Blog Archives

Firewood on the Hills – Grandois, NL

On January 24th, 2012 I returned to the quiet community of Grandois or St. Juliens (currently used interchangeably). In 1980 this community was connected via road to neighbouring Croque and to Main Brook – which remains today a 30 km gravel road craving some crush stone. Although, the blanket of snow cushioned the numerous potholes.

The view from the harbour is worth the ride. The tiny islands and hamlets showcase the remnants of re-settlement. During the summer a boat tour can be arranged to see the Ghost Towns that remain on these islands.

On this chilly day in January, one could see the chimneys burning, heating the homes. I stopped and took the photo of the tiers of firewood on the hill. A view of the community can be seen from here. There are very few homes, of which many are currently vacant. The closure of the cod fishery in 1992 – left the community, like many other outports struggling to survive.

The community of Grandois at its peak had 135 people. Today, those numbers have dropped drastically into the low double digits. Despite the population decline, limited water supply and lack of community services – the residents are extremely hospitable and a pleasure to talk about the past, present and future. We must savour the beauty this place offers the people who continue to call this place home. There is a wealth of history in this community on the French Shore. It may just be the next place you want to visit.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Erosion of Rural NL

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has suffered immensely with the moratorium of the cod fishery in 1992. In nearly two decades that would follow we would see the plight of our youth, transient families and the de-population of our rural communities – all leading to erosion of infrastructure and services that are inadequate to meet the needs of current residents and unable to create a climate to attract enough young people and families to live rural. There are better ways to serve our rural economies.

Let’s take a look at the region and we will see the drastic decline in population since 1991. The 2011 census will only reinforce the fact that our region is facing continued  population decline and further aged population.

St. Anthony – Port au Choix Region  Community Census Counts

 Community  1991  2001  2006  % Change 1991-2006
 St. Anthony  3,164  2,730  2,476  -21.7%
 Port au Choix  1,260  1,010  893  -29.1%
 Roddickton  1,153  1,003  911  -21.0%
 St. Lunaire-Griquet  1,020  822  666  -34.7%
 Flowers Cove  372  325  270  -27.4%

Copyright: Stats Canada Census Counts (http://www.economics.gov.nl.ca/pdf2007/regionaldemographicprofiles.pdf)

The sad realities of our communal landscapes in Rural Newfoundland – images you will not see promoted by the Department of Tourism in our Award Winning ads.

Once vibrant fishing rooms, sheds, stages and wharves are now losing their bright red glamour. A fishing boat on the shore, not seeing the water for a while…

Once a vibrant family homestead that was painted brightly orange and trimmed with green. It has not seen life running around the kitchen in several years…

More vacated homes…

A not so happy jellybean row…

NDP Leader, Lorraine Michael argues Newfoundland and Labrador’s wealth from the offshore oil industry is not finding its way into enough pocketbooks, including rural areas in a recent CBC interview. (Read here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2011/09/05/nl-oil-wealth-ndp-905.html)

In this region there are still roads that are unpaved, communities and regions that do not have broadband Internet coverage, cable options or cellular telephone coverage. And yet, we live in Canada? In the 21st century? What about community-based day care, providing meaningful employment, working with the Federal Government to address fishery issues and cutting red tape and regulations (rural areas do not require the same policy for development as required by larger urban centres).

We must take greater care for people. Some have forgotten it was the rural regions that provided the resources to enable larger centres to thrive whether the resource fish, timber or minerals – even the oil is offshore. The Government needs to be more responsible when sharing our wealth, resources and being enablers that can provide rural regions the ability to re-vitalize. Better decisions need to be made now or I only fear the bust our economy will face once we begin to experience life after oil.

We must work together to find co-operative solutions that will revitalize our rural economies. No longer can we stand for the mis-management of our resources, including the way we are treated.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Does Anyone Know the Story behind this Snowmobile?

A miniature replica of an old snowmobile was displayed on the yard in the Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet while I was searching for the Petermann Ice Island! I passed by this item, but was told to take a snap.

Does anyone know the history behind this piece of art?

