Blog Archives

Tourism tips from Copenhagen

I had visited Aarhus, Denmark, in 2007. Being the second largest city, the  influx of young people and students pursuing education make it a natural place for cultural activities and meetings spaces, which include cafes, theatres, museums, social spaces, concerts and festivals. Additionally, it has a history of Viking culture dating back to the 7th Century. I live near L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site where the Vikings were the first known Europeans to re-discover North America more than 1,000 years ago (Read more at Parks Canada www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows/index.aspx). Therefore, I was interested in visiting the Viking Museum, which was in a small room in the basement of a financial institution. The city had much to offer, so much that I planned a vacation to return to Europe in 2012 that incorporated this country and Iceland as I pursued some further exploration of the Viking.

A weekend in Copenhagen with a Swiss and Swede proved to be quite exciting, from walking the waterfront to riding the world’s oldest roller coaster in Tivoli, it was more than memorable. I’ve selected a few images, which I thought would get the movers and shakers of the Great Northern Peninsula thinking of new ways to share our unique experiences.

A walk through a park incorporated a number of notable figures. It was interesting to see the bar code by the statue’s nameplate, highlighting a simple scan of a tablet or mobile device would link to a website with more information about the attraction, history and artist. This use of technology is adaptive and  tapping into the new wave of tourist. Websites can list additional information and can be translated in many languages, which is far more limiting with storyboards and panels. However, you need to have basic telecommunications infrastructure to fully utilize this marketing initiative.

Just across the courtyard at the castle, prior to entering there was a sign. It notes, “if you have a similar 2-D scanner you can scan your way through the castle, or explore just a little bit more. Throughout the castle are stickers, that reveal a small story.”

The Town of St. Anthony in partnership with Grenfell Historic Properties may want to consider adopting this technology given the number of tourists and good cellular coverage. Additionally, Parks Canada’s L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site and Norstead – Viking Village & Port of Trade would also benefit, yet they have less desirable or nil cellular coverage.

On the waterfront there is a Speakers Corner set up. This is a simple offering, but certainly one of which we stopped and delivered compelling speeches on issues. There is an Agree section and a Disagree section where people can stand. It may be fun to take a minute or two with friends or group of passer-bys. Whatever the case, this simple addition is a photo-op waiting to happen.

The iconic 4 foot little Mermaid statue is nearly 100 years old and a relative long walk from city centre. Yet, a place tourists flock to get a snap. A simple statue has created economic spin-offs that have local venders, buskers selling miniatures, postcards and another reason to visit. Manneken Pis is another small iconic statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain in Brussels, Belgium. The statue gets dressed in costumes several times a week. While in Brussels in 2007 I paid admission to the museum which is home to the hundreds of past articles of clothing inspired by countries all over the world he has worn. The Canadian outfit was past Montreal Canadians hockey attire. If we get creative we can develop unique economic spin-offs. People may want to purchase a souvenir of this small statue wearing their countries clothing or begin a collection of their own.

Volkswagen hosted a two person racing competition in the street. There were line-ups of people wanting to participate. The business community can sponsor an event, get involved to promote their products and services.

Every place I visit, either large or small has a unique offering. I get inspired by visiting new places, talking with new people and encourage you to do the same. The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique product – if you choose to visit, you surely will take away memories that last a lifetime.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Our Historic Raleigh in Newfoundland (not North Carolina)

Hockey fans may be well aware of the Carolina Hurricane’s home base of Raleigh since 1997. However, that Raleigh is not to be confused with our Historic Raleigh near the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Historic Raleigh is a tiny fishing village of less than 200, formerly known as Ha Ha Bay. A place to visit when you trek the Viking Trail Route 430 en route to L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site.

On a summer visit to Raleigh one will see the beauty of Pistolet Bay – including the many wharves and stages, painted fishermen red scattered along the shoreline. The fishing activity in this Town has been in decline since the cod morotorium of 1992 and so is the population with the closure of the school in 2007. We’re continuing to lobby for a cellular tower in the region to service Cook’s Harbour, Raleigh, St. Lunaire-Griquet, L’Anse Aux Meadows and surrounding communities and waterways. However, there are bright spots for those wishing to get-a-way from it all.

For the avid camper, Pistolet Bay has a well-maintained Provincial Park just outside the Town. As well, there are efficiency units, cabins and fishing rooms one can overnight once in Raleigh. Tours can be arranged to understand more about the fishing and culture of the area. A visit to Raleigh will not be complete without a stop at Taylor’s Carvings where 3rd and 4th generation carvers display their unique skill set.

For the nature lover – one must visit the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. The area boasts several species of plants found nowhere else on earth except Burnt Cape. There are three dozen rare plants surrounding the Cape. When in Raleigh you can watch passing icebergs, find fossils, spot wildlife and if your lucky, you may even get a boat ride! As well, in winter, Raleigh is an excellent location for ice fishing.

