Category Archives: Them Days..Today

An incredible view at Farewell…

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A beautiful view at Farewell waiting for the ferry to the cultural communities at Change Islands and Fogo Island.

The fishing industry dominates the coastline of our many rural communities, highlighting the importance, the reason we have existed on this Rock for more than 500 years.

The crab pots, their design and the people who work them are all part of our rural experience in Newfoundland & Labrador, whether Fogo Island, Carbonear or the Great Northern Peninsula – your authentic rural experiences await!

Live Rural NL –

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

Croque – “Administrative Headquarters” of the French migratory cod fishery on GNP

Today, Croque is a tiny settlement on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula that still maintains strong connections and has a storied past as the former administrative headquarters of the French Shore.

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In the 1600’s all French fishing ships were to register at Croque upon arrival at le Petit Nord. This created a hub of activity during the presence of the French migratory cod fishing fleet in this area. This community continued to play an important role for the French navy, as they used Croque as their headquarters on the French Shore.

Croque has the only official French cemetery on the French Shore and is the final resting place for both French and English seamen, which is depicted below. The French Navy kept up the cemetery long after the French Shore Treaty ended in 1904. During their visits, they would provide medical services to the local residents with the ships doctor.

It is hard to imagine that our communities were so disconnected and isolated just a few decades ago, but the road connecting this community to the outside was not complete until 1975. Dog teams and ships were the avenues in which those would travel to gain access to a doctor, which may be as far away as St. Anthony or a nurse at Conche. During the era of re-settlement, of the late 1960s and early 1970s several families from the Grey Islands and Northeast Crouse resettled to Croque. Residents today, still talk about their home or ancestors of the Grey Islands.

Although the last official visit of the French Navy was in 1971, there is still lots of evidence of both the French and settler history by viewing the historic waterfront buildings, the French cemetery and just outside of town the names of ships are carved on the rocks by French fishermen.

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We have to reflect upon our past, there is a cultural connection to be made between Newfoundland and Labrador and France to pursue other opportunities to share artifacts, stories and our heritage past and present. Our early settler to the community was Patrick Kearney, which the Kearney namesake is still present today, who was responsible for being a caretaker of the French fishing rooms in the early 1800’s.

Let’s do more to tell our stories of the past, because Croque, Petit Nord and the Great Northern Peninsula have played a very important role and it is a place you must experience!

Live Rural NL –

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

Population of Grandois will hit high-water mark in mid-July!

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Most people will never experience the serene beauty of Grandois. It can be found at the end of almost 30 kilometres of gravel road on Route 438. On my visit yesterday, most residents brought up the “winter pavement” they now have given the snow has settled and the road solidly frozen. It was evident that Transportation & Works was working hard to maintain this winding road and from my observation doing an incredible job!

This place is part of the French Shore with a strong connection to the migratory fishery and even current residents have connections to the Grey and Fishot Islands. There are many stories to be heard over a cup of tea or coffee, which will be offered at every homestead, because of the incredible generosity and hospitality of the livyers, to this very day!

Grandois has an historical church with an altar carved from a pocket knife in the early nineteen hundreds, it is certainly a place you will want to visit while in the community. The French connection is ever present with a bread oven at the end of a walking trail. There are rocks remaining in the location where the French dried their fish and a trail leads to rings in the cliff where the French tied up their boats.

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The community is only a fraction of what it was based on the 2011 census, with more lights out as residents move on or sadly pass away. It is difficult to tally and realize vacant properties out number those with permanent residents. It is quite clear many of our rural communities are struggling to cope with an aging population and trying to maintain a strong vibrant community.

I was very happy to be in Grandois – the residents are passionate about the place they call home. It is evident from the photos and views, who wouldn’t fall in love with this special place? There is activity in the works as a Come Home Year Celebration in July will bring people home in droves. A recent project supported employment and saw additions to the Community Hall. I was told at the last Come Home Year, people congregated and filled the Hall well past capacity and even ended up to the roadside.