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

 

World Renown Youth Choir Visits the Great Northern Peninsula

The Saltwater Joys – Tour of Newfoundland & Labrador presented by The Munich Youth Choir set the stage that drew a large audience at the Bird Cove Community Centre on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 7:00 PM.

It was wonderful to see nearly 200 people come out for this event that had limited marketing in the region.

They opened the event to all and accepted donations. It was nice to see the inclusiveness and variety of all age groups from a few years to the mid-eighties. I was fortunate to be able to sit in the audience. I have attended operas, musicals, theatres and other special performances in Europe; however, this was my first by youth. It was a very empowering experience!

A production that promotes the exchange and share of culture. We were greeted with German music, British, English, Japanese, Australian, African, Classical, Popular Culture and even tunes from Newfoundland & Labrador.

I was captivated by their rendition of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. For me this was completely unexpected. I really did not know the aptitude of this group and their talents. I was pleasantly surprised. They utilized different instruments, including a bone drum, tambourine and keyboard accordian. Celebrate Life made me smile, enough that I purchase their “Folk CD” and have played it in my car to and from work for more than 1 hour.

Music is the universal language – Re-quoted by Blair Gaulton, Tour Organizor

The Sister Act tunes really were upbeat! It was also a first hearing a song recited in Japanese. Although, I truly enjoyed hearing the Newfoundland Tunes of “Danny Boy“, “I’se da By’s” and one of my favourites “Saltwater Joys”.

They were impressive! It reminded me of being at the Opera House in Prague, Czech Republic watching a Grand Performance, when you realize that you are in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador at the local community centre. The World has come to us, to share with us their talents and we had the opportunity to share with this group from Munich the rural lifestyle. I have been on an exchange, lived, studies and travelled Europe visiting nearly 30 different countries and there is much value in meeting, learning and sharing ideas with others.

The Munich Youth Choir was given the opportunity to meet and hang out with locals, travel the peninsula, visit Icebergs and even meet Rose. Rose is a local resident, well – Crinkle Cove, I think? She provided some light hearted humour while the band played traditional Newfoundland & Labrador music including the “ugly stick”.

The group easily broke into dance with the group. There was much positive energy, harmony and happiness in the room with each others company. Rose lead the way to provide a re-vised version of the Screech-in, making each visitor an honourary Newfoundlander by dressing, dancing, eating, talking and drinking Purity Syrup and kissing a cod fish.

Pucker Up!

After 3 hours at the center, I was deeply rewarded for contributing my time and making a donation. In turn was exposed to music, art and culture from a very talented group of individuals. I had taken away many photos, a couple of cds and the cherished memories of being there for something wonderful.

Communities came together, people were happy and we have an opportunity for more growth. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is a good venue beyond the large urban centres for culturally significant events and entertainment.

A special thank you to the Munich Youth Choir, organizers, sponsors and local groups such as the Big Droke Foundation. St. Barbe Development Association, Going Healthy Program – Bird Cove and the Town of Bird Cove.

For those of you that missed the performance, you can drop by sometime for a cup of tea from the Dark Tickle Company and listen to the music. There is opportuntiy for Rural Newfoundland & Labrador to exchange talents, hosting a multitude of learning vacations.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

Happy Anniversary Norstead – Eleven Years and more than Tens of Thousands of Visitors

Let’s rewind to July 28, 2000 – More than 17,000 people were on site during the unveiling of Norstead – A Viking Village &  Port of Trade (www.norstead.com) as they celebrated 1,000 years since the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America. The Province did a tremendous job marketing this summer festival.

Can you imagine the excitement on site for this new addition – an open air museum; one which provides a unique approach to education and culture, where one can gain an enriched understanding of Norse life. More than 28,000 visitors trekked through this site during the first season alone.

I have to extend a big thank-you to the interpreters and all who work at Norstead – this non-profit just 2 KM from L’Anse Aux Meadows (UNESCO Site).  Some have been on-site, showing tremendous dedication to the organization for the past 11 years.

It is a pleasure to walk through the gift shop, which has an array of local product – Dark Tickle’s Teas, Jams, Sauces and Syrups; Handmade Soap, Handmade Jewellery, Norse Swords, Norse Game – 9 Man Mills, Postcards, Local Art, Pottery, Knitted Items and more. The employees make products on-site and also during the off-season.

