As we celebrate the season of giving, I still believe the best presents are not the ones that can be bought on-line or at some retail outlet but those gifts without price tags attached – but the gifts one makes by hand.
How wonderful are the holidays when grandma comes with a deliciously handmade apple pie, just ready to put in the oven? How often do we look forward to Aunt’s fruitcake, cousin’s cookies or a friend’s cinnamon rolls? There are those that always make an ornament or holiday wreath. We have knitters and quilters that do it their way, knit and sew stitches with ultimate care. We all have those crafty friends and family members that take the time out to show they care. These types of presents are the gifts that simply can not be replaced.
I’d like to share with you some of the handmade items, I received this year for Christmas:
1.Hooked Rug: It is certainly not every day someone will give you a hooked rug. It takes many hours of time and dedication to end up with a finished product. I remember making my first and only hooked rug to date in Winter 2011. It took 50 hours to complete. Hooked rugs represent a time of economic development, especially for women, as Dr. Wilfred Grenfell encouraged women to make hooked rugs to help supplement family incomes. They still sell Grenfell rugs at the Grenfell Centre in St. Anthony today. I love this rug and everything it represents as it depicts a shrimp at sea – the lifeblood for many communities of the Straits-White Bay North. Without such fishing activity and processing our region would face much difficulty. It now hangs in my bedroom near the window, which boasts a view of the water. I can not thank the giver enough for what it means to be presented with such a gift! Please do keep up your efforts, as this hooked rug inspires me to push harder for the fishers and those who make their living from the sea.
2. Knitted Socks: My grandmother had included in her present a pair of knitted socks. I love them – a pair of knitted socks is to be coveted. I’ve already placed one on my feet when I attended the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk. The other foot had a striped knitted sock done by my Aunt Christina. These socks like others will find a home when I wear my seal skin boots or want to ensure my feet remain nice and cozy. These have been a tradition of Newfoundland & Labrador for centuries.
3. Sealskin Business Card Holder: A traditional-bark tanned sealskin has been designed to hold my braille business cards. I will use it proudly. We have such a history on the Great Northern Peninsula when it comes to sealing. For instance, St. Barnabas Church, Flower’s Cove is known locally as “sealskin boot church” because the building fund was provided by sales of women making and selling sealskin boots. This product will go nicely with my bark-tan wallet. Thank you SabrinaLisa for another incredible gift.
4. Handmade Quilt: My 81-year-old grandmother has given me a beautiful handmade quilt for Christmas that she made herself this year. She has always made lots of quilts throughout the years, but never one to call my own. Christmas 2012 is very special to have the gift of a handmade quilt from Nan. I’m not sure how many more she’ll make, but I hope she continues the tradition. I’m quite pleased to see at least a couple of her daughters have picked up the skill, keeping quilt-making in the family alive and well.
Traditions, culture and local knowledge should be passed on. I hope my liveruralnl.com blog continues to help document some of the many traditions, culture, heritage, history, landscapes and people of the Great Northern Peninsula.
Happy Holidays & New Year to All -Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk Continues to Break Local Record (liveruralnl.com)
- Marketing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador & the VTTA (liveruralnl.com)
On August 4, 2011 I visited this Community Museum. It brought me back nearly a decade ago when I first started Flower’s Island Museum in Nameless Cove in July 2002. The old homestead similarly was filled with items of the 19th century and had stories adorning the walls highlighting baking bread, domestic life and past residents that were pillars of the community.
Dr. Henry Payne was a dedicated teacher for 45 years, Justice of the Peace and a field worker for the Co-operative Movement.
Since the 1950s the co-operative movement has continued to grow. Today, it consists of related organizations with significant influence in the agriculture, finance, insurance, fishing, retail and housing industries. Retail co-operatives play significant roles on the Prairies and in Atlantic Canada, according to Canadian Encyclopedia.
Rural Communities were built around the cooperation of its residents. It led to development. We may have to re-visit the co-operative model and consider it for craft retail, tourism marketing, fishery and agricultural sectors on the Great Northern Peninsula.
The Museum has a wealth of artifacts from the past. Entrance is just $3.00 and if under 12 there is no admission fee. The kitchen has the old stove, with flat irons ready to be heated for ironing clothes. In the pantry there was an old water pump in the basin and many old tins and cans, which were former homes for tea, spice, flour and other foodstuffs.
The rocking chair below is a rarity. It certainly is one of a kind and a symbol of the times. This appears to be an old hooping barrel converted into a rocking chair. You may also notice the hinges on the seat. It was also good for storage – maybe the wife’s knitting and wool would be neatly stowed away. Nevertheless, this piece illustrates the ingenuity of a rural Newfoundlander & Labradorian.
Rug Hooking has begun to see a revival on the Great Northern Peninsula. I have seen rug hooking kits for sale at many outlets, the Grenfell Interpretation Centre sells a variety of hooked rugs, the College of the North Atlantic had delivered a Mat Hooking course (which, I enrolled), many rugs were hooked in Englee and Main Brook. This is an excellent opportunity to place your images of Rural Life in an art form. Community-members could come together to form a rug hooking cooperative as was in the past with the Grenfell Foundation. People would send their stockings to the women of Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula to hook Grenfell Rugs.
The Dr. Henry Payne Museum offers Rug Hooking classes on-site, taught by the multi-talented Glenda Bavis. If you are interested in learning this trade make contact at: 709 243-2466 or
The museum is a rare find with photos, period furniture, artifacts, geology and more. Additionally, a visit to their gift shop is a treasure hunt. They have a little bit of everything from candles, postcards, hand-knit sweaters, pottery, pewter bowls, Dark Tickle products, books, antler buttons, pet rocks, jewellery, music and more. (http://www.cowhead.ca/heritage/)
If you have the time, drop by this museum. They are open until 8:00 PM! The two staffers working we able to answer my questions, as I can be very inquisitive at times. I like playing the role of a tourist even on the Great Northern Peninsula, as it is nice to see the product and service offering others experience when they visit local sites. Great job!
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
- Rural Communities are Stronger Together – Keep Government Accountable (liveruralnl.com)
Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, founder of the International Grenfell Mission supported economic development on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador. He organized co-ops, especially for local women to help supplement fishing or other incomes from spouses. A visit to Grenfell Historic Properties this summer outlined a quote of the Doctor, asking people to “send your stockings to Labrador”. The women would then take the silks and use them to produce mats or rugs to sale. Some residents today continue with this tradition and realize an opportunity to preserve tradition, generate revenues and expand your skills.
They are attempting to determine the level of interest. Sufficient enrolment required in order for classes to commence.
To express an interest or to obtain more information, please contact Joan Kinden at 709 457 2719 or Sabrina Gaulton at 709 456 2834.
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore