Category Archives: Heritage

Cod, Caplin & Quilts not the only art found in Raleigh – Taylor’s Crafts a Must Visit!

IMG_20150806_164925

On Thursday, I spent time visiting Residents of the historic Town of Raleigh on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a picturesque community that highlights the rich fishing heritage with stages, fishing rooms and wharves. A focus the Raleigh Historical Society has been trying to highlight with a replica fishing village. There are still fishers actively earning and living, small business owners catering to the tourism industry (www.burntcape.com), hiking trails, icebergs, whales and the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve with dozens of rare plants and is likely the province’s most significant botanical site. This waterfront community provides and authentic experience of what living rural is all about. I only had to walk from door to door to see gardens being tended, fish and homemade quilts drying in the open air.

However, there is much more art to be admired than the images you see of every day life surrounding Raleigh.

IMG_20150806_174439

A visit to Taylor’s Crafts is a must, with 4 generations of carves in their family. Master Carver Abiel Taylor, a third generation carver learned the art of carving from his grandfather during the 1950’s. At Taylor’s studio, you can meet the artist, learn more about the process and view a wide selection of carvings made from soapstone, serpentine, whalebone, and moose and caribou antler. These are lifetime pieces, that are uniquely one of a kind. You can reach him at (709) 452-3386 / 2131 if you see something of interest.

IMG_20150806_172043

Abiel’s work can be even found on the lawn of Government House, home of the Lief-tenant Government in St. John’s, NL as former LG John Crosbie was fascinated by a totem pole this master carver produced. His craft shop has incredible amounts of product and depicts of rich history of living from the land and sea. He has images of his grandfather presenting a replica he made of the Victory, which was Lord Nelson’s vessel to medical icon Dr. Charles Curtis (who the current hospital in St. Anthony is named). You will be inspired, intrigued and immersed in culture by taking the time to visit, an opportunity to experience the artist’s efforts and creative nature and maybe you too can own a little piece of rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

The Story of the Golden Cod as Folk Artist Ben Ploughman Celebrates 20 Years

IMG_20150725_114715

Ben Ploughman of Port au Choix on the Great Northern is a self-taught folk artist that has made his mark on the industry. His unique pieces are made partly from recycled lobster trap laths that showcase individual hand-carved characters depicting an authentic story of the way of living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Much of his work focuses on the fishery, stemming from the collapse of the Atlantic cod fish with a moratorium in 1992. In fact, when I met Ben he was speaking with visitors about the five fish he had drying on a flake outside his studio.

IMG_20150725_112016

Ploughman’s work challenges the mind of locals, politicians and those that are not from here about big policy matters and critical events such as the impact of the cod fishery collapse, rural population decline and a shift towards an economy based on oil and what that could mean for the outports.

I’ve seen Ben’s work even depicted on the walls of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans office suite in Ottawa at the DFO building when the All-Party Committee on Northern Shrimp met with Minister Shea in May. He had told me those were some of his earlier works, when Provincial MHA and Tourism Minister Chuck Furey worked with Federal Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin to showcase artwork by artists from Newfoundland & Labrador. There are several works by other artists displayed on the walls of DFO, but it does my heart good to know there are multiple pieces from the Great Northern Peninsula. His work is also found at a number of local businesses such as the Anchor Cafe, Port au Choix and Lightkeeper’s Cafe, St. Anthony and an exhibit at Ocean View Motel, Rocky Harbour in the heart of Gros Morne National Park.

Ben took the time to show me around his studio, a very inspiring place to work – to create. This artist is pretty visionary, not only in his art but what he has tried to do to advance the tourism industry. He created a Museum of Whales and Things. After several years of operations, the museum faced a multitude of challenges to ensure the right balance of his time for creating art but also to give time to those inquiring about the displays. After touring the Whales and Things Museum space it is clear, Ben has a significant opportunity to create a gallery in this space – highlighting his work over the years. He has so many pieces that are not on public display and therefore do not have the opportunity to be sold. A gallery creates more opportunities for him and local business to attract more tour groups and visitors, adding to tourism and regional product development.

In his studio, Ben creates a space for people to become involved and understand his folk art and the process. He has an easel set-up where people can be hands on and create their own story like “Got Me Moose by'” or “Habs win Cup” and “Leafs try their hand at Golf” (as you likely guessed, I’m a Habs fan! [Third Generation]).

The famed CBC “Land and Sea” came to Ben’s Studio to hear his story of his art process using recycled lobster laths. This gave Ben a broader platform to tell his story and showcase his art. He’s also hosted an Exhibit at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. We talked about him finding a restaurant or gallery in the St. John’s marketplace, as well in Fort McMurray where those with an affinity to rural Newfoundland and Labrador congregate.

Additionally, Ben’s Studio is “HOME OF THE GOLDEN COD” – it’s story and the 125 lb piece with a $2.2 Million price tag is exclusively available for viewing in Port au Choix.

I encourage you to connect with Folk Artist Ben Ploughman, as he does commission pieces and ships his products anywhere around the world.

Ben’s Studio
Ben J. Ploughman
P.O. Box 264
Port Au Choix, NL
Canada  A0K 4C0

Phone/Fax: (709)861-3280
Web Site: http://www.bensstudio.ca
E-mail: benjploughman@hotmail.com

Ben Ploughman has many more ideas, such as a book explaining with images two decades of his folk art. I look forward to him pursuing them as he has exceptional potential to further elevate his artwork and tell the stories of Newfoundland and Labrador. His creative work of 20 years needs to be continuously told and a constant reminder of who we are and where we are going. Ben in his art has earned his place in the cultural history books of what is rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Red for Miles – Right Through the Fog!

