The fire still burns in the small town of Conche, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula East. This community has embraced its storied past, which includes early visits from the French through the migratory fishery in the 17 and 18 hundreds to their shores. On a recent visit, the French Shore Interpretation Centre had their French oven lit, in preparation for a tour group to their Centre.
The census may list the population of Conche at 181 people, but there is much more support than that for the survival of this small Town. The people of this community are hardworking, resourceful and full of hospitality.
An active fish plant, Conche Seafoods Ltd., employs dozens of people from across the Great Northern Peninsula and parts of Western Newfoundland. This fishing Town is bucking the trend and seeing increased activity and additional employment, not less. A recent tender was called by DFO for wharf expansion and improvements in the range of up to $1 million. All signs of a strong economy. Each year hundreds of commercial trucks travel over a 17.6 KM gravel road. It is long overdue the provincial Government live up to its commitment and pave Route 434.
The community is supported by a strong local business community and amenities for residents and visitors to engage.
Museums and Heritage Facilities include:
- Casey House Artist Retreat, the French Shore Interpretation Centre
- A traditional harbour lighthouse
- Remains of a World War II Boston BZ277 plane crash
- The Casey Store, a Registered Heritage Structure – one of the oldest fisheries buildings remaining on the French Shore, and Martinique Bay, the site of a 1707 confrontation between English warships and the trapped French fleet – a designated Site of Historic Significance
- Chaloupe Exhibit
- Crouse Beach – a half-buried flat pebble beach that was the site of a vast French codfish drying operation in the 19th century. The beach offers a view of picturesque wharves in Southwest Crouse
- Boat tours can be arranged upon request
- Conche Ball Field
- Conche Playground
- RV and Camp site
- Beach Volleyball area
- Array of walking trails
- Roman Catholic Church
- Parish Hall
- Sacred Heart All Grade
- Northern Peninsula Family Resource Centre
- Bits-n-Pieces Cafe
- Bed & Breakfast
- Convenience Store
- Fish plant
- Town Hall
- Volunteer Fire Department
The community also has unique vernacular architecture you basically wont see in other communities on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Traditional stick homes are still fashionable here and full of colour!
Artists and artisans can thrive in Conche. They have talented painters, authors, storytellers, dancers and folk signers that will gladly put on a performance. Summer is when Conche truly comes to life. In 2013, Conche celebrated a successful Come Home Year bringing hundreds of residents home. The committed volunteers truly make amazing things happen in small communities. The Annual Garden party is certainly a wonderful experience for anyone wanting an authentic rural experience.
Only a few kilometres away in Roddickton-Bide Arm is a 24/7 health centre, banking, Government services and a suite of retail, manufacturing and other small businesses. Partnerships have also been established with the Mayflower Inn & Adventures to provide zodiac tours and cross-promote regional tourism.
Conche benefits from strong organization (especially from their Town Council past and present), an ability to embrace their past and ability provide the services any small community would want and ensure their local businesses are supported. This is the only way in which our small communities will survive and thrive. It must be through local innovation and a strong will to give back to your friends and neighbours to ensure the services we want and expect can be provided. Small business is certainly a means to rural communities growing.
Conche is one of those towns that has incredible potential to be further developed. More than 2,000 tourists go out of their way to trek down this gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula East to visit this picturesque town. It has worked hard to establish itself as a destination. Conche is on the map for so many reasons. The establishment of the French Shore Interpretation Centre has truly helped accelerate this growth.
A 222-foot tapestry on Jacobian linen depicts the history of the French Shore. It is proudly on display, designed by J.C. Roy and made by the women of Conche. This summer there centre spent close to a year developing 9 new exhibits that remember the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. This now has the potential to travel the province or other parts of the world as a touring exhibit to further promote the community of Conche. These initiatives are building blocks to growing a rural community.
Conche is truly a destination on the Great Northern Peninsula that must be visited an experienced by residents and visitors alike. There is potential for new business endeavors in town and more development. Their success can be replicated! Let’s keep working together to build stronger communities.
Rural success is occurring! The fire still burns…
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North