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Is that Donny Dunphy or a Christmas Mummer?

Donny Dunphy is quite iconic with his jib rap, videos and musical performances. Him and Brenda have left an impression on myself and friends that lead to rounds of laughter when their names come up. He is quite the entertainer and I am the owner of his CD.  My friend’s red hair reminds me of the strands sported Donny Dunphy. However, he is  what we refer to as a Mummer or Janny.

The concept of Christmas mumming has a long rooted tradition in our province, especially rural Newfoundland & Labrador. During the 12 days of Christmas it was not uncommon to see the janny’s or the mummers come knocking at the doors asking “Any Mummer’s ‘lowd in?”

My friends from Germany and Switzerland got a firsthand experience with Christmas Mummering as we dressed up in silly clothing, with bed sheets and our walking sticks.

The jannies are getting ready?

Can you guess which one I am? I was even able to fool my grandmother this time around.

We started off with just four, visiting family, neighbours and other residents of the community. Each house a guessing game was played, dancing around to music was prominent and even a resident pulled out the accordion and played the Mummer’s Song!  As we moved along from house to house we added to our group to double in size to 8! A happy gang of merry mummers bringing smiles to the faces throughout the households, with maybe the exception of a couple of small children.

It is important to hold onto parts of culture and heritage that one feels is important to their upbringing. I will not forget the impact of mummers on my life some two decades ago. Since I was a child I’ve been introduced to the concept of mummering and firming believe it must continue. I did an interview with the Northern Pen Newspaper expressing these experiences. So each Christmas let us all make a concerted effort to keep this deep-rooted tradition alive and well in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

For those of you wondering, which mummer I am, well, I am the one with the hump!

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

A Swiss, German and Rural Newfoundlander Re-united for the Holidays.

On December 25th, 2011 I was re-united with my Swiss and German friend, who I had met in the Czech Republicin 2007. Unfortunately two others were unable to make the trip across the pond during the holidays due to work commitments as we all try to visit each other once a year.

We had embarked on a journey that brought us 4,551 kms to places that include St. Anthony, L’Anse Aux Meadows, The Straits, Gros Morne National Park, Gambo, Bell Island, Cape Spear, St. Johns and of course, Paradise.

Again, I had the opportunity to explore this beautiful Province of Newfoundland & Labrador and be a tourist at home. We had truly experienced our unique landscapes, culture, cuisine and shared much laughter.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share with you a taste of what it means to explore Rural NL during the holiday season. Please join us for the journey.

I remember returning in 2010 from Ireland, quite eager for “When the Plane Touches Down in Deer Lake” (Derrick Pilgrim Song).  This time, I would be arriving at the Deer Lake Regional Airport some 335 kms away from my home to pick up friends arriving on the 1:22 AM and 3:25 AM flights.

In the morning we would drive up the Great Northern Peninsula. Gros Morne National Park is just 67 kms away. The beauty of this landscape attracts some 180,000 visitors during the summer season. It could also become a winter destination, as we had no choice but to stop and take a few images, breathing in the visual appeal of the mountains, water and nature as far as the eye could see.

 A view from Jenniex House Lookout, overlooking Norris Point

The Wharf at the Bonne Bay Marine Station, Norris Point

Gazing from the pier in Norris Point

Another view of Norris Point

As we moved further up the coast the experience continued to impress. I look forward to talking local hockey, ice-fishing, mummering and more as we begin to experience a rural Newfoundland & Labrador Christmas.

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Having a Good Scuff at the 10th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival

On August 5, 2011 myself and a friend had plans to take in the 10th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival. After a quick stop at Tim Horton‘s for an ice cap, we drove up to a little paradise with panoramic views, trails, restaurants and an emporium. It can be the peak of your experience. I was able to park my car and get a good view of the many icebergs.  There is also one lonely fisherman in the harbour, maybe he plans to catch a few cod-fish while the recreational fishery.

The reason for the trip was to take in the festivities and hear the diverse talents of our local musicians. They had a great line-up of performers that would appeal to everyone’s fancy, from Folk, Traditional Newfoundland & Labrador, Blue Grass, Country, Old Time Rock N’ Roll and other songs from popular culture. The Olympia was a buzz – there was a sense of happiness from the people in the room. I spoke with a number of people and even found some travelling to St. Anthony from Corner Brook, NL and even as far as Northern Quebec and Nunavut.

Addmission was just $10.00 to hear 9 different bands/performers. The schedule was as follows:

  • 7:30 PM Doors Open. Recorded Music
  • 8:00 PM The Pumper Boys
  • 9:00 PM Angela Byrne & Alphonsus Reardon
  • 9:30 PM Alphonsus Reardon & Albert Kinsella
  • 9:45 PM Wade Hillier
  • 10:15 PM Max Sexton
  • 10:30 PM Jade Gibbons
  • 11:00 PM Skipper Hotts Band
  • Midnight  Sam S., Adam R., Trevor N., & John H.
  • 1:30 AM – Close Dwayne Snow

Alphonsus Reardon & Angela Byrne perform some traditional music. She had a beautiful voice and was the only female performer during the whole show. Great job & hopefully next year more female singers will come out and participate. There certainly were no shortage of women in attendance, as they filled up the dance floor.

