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NSHLQ Come Home Year Celebration a Major Achievement – Then, Now & Forever!

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When communities come together for a common goal on the Great Northern Peninsula anything seems to be possible. I only have to think about the $100,000 Breath of Fresh Air Playground that was established in Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour with three communities of about 200 people.

The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration saw five communities all with a total population of less than 300 come together to make something unforgettable happen for residents, those with a connection to this special place and some to make their mark for the very first time. The last Come Home Year was in 1997, it was decided long overdue to host another and this time Quirpon would be added. This inclusion of Quirpon also invigorated interest to save their local hall to allow for events and activities to take place throughout the week.

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After months and months of planning by a dedicated group of youthful committee members, the day would finally arrive on July 27th and they were certainly ready. Leading up to the event, the Facebook page would keep everyone up to date. A full schedule was also advertised in the local newspaper, the Northern Pen. Not to mention a Twitter hashtag, showing their innovation and adaptation of technology. I was greatly impressed by their organization, what they offered registrants, how they partnered with all their key businesses and community groups to share in the success of this community celebration would bring. There is much strength here – then, now and forever!

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The Viking RV Park would be the primary site of activity throughout the week, with the official opening started after people registered at the fire hall. The crowds flocked, enjoying the weather and meeting those returning home as they fended off the flies. After the speeches, the cafe was cut, music was played by our multi-talented Calvin Blake, Adam Randell and Brandon White, mussels were steamed, faces painted and the mood set for a massive fireworks display.

The fireworks display was impressive, it seemed to go on and on and on. There were many awes and an astounding round of applause as the show concluded. A truly successful evening that could not have ended with a bigger bang. Cue the music!

The week would follow with fish frys, hikes, coffee shop visits, exercise programs, kids activities, duck races, memorial events, old-fashioned times, kitchen parties, row boat races, family days and so much more! This was no small feat for a small group of organizers, that should great leadership. So many others would step up and give time in a volunteer capacity to ensure all of these activities could happen. I’m amazed by the generosity and community spirit during these Come Home Year celebrations and always look forward to the next.

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A sampling of some of the activities:

I’m confident Skipper Hot’s band was rocking every night, that many screech-ins were had and the conversations lasted into the early morning hours and likely will continue until the planning of the next Come Home Year celebration begins. Be proud of your major achievement for making big things happen in small communities!

Live Rural NL –

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

River of Ponds rocked their 1st Come Home Year

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River of Ponds just northeast of Daniel’s Harbour gets its name from the river that flows from a number of ponds in the area extending from the foot of the Long Range Mountain to the ocean. River of Ponds is a fishing community with many lobster fishers, but also boasts incredible recreational salmon and trouting seasons.

The community’s first census marked 16 residents in the 1800’s to reach a high water mark of 341 prior to cod moratorium of 1992 to a population of 200 today. July 20th marked the commencement of the first ever Come Home Year celebration. A committee of volunteers planned a week of incredible events, a cook book and calendar was prepared and each family took pride in printing individualized banners showcasing the landscapes, portraits and their family namesake.

It was a real pleasure to join committee chair, Mayor, and MP officially open the celebration with hundreds of family and friends connected to River of Ponds. I was happy to join the families and parade around the picturesque community.

Nightfall would bring a fire on the beach and fireworks. Lots of great conversations were to be had, without a ripple on the water.

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Throughout the week there were bands, local talent, gospel concerts, cards, meals, baseball games and bouncy castles.

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River of Ponds Come Home Year provided many new memories, as old friends met and new ones were made. It clearly shows that big things are happening in small communities.

Be proud of all your accomplishments and keep “Living the Dream”!

Live Rural NL –

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

There’s No Place Like Home – Grandois 2015

Like a line from the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Dorothy is heard saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”, Grandois was just that during its first ever Come Home Year from July 17-20.

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This tiny community of 19 permanent residents was able to register 240 and more than 300 participated in the fun filled weekend organized by Peggy McGrath and Josephine Clarke. These two women are incredible organizers and should be commended for making something extraordinary possible in the community that may be small in numbers but exudes spirit, heart and sense of belonging.

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As I drove the 30 kilometer gravel road of route 438 to reach Grandois – you could feel the energy as the sun was beaming down, banners and flags flying high and campers and traffic scattered in the cove. The community hall was crowded and there were children everywhere. This was a remarkable shift from the usual daily life in this quiet community of just 19.

The children were gravitating to the beach, playing upon the rocks, which made for a beautiful photo. It was not the first time people talked about how good it was to have dozens of youth in Grandois again!

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It was a pleasure to march in the parade through the community with the Clarke’s, Hillier’s, Walker’s, McGrath’s, Sexton’s, Bromley’s, Alyward’s, Whiteway’s and other families that have a connection to the community. The McGrath and Whiteway seemed to have the biggest turnout! Inside the old school house, now community hall was a memorial tree, with photos of those loved ones who passed on. I thought that was a really nice touch, as well the candle lighting with a family representative at the opening. Organizer Josephine addressed the crowd and greetings were brought by myself and a representative from the MP’s office. It was a pleasure to hear special guest, Benjamin Swett, New York Photographer deliver a speech. He first came to Grandois in 1977, where as part of the Quebec Labrador Foundation (QLF), he supervised a summer camp. While in Grandois he took photos of the people and the community way of life. It was a pleasure to buy a copy of his collection that went to print especially for the Come Home Year. We need to do more to document and tell our stories. Raw emotion could be heard when Peggy McGrath took front and centre. She had worked tirelessly to get back to the community and organize a celebration that would be remembered. She talked about her parents, about her children and about being home. It was truly a special moment. Festivities continued with cake cutting, healthy snacks, gifts for the 19 residents, sale of memorabilia and of course some music by Conche’s own Danny Carroll.