This tiny Town may be small in population, but it is full of authentic life experiences. Take some time to talk to the locals and if your lucky you may even get to share a story and cup of coffee with the dynamic Mayor.

Put Historic Raleigh, Newfoundland & Labrador on you list of places to visit when you make your plans to travel to the rock. You will not leave disappointed.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Lovely L’Anse Aux Meadows – Population under 30


L’Anse aux Meadows has a population under 30 – although not by years of age but by people. It is a quaint little community that is truly nestled at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is home to Norstead – Viking Village and Port of Trade, the Norseman Restaurant (Fine Dining) and the Gaia Art Gallery, as well a World UNESCO Heritage Site that was incorporated in 1978.

During the winter, the traffic is much less and the town is even quieter. As we drove around a community of less than 30 we say some snow hardened and clinging to rocks, it could not possibly be an iceberg at this time of year.

The shed depicted below, no doubt that of a fisherman as the splitting table is still present on the private wharf. It is nice to see these structures maintained. They become less and less around our shorelines as storms have wreaked havoc on many causing much hardship.  Also, there is an impressive rack of antlers over the door.


L’Anse aux Meadows is not a question of if I visit, but when and how? There are cruise ships that dock at the wharf with planned excursions, access by car and air (St. Anthony Airport or Deer Lake Regional Airport). This place may be just what you need to truly live Rural.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula -

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

 

5th Annual Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival Officially Opens Today

 

To be in Norris Point today, would be one filled with a fury of activities, marking the start of the 5th Annual Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival which will run until Sunday, May 29, 2011.

For those with a sense of adventure this morning, they had the opportunity to take a hike to the top of the Tablelands (World UNESCO Heritage Site at Gros Morne National Park) under the care of trained staff of Gros Morne Adventures. This started at 9:00 AM and will last until about 5:00 PM for a fee of $50.00. However, there is something for everyone on their schedule from Yoga, Boat Tours, Music, Parades, Theatre, Food and Nightly Entertainment.

Sitting at a stone table, Neddie's Harbour Inn with Tablelands in the background

Check out the schedule for yourself by clicking here or visiting www.trailstalestunes.ca

This is a remarkable success story. A collective group from the Town, non-profits, organizations, business, artists, volunteers and others are involved to provide a unique offering of outdoor walks and hikes, talented local musicians, artists and storytellers, workshops and other activities. This truly is the kick-off to the summer tourism season and a means to extend the service offering on the shoulder season.

As a frequent traveller, I tend to try to visit places outside of peak tourist season as the crowds are generally less, prices are lower and you get an opportunity to meet more locals. Gros Morne National Park gets around 180,000 visitors each year, with scheduled events and entertainment throughout the peak tourism season. When you have a strong product, it is important to try to broaden the season. Trails, Tales and Tunes is able to bring out the locals and those travellers on the fringe. They may come early and they may even come back throughout summer or at the end of the season. It is wise to have this festival at the beginning of the season, as there are a number of other festivals, activities and events that make for a competitive market within regions and across the province of Newfoundland & Labrador.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of operators and most were preparing for the season – ensuring they would be open for the festival this weekend. There was much enthusiasm in the air and I only hope that funnels throughout the regions to have a strong tourism season for Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

So if you can, take in a day, two or more of this festival. I’ll be in the area on Wednesday, May 18th to check out some of the activity and maybe again on May 20th. I would like to extend a warm thank you to all those involved, as you continue to do truly amazing work.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Community Control of Resources Leads to Greater Success in Rural Newfoundland

Mr. Sam Elliott, Executive Director of St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) spoke to an audience of more than 100 at the National Conference Rural Revitalization From Our Forests, sharing their local community engagement success story. It was evident that when communities collaborate and come together, they can achieve greater success.

Mr. Elliott informed the audience that in 1997, when the Federal Government released its new management plan, there was an allocation of 3,000 tonnes for the 16 communities (17 at the time) on the northern part of the Great Northern Peninsula. They included the communities from Big Brook (now re-settled) to Goose Cove that had lobbied for a share of the increased quotas. Having this resource in the hands of the communities, enabled SABRI to make local decisions that would provide the greatest benefit to residents of the area.

The management Board is made up of 15 volunteers with 5 fisherpersons, 4 fish plant employees, 4 Community representatives and 2 representatives from local development committees. The Broad representation from various regions and interests may present for some tough decisions. However, the group realizes that they have to make good decisions that will have local impacts.

