great Northern Peninsula

As ice remains a pressing problem for our fishers, with delays in the opening of some of our fisheries, it also sets the expectation that this will likely be another banner year for icebergs on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is always fascinating to see the number of people travelling to L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Lunaire-Griquet, St. Anthony, Goose Cove, Conche and Englee to get incredible close up views of icebergs.

In 2011, we had the Peterman Ice Island land here in Goose Cove. An incredible sight!

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Yesterday, I walked along the shores of my own community of Green Island Cove. It reminded me of a Fall vacation to Iceland, with glaciers and the magnificent sight of ice break-up on a day without a draft of wind.

A little further North on the Peninsula in St. Lunaire-Griquet and surrounding areas, icebergs have their full presence. They are right on time, given the Annual Iceberg Festival begins in on June 6th and lasts until the 15th.  You can visit the Facebook “The Iceberg Festival” where the photos below were taken (Photo credit T. Burden) www.facebook.com/IcebergFestival

The Great Northern Peninsula is coined as “Iceberg Alley”. You’ll want to be here during the 9 day festival (Schedule at http://theicebergfestival.ca), but it not be sure to visit throughout the Iceberg Season! The Great Northern Peninsula will not disappoint.

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

The New Land with the Green Meadows

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L’Anse aux Meadows – Summer

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 imagesV76QS5EZmore 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The New Land with the Green Meadows – during Winter.IMG_5348

Summer is when the land is green, and the best time to visit. Begin your trip planning today. A Viking Experience awaits!

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Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

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