Blog Archives

Caribou and the Great Northern Peninsula

Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, who founded the Grenfell Mission more than 100 years ago, was the first to introduce reindeer to the Great Northern Peninsula. After reading Rompkey’s “Grenfell of Labrador” it is clear Grenfell purchased some 300 reindeer from Scandinavian countries to help provide a food supply to locals of the North.

In North America, reindeer are commonly referred to as the caribou. On the Great Northern Peninsula we are seeing the caribou coming back in larger numbers.

The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique offering including the presence of abundant nature and wildlife. This past winter when I drove from St. Anthony to Green Island Cove I was greeted by a small heard of caribou in Eddies Cove East (Route 430 – Viking Trail) and pulled over to wait for them to cross the road. After driving through this tiny community in “The Straits” to the south I saw a total of nine caribou. It was unusual for them to be grazing for food on the opposite side of the road adjacent to the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador dominating in the background. It was one of those moments when you just stare in amazement.

In late May, when attending the graduation of students at James Cook Memorial, Cook’s Harbour I also saw a bunch of caribou off Route 435.

Enroute to Croque and St. Julien’s, I met these caribou trotting along Route 432 (Grenfell Drive) near the Town of Main Brook.

The Great Northern Peninsula is a place to visit at any time of year, especially if you want to view the majestic caribou (reindeer).  The Christmas season is quickly approaching, reminding us that Santa and his reindeer will be on his way in just a month from today.

Here is a link to another posting with some great shots of caribou on the Great Northern Peninsula: What a view today on the Great Northern Peninsula…

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

It’s never to early to start planning your Winter vacation on the GNP

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1311172644-1The Great Northern Peninsula has one of the longest winter seasons on the Island portion of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. We are the ideal location for an array of winter activities and enjoy the scenery as you experience the countryside, view the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador as the backdrop or snowmobile on our most Northerly section of the remaining Appalachian mountains.

There is a number of trail networks for cross-country ski-ing or snow-shoeing, as well as the opportunity for the adventurous type to visit alternative locations.

You can enjoy ice-fishing activities, pond skating or a good ol’ hockey game that really immerse you in all the fun and enjoyment winter brings to the people of the North. We embrace winter activities and have a love for spending time in the great outdoors, whether it be at the cabin with a crackling fire, game of cards and a cup of tea or at home with the family building a snowman and making those snow angels we all did when we were kids.

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It certainly is never too early to begin your plan to enjoy all the Great Northern Peninsula has to offer.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Icebergs are your doorstep

In June the icebergs scatter the coves, bays and shores along the Strait of Belle Isle and surround the entire Great Northern Peninsula.

These icebergs were taken from the doorstep in L’Anse au Clair, Labrador this past summer:

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The Peterman Ice Island left these icebergs in Goose Cove, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in July 2011.

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The Great Northern Peninsula hosts an annual iceberg festival, which is scheduled to run from June 6th to June 15th, 2014. Check for updates at www.theicebergfestival.ca.

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Icebergs are at your doorstep on the Great Northern Peninsula. You can see them on boat tours, at Festivals, with binoculars, on walking trails, up close or on the distance.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Seals on the Ice

Last Sunday, I had left my home to drive to grandmother’s house in Nameless Cove for a big turkey dinner on Easter Sunday. Driving through the community, I saw a black spot on the ice.

Division No. 9, Subd. C-20130331-01594

The seal is at the edge of the beach.