These are the stories I love hearing, about all the activity, community interactions, the fishery as the boats leave the harbour, the mystery of the re-settled French Islands and the quest for the copper cod. There is hope for this community, since its depletion of its people after the 1992 cod moratorium as there was a mineral find near the community, as well a former marble mine sits idle. As time passes, and with the right investment we could see a small place like Grandois boom with economic activity.

Legend says, “there’s gold in them hills”

I look forward to more stories and celebrating the strength of community in July as the population hits the high-water mark for 2015. Bring on the accordion music and song…

Live Rural NL –

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

Your Road to Adventure Awaits…

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Those who live on the Great Northern Peninsula appreciate the true beauty, the mystique and charm that comes with Northern living.

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling many countries of the world, mainly visits to capital cities. They have their exceptional offerings, but one can not compare the authenticity of culture and place. I remember saying, “I’ve been to Dublin three times to my Irish friends and they would say, you have never experienced Ireland”. So in 2010, I took them up on this comment and rented a car and drove 1,800 kilometres from Kinsale to the Giant’s Causeway and all places in between. I can now say, I’ve truly experienced Ireland from the farmhouse dinners to the rugged shorelines to the nightly sounds at multiple pubs.

Now, the same is true with Newfoundland & Labrador, if you come and visit the Capital and never make it up the Viking Trail on the Great Northern Peninsula’s tip, you are truly missing a rural gemstone that will provide lasting memories and conversation pieces for a lifetime.

The road to adventure awaits and it can only be found as you travel up the tip! It is the only place in the world, where the human race came full circle for the very first time, which was 100,000 years in the making (Read: Where the World Came Full Circle)

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The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the only authenticated Norse site in North America at L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Only a short distance away is the Snorri and a Viking Village and Port of Trade. Norstead gives everyone the opportunity to interact and live like a Viking! Sagas, Stories and Tales and more are part of the original experience.

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Multiple cruise ship visits make L’Anse aux Meadows their port of call where they are greeted by a giant statue of Lief Erikson. Restaurants, craft shops, coffee shops, lounges, artisans, economuseums, walking trails, campgrounds to vacation rentals, and story boards make for unique experiences.

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The fishing stages, vernacular architecture and sights and surroundings are unique in itself. If you are lucky you will see moose, caribou and other wildlife.

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In Spring and Summer giant icebergs come to shore…only the biggest can be found the further North you go.

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Lighthouses hunters (Cape Norman, Cape Bauld, Flower’s Island), bird and whale watches and those in search of rare plants will want to trek the Great Northern Peninsula. The Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve has 300 species of plants, thirty of which are rare and one unique to the region.

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Images of wildlife and everyday living can be viewed at Town of Englee Municipal Building at their Mat Hooking Exhibition. Also in the building, is home to Glacier Glass, a glass art studio which has handcrafted items that are quintessentially rural.

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Main Brook and Roddickton-Bide Arm is home to excellent fishing and hunting experiences and adventure tourism. While visiting these hubs one can visit St. Julien’s & Croque and see the French Cemeteries and Fishing Stages or explore the tapestry in Conche, which is home to the French Shore Interpretation Centre. There is also a French bread oven in Quirpon and Dark Tickle is home to the Granchain Exhibit.

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We also have unique thrombolites at Flower’s Cove, or “living rocks” that are between 600 million to 1.2 billion years old.

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A boardwalk will take you there, as will a boardwalk take you back to Deep Cove, which is a winter housing Historic Site. In winter the trails are a great place to leisurely ski or snowshoe.

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Dr. Grenfell is a larger than life man and his work is reflective of the economy in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador today from the expanse of medical services, co-operatives, handicrafts and economic development – one will not want to miss the Grenfell experience at the Historic Properties. Fishing Point Provincial Park, Polar Bear Exhibit, Northern Discovery Boat Tours, The Great Viking Feast and the Legion Kitchen Parties are also for the to do list.

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The Iceberg Festival in June and Mussel Festival in August also draw lots of attention and provide fun for the whole family. Let’s not forget the times to be had at the Conche Garden Party and Goose Cove Garden Party.

Wherever the road takes you on the Great Northern Peninsula, the experience will be unforgettable – as the people, culture and place are just that.

