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Sustaining a Community takes Commitment – Raleigh, NL

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Raleigh is home to the awe-inspiring Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, boasting over 300 plant species with 30 being rare. The Burnt Cape cinquefoil is found exclusively on the Northern Peninsula, as it is the only place in the world where this species grows. The Provincial Government of Newfoundland & Labrador has failed to live up to its obligations when it eliminated all interpretation at this Reserve. It has also neglected to install appropriate signage, develop educational material such as guidebooks and panels to preserve, educate, maintain road infrastructure and make available our natural areas to interested parties. These short-sighted decisions by Government impact and harm our rural communities. Where is Government’s commitment?

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Additionally, rural communities are facing pressures from out-migration, aging population and changes to the dynamics of the economy that sustained them since their beginning all across the globe. Sustaining our small towns takes commitment and I see that in entrepreneurs Marina and Ted Hedderson  of Raleigh, NL.

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Yesterday, I was amazed by the creativity, commitment and desire to see the Town of Raleigh with a population of less than 200 survive and thrive. The current owners have been running Marina’s Mini-Mart & Gas Bar since 2001. They saw an opportunity to get into the accommodations business to compliment the neighbouring Pistolet Bay – Provincial Park, which is typically at capacity for tents and RVs throughout the season.

I was given a tour of the cottages, which include 4 two-bedroom, 3 one-bedrooms and a newly added vacation home that has the most incredible ocean view. The vacation home is very spacious and family focused with two queen and a twin bed, laundry facilities, BBQ and a view you won’t want to leave. The two bedroom cottages are very immaculate, offering two queen beds, laundry and wooden finished interior. The three one-bedroom cottages have leather furniture and laundromat access, but the best feature is that they sit with a breath-taking ocean view from a large deck to sit and enjoy your morning coffee or evening beverage. There is an entertainment area for evening fires right at water’s edge. There 4-star accommodations are priced at an incredible value, ranging from $109-169.

The Burnt Cape Cafe is a must if you are in the area. It truly understands the importance of experiential tourism. The Cafe takes lobster to a whole new level of fresh. The patrons, if they choose can go to the local wharf and select their own lobster and get their photos taken before and after. An incredible experience!

After stepping into the cafe, my attention was immediately drawn to the back which includes a comfortable seating area, big screen television playing traditional Newfoundland music and I thought was a great place to sit and relax. They also know the value of WiFi, which is provided for free.

The original six hockey jerseys are proudly displayed as in the off-season this area becomes on Monday nights, open to the dart league.  There is a wide-selection of crafts, souvenirs and other products. I purchased a Mummer’s shot glass, as I love the jannies.

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The Newfoundland tartan on the tables is a nice touch to compliment a menu that caters to those who love high-quality seafood dishes. I was treated to some phenomenal chowder, it comes highly recommended to start. It comes with generous portions of salmon and cod, great creamy flavour that is amplified with a touch of cheese melting as you eat. As a main, I’ve had pan-seared scallops and shrimp in garlic butter that would melt in your mouth with Parmesan mashed potatoes that kept you wanting more. To top the meal off, the deep-fried ice-cream was superb. The rich coating ensured the ice-cream was cold and in tact while I slowly enjoyed this treat drizzled with bakeapples. If you have not eaten at the Burnt Cape cafe you are truly missing out.

Small business and innovation is the key to dynamic growth, especially in small communities. Ted and Marina have a vision for their Town, their home. The business currently offers everything you need at your fingertips. However, they have more big ideas on how to  add accommodations, entertainment and experiential offers that appeal to locals and visitors. They are a partner with the annual Iceberg Festival, believe in strong promotion and understand the value of packaging and providing their customers with the highest in services and unique experiences.

Sustaining a community takes commitment and these two truly have what it takes to build a stronger community. I would encourage you to drop by and support this locally owned and independent business that is doing incredibly big things in a small town.

Visit their website at: www.burntcape.com

Live Rural NL –

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

Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve needs Interpretation restored.

Budget 2013 saw the ax fall on Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh with the Minister of Environment & Conservation showing no remorse for not ensuring both the protection and education of the Province’s newest ecological reserve. The loss of two interpretation positions, left the site without any staff to provide educational tours and be visible on site daily. It is quite a contradiction to the Government sign posted en route to the site, as they clearly do not see the importance of protection, preserving and educating others about our natural treasures:

Burnt Cape is one of the most important botanical sites in the Province. Its unique landscape, cold climatic conditions, and calcium rich soil allow northern plant species to grow in a rich and rare variety. The reserve is home to more than 300 species of plants, over 30 of which are rare.

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The Department of Environment & Conservation is failing to live up to ensuring the protection, preservation and education of this site, evident from lack of maintenance on the gravel road, no signage directing to the Reserve once in the Town of Raleigh, lack of restroom facilities and refuge containers. I have been actively reaching out to groups, organizations and individuals to help this cause and press Government to reverse this decision.

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NDP Leader Lorraine Michael and I (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) visited the site. It is with regret that interpretative tours were not restored, as this was not deemed a priority from the Minister of Environment & Conservation. Despite a barrage of emails with compelling arguments that were sent to him, the Premier, Minister of Tourism and myself calling for the reinstatement of these knowledgeable guides. They have ignored the call from Nature Conservancies, Environmental Awareness Groups, Ph. D holders, experts and concerned citizens from Newfoundland & Labrador, other parts of Canada and the United States of America. This only tarnishes our reputation of preservation, protection and education with the international community.