Division No. 9, Subd. C-20130331-01598

Another seal is close to shore, as pack ice had blocked the Strait of Belle Isle. The land in the background, well that’s “The Big Land” – Labrador. I’m not sure people believe me when I saw, “I can see Labrador from my window,” but it is true.  Just a short 15 kilometres between us and still no plan to connect us by a fixed-link. Advancing transportation and telecommunication networks will be key to Southern Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula‘s future long-term sustainability. Quebec is completing Route 138 (Lower North Shore Highway), this means Montreal will be just 13 hours drive from this province. It will transform the shipping of goods and services. The current administration promised a feasibility study – a link has not yet materialized. Instead it has opted to build a multi-billion dollar energy project, laying cables on the ocean floor that will interfere with our way of life, the fishery – our mainstay, versus going underground with a tunnel. It was noted in a pre-feasibility study that if both projects were paired, savings of nearly $400 million would be realized. More work is needed exploring a fixed-link, but advancing transportation networks is imminent, we can not continue to be plagued with annual increased rates at Marine Atlantic and an unreliable schedule for shipment of goods and services. These costs are ultimately passed on to the consumer.  We need to be more strategic and consider where we need to go over the long-term, but not forget our roots – our beginnings.

Seals played a critical role in the development of our as a permanent settlement. In the early 1800’s they were a major food source, as the island had only 9 types of mammalia. Additionally, as a British Colony, we shipped both whale and seal oil to the homeland. This oil was used in lamps and correlated with the Industrial Revolution. Today, this product is banned in the United Kingdom.

It will be another couple of days before the sealers take to the ice. I wish much success in this years hunt, as the seal provides valuable meat, oils and pelts that are harvested in a humane and sustainable way. Sealing is part of our tradition, and will continue to remain that way well into the future.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

What a view today on the Great Northern Peninsula…

The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique offering including the presence of abundant nature and wildlife. Today as I drove from St. Anthony to Green Island Cove I was greeted by a small heard of caribou in Eddies Cove East and pulled over to wait for them to cross the road. After driving through this tiny community in “The Straits” to the south I saw a total of nine caribou. It was unusual for them to be grazing for food on the opposite side of the road adjacent to the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador dominating in the background. It was one of those moments when you stared in amazement. I was fortunate to have a camera and able to pull over and take a few photos. See the gallery below:

A visit to the Straits region of the Great Northern Peninsula may be the perfect opportunity for you to get your glimpse of these beautiful animals.

Sometimes, the best surprises don’t cost you a thing.

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

A morning’s view from Deadman’s Cove, NL…

Deadman’s Cove, NL is a tiny community nestled in the Straits region that presents some of the first views of Labrador. A number of people stop to take walks along the beach and venture onto the “head” (end of land) and watch the waves crash against the rocks. I’ve been often tempted to drive some eco-friendly golf balls from this point.

On Tuesday, I took this image of an old timberjack and the remains of pack ice that regularly fill the Strait of Belle Isle during winter. I hope this remaining piece is a  good sign for icebergs this summer. Last year, we saw the massive icebergs from the Peterman ice island make their way to Goose Cove, St. Anthony, St. Carol’s, Conche, Main Brook, Englee, St. Lunaire-Griquet, L’Anse aux Meadows and surrounding areas.

I encourage those to make plans earlier than normal, as there are several Come Home Year Celebrations in the District this summer and accommodations may book up earlier than usual. Anchor Point & Deadman’s Cove will jointly host a Celebration from August 12-18th, 2012. Be a part of the celebration of what it is to Live Rural NL!

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Lure of Labrador – When will we be connected?

The Strait of Belle Isle at its shortest distance is just 9 miles of water. In the 1970’s there was drilling on both ends of the Strait to build a tunnel connecting the island to mainland Canada. All of this ended with a change of Government. A tunnel does not appear to be on the radar of Government at any level. It makes practical sense to work with Quebec to cost-share this project as they complete the Lower North Shore Highway, Route 138 in the next 5 or so years.

This completion of this Route will significantly change the way one travels, as commercial traffic will be re-routed from Montreal using this highway and a much shorter ferry crossing. I would even be able to drive to Montreal to see the Habs play the Leafs. With or without a tunnel, there must be appropriate planning to deal with capacity on the Route 138, Route 430 and Trans-Labrador Highway. There are services and business opportunities that will come with these new highways. The opening of the Trans-Labrador Highway saw an increase in 18% ferry passenger traffic in the Strait of Belle Isle from May-October from 65,000 passengers to 77,400. Will we be ready for Route 138?