Wade Hillier has many talents – Viking re-enactor, story and joke teller, as well as a musician. I heard him the Friday prior performing at the Norseman Restaurant in L’Anse Aux Meadows. My two friends from California enjoyed his tunes, that they purchased a copy of his CD. I love the deep voice Wade has and especially love hearing his rendition of Aunt Martha’s Sheep and anything he does by Johnny Cash!

Ford Blake is one part of the Skipper Hotts Band, as he riddles out the tunes on the old squeeze box. I had the joy of hearing him and a part of his band play at Skipper Hotts Lounge in Straitsview the previous Friday as well. There my two friends would get Screeched-in (photos and story to follow). Tonight they had their full complement and their music pulled the people out on the floor to dance up a storm.

Prior to his performance I had asked him about playing the accordion. He had told me he started learning by playing on his father’s old one as a little boy, because you certainly were not allowed to use the good one back in those days. Drop by Skipper Hotts Lounge in Straitview and you too may be greeted by this self-taught talent and his band’s traditional music. The sound of music in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is vibrant and even more so due to the people with the talent of being able to play the accordion.

Despite the chill in the air of the stadium, the night ended up drawing a large crowd. I have to commend the organizers as they handed out a schedule with important information, which included a floor plan. This helped people find the washroom, concession stand, bar, drink ticket area, seating area and designated smoking area. As well, the local Boys & Girls Club benefited from revenues sold at the concession stand. It was nice to see that monies would go back to a local cause and benefit the area’s youth.

The Music Festival brought a crowd of young and young-at-heart alike out to the floor. I had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old friends, having a glass of Screech & Coke, dancing and enjoying the life in the stadium created through music.

Great Job!

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

My Talking Stick…

I was first introduced to the talking stick when I had to work on a project for the Big Droke Cultures Foundation and had a conversation with a Representative of the Bartlett’s Harbour Band Council. She had provided me with a wealth of knowledge of Aboriginal culture and values.

One topic of interest was the Talking Stick. She noted this item was of tribal significant when in a group. The most senior individual, usually a Chief if present will start talking and when holding the stick s/he would not be interrupted.  It was meant for courtesy and when the person was finished they would pass it along to the next council member that had something to contribute. This seems like a good approach to conduct business. It appears more mannerly way of getting things done than some of the soundbites and theatrics that come from the House of Commons during question period.

I was fortunate during April 2010, to be able to sit down with an instructor at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Goose Bay, Labrador and make my very own talking stick. At one end, I painted the Labrador Flag with 2010 and the other the FINALY! symbol reflecting the administering organization overseeing the initiative of the Provincial Government’s Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy. In between, I got some inspiration from Vincent van Gough’s “Starry Night” as I painted an impressionable moon, stars, mountains, rivers and other reminders of natural Labrador. I am quite proud of my talking stick and the significance it has to the Aboriginal culture.

Immerse yourself in culture…

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Jumping Bean Blueberry Tea

I look for products that are Made Right Here, in Newfoundland & Labrador. Sometimes, I am able to find them when I catch NTV‘s Danielle Butt on her weekly segment, Made Right Here. However, on this occasion I was at visiting Gros Morne Cabins and Endicott’s Convenience in Rocky Harbour. This business has a wide-retail selection of food items, convenience goods, camping supplies, crafts, tour options, information and some locally made products. I found Jumping Bean’s Blueberry Tea.

I enjoy the local berry teas, especially the ones I have sampled from the Dark Tickle Company, St. Lunaire-Griquet (one of our many Northern Pen Gems). You may purchase their product online by visiting www.darktickle.com.

This particular tea caught my attention as it was loose tea. Only a few weeks prior my grandmother told me how the tea they would get came in wooden boxes. It was loose tea leaves packed in a foil to protect it from getting damp. I’ve had loose tea before when I was in Egypt, but never prepared a pot myself.

I got a chair, my arms extended to the top shelf of the cupboard to carefully pull out a tea-pot that my mother received as a wedding present more than 30 years ago. She has an exceptional memory and told me the people who gave her and dad the present. It is remarkable! She remembers birthdays, telephone numbers and other every life events. If an elephant never forgets, my mother is like an elephant. However, that may be the only similarity as she has quite the petit figure.

I normally would have asked my mother how to make this stuff; however, she is not a tea drinker. I am not sure if she has ever had a cup in her life. My father, on the other hand would always have a cup of Tetley with his morning breakfast meal. Since this was my first preparation, I looked at the directions, which read:

Directions: Place the desired amount of tea leaves in the tea sac and twist the top to close. Steep for 4-5 minutes in freshly boiled water and enjoy!

Somehow, I feel the directions should be written with more structure to appease the novice tea drinker. I really had no idea how much of the stuff I should be throwing in  and what amount of water to use. Some recommendation would be nice, in combination with…. or as your tastes desires.

In the end, I must have done something right as my cup of tea turned out to be a hit. It had natural berry flavours that were silky smooth and relaxing. I look forward to another cup of tea with my raisin cake in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about Jumping Bean, you can visit them on the web at www.jumpingbean.ca. They also make a variety of coffees, which include East Coast Roast and my personal favourite, Newfoundland Screech!

