The last day of December on the Great Northern Peninsula was pretty bone chilling, approaching minus 20 degrees Celsius. Life in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador is quite unpredictable, just like the weather. A few days ago, we were plus 10 degrees, at freezing and now in a deep thaw. One only has to look from their window to Labrador and see the natural phenomena of the Strait of Belle Isle freezing. Usually by February pack ice will be so thick, that people are brought back to the days of Grenfell and his adventures via dog team and the delivery of the winter mail over these temporary sheets of ice. One day we will be permanently connected to Labrador and the rest of mainland Canada.
Our people were and are visionaries, leaders and community developers of the North. 2014 has truly proven the strength of the Great Northern Peninsula.
Here are some of my 2014 Highlights:
January brought us chilling temperatures, power outages to hundreds of thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador households and the resignation of Premier Dunderdale. We saw caribou re-appearing in the region and also the opening of the Strait of Belle Isle Health Centre in Flower’s Cove and work continuing on the Strait of Belle Isle Cable Crossing in Shoal Cove East.
February was full of farewells, new beginnings and family vacation, more snow and of yes, time at the hockey rink. A legacy had ended as we wished Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Mary O’Keefe well in their retirements after dedicated decades of their lives to the people of the North. On February 4th, I made an official political announcement that I had joined Dwight Ball and the Liberal Team after sitting months as an Independent Member of the House of Assembly. It was the first time in a very long-time that my mother, sister and I had a family vacation. It was a wonderful time to celebrate Mom’s birthday and explore the sunny south and Caribbean seas, only to return to mountains of snow.
March renewed my support for the seal hunt, as I attended the 100th Anniversary of the Great Sealing Disaster. I continue to wear my seal skin boots during the winter months. A lot of causes get much attention in March on the Great Northern Peninsula, from local Lion’s Club carnivals, St. Anthony’s Winterfest, Randy Simms was Guest Speaker at the Chamber AGM, 10th Annual Ride to Support Breast Cancer Research, Sandy Cove Janeway Ride, Roddickton-Bide Arm boasted snowmobile races and of course, there were by-election races. I was joined by MHA Lisa Dempster to tour the District and talk about common issues pertaining to delivery of health care. Additionally, frigid temperatures brought water woes and led to increased pot holes on some of our roadways. Thankfully, summer would bring much blacktop and repairs.
April was filled with Easter Hockey Tournaments from St. Barbe, St. Anthony, Placentia,St. John’s and Torbay! It also was the month Cathy Bennett was elected as MHA for Virginia Waters. It was also the month when Route 430 the Viking Trail had collapsed, cutting off traffic for a number of hours while emergency repairs were conducted. There were sustainable fishery forums and many constituency visits. Official Opposition Dwight Ball came and visited the College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus, toured Curtis Memorial Hospital and delivered an address at the Chamber of Commerce. There were charter nights, church concerts, election of Legionnaires, new loader for Main Brook, century old business in Englee changed ownership and a tapestry was created to commemorate the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.
May on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is filled with weekly high school graduations, tournaments, annual general meetings, fundraisers and a flurry of activity relating to fish processing and production, wildlife and an abundance of tourism. I also got to do a taping with Snook Ol’ Man, served up treats at McHappy Day, judged Heritage Fair projects and sampled traceable seafood with MHA Sam Slade!
June brought lots of icebergs to the Great Northern Peninsula, lots could be seen in the Straits, St. Carol’s, Great Brehat, St. Anthony, Goose Cove, Croque, St. Julien’s, Conche, Englee and elsewhere. The Iceberg Festival continued to thrive with iceberg sculptures, painting, iceberg hunters, tastings, the Wonderbolt Circus and more! I met up with the former Member for the District and past Lieutenant-Governor Ed Roberts, attended the Annual Reviews for Sea Cadets and Air Cadets. A successful campaign saw 1550 Liberal supporters vote in four hours during the candidacy nomination, selecting myself as the candidate in the next general election. This was more votes than I received in the 2011 General Election.
There were culinary adventures, encounters with new authors, coffee shop visits and Radio Quirpon. One year childcare centre anniversaries and 20 years for another! Fires, friendships, golden sunsets and the wonderful legacy for Wes Eddison in the completion of his old-fashioned motorboat (may you Rest In Peace dear friend).
I’ll continue with the second half of 2014 highlights in a future posts, from Family Reunions, 50th Anniversaries, European travels, fishing, by-elections, broadband and so much more. There is lots happening on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Come for adventure, hospitality and fall in love – you’ll want to stay awhile.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North