Why not build a tunnel? They have built the Chunnel connecting London, England to Paris, France by underground tunnel and train. The Scandinavian countries have several underground tunnels spanning a far greater distance than just 9 miles and comparable, if not worse weather conditions. There may be significant cost-savings by completing this project, as the Feds would not need to subsidize Marine Atlantic at their current levels. A greater focus could be placed on passenger traffic and promote tourism, as well as reduce user rates.

As a means to re-ignite economic activity on the Great Northern Peninsula, this is one of the many answers. Newfoundland & Labrador is one province and should be connected. We should be a part of mainland Canada, as is the case with every other province and territory in the country.

In the meantime, I continue to see the Big Land every day when I awake from my bedroom window and the lights twinkle at night. Some day that Lure of Labrador will be that much closer.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Small Iceberg in Green Island Brook

Last month en route to Norstead – Viking Village & Port of Trade at L’Anse aux Meadows, I captured this small iceberg at Green Island Brook (July 7, 2011).

This small berg was so close to land, making for a great snap of the camera capturing the small fishing shed in the corner.

Travel Tip: Between the communities of Green Island Brook and Eddies Cove East is a brilliant area for watching whales passing through the Strait of Belle Isle.

I’ve read articles today still noting that along the Labrador coast and around the Northern tip of the Peninsula there are close to 200 icebergs.

Enjoy the Great Northern Peninsula Experience -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

GNP Craft Producers Launches Website – Shoal Cove East, NL

NEW WEBSITE: www.gnpcrafts.ca

GNP Craft Producers Launch New Website: www.gnpcraft.com

Visit them for a unique offering as they specialize in sealskin products.

Products are locally made. The pleated sealskin boots are made by a local resident in her early 80’s. She has been producing the boots for 7 decades. Seal skin boots protected us from the harsh winter conditions and damp weather.

You may want to pick up the “Out of Necessity – The Story of Sealskin Boots in the Strait of Belle Isle“.

I proudly wear my sealskin boots during winter. I turned a few heads at Memorial University on days walking across campus wearing sealskin prepared by my father.

Take some time to learn about our culture – the seal hunt, the impact on our economy and the art of sealskin boot making. You may be amazed with what your find out.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

Live Rural NL Blogger Seeks NDP Nomination for District of The Straits -White Bay North in Fall Election

Christopher Mitchelmore, a resident of Green Island Cove in the Strait of Belle is vying for the NDP candidacy for the District of The Straits -White Bay North. 

Christopher grew up in this fishing community at a time when his family and fellow residents were faced with an economically devastating moratorium, which would lead to higher levels of unemployment, business closures and out-migration. 

As a teenager he faced his greatest challenge with the sudden death of his father, the late-Clyde Mitchelmore Jr., who passed away on a fishing boat in Nain, Labrador in September 1999. This life changing event would push Christopher to become more involved with academics, extra-curricular and community activities that would help with personal growth.

Mr. Mitchelmore’s first experience in the political arena was in 2002 as a participant of the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa, which goal is to foster and promote an understanding among young Canadians of the role and function of Canada ‘s three levels of democratic government.

Christopher started Flower’s Island Museum in 2002 at Nameless Cove. He later expanded to include a gift shop, 9-hole miniature golf course and worked with partners to host an annual summer festival. The business operated until 2005, when Mr. Mitchelmore took a position to aid other youth experience entrepreneurship.

In 2008, Christopher received a Bachelor of Commerce Honours (Co-op) degree and the James Barnes Award for Academic Excellence. His university experience enabled him to work for the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, NL Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (Public Utilities Board) and London Offshore Consultants,  study in Europe, work in the United Kingdom and travel 25 countries. These experiences provided insight and valuable networks that will bring new ideas and help encourage business and community economic development in the District.

Since 2009, Christopher has been working for Community Business Development Corporation Nortip as Client Services Officer providing assistance to individuals and groups wishing to start-up, expand or modernize a small-medium business or social enterprise.

