Category Archives: History

Add 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre to Your List

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For 5,000 years aboriginal cultures have hunted, gathered and made Bird Cove home. From the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians, an exhibit outlines a timeline of 50 centuries of history to recent day residents. The Interpretation centre has undergone significant renovations to their display rooms, the addition of a tea room and an upgraded gift shop has created new experiences for those wishing to learn about the past, present and share conversation about the future over a mug up!

An artistic display by the talented Pam Hall illustrates an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge. There are dozens of images that explain activities of craft and everyday living on the Great Northern Peninsula.

50 Centuries has hosted a Heritage Festival, currently in its 9th year. I was honoured to bring remarks at the official opening and get to share in the Norpen Aboriginal Women’s Circle’s drumming, song and actually participate in my first ever circle dance.

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These women continue the cultural activities of their ancestors. I encourage others of Aboriginal descent to connect with this group of women. You can find them on their Facebook Page.

50 Centuries Interpretation Centre is all about time, drop by and get a guided tour, enjoy a pot of tea and home-style Newfoundland baked goods, and take away a handmade craft at their gift shop made by local people. Directions are easy, just 5 KM off Route 430, take 2nd exit to Plum Point on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland & Labrador. It is nestled between Port au Choix National Historic Site and L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO site, as well as 15 minutes from St. Barbe (Strait of Belle Isle Ferry Service), which takes you to Red Bay Labrador, another World UNESCO site.

The Great Northern Peninsula has so much to offer visitors, it’s about time to experience our many wonders.

Live Rural NL –

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

A Viking Experience that is only found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland & Labrador

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L’Anse aux Meadows is where the world came full circle, an event 100,000 years in the making! When the super-continent Pangea broke up, people had the choice of going left or going right – they did not meet up until  just over 1,000 years ago when the Norse crossed the Atlantic met Aboriginals in L’anse aux Meadows on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a story that is completely untold and undersold as a reason to visit this community of 37, which is home to a World UNESCO site.

I love going to L’anse aux Meadows, to see the only authentic Viking site in North America, to enjoy the views of the islands, walking trails, visit Leif Erikson statue, dine at the Norseman Restaurant and of course, visit my favourite open air museum “Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade”.

Norstead is just 2 KM from the UNESCO Viking Settlement and was established in 2000 as part of the millennial, celebrating 1000 years of the Vikings’ arrival to the New World. During it’s inaugural  year it saw 28,000 visitors, making it a top destination for visitors.

At Norstead you get to join costumed interpreters in the dim light of a lit fire at the Viking-style Chieftain’s Hall and listen to mysterious Viking tales. One can step aboard the Snorri, the Viking replica ship that sail across the Atlantic, marking the journey of the Vikings from Iceland to Greenland to Northern Newfoundland. An active pottery studio, enables workers to shape clay into pottery the way the Vikings did. The workers also proudly spin sheep fleece into yarn using ancient drop spindle technology, dying the yarn bright purple, pink, or rusty yellow using local plants and berries and weave it into cloth at the loom. You can watch workers make nails and other items in the forge, throw axes at the woodpiles, play nine man mills and tour other buildings such as the Church and visit with the animals. You can also get your Runes told, by the Runes Teller, visit the marketplace and even conduct trade at the trading station if you bring something to exchange.

Truly this is a unique hands on experience that offers something for all ages! Even I enjoy being a Viking for a day 🙂

Live Rural NL –

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

An Abundance of Fish n’ Brewis

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Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine has long roots in our history, as the meal of fish and brewis (pronounced “brews”) has been a traditional favourite since sailors came from Europe in the late 1400 and 1500’s.

Fish and Brewis consists of codfish and hard bread or hard tack. Sailors and fishers would spend months on board schooners and the salt cod and hard bread would last the journey. With the abundance of cod around the outports of Newfoundland and Labrador this meal became a staple at many homes. Our Purity Factories has been producing hard bread for nearly one hundred years!

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The basic recipe will have the hard bread broken into bite-size pieces and soaked in water overnight. Next day the fish and hard bread are boiled separately until tender then both are served together.

The traditional meal is served with “scrunchions” or salted pork fat which has been cut into small pieces and fried. Both the rendered fat and the liquid fat are then drizzled over the fish and hard bread.

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Here is a recipe for four servings:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cakes Purity hard bread
  • 1 lb salt cod
  • 6 slices salt pork (3” x ¼ “ thick)

In two separate bowls, soak salt fish and hard bread in cold water for approx 6-8 hours or overnight. In the morning drain and replace both with cold water.

Bring salt fish to a slow boil and let simmer for approx 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Skin, bone and flake fish – set-aside.

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Bring to a slow boil and simmer for approx 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Squeeze out excess water from the hard bread and mix in flaked fish.

In a frying pan, low heat, fry salt pork until all fat is extracted and cook until golden brown. Spoon fat over fish and brewis. Garnish with scrunchions (rendered salt pork).

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I enjoy this traditional meal best with a cup of steeped Tetley tea and fresh homemade bread with old-fashioned Crosby molasses. Truly authentic Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine.

Live Rural NL –

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

Heritage, Wildlife & Coastal Scenery at New Ferolle, Shoal Cove West & Reef’s Harbour

On a recent visit to New Ferolle, Shoal Cove West & Reef’s Harbour it was clear that this region offers Heritage, Wildlife & Coast Scenery. From the caribou to wood piles to water, we were surrounded by images of what makes rural Newfoundland & Labrador that authentic place we call home.
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New Ferolle is just 11 kilometers from Reef’s Harbour junction, on Route 430. The area uniquely separates St. Margaret’s Bay from St. John Bay with a tremendous view of the Long Range Mountains.