They put our a combination of short and long-term proposals, one of which was a plant facility for shrimp and other species in St. Anthony. According to their website, the Board chose 4 companies who proposed to offload their shrimp in St. Anthony and to hire local fishermen to fish the shrimp for 1997. In return SABRI would receive a royalty on a per tonne basis. This provided revenue until a production facility and agreement could be reached.

The Board reached a decision to establish a partnership to create St. Anthony Seafoods Limited and access the former FPI plant. It is evident that many negotiations had to take place with the owners and other interest groups to put up some investment. SABRI was able to retain 25% ownership, with 25% owned by two Icelandic Companies and 50% for Clearwater. The addition of these other shareholders, had reduced the risks of SABRI.

Mr. Elliott, noted in the beginning $10,000 was given to each community to assist with projects and enhancements. However, one of the larger problems in some of these rural communities was lack of organization (Town Council or Local Development Committees). This meant some communities were spending their $10,000 to do a project without trying to use that to leverage other funds. Sometimes the project would only be partially completed before funds would run out. Mr. Elliott pointed out that this $160,000 could potentially be $1.6 Million in infrastructure investments to the region. However, achieving this goal with many more interest groups and satisfying their needs would undoubtably be a challenge. SABRI had consultations with the communities and found that common to all groups, they were interested in having a trail system. This would be the direction SABRI would take to enhance what was currently in place.

Mr. Elliott should a series of photographs of before and after their organization had taken a lead. This included changing from wooded board walks to natural rock trails, to the completion of many gazebos. His images showed the trails were well-marked with good signage, some having storyboards.

SABRI has focused on Community Economic Development, which same highlighted a series of recent projects:

  • Removal and replacement of existing cruise docking facilities at L’Anse aux Meadows, as well as a tour bus turnaround at the site;
  • Development of a walking access to the French Oven site at Quirpon;
  • Development of integrated signage;
  • Trail guide for the SABRI region
  • Construction of three portable kiosks, which can be transported to festivals and activities in the region throughout the season.
  • Construction of three stationary kiosks. These kiosks are located on the Grenfell Properties; at L’Anse aux Meadows; and at Parkers Brook for the Save Our Char Committee.

SABRI has re-invested in local projects, creating local employment. They currently manage a mussel farm,  provide scholarships and donate to local not-profit groups, such as the Grenfell Foundation.

Mr. Elliott had provided a final slide of Did You Know? and I wish I was able to scribe all the positive figures of the many millions invested in infrastructure, the hundreds of jobs created directly and many more indirectly in the region. SABRI is truly a local success story on the Great Northern Peninsula that was given a small allocation of 3,000 tonnes and manage it effectively to provide the greatest benefits to the people of their region. They should be commended for the work they do and the significant impact they have made.

When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success. There is no reason, why communities could not have greater decision-making over other resources, such as the forest. However, much of this success hinges on Government to enable the local economy to develop. We are beginning to see local groups with common interests, working closer together to share finite resources. We only have to look to co-operatives and how they have thrived in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. We need more local co-ops (agriculture, forestry, fishery, crafts, tourism), as well as collaboration from communities, businesses and government.

Live Rural NL 0

Christopher Mitchelmore

Giant’s Causeway…Part Two

The three amigos by the basalt pillars

 The Giant’s Causeway is a natural wonder formed millions of years ago. The image to the left illustrates the sheer height of some of the pillars.

David, myself and Tobias look quite miniscule in comparison. We pretended to blend in and be part of the causeway.

An up close view of the basalt pillars at the Giant’s Causeway.

 We have been to the edge….and back! The formations combined with the powerful waves presented a very unique feeling of experiencing a natural wonder.

 The crashing waves.

The image to the left shows Tobias “The Navigator”  jumping ahead while I use the opportunity to take some more photos.

I probably took 300+ pictures at the Giant’s Causeway. Certainly enough to make our fourth friend, Marcel jealous for missing it. Sorry Marcel.

I am quite familiar with WORLD UNESCO HERITAGE SITES as I live in between two on the Great Northern Peninsula, that is L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site (the site of the Norse, who re-discovered North American more than 1,000 years ago) and The Tablelands at Gros Morne National Park. This comment reminds me of one Sarah Palin made during her 2008 ticket for vice-present when McCain claimed she was an expert in foreign policy. She backed this statement by noting Canada was next to Alaska and that she practically could see Russia from her window.

On a serious note, the Tableland experience near the Discovery Center, between Woody Point and Trout River, NL provided a similar feeling of awe.  I participated in a guided tour and walked the trail during the summer with my friend Benoit (who I also met while studying at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic). Parks Canada has done a fabulous job!

Newfoundland and Ireland have many connections. World UNESCO Heritage Sites are another link.

I’ll post some additional photos of the Causeway.  The farther I walked the more I loved taking it all in, just like Gros Morne National Park.

Live Rural NL 0

Christopher Mitchelmore

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