There is a wealth of knowledge from the employees and they are quite willing to share with you – creating a warm and inviting learning experience. You have the ability to try your hand at living like a Viking.

There is much opportunity to expand on this already wonderful gem on the Great Northern Peninsula. I see much potential to work with regional partners, develop further products, expand into Learning Vacations – live like a Viking (day, weekend or week-long stopovers), workshops and other activities. The future is bright for this not-for-profit entity.

It has added much value to our Rural Economy and also the travel experience of those who are fortunate enough to take the time to visit.

Norstead is a wonder we have, it is possible because f the wonderful people who show up and do their part every day. For that,  I thank you.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore 

 

Trekking the French Shore with the Swiss – Conche, NL

Saturday, July 16, 2011 – The view from Sailor Jack’s Hill gives a powerful showing of the winding road leading to the Town of Conche. The stairs may be a little intimidating but are certainly well-constructed. My Swiss friend climbed them at record pace as she was quite excited to see so many icebergs to the right.

There are an abundance of icebergs in St. Anthony and St. Lunaire-Griquet. However, they can be easily spotted on the Northern Peninsula East nestled just outside of Conche.

We toured the picturesque Town. Below I’ve chosen some of the highlights:

 

I have been to the French Shore many times over the past couple of years. I usually make the loop from the Straits to Plum Point – Roddickton-Bide Arm – Englee – Conche – Main Brook – Straits. It is a full day, but each visit offers a unique experience. Although I have travelled many countries, there is something amazing about experiencing the beauty and offering of what you have in your own backyard. If you are just visiting, spend lots of time on the Great Northern Peninsula, as it has so much to offer. If you are lucky enough to live here – it is a lifetime of experiences.

The French Shore is one of many places to add to your list. If you’d like more information visit www.frenchshore.com.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

A Seal Flipper Foodstand?

Why are we not serving up Seal Flippers throughout the summer season?

Moose Burgers, Moose Stew and Caribou Steak have made the menus of some local restaurants and have made appearances at various festivals and special events throughout the summer. They sell like hot cakes. But seal meat does not make the cut? I have been hearing that seal flippers have been for sale recently at the waterfront at St. Johns, NL in a large supply over the local radio network. However, that is not Rural NL.

Crepe Stand, Paris, France

After travelling to many countries, there always seems to be a mobile food service stand that sells something significant to the culture. In Paris there are crepes made at street vendors. They are incredibly delicious. In Switzerland and the Czech Republic at Christmas, roasted nuts appeared to be a staple. New York has their famous hot dogs and Belgium – waffles, of course.

 
There may be room for an outlet that sells seal, wild game and other traditional cuisine of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador for those on the run.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
 
 

 

Fishery woes continue to escalate on the Great Northern Peninsula

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

Newfoundland Firewood Ltd.

Newfoundland Firewood

Any traveller driving the Viking Trail (Route 430) on the Great Northern Peninsula will see many piles of wood at roadside.

 
This wood will eventually end up in stores, garages, basements or other containment areas to be used as a heat source at a local home or cabin. This wood has been cut by the end-user or purchased for a nominal price.
 
When I worked for the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development on a work term with the Getting the Message Out program we promoted local entrepreneurship. One  company, Newfoundland Firewood Ltd., located in Port Blandford, NL comes to mind when I think of our forest products.
 
The company produces bags of birch in small bags that are big enough for the fireplace or to roast marshmallows by a campsite fire. Consumer’s are willing to pay a premium for convenience. I remember last summer, when I tented at Gros Morne National Park. I purchased firewood at the campground, paying $8.00 for a very small bundle of wood. However, I only have a small car and when fully packed with camping gear, there isn’t much room left to carry firewood. Plus, wood can provide for a messy clean-up in the trunk.
 
This convenience factor would especially appeal to urbanites that live in areas allowing backyard fires or travelling to rural regions for incredible outdoor experiences. His products are available at parks and gas stations, which is a good complement to get product in the end consumer‘s hand.
 