The residents that live in these three communities enjoy these sights on a near daily basis. Visitors to the region can also enjoy the fishing activity, walking trails, vernacular architecture and the New Ferolle lighthouse, built in 1912. The lighthouse was operated by the Beaudoin family of New Ferolle for three generations, until the lighthouse became automated in June 1992.

The Community of Reef’s Harbour has an economic engine that is sitting idle. This fish plant presents an opportunity to create jobs, produce high-value locally sourced seafood and stimulate the local economy. Why are we letting great assets with excellent wharfing infrastructure sit idle?

The fishery is the mainstay of these communities, as is the case for most on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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The lobster traps, boats, fishing gear, personal stages, wharves and access to the bay are clear highlights of a hub of activity that exists from early May and into summer. I managed to capture a growler or small iceberg in this photo as well.

Our small rural fishing communities are beautiful and full of value and untapped potential. I encourage you on your trek up the Great Northern Peninsula to experience it for yourself.

Live Rural NL –

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

A Little Piece of Heaven Exists on Change Islands, NL

As the sun sets on the horizon, one has a feeling that a little piece of heaven exists on Change Islands, NL,

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On Saturday, May 2nd I found that little piece of heaven as I took the afternoon ferry, the MV Earl W. Windsor from Farewell to Change Islands. The return fare with a vehicle is $7.15. No doubt this 30 minute direct run, which was slowed by heavy pack ice is heavily subsidized by the Province. If you have not yet been, you are missing out on one of rural Newfoundland & Labrador’s best kept secrets.

The 12 kilomentre jaunt into Town, with a population of 160 has incredible views. The southern part of the island is uninhabited, with trees, bogs and marsh dominating the landscape. Before reaching the second island, I pulled over to take photos of clothes hanging on the line. It made me think of Deborah Gordon and her clothesline calendars. I took several dozen photos before I even reached the bridge and was forced to pull over as the views at both sides of the Tickle would not let me go further.

I stood by the boats took some snaps, after looking around, I just couldn’t contain myself and jumped up and down with joy. This place was real, this place was what is rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as the fishery dominated the landscape – the boats, the wharves, nets and the fishing sheds. I knew at that moment, I was really going to like this place.

The Burgundy Squid and Craft Shop is currently closed, as it is still early for the season. The “For Sale” sign in the window presents a unique business opportunity for the right individual. Behind this dwelling is a Knitting Economuseum and views that will take you breath away.

After passing the Seven Oakes, I made my way to the North end of the island where I would take some photos of the lovely vernacular architecture, view the 120 year old St. Margaret’s Church, pass the “Pink” house, see the shed from Harry Hibbs’ squidjiggin’ ground* and make a trek up on Squidjiggers Trail.

*Editors Note: I’ve been informed Arthur Scammell had written the squid jigging grounds and was born on Change Islands. The school is named A.R. Scammell, so it may be named after him? I could only re-call Harry Hibbs version of what is Scammell’s song. Thank you “Proud to call it home” for your comment.

Squidjigger’s Trail was not possible for me to fully navigate, given rubber boots would have been better footwear than my mesh sneakers, but I did get to the top of the hill. It was quite the look out. You could see where the birds would drop sea urchins or crabs to expose the meat. The ice views and dwellings, while the wind gently blew was nothing but awe inspiring.

Change Islands does not only the mind good, but the body as well. The food that is served is nothing but the best of Newfoundland dishes. My supper included fish n’ brewis, with a helping of scrunchions (fried pork fat). To top it all off was homemade lemon meringue pie. One could not ask for a better tasting dish or better hospitality.

Dinner table conversation led to more adventure. Another walk around the island, but as the sun was about to set. Serenity, tranquility are words that come to mind. As that last ferry sailed away for the day, you know you were just that little bit removed from the rest of the world for the night.

I was only on Change Islands for a few hours, but there was a real sense of contentment here – that I felt at home!

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to views like this?

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On Sunday morning, I had a meeting at 11:30 AM, so I made sure to get up early to trek the roads and places I had not been the day before.

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Despite the morning rain it was quite a fruitful experience, from the homes in the NL Tourism Ads, Newfoundland Ponies, trails, wood piles, root cellars, encounters with locals and more postcard perfect views around every single corner – I certainly made the most of my time.

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I met at the Town Hall with the Manolis L. Citizen’s Committee as they continue to raise concerns about the 600,000 litres of oil that must be removed from the 30 year old sunken vessel. Chronic leaks have been detrimental to bird and sea life. Further action must be taken, to prevent a catastrophic spill that would put at risk the environment and economy of the entire Notre Dame Bay Region.

I am very thankful to the hospitality exhibited from the residents of Change Islands. I feel now, I have friends on these islands that I look forward to continuing to have conversations and learn more about the storied past and the ever changing future of this dynamic island economy.

Time had passed very quickly, as I waited for the MV Earl W. Windsor to depart the harbour. The heavy pack ice was ever more present that day, requiring ice breaking assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard. It was smooth sailing as I made my way back to the busy city life. Reality was setting pretty quick – it would be another week before I would get back to the authenticity and beauty that is home.

The photos are wonderful, but the views and experiences are even more brilliant in person. Thank you all for making Change Islands the destination that is worthy of being known as a little piece of heaven here on earth. You too, can experience this magical place too!

Live Rural NL –

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

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