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I found “Love” in St. Lewis…

Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.

I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.

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There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990’s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.

The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.

It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.

We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.

Live Rural NL -
 
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

 

Rabbit Soup on Saturday

 

Wild Rabbit Soup

The utilities company noted they would be doing some upgrades to the main power line, leaving local residents from Castor River to Eddies Cove without electricity until 11:00 AM. This delayed my traditional lunch at grandma’s house.
 
 Early in the morning, I lit a fire. The heat from locally cut wood, provided much warmth. I did some chores and brought out some light trash. I dropped in to visit my grandmother, who faithfully had the pot on the stove and noted she was cooking “Rabbit Soup”, but it would not be ready until about 1:30 PM. We chatted for a bit  and she had also proudly showed me all her knitting. She certainly keeps quite busy.

Rabbit

The table was prepared, with homemade bread, the salt & pepper shakers, the rabbit had been taken from the pot and soup ready to be poured into each bowl. The rabbit was delicious. My grandmother and I always have a good chat, whether it is about the hockey game, curling, gardening, weather or past times. I had told her I was looking at old photos earlier, some of which included my grandfather, father and of  course my childhood.RabbitMany good memories.
 
I enjoy traditional recipes of rural Newfoundland. My grandmother and I discussed how traditions are dying as far fewer people of the younger generations are cooking with wild game. Modernization and the convenience of pre-packaged food is having an impact on the dishes that have been served on Newfoundland tables for centuries.
 

 

RECIPE FOR NEWFOUNDLAND RABBIT SOUP
 
 1 lb. Salt beef
2 qts of cold water
1 Wild game rabbit (cleaned and cut up)
3 carrots
1 lb turnip
4 med. Potatoes
1 med. Onion
few drips of gravy browning
3 ½ – 4 qts. Cold water
 
Cut salt beef into small pieces. Place in large saucepan and add 2 qts. cold water. Bring to a boil. Place salt beef, rabbit and remaining 3 ½ qts (cook 1 ½ hours). Add vegetables  and browning. Cook 30 minutes.
 
Bon Apetit!
 
Live Rural NL 0
Christopher Mitchelmore
 
 

Harvest Time – Big Spuds

The summer may be just about behind us, as tomorrow marks the first official day of Fall. A flurry of activity centers around the summer season for most parts of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. This included many early mornings and late evenings spent on  water – fishing, or on land – processing fish species or harvesting our forest products. Not to mention the fun and frolicking of summer vacations, festivals, Come Home Year Celebrations, weddings and other special activities that illuminate the liveliness of summer!

A "Viking Garden" - Norstead

 Well…Fall is a time not only for moose hunters, but for those who in late Spring planted seeds. Only to be rewarded with an array of fresh vegetables in their gardens. The mainstay crop has traditionally and still is the potato. However, the tastes of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have diversified to include turnip, carrot, cabbage, onion, radishes, beets, greens, pumpkins, squash, and peppers to name a few.

As I look into my backyard, I see two big plots of land that serve as gardens for subsistence living. I remember as a youth with my grandmother spending many hours tilling the land, marking the locations for potato beds, placing the small seeded potatoes (they had to be just so for my grandmother), adding kelp (seaweed) for natural fertilizer and then covering the bed with mud. I think I somehow always found an excuse never to help with the weeding of the garden. However, I would always enjoy pulling up a ripe carrot, brushing the mud away from it and eating it right there on the spot. It was so delicious, with no harmful pesticides. The food we grow always tasted good and nutritious!

Garden by Roadside

I loved digging up the potatoes in the fall of the year. I remember this one year, my grandmother and I were digging side-by-side. She had struck a marvellous, well-rounded potato. This started a competition to see if I was able to find one bigger. Well, I managed to get a very large potato. It was a little deformed. I would say now it was a mutated family of potatoes, but not then as I argued it was the bigger one! After holding each potato in our respective hands, we were unable to determine a winner. It is like those moments in a close curling match, when the teams call on a third-party to measure. Well we had to get my father to be that third-party in this scenario and weigh each potato. Well, “I was victorious by just an ounze, maybe two”, but it certainly would not have won a beauty pageant. That prize would have to go to grandmother.

For the traveller in the know, if you drive around rural Newfoundland & Labrador you will have the opportunity to see many gardens planted at roadside. They are basically planted there because of the good soil for growing crops, without as many pesky weeds. These gardens are planted on Crown land. Most of Newfoundland & Labrador’s land is considered Crown (more than 90%).
 

Garden near St. Anthony

The Government is now  instituting stricter regulations on road signage. I only hope they do not consider repatriating or expropriating our rights of residents to till the grounds our ancestors did as a means to subsist of the land!

 
These gardens are part of our heritage and culture that add to the uniqueness of our province. The curiosities it gives to tourists, is plentiful as many stop to pull out their Canon or Nikon‘s to take a snap or two and wonder for a while.  
 
There is opportunity in growing agri-culture and agri-foods on the peninsula on commercial scales. Where are our local Farmer’s Market?
 
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore 
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