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Bell Island Aerial View

I took this photo of Bell Island on my way to the Great Northern Peninsula.

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I always look forward to my next trip across the tickle to view the beauty of Bell Island and of course, get a feed of Dicks’ Fish and Chips.

Live Rural NL –

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

 

Bell Island has many stories to tell…

Bell Island has murals that tell stories around the communities. I am always impressed by those that have murals or art on their buildings. I think our communities on the Great Northern Peninsula could paint murals on Town Buildings, Public spaces, sheds and other areas that tell our storied past that built our region.

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One can clearly see a mural on the Wabana Fire Department. This Department in recent weeks celebrated 100 years in operations. This centennial is a milestone! There have been many fires over the years on Bell Island and many brave souls that have stepped up to put those fires out. We have to commend our volunteer firefighters in Newfoundland & Labrador. They do an amazing service and are on call 24/7 without pay.

I love the geography, geology and views of Bell Island. They are just impressive. There are lots of sea caves, caverns and old mine shafts, given the iron ore mines ran for more than 70 years.

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The lighthouse on Bell Island, has been moved from its original location. As you can see its current placement is not along shores edge. There is Transport Canada signs warning of unstable rock in the area. I do hope this site gets renovated to become a fully operational tourist attraction. I feel all nostalgic for all things rural when I see a lighthouse and recognize the important role they played for safety. I only hope we see Flower’s Island Lighthouse become a fully functional tourist attraction near Flower’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula.

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Bell Island, like any region of our province has many stories to tell. I hope you and others take the time to visit this area, as well as the Great Northern Peninsula on your next visit.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Going underground – Miner Chris visits Bell Island

Last week I returned to the beautiful “Bell Island” on a short ferry run across the tickle leaving Portugal Cove. A year had passed since I explored Lance Cove, Wabana, the craggy coastlines, Dicks’ Fish & Chips, the lighthouse and more with my German and Swiss friend.

On this occasion, I decided to be a tourist and visit a major tourist attraction, the #2 Mine. In fact, my 81-year old grandmother recently took the tour. It is quite an experience. Bell Island was a boom town with an iron ore mine spanning over seven decades of active operations. However, in the 1960’s the mine closed. It would only be re-opened 17 years ago, not to mine ore but tourist :).

Ed, our very talented and knowledgeable tour guide provided exceptional context. His personal connection to the mine was very strong, with his father and grandfather as former employees. I highly recommend him as your tour guide.

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The hard hat is quite the change from sitting behind a desk at Confederation Building. It was not my first time underground or in a vacated mine. In 2007, I toured a salt mine in Poland. I like being an experiential tourist. From the highlights of the tour, I certainly could not imagine the working conditions and poor lighting miners  faced in the early 1900’s.

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I am quite proud of the efforts of those involved in the re-development of a vacant mine into a tourist attraction. It is so important that we tell our stories. On this particular tour we were the only two Newfoundlanders & Labradorians of twelve on the tour. There are likely other assets and unique aspects of rural life that could be developed into burgeoning tourism attractions in our own regions that expand our current product offering.

The tour is 45 mins to an hour. There is also a museum and incredible photography highlighting the island life in the mid-1900’s. The museum has a gift shop and cafe.

Well, it looks like Miner Chris is calling it a day 🙂 Be sure to visit Bell Island on your next visit to the Avalon Peninsula. Be sure to get your Dicks’ Fish & Chips too!

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Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 
 

Where Canada Begins or Ends? – Cape Spear, NL

Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America and located near the city of St. Johns. After leaving Bell Island we managed to visit before darkness felt. This was my first time starting off the new year at the most easterly point in the country.

The wind was bone chilling and can be realized on my friend’s face below. Also, the current was quite strong as the waves crashed to the rocky shoreline. As we walked the boardwalk we could see the coastline. Further up the walk is a former World War II Bunker and at the top of the hill is the Lighthouse.

During summer 2011 was my last visit to this place. As I drove the winding road, I passed runners and parked in a near full lot. At the top of the hill an artist was painting visuals of the coastline. It was a lively place.

If you start east, be sure to come north and visit the Great Northern Peninsula – we are just a short ferry ride from the Big Land of Labrador. I’ll affirm that I can see Labrador from my window, but certainly not Russia.

Explore the Great Northern Peninsula and you may be surprised by what you find.

Live Rural NL

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Our Wooden Homes – Bell Island, NL

When European’s first re-discovered North America on the Great Northern Peninsula at L’Anse Aux Meadows some 1,000+ years ago homes were built with sod. As society progressed we adopted wooden structures to create the traditional salt-box home. Very seldom will you see a home built of stone in Newfoundland & Labrador. This is a stark contrast from many parts of Europe. At the time I did not realize how big a deal this was, until one of my friends said you have to make sure we get an image of this outer building so I can show my friends how stick homes are constructed.

The image above is a testament to maintain elements of past heritage pieces, incorporating them into a modern home. The bright red clapboard and the glass sun room to the porch was common in the past. This home is much larger and also shows the change in transportation as the garage will house several vehicles, in the past a fishing room and stages would be needed to store gear, nets and fish.

As we advance into the 21st century we are seeing larger homes and less of the traditional salt-box style or the vernacular architecture of the past. However, one thing remains quite common – we continue to use wood to build our homes.

We need a Provincial Strategy in place to ensure that we utilize our forestry resources that are sustainably managed through a total annual allowable cut under the Forest Management Plan. Fundamentally, we need to make an effort to purchase and utilize more locally produced lumber and other timber products. We need to stimulate an industry in this province that was dependent on news print and wood fibre as the current global marketplace is not interested in what we are selling. More consideration should be placed on local jobs, local marketplace – as with any natural resource of this great province.

Bell Island is home to some remarkable vernacular architecture. I also recommend one to visit Conche, Englee, Croque and St. Julien’s on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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