IMG_20150802_142800

I spent time yesterday in the “Beauty Spot of the North” – Conche, NL to talk with residents and participate in the annual garden party tradition. After lunch and between the matinee, I did take some time to visit Fox Head, memorial airstrip, French Shore Interpretation Centre, wharf, tour the town, chat with residents and of course visit the red fishing rooms.

I think it was the first time in Conche where I experienced such fog, it seems the days are typically sunny in this vibrant and cultural centre. I did snap lots of photos from flowers to fishing nets to the colourful houses and stages, especially the red fishing rooms on Crouse Drive. Even through the fog, it feels like fisherman red for miles!

IMG_20150802_143137

The bright read gleams in the fog as the lobster traps and fishing boats are safely moored in the harbour.IMG_20150802_142826

These buildings have recently been painted, ensuring that they are around for the long haul. I had a great chat in the shed with Gerard and his cousin on my last visit about the fishery, the many challenges and the future. They are quite industrious as they were engulfed in building their own boat launch.

Our history, culture, tradition and our future is proudly on public display in the community of Conche. A true destination, over a 17.6 KM gravel road that is desperately in need of paving.

Fire wood, folk art and an forgotten Ford (maybe) are also part of the visual one will experience in this part of the Town.

I have many more images of the jelly bean row houses, the open art, music, dance, history and more that I will share in another post. Don’t worry about the fog, if you’re in Conche – you’ll still see red for miles!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

My Quest for Cod – Just 5 Fish…

IMG_20150729_162239

As Eddie Coffey would say, yesterday was a “Grey Foggy Day”. I woke up to a dense fog, thick clouded sky and not a draft a wind. Although, I could hear the little motorboats gradually leave the wharf in my tiny little fishing village of Green Island Cove. As the afternoon approached, it was clear that today was the day to participate in the recreational cod or what in Newfoundland and Labrador is commonly referred to as the food fishery.

A few weeks each summer the Feds designate a time when Newfoundlander’s and Labradorians can take to the water and catch just five fish per person, per day with a maximum of 15 per boat if there are three or more people in each boat. The concept of the food fishery and the heavy regulations are a constant frustration of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

My father was a commercial fisher. In fact, everyone ancestor down my family line on my father’s side was a fisher, stemming all the way back to Southern England. My father and I would go out fishing post-moratorium (post-1992) for a few weeks each summer to fish a nominal quota allocated to commercial fishers capped at a few thousand pounds per week until the overall quota was caught. Since his passing, my only option to catch my five cod like everyone else, as I’m the only person in my family line that never had the option of becoming a fisherman.

As a politician, I constantly speak with fishers and hear their frustrations with the lack of communication in Ottawa regarding our fishery. I hear how abundant the cod is and how much larger they are and this was solidified yesterday when I took to the water to catch my own five fish.

IMG_20150729_145848

There is a sense of belonging each time I’m on the water. It is certainly in my blood to continue to practice our traditional ways of culture, heritage and way of rural living. One of the reasons I left Edmonton to return to Newfoundland was to be close to the water.

We did not go far to catch our cod, just off Green Island – it is the small piece of land in which our community is named. After a little while tugging on the line, we hooked some – in fact, I got a double!

IMG_8117

There were many little fishing boats all around us, including the blowing sound of a whale. The fish were full of herring and caplin. The fish and whale were feasting! It did not take too long to catch our 10 fish, we got 5 a piece and they were some size! I remember jigging with Dad some 17 years ago, but the cod were not as large as these – only a scattered one would the size depicted below.

IMG_20150729_162156

Cod fish are larger, more abundant and it appears no one is listening. How can it be that so few nets are being used and commercial cod quotas are being filled in days? It’s beyond time to focus on how Newfoundland and Labrador deals with a return of the cod. Iceland has been quite success with their cod fishery and it continues to evolve.

Up on the wharf we showed our catch, gutted the cod, kept the britches and looked forward to a meal. Until we get change at the Federal level, Newfoundlander’s and Labradorian’s will be forced to take a paltry five fish a day.

Something has to change, because 5 fish does not cut it for a resource that sustained us for more than 500 years.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

BREAKING: Caplin Rolling in Green Island Cove, NL Today! #caplinroll2015

IMG_20150724_115504

It’s not every day the caplin come to shore in my home town of Green Island Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula. It created a lot of buzz, with residents as far as Anchor Point, some 25 KM to the south making the drive to get a feed of fresh caplin. It was awesome to see my Aunt and Uncle there, who are visiting from Edmonton, Alberta. They were saying the last time they saw the caplin rolling, their kids were home and just as excited as those on the beach today!

As I watched my younger cousin rushing to fill his bucket. I remember being a young boy with my father on the beach as the caplin rolled about two decades ago. I worked hard with the dip net to fill a couple of five gallon buckets, rushing just like the boys on the beach today. My great great aunt Lavinia was on the beach too, in her mid-seventies at the time, dad said to me lets help Aunt Lavinia fill her bucket. She always remembered that day and so have I, we talked about it often when I visited. She had a sharp memory, right to her final days – she lived to be 98.

The caplin rolling are good signs! We continue to hear reports of an abundance of cod! #caplinroll2015!

It’s exciting times to be living on the Great Northern Peninsula. Now for a feed of caplin 🙂

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

%d bloggers like this: