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Treat Yourself at Bits-n-Pieces Cafe – Conche, NL

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Conche, NL is at the heart of the French Shore and is a destination for tourists to view a 222-foot tapestry, the only of its kind in North America. While visiting Conche, I would highly recommend a dining experience at the Bits-n-Pieces Cafe, as well if you need accommodations they also have two lovely rooms overhead at the Stage Cove B&B. 

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The Bits-n-Pieces Cafe offers a very relaxing atmosphere in a renovated salt-box style homestead. The chairs at some of the tables are from different homes and brightly painted in a variety of colours. This adds to the charm and quaintness of what dining would have been like at our rural homes many years ago.

While waiting for food, I read about cod fish from Intervale’s placemat, it may have influenced my meal choice. I ordered up a serving of split peas soup, which is very traditional and one of my favourites. As well, the fishcakes and fries. It proved to be a delicious treat. The soup and fishcakes come highly recommended.

Conche is full of culture. If you want to experience some food culture than don’t hesitate to get yourself served at the Bits-n-Pieces Cafe. The service is wonderful! Certainly this is another gem we have at home on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA                                                                                                    The Straits-White Bay North                                                                                          @MitchelmoreMHA

Tickle Inn is Tranquility at Cape Onion, NL – Population, 2

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Taking a left turn from the community of Ship Cove, there is a newly minted sign marking the iconic community of Cape Onion, NL. Before I even got over the hill, I had to pull over, stop and take a photo. It truly is a panoramic place that represents what is quintessentially outport Newfoundland & Labrador.

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I pulled up to Jim & Sophie’s house. They are the only permanent settlers in Cape Onion. Like many Newfoundlanders on a nice day, Jim was busy in his shed preparing to install a new window. As my attention veered off as I looked out his shed window, he began to tell me about the “Tickle Inn” and his long family history of it being in passed on through four generations. He explained how the original home was the longer roof structure and when the son took over he built the addition which is closest to Jim’s shed and when the next generation took over a further addition of a larger kitchen was built to the back. I decided to visit and tour this 9-acre property.

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The Adams Family Homestead is a designated heritage structure and is circa 1890, which means the old-family home has been providing hospitality for the owners for nearly 125 years. Quite the milestone! The Bed & Breakfast opened in 1991, after extensive restoration. Without the interest and vision from David & Barbara Adams, paired with the cooperation and work of relatives Jim and Sophie, this crown jewel of the Great Northern Peninsula may have gone the way of some many older family homesteads – just cease to exist. This home is likely the oldest surviving house on the French Shore.

There is value in what is old and preserving the past. The Tickle Inn, illustrates the cultural and economic value our heritage and vernacular architecture can have in creating and sustaining long-term employment, creating unique visitor experiences and also complimenting other small businesses in the region.

People certainly would come just to have this view from the living room window. Exquisite isn’t it?

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Before entering, there is an old bell mounted on the wall next to the door. A sign explains the history of building and the porch is a mini-museum of old artifacts from herring barrels, water jugs, ringer washing machines, barrel guns to pit saws. Actually this continues throughout the house. Upon entering the dining room, there is an old stove, a crank telephone, an old wooden radio on the wall and many other items of interest. The living room has furniture from decades ago, an organ and large Bible prominently placed. Nan’s pantry was filled with some wares people can purchase, with the staircase being a special piece that took you all the way to the Crow’s nest at the third-level. There are four lovely rooms available for let from June until the end of September each year.

Barbara and Sophie provided me with lots of great details. It is no wonder guests keep coming back year after year to this magical place. They also encouraged me to explore the walking trails near the property that lead to the beach.

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This is the perfect place for ultimate rest and relaxation. Tranquility at its finest in this quiet cove of Cape Onion. These pictures speak to the natural beauty of this place.

The Tickle Inn, as their slogan states “offers much more than accommodation, it is a vacation experience!” Their website www.tickleinn.net/ clearly outlines their incredible property, history and offering. It reveals the importance of promoting other local businesses, such as Gaia Art Gallery, Wildberry Economuseum, Burnt Cape, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade, Grenfell Historic Properties and L’Anse aux Meadows UNESCO Site.

This property has won me over! I look forward to spending a night or two at the Tickle Inn. It truly is one of our many wonderful experiences you can have on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA 
 

The French Shore…In the Beginning

La tapisserie du French Shore

 “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others” (French Shore Historical Society)

This statement is very powerful as it notes the relationships we establish and contributions we make towards the lives of other people and society. Our history, memories and character is not forgotten once we pass on and simply noted by a name on a tombstone. No, we all touch the lives of others and leave behind elements that carries on long into the future.

On July 27, 2010, The French Shore Historical Society cordially invited me to attend their official grand opening of the French Shore Tapestry, at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche, NL. Other commitments prevented me for being there on this day. However, the newspaper noted that more than 200 people showed up for the festivities, which more than doubled the Town’s population.

I did visit the facility back on June 29, 2010 with a friend who lives in Montreal, Quebec. Enroute, to Conche I saw a black bear cub. My first bear sighting ever on the island of Newfoundland! The road is a number of unpaved kilometers, but certainly worth the trip. As you loop into the Town of Conche, there are look-outs and well placed signage directing you to attractions of the French Shore. At the centre (formerly a nursing station established by the International Grenfell Association) there are informative panels and artifacts, as well as pleasant staff to answer any question you may have.

La tapisserie du French Shore

The crown jewel of the exhibit is a 222 foot Tapestry that depicts the history of the French Shore of Newfoundland and Labrador from the very beginning. The stories were designed and sketched by renowned artist J.C. Roy. Then the images were stitched by a group of women from Conche onto Jacobean linen and embroidered with crewel wool. The process had taken three years to complete, many long tiring hours, the trial of more vibrant colours and increased levels of difficulty to produce this extraordinary hand-stitched piece of art, that is simply one of a kind and forever a part of our rural Newfoundland & Labrador history. The tapestry includes animals, native Aboriginal groups, the Norse, Basque, English, Irish, French and transitions to the current settlers. It is a remarkable timeline from the beginning to present.

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 A walking trail pass the French Bread Oven, led us to a magnificent view of a quaint little down that is rich in history and big on charm. This Town has an Artist’s Retreat. It is no wonder! The perfect place to truly get-a-way from it all and find your inspiration. Another noteworthy stop was a visited to the remains of a World War II plane crash. The occupant survived, but remnants of the wreckage are preserved on site to this day.

Finally, not trip to Conche could be complete without a visit to Bits-n-Pieces Cafe (which is also Stagehead B&B). This old salt-box home has been completely restored after receiving a lot of tender loving care. It now shines with a splashy blue coat of paint and bright sunshine trim. I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee served with homemade French fries from potatoes grown in the garden and delicious fish cakes. If this place is not recommended by Where to Eat Canada, it damn well should be! It certainly was a treat to meet the youthful owner. It is refreshing to see people follow a dream and choose entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Stagehead B&B/Bits-n-Pieces Cafe

Before leaving I purchased an original piece of art, entitled “The Lonely Harbour”. It was painted locally with a transparent fisherman alone, mending his net. There were others, but this one stood out as my father was a fisherman. It certainly can be a struggle. I admire the passion of those who continue to choose fishing as a profession. There are many challenges, long tiring hours, typically modest income and significant dangers. I am waiting to frame this print, most likely it will hang in my office.  Each glance will bring me closer to my father.

My advice to you dear readers, when the opportunity arises whether you are local or from afar take time to put Conche, NL on your 1,000 Places to Go Before You Die.

Savouring the French Shore –

CCM

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