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Georgia Love! – Post 600

Live Rural NL Blog has now reached 600 posts and more than 795,000 views! I primarily write about the Great Northern Peninsula, but for this post I opted to share a recent travel experience of a rural Newfoundlander:

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During Easter holiday I travelled to Georgia, which is at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe and nestled just south of the Russian border. This was one of the most memorable trips taken, imagine to leave Canada on holiday to go to a mountain country that had lots of snow. I even stopped to visit the Town of SNO! IMG_20150407_094941

Georgia offered the perfect mix of natural beauty, historic charm with traditional food and culture to compliment their ever expanding tourism industry. However, you would just have to go there to truly experience it.

I flew in Tbilisi and toured the capital for a day, while waiting for clearance that the road would be open. Apparently, there was lots of snow on the mountain roads and crews were working hard to ensure it would be clear to allow travel, however, with the Easter holiday no one could give assurance that it would be open for travel. I would have been deeply disappointed if I had not gotten to Kazbegi, which borders south of Russia.

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Tbilisi has a cobblestoned old town which has markings of Persian and Russian rule. The architecture is quite diverse when taking the cable car to the top of the hill as you can see all the surroundings. One will pass Orthodox churches, art nouveau buildings with ornate balconies, a reconstructed 4th-century citadel and the iconic statue of Mother Georgia to name a few.

It was remarkable to visit the museums, galleries and visit the small shops as local entrepreneurs sold their wares – carpets, honey and local fruit and nut treats were commonplace. It was a treat to sample some of the homemade cheeses and talk with owners. Georgia was a peaceful place to travel, as no one tried to get you to buy their product or lure you into their shop. It was an extremely welcoming place to truly experience and enjoy. The city boasted some impressive architecture, only enhanced from aerial views which included the bridge of peace. Many of the churches were filled with local people as they celebrated their Easter holiday.

Since the roads had taken longer to open than expected, the option to visit neighbouring churches and monstaries were added to the vacation including the Mtskheta from Church of Jvari. One could see candles being lit, prayers sent and artwork on display. There were livestock, beautiful views and wares to be purchased in the adjacent town.

After dinner, clearance was given to travel to Kazbegi. This meant no mini-bus option and that a driver had to be hired but the cost of a 4 hour drive was not much more than a taxi from Toronto airport to a downtown hotel. Arriving to a moonlit view of the mountains was just too perfect! IMG_20150407_061103

After a nice breakfast, mountain hiking to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits below 16,500-foot Mt. Kazbek in the Caucasus Mountains of Kazbegi was in order. The 14th-century monastery, at 7,100 feet, was the goal. The 1,400-foot climb provided unforgettable experience as at the Church, it provided a true snapshot of rural Georgian life. Hours of hiking and a little sunburn was certainly worth it!

If you need a place of the ultimate rest and relaxation, than Kazbegi is that perfect rural town that offers horseback riding in the mountains, delicious foods and local authentic encounters.

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After a swim, reading and adoring the mountains, this special place offered an easy place to rest. An early morning would mean a visit to a partially frozen waterfall where I brought my Downhome Magazine, more monasteries, Sno village and of course road closures while the snow was cleared on the mountain roads. Delays were no bother, as this holiday was just perfect. Georgia well exceeded my travel expectations and I do hope to return in the future to this amazing place.

One of the best moments, was the stop at this viewing area, the art, the view and memories…it all came full circle.

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Georgia Love!

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)

Fabulous Fall of 2014: September to December – Happy New Year (Part III)

I continue to scan back through a collection of thousands and thousands of photos I took throughout 2014 and realize it was a very full year. Although, without a little luck, this would not be possible given in September my laptop of 3.5 years decided to call it quits. The ACER certainly did its duty, given I purchased it with a printer for $350. I was able to temporary restore it until I packed up the data on an external hard drive, more than 40,000 photos saved :).