The next day, I decided to walk some of the trails in beautiful Grandois. I was not disappointed, but the close encounter wit hthe bear could have been left for another day :).

The weekend continued with beautiful breakfasts, each family working together to serve up and prepare the meals and easing the burden. There were children’s games, face painting, bingo and lots of music. I thoroughly enjoyed my big turkey dinner and an afternoon of local talent.

It’s the little things that truly matter, this Come Home Year focused on community, on family, on this special place. There was a unique place mat design for each day, detailing when picking up the cutlery, themed banners and the amazing photo print quilt of all the old family homesteads, school, church, fish plant and community spaces. The expressions on people’s faces, especially the children, the people who stepped us as volunteers to make everything run so smoothly and of course the exceptional music that lasted long into the nights.

The community conversations, the memories and connections made will last a lifetime. They will be told both in Grandois and around the world. This may be the first Come Home Year for Grandois, but surely it will not be the last. This is a remarkable story, a remarkable strength found in a small community of 19 at the end of a gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula. I always say big things happen in small communities and this weekend was just that!

No matter where we go, we never forget where we came from, one fact is unchanged: There’s No Place Like Home

Live Rural NL –

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

Exciting Times Stem from Eddie’s Cove East Come Home Year

 

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Eddies Cove East is a tiny community on the Great Northern Peninsula. It has 33 dwellings and about 70 residents that call this place home on a permanent basis. As a fishing community, it has seen recent upgrades to their wharf facility through the small craft harbours program. Additionally, it was announced just weeks ago that this community will see telecommunication advancements with the install of broadband Internet from Bell Aliant. These enhancements will help maintain the community that is nestled just 20 minutes from Flower’s Cove, the regions local service centre, 45 minutes from St. Anthony and about 15 minutes from the St. Anthony airport. 

This summer there was an incredible undertaking by a small number of dedicated community leaders to host the first ever Come Home Year. After close to two years of planning, fundraising, expanding their building and organizing for the event, the celebration kicked off from August 13-17th, 2014. Close to 200 people had registered, ballooning the population by 300%.

It was a pleasure to watch the parade as families strutted behind the banner of their family names. The opening ceremonies consisted of greetings from local resident and former educator, Mr. Gerald Coates (he taught me Grade 6); Olga Walsh, Committee Chairperson & myself, as area MHA. The cake cutting included two of the oldest residents, Walt Williams and Blanche Coates.  Following all the formalities there was food for everyone to enjoy and an evening of dance. The schedule included games, teddy bear picnics, cards, bingo, dances, dinners, visits from Santa, memorial services, fire works and more. As well, the weather could not have been better throughout the week.

Community really comes together with the planning and hosting of such an event and a big thank you must go out to the committee as they dedicated countless hours to make it all possible. As well, kudos to all who returned to your hometown and others who have/had a connection to the community. Your support has help create a unique experience, share memories and stories with old friends, but to also make new memories. 

There is incredible social and economic value that stem from Come Home Year Celebrations. Since 2011, Sandy Cove, Shoal Cove East, Great Brehat & Englee (2011), St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Gunner’s Cove, Main Brook, Anchor Point & Deadman’s Cove (2012), Roddickton, Conche & Savage Cove (2013), Eddies Cove East (2014) have hosted Come Home Year Celebrations in The Straits-White Bay North. Flower’s Cove and Nameless Cove may have gotten things started in 1999, and many others have since follow with more planned.

In 2015:

  • St. Anthony
  • St. Anthony Bight
  • L’Anse aux Meadows, Straitsview, Hay Cove, Noddy Bay & Quirpon
  • Grandois-St. Julien’s

In 2016:

  • Green Island Cove & Pine’s Cove
  • Bear Cove
  • Croque

There were exciting times in Eddies Cove East this summer. Take pride in your community and like their slogan “Home is a Dream in 2014”. 

Live Rural NL – 

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

 

 

Mussel Festival Growing Exponentially in St. Lunaire-Griquet!

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The St. Lunaire-Griquet Mussel Festival was founded at the grassroots last year, as a hardworking committee wanted to give back to their community and celebrate with music, locally grown mussels and lots of activities. It was a pleasure to be in attendance and walk the grounds on Friday. 

I was impressed by the extremely professional set-up of the bandstand, grounds, picnic tables, kiosks, ticket booth, signage, banners and washroom facilities. The organizing committee had improved upon last years start to host a first class festival. Everything was perfect, right down to the bountiful sunshine. 

Opening ceremonies included all you can eat delicious SABRI mussels boiled in saltwater, lassy bread and hotdogs. There was a cake cutting, speeches and bountiful local entertainment. Youth had set up business and so had a number of local retailers and craftspeople. The nights brought lots of dancing and conversations, when mornings included Teddy Bear picnics, rummage sales, tea parties, punt races and a host of other activities. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy! Today is an outdoor Gospel Concert at 2 PM. 

Communities grow and succeed when the local people support the ideas, business and development initiatives. This is something that does have that local buy-in. The committee circulated a schedule to all residents via direct mail. In future years, some signage on both sides of Route 436 and a sandwich board of what events are taking place may also help drive visitor traffic. As the festival continues to add new events and activities we will hope to see more exponential growth from those visiting our tourism region of L’Anse aux Meadows, St. Anthony and surrounding areas. 

A big thank you to the hard working and dedicated volunteers who have made big things possible in small towns. Mark your calendars for next years festivities! It was indeed, so much fun!

Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA
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