Category Archives: Them Days..Today

Clotheslines of Cod on the Great Northern Peninsula

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Typically cod would be drying on flakes or neatly spread on flat rocks near the beach, but more and more often the cod fish can be seen drying like clothes on the line. It’s a sign of the ever changing times in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Cod jigging is part of growing up in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The implementation of the cod moratorium in 1992 caused 30,000 people in the province to lose their employment, basically overnight, ending 500 years of this fishing activity. Our communities were forever changed.

25 years later, there are signs of a Northern cod recovery. The impact it will have on our communities are yet to be seen.

Each summer though, residents and non-residents take to the water off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador to catch a few cod by participating in Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)’s Recreation Cod Fishery, which we often call the food fishery. Cod is an important staple for residents and many catch their quota of 5 fish per day over the course of a 46 day fishery between July and September.

I never miss the opportunity to go jigging. There is something about being on the water close to your home, pulling in the fish and being able to deliver it to your table that gives you a sense of belonging to this place we call home. Knowing where your food comes from is important. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians always had a strong connection to the land and sea and I believe we always will.

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Our communities are still very traditional, our communities are resilient and we have opportunities to share our culture, traditions and way of life with the world. There are authentic unique experiences in our rural communities just waiting for you.

From sea or farm to plate is an ever growing concept, which has always been the way for our outports. A rabbit snared, partridge hunted, garden potatoes, carrots pulled or fresh fish would be served up at the dinner table. Taking these concepts to our local restaurants for tourists is an opportunity.

Also, to tell the story of who caught it, how it was caught, where, who prepared it, the recipes and the process are all part of adding real value. Sharing our unique culture with the world is what is requested. I believe we have exceptional opportunity to do just that.

Our communities, like others do not remain stagnant, we will always change and evolve over time. Our traditions and values remain core to who we are, whether we  spread fish on flakes or hang  them on the line, we have a strong sense of where we belong.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development

 

What’s in a Name?….Nameless Cove, NL

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I think it was Shakespeare’s Juliet in a soliloquy, who asked “What’s in a Name?” We’ll let me tell you…

As you leave the paved highway in Nameless Cove and trek onto a gravel route at Nameless Cove point you will be able to have a closer view of Flower’s Island and its beautiful lighthouse. The first lightkeeper was Peter Flower, thus naming the island and became the name of the adjacent community, Flower’s Cove (now Nameless Cove). Here is the background story on how Nameless Cove, came to be: the Municipality of Flower’s Cove was formerly French Island Harbour. After the treaty and the French presence left, the larger community opted to use the name Flower’s Cove, thus, leaving the former Flower’s Cove – Nameless.

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Nameless Cove is where I operated Flower’s Island Museum from 2002-2005, which included a nine-hole Newfoundland themed miniature golf-course. There were development plans for the island at the time that would see maybe a tea room, accommodations and a boat tour. Sadly, this never transpired and made it more difficult to establish the critical volume of tourist needed to advance regional tourism in the Straits. In the past ten years since, much effort has been placed on walking trails and further developing Deep Cove. However, the Straits is just scratching the surface on how it could benefit from tourism, given the number that pass through these communities each season to see St. Anthony and the World UNESCO site at L’anse aux Meadows.

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Since Peter Flowers, generations and generations of Lavallee’s would operate that lighthouse until it became automated. The Lavallee’s are still present today and some continue to fish these adjacent waters. The late Clyde Roberts, was the radio operator on the island. He spent some of his earlier years on this island and continued to pursue community economic development in the region – pressing for co-ops, credit unions and a non-profit personal care home and affordable housing units. In my books he is a local icon, a visionary, that made big things happen!

The presence of the fishery is ever so important today as it was our reason for settling. People continue to earn a living from the sea. This is evident from the small fishing stages, wharves, lobster traps and gear hugging the shoreline.

From old family homesteads to today’s residents, Nameless Cove is a community that is hanging onto its past and looking toward the future. I believe there is opportunity and more can be done to advance both fishing and tourism synergies, Drop by and find out more about What’s in a Name?

Live Rural NL –

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

My Quest for Cod – Just 5 Fish…

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)

Rumbolt Sculpts Image from Iceberg with Chainsaw at Festival Opening!

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It all started with a block of iceberg ice propped up on pallets outside the St. Anthony Lion’s Club. This 10,000 year old iceberg ice would become transformed during the Iceberg Festival Official Opening by local carver Shawn Rumbolt.

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Spectators were guessing as bergy bits were being chipped away, would this be a polar bear or some image related to the Grenfell Legacy. It was an experience for those who travelled from Germany, Manitoba, Florida, Alberta, Nova Scotia to see the ice being carved right before their very eyes. As a local, I was indeed impressed by the work of Shawn Rumbolt, assisted by last years sculptor artist Randy Cull (owner of the Great Viking Feast and the Lightkeeper’s Cafe on Fishing Point).

It can’t be easy to get such precision with a chainsaw, but Rumbolt made the process look easy. It is not something you should try at home, leave this to those who are experienced. I would recommend that you make plans for next year’s Iceberg Festival to experience this unique art form found exclusively on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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It became clear that the sculpture was that of an Aboriginal. This connects closely with the tradition and cultural aspects of the Grenfell Mission and his service to all people of the North.

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The Great Northern Peninsula clearly has residents with exceptional talent and skill. Their willingness to showcase this for others to enjoy is part of who we are as a society. Thank you Shawn Rumbolt for your art! This carving in ice is just one of the many aspects of the Official Opening of Iceberg Festival. There is still so much more to see and experience. Visit: www.theicebergfestival.ca  for schedule of events and more information.

Live Rural NL –

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

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