If you have the chance, pour yourself up a cup of loose blueberry tea from Jumping Bean.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Outraged with the price NL Lobster Fisherman will receive this season

There was a sense of positivity of some recovery in the fishery of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in 2011 as the announcement of crab prices were to start at $2.35 with no dispute among parties, when last season the processors were disputing the $1.35 per pound price set by the pricing panel.  A Federal memo of a cut of 40 percent in the inshore shrimp fishery is unacceptable. Provincial Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman has stated the cuts to the quota should be much less (~10-15%). Some good news in this story is that the prices are up significantly for shrimp and fishers are out on the water working hard to earn a living.

The Price Setting Panel announced the lobster price would be $4.26 per pound for the week of April 17 and $4.23 per pound for the week of April 23,2011. This created a dispute among processors, claiming they could not afford to purchase at this rate.

The buyers in this situation have the upper hand, as the lobster season is quite short. The buyers continued to stall purchasing. The Fisheries Union placed pressure on Government to allow outside buyers. Fishermen should get the highest possible price for the commodity of lobster. We certainly do not have a free market as it stands today and our lobster fishers continue to pay the price. Minister Jackman noted that opening up the province to free market could not happen overnight, that plant workers may be impacted and what that could mean for other fish species – if such a precendent is set. I am unsure how much employment is created in this province due to processing of lobster, but would like to find out. It appears primarily there is the middleman or lobster buyer that gets a cut to sell from the wharf or ship to market.

It is in the interest of the buyers to ensure they reap maximum profits for themselves and their shareholders. It has been the practise of for-profit enterprises since the beginning of time. However, they have an unfair advantage over small fishing enterprises.

The Price Setting Panel set a fair price at $4.26. However, without Government intervening to allow outside buyers the bargaining power of the fishermen and their Union was weak. The fishermen went to the waters on opening day without having any buyer. This shows their dedication to their profession. However, lobster can only last so long crated on the water and fisherman can only absorb operating costs and no income for only so long. I can only imagine that this would be the case for many people, that they could only live and provide for their families for a short-term without getting further in debt. The parties agreed upon a price of $3.65 per pound with a review each week that could see increases based on market conditions.

I am outraged that fishermen are only receiving $3.65 per pound for this gourmet product. Economic conditions are much more encouraging than in 2008 when the price bottomed at $3.00-$3.25 per pound. Operating costs are increasing and fishers are unable to earn a living wage when they are being royally ripped off for their product by a whopping $0.60 per pound from the start. CBC.ca reported that 6 million pounds of lobster is caught in our beautiful province, which means $3.6 million dollars (6 million pounds *$0.60/pound)  is being removed from the fishers, which would be of great benefit to the families of fishers and help sustain rural economies.

On December 1, 2010 CBC reported the following for Nova Scotia Lobster Fishery -

Naugle said Wednesday he was selling the first lobsters of the season at a price of $5.99 per pound, for lobsters between one and 1.4 pounds. Lobsters between 1.45 and 3.25 pounds were being sold for $6.49 per pound. (Full story here)

Prices paid to the lobster harvester in Newfoundland & Labrador are being kept artificially too low, in my opinion. The FFAW has a chart listing price for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI from January-April, which show a price between $4-5.00 per pound (Full Details Click Here).

Action must be taken to ensure an environment is created to give the fishermen more bargaining power to obtain the fair price for their product. This may require greater attention from the Fisheries Union to focus on the small boat fisher, the Provincial Government to review its own Fisheries Act, dialogue with the Federal Department of Fisheries and a change in business operations or concessions for lobster buyers in the province. Change is needed in how we operate our Provincial fishery.

Why is our system set up that in the end the buyer sets the price, despite parties agreeing to a Price Setting Panel? The fishermen have the product and they should determine the price - if the buyers are unwilling then they should be able to look elsewhere. This is simple business. I would be happy to buy lobster from the fishers for $4.26 or more per pound.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Change needed in how we run the fishery in Canada…

 

It is upsetting to read headlines on the CBC – Lobster prices two dear: processors. The pricing panel set the starting price at $4.26 per pound, which processors say they will not buy and will lose money. It was only last season this same group of processors could not afford to buy crab at $1.35 per pound set by the pricing panel. Fogo Island Co-op was the only company willing, and they got dispelled from the association. Yet in Nova Scotia crab could be purchased at $1.85 per pound.

Is it our closed marketplace? The few processors have a monopoly? Should we look at changing the legislation? Having a free market and allowing outside buyers?

Lobster is a delicacy and no harvester can continue to make a living at the low price of $3.00 or $3.25 per pound, especially with escalating operating costs. My father was a small boat fisher, catching lobster. The price 15 years ago was higher than what it has been in recent seasons.

I remember passing the seafood section in London, England in 2007. The price of lobster fo 16.00 GBP or about $34.00 CDN. I purchased a lobster tail on a beach stand for $9.00 CDN. If you go fine dining lobster ranks up there with the fine cuts of beef.