Additionally, Christopher has been involved with a number of organizations and served on several committees, including:

The NDP has long been a party that has advocated social democratic policies that support working people, families and the labor movement.  It is a party that works on behalf of the people and has put government to task as a strong opposition party. Recently, the Provincial Government sided with the NDP which will remove the Provincial portion of the HST from Home Heating this coming Fall.

“The region needs a stronger voice, one that will stand up for the people and address the everyday concerns of the region. The Great Northern Peninsula is faced with fishery woes, erosion of local services, inadequate telecommunication (broadband and cellular) services in areas,  plight of our youth and a long list of other challenges that affect the well-being of the individuals and families living in the region.”

Christopher Mitchelmore would be an energetic and educated NDP candidate of The Straits-White Bay North, bringing a new vision and your voice to the House of Assembly. 

Make your vote count this upcoming election. Vote for a party that has fresh ideas and real solutions. Let’s pave the way for new growth and prosperity in The Straits – White Bay North.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Live Rural NL Celebrates 1st Anniversary!

One year ago today, I introduced myself to the wonderful world of blogging under the name Live Rural NL. Over the past year I have scribed nearly 200 posts and have shared with you my rural life from heritage, cuisine, politics to vacations. I extend a big thank you for all my loyal readers for continuing to show interest in the potluck of articles I post daily as time permits.

The journey over the past 365 days was a learning experience as I became much more aware of the significant aspects of rural culture that surrounded my daily life. For instance:

  1. the tradition of soup Saturday with my grandmother, my love for fisherman’s brewis, figgy duff and Sunday’s Dinner.
  2. the significance of my grandfather’s folklore, his incredible riddles, quotes and jokes – sadly only the memories remain with his passing on June 6, 2010.
  3. I continued to realize how much I value the water and the importance of the fishery to our rural economy.
  4. I took a strong stance against Ellen DeGeneres’ views on the Canadian seal hunt, lobbied Governments for Broadband Internet access and asked for decision-making at a more localized level.
  5. I realized the nuisance a Moose can be on our roadways, but how delicious they are in a pot of stew.
  6.  I learned how to traditionally hook rugs, paint using acrylics and also improve my photography skills.
  7. I spent time with family, playing games, telling stories, enjoying laughter.
  8. Locally, I visited most places on the Great Northern Peninsula, being a tourist at home. |This past weekend, I’ve re-visited again Conche, Englee, Roddickton- Bide-Arm, Main Brook, St. Anthony, L’Anse aux Meadows and Quirpon to tour with a friend. I’ve returned to St. Pierre-Miquelon-Langlade, Grand Bank, Marystown, Burin, Brigus, Cupids, the Irish Loop, St, Johns, Port Home Simpson, Mary’s Harbour, Lodge Bay, Battle Harbour and the Labrador Straits. Evident from the nearly 50,000 kms I have placed on my car in the past year.
  9. Nationally, I visited Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Winnipeg
  10. Internationally, Mom and I visited France, England, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland last November to experience the Newfoundland-Ireland connection. I also travelled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Cuba.
  11. I joined Couch Surfing
  12. I met up with old friends and made new friendships
  13. I realized the importance of community and how everyone has a role to play and that we should do our best to contribute.
  14. I plan to visit Raleigh, Cook’s Harbour and Cape Onion this summer season. As well as return to many other places. As well, I would love to spend a weekend in Fogo, Ramea and St. Brendan’s. There must be something about island culture.
  15. Culture evolves and does not remain stagnant
  16. We have some of the best cultural assets in the world!
  17. There is immense opportunities on the Great Northern Peninsula, for those young and old alike.
  18. Include the community in the decision-making process. Local people have valuable ideas and contributions.
  19. The Great Northern Peninsula is an experience
  20. Live Rural NL!

To reiterate lines of my first post, “I have changed many times as a person as I progress through my twenties, but I realize that with the right attitude and efforts we can accomplish the unthinkable. Today my friends, I just want to share with you what it means for me to continue to Live Rural Newfoundland.”