However, I have yet to see much firewood on the Great Northern Peninsula sold this way? Is there a market, since there appears to be an abundance of wood in view along the highway? I know many people have backyard fires and there is a growing number of travellers using the highway. Will Newfoundland Firewood Ltd. enter the marketplace or will some other entrepreneur explore the business case of the Great Northern Peninsula and parts of Labrador?
 
Live Rural NL o
Christopher Mitchelmore

Winter road to Roddickton-Bide Arm

Road to Roddickton-Bide Arm

 
The Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm is nestled on the North Eastern part of the Great Northern Peninsula and is an untapped location for winter tourism. The abundance of snow, trees, wildlife, mountains and sunshine makes for a picturesque day.  
 
One should take the opportunity to visit the Town  – take a walk, snowshoe, ski or snowmobile on some of the trails. If you are hungry, stop by the Lumberjack’s Landing or Mayflower Inn for some local grub. You can even stay at the Mayflower for a night or two.  
 
Roddickton has been coined the Moose Capital of the World. On my last two visits I have seen moose. During my last trip on March 24, 2011, I saw two caribou crossing the road. I slowed down, pulled out my camera – but they had disappeared into the forest.   
 

The view from above

 One simply can not be disappointed by the mountains in the background that are snow-covered. You may opt to take a side trip to the Town of Conche just 28 kms away.
 
It is now April 11, 2011 and there is still an abundance of snow and great snowmobiling on the hills. There is still an opportunity for those who wish to enjoy the scenic beauty of the what the Great Northern Peninsula has to offer this season. If you are not able, mark your calendars for the 2012 season!
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore

The Long Way to Muckross House

Pathway through Killarney...

We took the Long Way to Muckross House. My mom and I can certainly laugh about this mis-adventure. We parked in a vacant lot near a gate to the park. We passed a small home and trailed to the nice lake, followed a path passed an old church, cemetery and many fenced pastures that enclosed many cattle. It felt like an eternity, after already spending most of the morning on our feet.

Church & cemetary near Muckross House

I think we walked for more than an hour, nearly 6 kilometers. It was finally in front of us – Muckross House.  We entered the admission area only to be told, the next tour does not start until 1 hour 15 minutes. They suggested we tour the magnificent gardens. We explained where we came from, they were quite alarmed we parked so far away, when you can drive up to the property.It was quite funny – well the walk back certainly was not, but I am happy we were able to spend the morning with nature. Needless to say we walked back the trail, ever so tired to the car and parked on the Muckross House Property. 
 

Muckross House

Muckross House, was built-in 1843 by the Herbert Family.  The home has a history even linked to the Guinness Brewing Family to be sold to a wealthy American businessman, who gifted the property to his daughter as a wedding present. After her sudden death the family donated the property to the State. The State was unable to invest much money into the upkeep of the property and Muckross House was closed to the public until 1964.  
 
A public effort saw the restoration of the property which enables history to be preserved. There are many wonderful stories, artifacts and wonders that are told by exceptional knowledgeable guides. There is also a workshop, where workers produce 100% authentic local product for the gift shop. We had the opportunity to see how things are made, directly on-site. 
 

Horse & Buggy Rides Available

Established Newfoundland & Labrador tourism attractions could learn from these in Ireland, as people are interested in seeing how product is made and not poorly crafted goods or things that come from other countries (ie mass-produced in China).
 
For the tourism attractions, currently in waiting or dis-repair, community meetings are needed. Good things happen when communities, regions and key stakeholders work together to preserve a part of our living history.
 
Muckross House enforces a no photo taking policy. Therefore, it is a wonder you must experience for yourself, from the large kitchen, to 60+ different servant buzzers (that sounded a horn with a unique ring identified the room it came from), to a bath tub that allows you to pull the plug without getting your hands wet, an exquisite library, drawing-room, collection of local hunting trophies and paintings by Herbert to name a few.
 
Take some time to view the gardens and if you wish, you can take a Horse and Buggy that will guide you around the grounds and take you to a waterfall.
 
Enjoy!
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 
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