Why have we devalued the lobster? Are we failing to market our quality products and getting into more value-added? And why are we unable to pay the harvester a fair price? Something has to be done to ensure more certainly and better management of the fishery. Hon. Clyde Jackman, Fisheries Minister for the Province needs to work with newly elected Federal counterparts and all stakeholders.

The fishery continues to be the backbone of the rural economy. We must implement corrective measures to ensure that our rural communities can continue to remain sustainable. The amount of dollars may be small to many of these larger producers but every cut to fish species and reduction of price has resonating impacts to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador economies.

Together we can make great change for brighter tomorrows.

Live Rural NL from Las Vegas -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

RADIO CONCHE 105.9 FM!!!!!

  Community Radio is coming to Conche May 9 – 10. Make sure to tune in to 105.9 FM.

 The French Shore Cultural Centre will be hosting this awesome event and they are asking everyone who has a connection to   Conche to call into the centre on those two days.
 
Email:frenchshoreshs@nf.aibn.com
Office:French Shore Interpretation Centre
 
Community radio stations broadcast content that is popular and relevant to a local audience with specific interests, which is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters as they really focus on mainstream and urban-oriented activities. They tend to rely on advertising funds, whereas community radio is non-profit, run typically from a group of volunteers.
 
Community radio stations are driven by the communities they serve. It is an enabler for those members to tell their own diverse stories, to share experiences, and be creators. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has talent and we will continue to be players in the ever-changing world we live as we adapt to varying forms of media. I commend the French Shore Cultural Centre for undertaking this initiative and bringing temporary community radio to the French Shore.
 
As always, Live Rural NL -
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Loss of the General Store

 

John Reeves Ltd., a family run enterprise may have closed its post in the Town of Conche many years ago, but there is still a place for the General Store in many of our Rural  communities. These businesses thrive to supply the local consumer with all their essential wares from dry goods, hardware, fresh produce to rubber boots. Without their presence, many goods would be more difficult to obtain.

 

John Reeves Ltd., Conche

My community like many others see the loss of the general store.  There were five small businesses that aimed to fill that  market, pre-1992 cod moratorium. Green Island Cove at that time only boasted  a population of 209 people (according to Stats Canada, 1991 census) today we have only one General Store with a population of 164 people. It currently is all that the community can support.

 
Today the General Store faces many more challenges than just concern for the local competitor. Transportation networks have made local consumer’s more mobile. Currently consumer’s demand lower prices and greater variety which places pressure on the local small business. Additionally, the small business is faced with the added cost of transportation for shipping goods (fuel surcharges), credit card/debit fees, minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, increasing electricity rates and high-levels of taxation. Beyond these factors, the local General Store now competes with on-line retailers, sometimes in an unfair climate – as they do not have access to Broadband Internet. Investment in Tele-communications and Broadband Internet is required to enable communities to advance the current business community and serve the people.
 
I commend those who endeavor to operate a General Store in a rural setting. One of the reasons the General Store has been successful, is their ability to provide a high-level of customer service. They listen to their customers and bring items in upon their request. Another service offered is grocery delivery to local customers. This simple idea is a benefit of shopping local, as you would never get this from a Big Box Store. There are innovative ways to continue to sell in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
 

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette

The Lingonberry in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is referred to locally as the “Partridgeberry”.

After reviewing From Our Atlantic Woods -Non-Timber Forest Product Directory 2009-2010, a recipe supplied by Pure Labrador seemed like a delicious use of for local berries.

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Lingonberry Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

Ingredients (Vinaigrette)

Directions -

Mix all together and shake well

Ingredients (Salad)

  • Mixed baby salad greens
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) crumbled blue cheese

Directions -

  1. Spread a bed of salad greens on 4 plates
  2. Core and quarter the apple
  3. Thinly slice each quarter into 6-8 slices and place on the greens in an attractive fan
  4. Sprinkle 1 tbsp (15 ml) each walnuts and blue cheese over the apple and greens
  5. Drizzle the Lingonberry Vinaigrette over the salads.

 I am looking forward to trying this salad, which will have local wild berries. Be creative with locally grown products and start your own FOOD REVOLUTION!

Squashberry Jam from Grandmother Pearl

My youthful Grandmother Pearl at 66 years of age is a wonder in the kitchen. She tends to prepare large meals for her extended family on a regular basis. On Sunday, one can suspect that she has a massive pot of salt beef, vegetables, meat and bread pudding cooking for a Sunday dinner.

She ensures to hold onto local tradition of ensuring recipes of wild game, fish and beans are mainstays at her table. There is nothing like a piece of fresh halibut out of her pan during the months of summer.

Her specialty skills come as a baker. She makes all sorts of squares, buns, rolls, cakes and my most loved item – her freshly baked pies with apples or local Newfoundland berries. There is nothing like a cut of bakeapple or partridge-berry pie and a scoop of ice-cream.

Spreading Squashberry Jam on Toast

Last time I was at her house, she gave me a small sample of her squashberry jam. I can not re-call if I have ever tasted such a local treat. I was eager to place this jam on a piece of toast. It is quite delicious. I look forward to berry picking this summer.

If you would like more information or to purchase some Squashberry product, you can visit locally The Dark Tickle Company in beautiful St. Lunaire-Griquet, Great Northern Peninsula at http://www.darktickle.com/squashberryinfo.aspx

Live Rural NL 0

Christopher Mitchelmore

Traditional Firewood to Heat our Homes

 
Wheelbarrow and a Fine Tier of Wood
 
Newfoundlander’s & Labradorian‘s have always depended on forests. The trees were used to build temporary residences for the first seasonal planters, which would eventually led to permanent settlement. Domestic firewood remains in high demand, and is the primary heat source for many of our homes or cabins in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
 
 To combat high energy costs, several weeks of the winter season would be dedicated to cutting domestic firewood to provide a source of heat for next winter.
 
I remember helping my father in the forest. We would pack up the sleigh full of cut wood and bring to the hillside near our home. During the summer, it would be my job to pack up the firewood into long rows (tier) with sufficient space to permit air to flow. This created a proper seasoned wood.
 
The process of cutting firewood is very time-consuming and can be costly considering you must pay a government permit, have a ski-doo with sleigh, a chain saw, gas and many human hours of packing and re-packing. A piece of firewood may move 6 or 7 times from when it is first cut to when it reaches the wood stove for burning. 

The Old Wood Pile

 
Electricity only came to my neighbouring communities in the 1960′s, so this was a necessary heat source. Especially since winters were much colder in the past than they are today. Many residents, especially seasonal employees ensured they had enough wood to last through those long winter nights.  I only wish that I possess the skill set that my father did for woodcutting. Today we purchase our firewood locally to support a continued growth of the rural economy. However,  I still enjoy the exercise that comes with packing and re-packing the firewood. When it is part of the routine, it does not seem such a daunting chore. 
 
The comfort one gains from the warmth of firewood and kindling coming through the floor is to much satisfaction. Firewood is a renewable resource and a good source of heat. It came in handy yesterday when the power was out. My home was nice and toasty, even with the temperatures still in the negative degrees.
 
There is more opportunity to be realized from our local forests. I will be attending a Forestry Conference – Rural Revitalization From Our Forests (April 13-15, 2010) and will keep you posted. If you would like to attend visit www.mfnl.com.
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore

Scenic Gros Morne National Park

A view of Norris Point, Gros Morne National Park

There is always a scenic photo to be taken when you visit Gros Morne National Park. These are some from my March 21, 2011 visit. The view of the bay is breathtaking. The little wharves represent the  imporance of fishing to the local economy. Although, the tourism industry has grown immensely attracting more than 180,000 visitors annually, the fishing industry is a mainstay for many families. 

A wharf in Norris Point, Gros Morne National Park

There must be a way to blend both industries where tourists can experience a rural fishing lifestyle and these fishers can also realize financial gain that will make their enterprises more viable. If the resource can be properly managed and regulated, why not allow tourists to experience traditional cod jiggin’?  They could also take their catch to a local restaurant and have it prepared to enjoy as a meal.

Boat in the Bay

We need to develop our industries. However, we must  properly manage the resources and tools that we have available to us in rural regions. One inhibiting factor are the regulations  in place by the Federal Government. It is time for government to work with fishers, businesses and community organizations to implement the change that is needed for rural success.

Fishing Boat

 
There is opportunity for Learning Vacations, Fish Markets and Culinary Experieces that pertain to the inshore fishing industry. Rural regions in Northern Newfoundland can have further growth and success! We just need to be included, our voices matter. We have ideas that can improve the quality of life and experiences of living rural. 
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 

Live Rural NL retaliates against Ellen’s stance of “Stop Seal Hunting in Canada”

Dear Ellen Degeneres -

I am deeply disappointed that you have chosen to become the latest  celebrity to advocate against the Canadian Seal Hunt, joining forces with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). You have joined a growing list of mis-informed celebrity predecessors, including Beatle Paul McCartney and Playmate, Pamela Anderson. We only need to remember then Premier Danny Williams taking on Paul McCartney and Heather Mills-McCartney on Larry King Live. Danny Williams not only illustrated how un-educated Paul and now former wife was on the matter of the seal hunt, he also embarrassed them in terms of knowing their Canadian geography. Mr. Williams invited them to come to Newfoundland & Labrador to see for himself. Paul remarked along the lines that he was already there when really he was in Prince Edward Island, another province.

PETA is an organizations that uses images of baby seals and presents mis-information to create a cash infusion.  Their website states: “PETA is drawing global attention to the annual slaughter of tens of thousands of baby harp seals”.

This statement is false! Myth: The Canadian government allows sealers to harvest white coat seals.

Reality: The harvesting of harp seal pups (white coats) and hooded seal pups (blueblack) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987. The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals. (Source: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm)

Ellen your website states: Seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s manages the seal hunt, which is sustainable. One only has to look at the harp seal population growth. In the 1970′s there were less than 2 million seals, now in 2011 there is more than 9 million harp seals. The government allocates an annual harvest quota that is supported by scientific research. The Seal Hunt is HUMANE, STRICTLY REGULATED and ENFORCED. How is harvesting seals any more atrocious and inhumane than the fish that is caught, cows, chicken, pigs, moose and other animals that are killed for human consumption? What about cattle that are ranched and grown strictly for human consumption? They have no chance for anything but ending up as some form of beef, maybe a burger – unlike seals, who are self-reliant, independent and able to fend for themselves.