Cheers,

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Water – A Necessity in My Life

Every morning when I awake from my bed, if the shade is up the first sight I see is the towering mounds of land we call Labrador. I get incredible views of Mainland Canada, as Labrador is within a short distance of 14 miles away.  I commute each day to work viewing the scenic Strait of Belle Isle on Route 430. As a proud islander, there is something rejuvenating of seeing the water and the economic value that drives our economy as the fishers work peacefully on the water.

A few days ago, I slowed my car and decided to pull over as the little boat had caught my attention. How wonderful it would feel to be on the water that day versus sitting at my desk in an enclosed office. Although I have a window, it can not compare to the open space and a sense of freedom you have while spending your day in  a boat. One can go wherever the waves take you.

For recreation purposes I enjoy canoeing and rowing. I remember fond memories with father during a few weeks when I spent fishing with him. I was only 13 when he passed, just getting a taste of the open water and being able to work with him. Although I am not a fisherman, the profession is very dear to my heart and runs quite deep in my family line to when the first Mitchelmore’s came from Devon County England in the 1800’s and prior. After living in Alberta for a few months, I found myself planning vacations near the ocean and frequented lakes. There is a yearning to be next to this substance that brings me much happiness. It is good for the body, mind and soul…

The Great Northern Peninsula has so much to offer as we live Rural NL.

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Fostering Rural Community Development Through Outdoor Murals

The Town of Flower’s Cove has been the first in the Strait of Belle Isle region to embrace outdoor art in the form of brightly colourful signs depicting local attractions. Additionally, they have posted an outdoor mural in the parking area of the White Rocks Walking Trail.

This image certainly garners attention and encourages travellers to pull-off and stop. This is an excellent form of marketing for the small town. More visitors will likely take some time to walk Marjorie Bridge, explore the Thrombolites, visit St. Barnabas “Sealskin Boot” Church, view Flower’s Island Lighthouse and stroll the waterfront. In turn, these visitors may stop to shop at one or more businesses a long the Viking Trail (Route 430) or eat at the local L & E restaurant. The Town has the opportunity to create an open-air art museum. I can envision a series of black and white paintings scattered about a vast walking area of the Town when it was known as French Island Harbour with French fishing vessels at port, the days of Rev’d. Canon John Thomas Richard, harbour front and fishing activities, logging, daily living and events of social and cultural significance.

There is much value in our rural communities posting outdoor folk art, murals and story panels. It is common in other parts of Canada and around the world. I have a few images of my travels to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Whitehorse, Yukon.

The “Jaw”, Thanks Carolyn for informing me your very lovely hometown.

A weekend in Whitehorse! It is a pleasure to just walk around Town to see the art everywhere. Make sure you take in the Frantic Follies while you are there. Best 2.5 hours of laughter you can get for $22.50.

I have fond memories of seeing outdoor Vincent van Gogh art in Amsterdam, Tin Tin cartoons in Brussels, informative panels in Berlin, Germany;  Miquelon (Territory of France) and Battle Harbour, Labrador and many interesting images and murals on my travels.

Below is a YouTube video of a mural taken place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, a city I had the opportunity to visit on my return to Rural NL.

It is quite encouraging to see the Town of Flower’s Cove embrace this means of outdoor art as it has looked at what the Town currently has, utilizing the talent and assets of community to further develop them to create sustainability.

Other Towns and Communities may wish to  engage in this practise, telling stories with images, art forms and panels throughout the Great Northern Peninsula. All of these collections of oral cultures, images and artwork serves limited economic and social value if it is not shared. This is one small measure that will help build our rural regional community.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, liveruralnl@gmail.com

Place of Provincial Significance – Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital

Live Rural NL blog sends congratulations to the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital, Norris Point, NL for being designated a Place of Provincial Significance in 2011.  Thank you Joan Cranston, Director, a committed  volunteer and community activist for taking the time to make this worthy nomination as the Center is truly worthy of this designation. To read more about the BBCH click the following link: http://www.seethesites.ca/designations/bonne-bay-cottage-hospital.aspx

Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Center

The Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Center is well-known for being the former Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital. After the construction of a new clinic in Norris Point, the fate of the building was unknown. However, community spirit and a group of dedicated volunteers worked together to ensure that this building of historical significance could continue to serve the community.