There has been much irreparable damage done already to the site, with vehicles unknowingly parked on rare plants like the Longs and Fernalds  braya, to more direct movements of rocks and tire tracks that clearly illustrate a vehicle has driven over a protected area. In addition, visitors to the region are losing out on the experience of what Burnt Cape offers and some are opting not to even bother. The lack of interpretative tours leaves very important details and information of such a provincial treasure. Unless you are an expert in botany, this reserve has lost much of its meaning to the general populace with an interest to explore, learn and understand the uniqueness of this protected area on the Great Northern Peninsula.

The Minister noted about 500 people visited the site annually. It is clear there are many vehicles and people visiting the site on this Sunday afternoon. I believe the stat of visitors to the site is likely understated. Nevertheless, these well-trained guides should never have seen their jobs eliminated.

The Raleigh Historical Society Inc. has applied for permits to have its staff and vehicle bring people to the site during the season. They have stepped up, although it will be a reduced service without the knowledge of trained guides.

Government must also step up. I encourage you to email: Minister Tom Hedderson, Environment & Conservation (thedderson@gov.nl.ca) and myself, Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (cmitchelmore@gov.nl.ca). We must continue to voice our discontent of this decision that is leading to the destruction of a geological, botanical and pale-ontological treasure.

Thank you for any support you can provide.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Our Historic Raleigh in Newfoundland (not North Carolina)

Hockey fans may be well aware of the Carolina Hurricane’s home base of Raleigh since 1997. However, that Raleigh is not to be confused with our Historic Raleigh near the very tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Historic Raleigh is a tiny fishing village of less than 200, formerly known as Ha Ha Bay. A place to visit when you trek the Viking Trail Route 430 en route to L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site.

On a summer visit to Raleigh one will see the beauty of Pistolet Bay – including the many wharves and stages, painted fishermen red scattered along the shoreline. The fishing activity in this Town has been in decline since the cod morotorium of 1992 and so is the population with the closure of the school in 2007. We’re continuing to lobby for a cellular tower in the region to service Cook’s Harbour, Raleigh, St. Lunaire-Griquet, L’Anse Aux Meadows and surrounding communities and waterways. However, there are bright spots for those wishing to get-a-way from it all.

For the avid camper, Pistolet Bay has a well-maintained Provincial Park just outside the Town. As well, there are efficiency units, cabins and fishing rooms one can overnight once in Raleigh. Tours can be arranged to understand more about the fishing and culture of the area. A visit to Raleigh will not be complete without a stop at Taylor’s Carvings where 3rd and 4th generation carvers display their unique skill set.

For the nature lover – one must visit the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. The area boasts several species of plants found nowhere else on earth except Burnt Cape. There are three dozen rare plants surrounding the Cape. When in Raleigh you can watch passing icebergs, find fossils, spot wildlife and if your lucky, you may even get a boat ride! As well, in winter, Raleigh is an excellent location for ice fishing.

This tiny Town may be small in population, but it is full of authentic life experiences. Take some time to talk to the locals and if your lucky you may even get to share a story and cup of coffee with the dynamic Mayor.

Put Historic Raleigh, Newfoundland & Labrador on you list of places to visit when you make your plans to travel to the rock. You will not leave disappointed.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Summer of Icebergs – The Giant Ice Island moves to St. Lunaire

The Giant Ice Island has moved to St. Lunaire, NL. I ventured to the Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet Friday evening hoping to catch a glimpse of the Petermann Ice Island. When driving into the Town at Tip of the Great Northern Peninsula you see the magnificent reams of white ice mountains contrasting with the grey rocky hills in the habour. Most of the images I captured were smaller bits as the larger images were blocked by the hilly landscape and I was unable to find the trail known as the Camel Hump. There was a sign, but I did not see any direction or place for parking. I took my Honda Civic over a dirt road until she was about to scrape bottom. I continued by foot up a steep hill, but had no success in catching an up close glimpse.

Jeffrey Curtis had uploaded a video on YouTube of the “The Petermann ice island, located 4 Miles off St Lunaire harbor” which I’ve embedded below. It is just an incredible intact piece of ice.

I did manage to see some smaller icebergs scattered throughout the harbour from a distance. They appeared to be blocking the harbour.

Imagine being able to look out your kitchen window or sit on the deck and enjoy a cup of Dark Tickle tea or coffee and taking in this view. Another wonder of Life on the Great Northern Peninsula!

The Great Northern Peninsula is the place to be this summer season if icebergs are on your bucket list. They are truly a wonder.

Take route 436 – it will lead you to the bergs, but also Norstead – Viking Village & Port of Trade, L’Anse Aux Meadows World UNSECO Heritage Site, The Dark Tickle Company, Raleigh Historic Village, French Oven and Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. You can dine experience Fine Dining at the Norseman Restaurant & Gaia Art Gallery, sophistication and specialty seafood at The Daily Catch, great food for the whole family at excellent prices can be found at Northern Delight Restaurant and for those on the run, Snow’s Take-Out can serve up some tasty chicken and chips. There are many little shops en route to purchase carvings, jams, preserves, knitted items, hooked rugs and other local lore. There are many B&B’s, campgrounds, motel, cabins and heritage properties available to appeal to any type of traveller.

I would highly recommend spending a few days on this part of the Peninsula. A few hours simply is not enough to experience the sights, sounds and wonder of it all. This was my 6th visit on Route 436 this summer season!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

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