The seal hunt has been around in Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. Without the seal meat, oil and skin for clothing many people of the rural communities would be burdened with economic hardships and other woes. The sealskin boot has provided the warmth and protection from the elements of surviving in a difficult winter climate. The seal skin is water-resistant, protecting the feet from getting damp when cutting firewood to heat one’s home. Seal skin provided necessary protection that may have saved human lives.

My father was a fisherman, his father and his father before him. They have all harvested seals to aid them in providing for their families. My father had prepared seal skin to be made into boots. I still proudly wear them, as winters in Northern Newfoundland tend to be very stormy. I walk knee-deep in snow, many days throughout winter to reach my car. I understand the deep-rooted tradition and the necessity of the seal hunt to ensure life in rural regions could continue. How dare you make such uninformed comments that continue to negatively impact the fishers in rural regions.

I ask that you do further research on this matter and re-consider your stance on the seal hunt. I invite you to come to Rural Newfoundland and Labrador to experience for yourself first-hand the seal hunt. You should use your celebrity status to do good instead of blatant abuse.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore

Sandy Beaches at Norris Point, Gros Morne National Park

 
Tropical Paradise on March 21, 2011 at Gros Morne?
I always enjoy treks to Gros Morne National Park, which is one of our Rural Crown Jewels
Footprints

On March 21, 2011, I was pleasantly surprised to walk the shores and find a beautiful sandy beach. The Town was quiet as I met very few people during my stroll on the beach this afternoon. I screamed of being a tourist with my Nikon DSLR camera and the fact that Norris Point is small enough that everyone knows everyone in the community during the off-season.

An amazing view...

The Town of Norris Point may be small in population (pop. 850 in 1996), but during summer, like Prince Edward Island the tourists will out-number residents by a grossly disproportioned amount. Tourists at Gros Morne National Park exceed 180,000 people in season.

Looking onwards, towards the Mountains

There are many reasons to visit Norris Point. One I recommend is to take time to tour the shoreline. You will be surprised by the furry of activity from the  fishers, sea life, birds and sounds of the water gently rolling over the sandy beaches.

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Christopher Mitchelmore

Vernacular Architecture thrives in Conche, NL

The road to the French Shore will ultimately take you to Conche, NL. This is a must see Town on the North Eastern part of the Great Northern Peninsula. One must stop at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, where you will get the opportunity to see a 222 ft tapestry that has been embroidered on Jacobean linen by local women of Conche and designed by J. C. Roy.

After a visit to the centre, I recommend you take some time to explore the colourful homes and outer dwellings that scream Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Crab pots by Store, with snowshoers in the background

Traditional Home with Porch

An old red shed that has seen better days

A restored home

A view of Conche

I have only shared a sample of the many wonders one can find in the Heritage Corridor of Conche. One must see it for themselves to truly understand the marvels of its beauty.

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Christopher Mitchelmore

Ski-dooing in Rural Newfoundland…

Da' Yammie, Conche, NL

Buddy Wasisname, a Canadian Comedian born in Newfoundland & Labrador has been known to tell jokes, especially about “Da Yammie”.  
 
Buddy Wasisname: You knows what a Yammie is? Ah? What? You don’t what a Yammie is? A Ski-doo with a Yahama sticker on ‘er.
 
 
 
To many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians they love the winter activity of ski-dooing. It is one of those brands that super-cedes the term of being referred to as snowmobiling. It is up there with brands like “Scotch Tape“, “Kleenex” and “Windex“.  
 
When visiting Conche, I saw this Yahama Bravo taking in the view of the harbour as the owner had last left it there. My father always loved his Bravo. He used it to haul wood and take him for many rides in the woods.  My sister can certainly remember going around the house on Da Yammie. I was much younger, but certainly remember my father taking me with him at times for rides in the woods, sometimes where he was rabbit snaring. He would even show me how to tail a slip. Those are good memories.
 

Ski-dooing in Bide-Arm

 
A visit to Bide-Arm also demonstrated that many people use their ski-doos, as the tracks were well-marked. As I write this, there are children outside on ski-doo, towing others on GTs. We had fun buzzing around the houses in the community. Sometimes we would even do the same,  throw snowballs or take a ride in the woods. There is nothing like ice-fishing on the pond or having a boil-up using pond water to make a cup of Tea. To date I have not found a better place to enjoy a cup of tea than at the cabin.
 
Although we are into the Spring season, there is lots of snow in Northern Newfoundland. For those who enjoy ski-dooing, there is still an opportunity to enjoy the countryside.
 
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Christopher Mitchelmore

NL Moose Soup on Saturday

Saturday in Rural Newfoundland, has long been known as Soup Saturday. In September 2009, I returned to my community on the island of Newfoundland. Since that time, I continue my previous tradition of visiting my grandmother who makes soup every Saturday to enjoy a drop.

Moose Soup from Grandma's Kitchen

She makes traditional split pea soup, turkey neck, rabbit, partridge and my favourite – Moose Soup.