The BBCHHC is a not-for-profit community corporation whose mandate is the adaptive re-use of the center for the preservation of local culture and heritage (including arts, crafts, music and oral history), the promotion of health and wellness, and community economic and social development.” JuliaAnnWalshHeritageCenter

Today the Center is home to:

  1. Norris Point Public Library and CAP Site – 458-3368;
  2. Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation – 458-3072;
  3. Norris Point International Backpackers Hostel – 458-3072 OR 458-8880;
  4. VOBB (Voice of Bonne Bay) Community Radio Station;
  5. Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival Committee – 458-3399;
  6. Cottage Hospital Physiotherapy and Fitness – 458-2875;
  7. Norris Point Harbour Authority – 458-2647;
  8. Bonne Bay Ground Search and Rescue Team – 458-2222 (RCMP);
  9. Writers at Woody Point Festival

They have a studio space, which is available for rent to conduct meetings, classes for health, well-ness, art, crafts, music, storytelling and other economic and social development activities. The Center is working to build a community garden, greenhouses and a community kitchen. The importance of growing local is gaining momentum and garnering interest from locals and travellers to grow and buy local produce. This is a community space, a social commons. It is amazing the progress that can be achieved by working with others, fostering strong partnerships, establishing co-operatives and meeting the needs of the greater community. Is there room for a Place of Similar Social Significance in the Straits of Belle Isle region? St. Anthony & Greater Area? Northern Peninsula East Heritage Corridor? We must let the movers & shakers, the residents and stakeholders of these communities decide if this is something they feel is a good fit with their needs, wants and norms.

Also the Nomination Deadline of June 15, 2011 is quickly approaching. If you think a person, event, place or tradition is significant in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador then click the link below:

http://www.seethesites.ca/currently-at-commemorations/2011/6/9/next-nomination-deadline-approaching.aspx?altTemplate=CommDiaryPost

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

www.liveruralnl.com

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The Beauty of it All – when you do not rush

 
Lar’s Place, Conche, NL
 On February 12, 2011, I visited Conche, NL. It truly is one of the wonders along the French Shore. In my 25 years, I have never taken the time to visit this breath-taking Town outside of the summer season. It was long over due and certainly did not disappoint.

Dock w/Store house and iceflow

 Snow patches were present on the rolling hills and the harbour filled with ice, as I drove the winding roads. For the first time, I was not in any rush to get somewhere or meet someone – it was just perfect. I had taken time to explore the landscape, the houses and just get lost in the wonder that is quintessentially rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Frontage of Lar's Place

 
I was taken aback by the brightly coloured fishing rooms, stores, stages and sheds that were bountiful along the harbour. It spoke the importance the fishery has played on this small Town throughout its rich and vibrant history. I stopped and took several photos of Lar’s Place (depicted in the photo above). The well maintained property had a mis-matched set of antlers tacked on the front. One half of the antlers boasting a much larger size than its counterpart, if that makes any sense at all. It was of interest, so I stopped for a little while. The weather vane was something I do not re-call ever seeing in any of my home communities in the Strait of Belle Isle. The door had a wooden cross, which was painted white and placed on the door, as well as, a perfectly cut island of Newfoundland to match. Conche has notable folk art, something I did not realize on other visits – from the crabs on outer buildings to cut-outs of birds on store roofs that from a far looked strikingly real.

Crab folk art on outbuilding, Conche, NL

 
My advice is to take some time to truly stop and smell the fresh air and all the hodgepodge that makes rural Newfoundland & Labrador a lifestyle. In a world of rush and go, we often miss the beauty that truly exists in our own backyards.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher C. Mitchelmore 
 
 

 

 

 

An Opportunity for More Rural Social Space – The Coffee Shop?