Live Rural NL –

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

A Walk Down Memory Lane…

It seems almost a lifetime ago, yet my first foray into business is strongly linked to the political world. In March 2002, I left my tiny community of Green Island Cove and went to Ottawa to learn about politics at the Forum for Young Canadians. I knew nothing about politics, except that I was intrigued by it, little did I know I would become a Member of the House of Assembly just 9 years later. This was my first real adventure on my own, the farthest I had ever been away from home and it truly was a life changing experience – from getting a private tour of Parliament to sitting in the Speaker’s Chair while the Speaker took the photo to meeting friends from all over Canada, some of which I would end up in the same class as we completed our University degrees. However, beyond the week of friendship and politics, I was really overwhelmed by the Museum of National Civilization. It inspired me to think about our history, the people who have had an impact on rural Newfoundland and Labrador, especially on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

I remember the return ride from the Deer Lake airport sparked the conversation about creating a museum that depicted the way of everyday living and its people. On the Great Northern Peninsula we are the one unique place where the “World Came Full Circle”, an event 100,000 years in the making. Cultures collided from the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo, and recent Indians, like the Beothuk and Mic’maq to the Norse, Basque, French, English to modern day. By the end of the ride the wheels were in motion to consider establishing a museum at Aunt Betty Spence’s vacant home in Nameless Cove. However, like most good ideas it almost never got off the ground. I applied for a position with the Green Team, looking for security in summer employment versus the ups and downs entrepreneurship would bring. I was unsuccessful in securing a position.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

It was now May and I decided that the concept of the museum could be done, with proper diligence and took all my free time in the remaining six weeks of preparation to conduct research (with dial-up Internet), complete some renovations and prepare the property for what would be a grand opening on July 1, 2002. The beginning investment was a lot of sweat equity and less than $500. The reward for trying, was priceless.

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Flower’s Island Museum opened with Mary Elizabeth “Aunt Betty” Spence cutting the ribbon. She was approaching her 95th birthday and was excited that her old homestead, collectables and story was being shared with the world. Despite higher gas prices, the outbreak of SARS and limited knowledge of this new venture, this operation was able to secure 600 visitors from Australia, Norway, UK, USA and many places in between. I have made friendships that continue to this day, more than a dozen years later.

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After my first season, I re-evaluated the business and look to find ways to generate more revenue streams to make the business model more sustainable. The first season saw great contributions in the form of donations, admission and gift shop sales. That winter, I began drawing up plans to create a Newfoundland themed nine-hole miniature golf course. That Spring the concrete was being laid, with many thanks to family and friends for helping and contributing to its success.

I look back and remember all the fun that happened during those summer months people had playing golf. There was lots of excitement for me on hole number 8 when my golf ball went up the pipe in the lobster trap and it was a hole in one. There were many tournaments that summer and a lot of life in the little community of Nameless Cove.

A summer Fun Festival was hosted in 2003 and 2004 with a partner and the ideas seemed endless. All the magic happened before Facebook, before access to high-speed Internet was available in the community. We focused on printing brochures, doing paper promotions and posters. These are all things of the past to those who have adapted in the tourism world.

It was clear the times were changing and with it some tough decisions had to be made. I was enrolled at Memorial University completing a business degree with summers committed to work terms and education. I worked to help others start-up their own summer ventures and spent a year living and working in Europe. Those decisions would ultimately lead to the closing of the museum’s doors. It was very difficult to see something in which I created, and have to let it go. Though, the experiences I gained overseas have forever changed my outlook on life, on economic development and on community, not to mention the life long friendships.

Flower’s Island Museum was a real high point in my life, as it really let my creativity flow to generate new ideas and share with the world what the Great Northern Peninsula was all about. Is there a possibility to re-visit this concept as it was?

As I walk down memory lane, I reflect with a smile realizing that since 2010, I’ve been continuing what I started more than a decade ago and that is sharing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. This blog has been letting those “Experience the Great Northern Peninsula” in a virtual form reaching hundreds of thousands of people from 191 countries around the world. We’re certainly on the map!

We all have something to offer and all have an impact on our community. I encourage you to take a walk down memory lane and look back on some of your accomplishments and find new ways to look at failure and realize that there are always other paths to success.

Live Rural NL –

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

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