I love the flavour of the all the garden vegetables mixed with salt meat (beef) and of course the moose. I also love the fact that she adds macaroni noodles. Those who know me well, know I enjoy macaroni in my soup. In fact, my Aunt Viola always added extra to her soup when she knew I was coming over.

Moose Meat from the Soup

When I enter my grandmother’s kitchen on Saturday, she had the moose meat placed on the table, salt & pepper shakers are always in the same location, homemade bread is sliced and strawberry flavoured drink mix readily available.  One has to dig in and can not simply stop at one bowl.

Freshly Sliced Homemade Bread

Soup is a great dinnertime meal (we do not call it lunch in Rural Newfoundland), especially when it is complimented by some of grandma’s freshly baked bread.

 
Over the cooling of the soup, we usually share memories of the past, talk about my grandfather, family and days from my grandmother’s childhood.
 
Tetley Tea & Biscuits

We continue the conversation over a cup of Tetley Tea after our meal and marshmallow biscuits that I’ve enjoyed at grandma’s ever since I can remember.

 
I just called asking for the recipe, which all spoken like a true Newfoundland cook, not with exact measurements.
 
She uses moose meat, with some bone (if possible), a handful of salt beef in a 4 qrt. pot adding water and letting simmer for a couple of hours. She dices carrot, turnip and potatoes (about 3 or 4 handfuls) and adds to the pot for about 45 minutes. A chopped onion is added. She adds 1/4 cup of rice and macaroni for about 20 minutes. She adds a can of tomato soup and beef oxo cup for additional flavour. Grandma’s secret recipe is out! I’ll still prefer her pot to mine any day.
 
This is one tradition, I am happy to continue as I live in Rural Newfoundland and will cherish always.
 
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Christopher Mitchelmore

Irish Road Trip….with Great Friends!

The Irish Coast

 Thursday morning started with our newest member of the team, Tobias, who I also met while studying at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic. We headed North to see the craggy coastline, metholithic cemetery and enter Northern Ireland to visit the Giant’s Causeway.
 

Banana's Make a Useful Stand for "Gertrude Prudence Spencer" GPS

It is a good thing we had the expertise of the German Engineer, as he is very solutions oriented.  I forgot to bring my stand for Gertrude Prudence Spencer (GPS) and concluded the peel of the banana would be a good surface to hold it in place. Notice I am driving the car on the left, while sitting on the right side of the car. One must really adapt, as driving this way is so different from in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
We stopped for a traditional Irish breakfast at a little restaurant. I believe, I was the only person that like the blood pudding. The guys had a big breakie and my mom had the mini-breakie.
 

The Coast

 
The coastline and water reminded me of being in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. However, in mid-November the grass would not be as green and there are far less farms and significantly less sheep. There is an opportunity for this type of business activity, as we have similar climates.
 

Sheep along the coast

 As you can see from the image to the left, some of the sheep are quite fearless, as they veer just to the edge of the landscape.  The sheep were fearful of my presence and move further away. I was fortunate to also get some images of a rainbow that was off in the horizon.

 
 

A Rainbow

Unfortunately for us, the metholithic cemetery was closed and we did not feel comfortable trespassing through the gates. The landscape though presented a few of ancient lands. We decided not to visit the Giant’s Causeway as nightfall was catching us, so I decided to drive directly to Belfast City.
 
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Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 

Dining in Galway…

Irish Harp Beer

Late Wednesday afternoon we checked into Sleepzone. The room for the night cost 1 Euro each, or the equivalent of $1.36 Canadian. Sadly, I paid significantly more for parking that night.

My mom and I were greeted by my friend David, who I had met while
attending a semester at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic. He flew from Sweden to meet us and join our travels.
 
We were recommended this little restaurant by a local. It certainly did not disappoint.
 
 

Irish Stew and Veg

The order was a plate of Traditional Irish Stew with Veg (potatoes (whole and mashed), carrots and cabbage/green vegetables. A hungry man’s portion indeed.
 
After filling up on the main course, we treated ourselves to a dessert of Bailey’s Cheesecake.
Bailey’s Cheesecake

  I highly recommend the cheesecake, as the perfect way to end a great Irish meal.

 
Food in Ireland, like Newfoundland and Labrador would tease and tantalize the taste buds.
 
We left the restaurant very satisfied. Despite the rain, we decided to walk the streets and find a good pint and some music at the pubs.
 
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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!
 
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Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 

Charles Fort, Kinsale – Ireland

Mosaic of Charles Fort, Kinsale, Ireland

 
Tuesday afternoon took us to Summer Cove on outskirts of Kinsale. We passed the golf club and lighthouse to stop for a  visit at Charles Fort. The mosaic illustrates the fort’s star shape. The grass remains pretty green for November 15, 2010.

A view of the ruins

 
The fort was once a stronghold that protected Kinsale Harbour. Some of the remaining buildings have been converted to tell the story, displaying uniforms, artifacts and panels.
 
We walked around the property to get a view of the harbour. It was “blowing a gale”, definitely not a day to be on the water.

View of the Harbour

 The design reminded me of a family vacation of Fort Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

We must preserve our local sites, as we are quickly losing values of the past that make rural Newfoundland & Labrador unique. Deep Cove Winter Housing site and Flower’s Island are two examples within a 25km radius of my home. It is time to ensure History is preserved and the

More Ruins

story-told appropriately.