Treats at the Coffee Shop, Northern Ireland

Where are the local coffee shops in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador? I am not talking about the Tim Horton‘s that are springing up practically everywhere, including rural areas. There is even a Tim Horton’s in St. Anthony, NL on the peninsula’s tip that has a town of under 3,000 people. Some residents from the Strait of Belle Isle region, where I reside have even driven more than 100 kms to get a “cup of Joe” combined with a high calorie sweet to match. This is the power of branding and the importance of changing to fit with market demands.

It was not too many years ago, that there was a local bakery in Flower’s Cove, NL. It operated for a number of years under the Dot’s Pantry “franchise”, to later be operated as Sweets & Eats. As a youth, I did not appreciate the business as a venue to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; however, they never really promoted themselves as a coffee shop in the traditional sense.
 
For me, it was really more of the bakery, a place to get a cake for a birthday or other special occasion. One could also get freshly baked bread, pies, squares and other desserts, as well as a limited variety of lunch choices, which included jigs dinner, soups, sandwiches and chili. However, the coffee was limited to just basic brewed. Additionally, there were only two small tables with a couple of chairs.

Espresso and Latte in Paris, France

 
A coffee shop in rural parts of Europe have a variety of good java. One can get a selection of freshly brewed coffee with flavours to choose. There is also mocha, cappuccino, latte and espresso. I certainly love a good espresso! As well, there is an array of teas, herbal, chai teas, decaffeinated teas, coffees and of course hot chocolate. Tim Horton’s has even adapted a number of these products to their menu, but offers them at a low-cost price. This is reflective of quality, as Tim Horton’s  is less generous with whip creams and syrups.  European coffee shops exhibit a nice relaxing and inviting atmosphere, versus the cafeteria or institutional/fast food stylings of Tim Horton’s.
 
There is an opportunity for more  social space in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador, with the decline of the local lounges. The social commons is changing from the local wharves and the kitchen tables, as we have become more integrated into larger regional communities. We need a fitting space for those to mingle and discuss events of the day. We require a space that is senior, seasonal employee, family, youth, tourist, handicap and professional friendly to survive and thrive in a sparsely populated rural setting.
 
Gros Morne National Park has a gem of a coffee shop in Java Jacks! I highly recommend it. Only time will tell if there is room for a coffee shop in the Strait of Belle Isle region and if it can fill the need of creating a social space that is acceptable by those living and passing through our rural region.
 
Live Rural NL -
Christopher Mitchelmore

A Sunset over the Horizon…

Yesterday, I stared out my kitchen window in awe at the magnificant sunset that was on the horizon overlooking the Strait of Belle Isle.

You see the kitchen brings me great comfort. If represents more than scents and smells, it has a childhood of memories of mother preparing a nice meal, baking my favourite banana bread, preserving berries, dates, beets or preparing homemade pickles.

I stopped to reflect for a moment, as I sipped tea out of Aunt Elsie’s cup (thanks again Melissa, it is surely a treasure and will get great use through the years) and put down my book, “Honorary Indian” by Sandi Boucher. This book has been uplifting, inspirational and attitude changing. I highly recommend it, if you would like to feel more positive, empowered, gain inner strengh or about life in general (www.sandiboucher.ca). Thank you Sandi! I just stared at the water, as the waves were silent.

Earlier that day I walked along the shoreline from each end of my community, stared and smiled. You see, I can just reach out and touch “the Big Land” Labrador and enjoy their lights every single night. I hear the waves crash when the wind blows, the icebergs as Spring breaks, whales, seals and seabirds visit frequently. Moreover, I hear the motors as fishing boats leave the wharf to attend their nets and secure their daily catch. It is quite magical to experience the life that exists from the water!

Today, I think of my father, my grandfather and their fathers before them…all made their living from the sea. We have much to be thankful for in my small community….as I go to bed each night and wake up each morning and look out the kitchen window, see the water and think…these are the kinds of things dreams are made from…

The water represents a special place in my heart, quite possibly all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I will not take such a treasure for granted.

Take time to find your special place and keep your dreams alive,

CCM

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