 
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Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 
 
 

Canadian Learning Passport – Liberal Election Announcement

For more than a year I worked with volunteers and also delivered Junior Achievement programs to local high school students to facilitate the “Economics for Success” program. It teaches grade nine students many lifelong lessons. They consider their skills, talents, values; dream careers; budget; practise interview skills and even get a job with a salary. They certainly learn the value of a post-secondary education from the occupations provided as the incomes are much higher than entry-level positions.

I grew up in a rural community, wanting to pursue opportunities that were not available to my parents. I always dreamed of working in Europe and exploring parts unknown. Little did I know that in 2007 these dreams would become a reality as I lived and worked in Europe, travelling to 25 countries. My parents supported my sister and I. They believed that they should do all they could to assist us through a post-secondary education. At the age of 13 I lost my father (the breadwinner), this left my mother with  a significant challenge of being a single parent without meaningful employment, yet still wanting to provide for her child. 

I graduated high school like many students, faced with a tough decisions of whether to enter the workforce, obtain a post-secondary education, or neither. I was terrified of the high debt load I would accumulate having to move away from my rural community to live in the city, pay rent, utilities, groceries, tuition, books and other living costs. It is a scary reality. Many of my peers also choose this route, while others did not – a limiting factor could be the debt burden upon graduation. Five years in the workplace, gives them valuable work experience, seniority and income without the debt. This sounds wonderful, but most of these individuals have to move away from their friends and family.

How can a student graduating with $50,000 in debt after 5 years of post-secondary get ahead? Students are crippled with debt repayment that could range in $400-600 a month for a period of 9 years. How can one afford a car? rent? a home? or support a family? I opted to work part-time jobs throughout the school year and work multiple jobs during the four-month summer break.

Post-secondary education costs must be reduced to ensure that Canadian debt load is more affordable. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has made great strides in making education more affordable. They have continued a tuition freeze. Memorial University has the second-lowest tuition in the country, with some universities in Quebec posting nominally lower rates. Moreover, the provincial government has implemented up-front grants as part of the Students Loan Program, reduces the NL portion of the  student loan debt for those completing their program within the appropriate timeframe and eliminating the interest on the NL portion of the student loan. The Provincial Government should be commended for investing in our education.

It is time for the Canadian Government to take a similar approach – wake up and smell the coffee. It appears that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff‘s election announcement of the Canadian Learning Passport is a step in the right direction to make post-secondary education more affordable for all Canadians which promised $1,000 per year for up to 4 years for all Canadians and $1,500 for individuals from low-income families (up to $6,000). The program is estimated to invest $1 billion annually in the future generations. This investment will have tremendous long-term benefits for all Canada.

The Canadian economy needs to continue to produce educated and innovative individuals to further stimulate new economic growth for the future. I would like to be informed of the stance relating to education policy from other major political parties.

I have paid the price of a post-secondary education, and regard the education as worth every penny.  I certainly encourage more youth to choose to obtain a post-secondary education and to also get out and vote. The 18-29 demographic, historically yields low-voter turnout. We need to stand up and be connected and have a stronger voice for matters that affect Canadian families.

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Christopher Mitchelmore

Where are our Local Farmer’s Markets?

 

Kinsale, Ireland

After a walk through the enchanted forest we took the Hyundai Getz to the coast. A one-hour drive on very narrow roads led us to Kinsale, Ireland.

This quaint little town of 2,200 people reminded me of St. Anthony, Newfoundland & Labrador for the many homes on the hillsides surrounding the harbour. It was relatively quiet in November, but during the summer the population greatly increases for sailing, angling and the gourmet cuisine.
 

Fishy Fishy Cafe

Most people dine at Fishy Fishy Cafe. It was ranked by our Frommer’s Travel guide as a place to eat. We opted to visit, however, the staff said they were not serving for another hour. We decided to walk the waterfront and visit Market Street. On our stroll we saw a sign that said “Farmer’s Market Tuesdays”. We were fortunate to be able to visit

Stone-baked pizza at the Kinsale Market

the vendors.

 
The market had about 8 or 9 vendors (two vegetable stands with differing varieties, baked goods, coffee, ice-cream, pet-related, pizza, preserves and vegetarian. We had some delicious coffee, giving us warmth as we walked around the market. We talked to a mother and child, while we waited for our stone-baked pizza. She recommended we visit Charles Fort. We stopped for a while longer to purchase some tarts.
 
The Great Northern Peninsula has a significant opportunity to create an outdoor Farmer’s Market. We certainly have producers, crafters and those who could sell food services. Why are we not availing of this community-based entrepreneurial activity. We need to work together to have a good venue, with a consistent schedule to ensure that customers know we will be available to sell our wares. This market could be sustained through local patrons and propped up by the in-flux of tourists during the summer season.
 
If local residents are interested in establishing a Farmer’s Market, send me an email at christopher.mitchelmore@cbdc.ca.
 
Let’s create something that can help our local communities become stronger and more sustainable.
 
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Christopher Mitchelmore
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