September when the students return to school brings lots of activity. I started September in the Gros Morne area to enjoy a nice Labour Day weekend. It was filled with music, pleasant surroundings, good food and good company. One couldn’t ask for much more than that. I returned to the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula to spend some time at St. Anthony Hospital, Grenfell Handicrafts, exploring Fishing Point, wildberry tasting at Dark Tickle and getting my java fill at Coffee in the Cove. I returned to St. John’s for meetings and to also participate with the the Mayor of Main Brook and Research and Development Corporation Member for the wharf divestiture, which saw $675,000 and ownership of this asset be given to the corporation.

There were new fire trucks and fire gear, more road work and many constituency tours, from the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve to Englee to St. Anthony and all places in between.

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One other highlight that stands out for me, is my participation in the 1st Roddickton-Bide Arm Run/Walk. As a cross-country runner in high school, I decided to run the 5 KM race. It was a little more difficult that I imagined, but I made it in the end to place 6th overall and 1st in the male over 20. I think it gave me a realization how important physical fitness is in our daily lives, whether walking or running we should all strive to do more. Since it is a new year, I plan to lace up the new running shoes my sister gave me for Christmas. She must be confident I’ll need them, because she gave me two pairs!

October is always a favourite month of mine, it is my birthday, my sister’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Small Business Week and a host of other activities are well underway. I spent time during the month connecting with our fishery, health care and hosted a series of seniors forums. I saw new infrastructure develop in terms of a highway depot on the Northern Peninsula East, a watershed for Roddickton-Bide Arm, more roads got paved and redevelopments continued at Curtis Memorial. I engaged in conversation with Author Earl Pilgrim about this new book Josephine, which I just completed a couple of days ago. There were flat tires, volleyball tournaments, Municipalities NL conferences, firefighter appreciation dinners, Big Bike Rides, town hall meetings, Season Finales and tourism sessions. There were also receptions and campaign launches, three by-elections were looming. It provided an opportunity to visit Winterton, Whiteway, Bay de Verde and Conception Bay South.

There were haunted houses to tour at Flower’s Cove Youth Centre, church services with friends and family in St. Lunaire-Griquet. As well a major 50th celebration for the St. Anthony and Area Lions Club and for the first time Canon Richards hosted the Provincial Student Leadership Conference. All this happened, as I turned 29! I have never had more than 300 people sing me happy birthday before – thank you. It was an amazing week and I thoroughly enjoyed being a local tour guide. Also in October, I found time to make my very own glass art product at Glacier Glass in Englee and received a copy of Dale Jarvis’ book “Any Mummer’s ‘lowed in?”, which has a number of my photos and lines from an interview I did with him in January. It certainly was another highlight to have the Great Northern Peninsula included in part of this work!

Halloween was a wonderful holiday, as I handed our Steve Crocker Scaries and met lots of people. I toured the Town of Dildo and handed out treats in Paradise before the month came to a close.

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November came with the gift of giving. I made the trek to Bay Roberts, as the Bay Robert’s Fire Department had donated two suits and a third jacket to the St. Lunaire-Griquet Fire Department. I was also given a wonderful tour of the town by Councillor and Mayor about their business park development planning, their tourism attractions, businesses, subdivisions and infrastructure. I was greatly impressed by this community and their spirit of giving. Thank you!

There was also more time visiting people at the door steps as the by-election in CBS came to a close and resulted in the election of our member, Rex Hillier to the team. I also attended the two-day NL Forum hosted by the Harris Centre. It is where I met Gerald Anderson, native of L’Anse aux Meadows who will be honoured with the Indspire Award, early in the new year. I attended remembrance day ceremonies in St. Lunaire-Griquet and in St. Anthony, as well the annual hockey tournament, Salvation Army dinner. The Mayflower Inn celebrated a milestone of 40 years in business. I spent time door knocking in Trinity-Bay de Verde and Humber East, which ultimately saw the election of MHA’s Steve Crocker and Stelman Flynn. There was also a Night with Dwight fundraiser, talks with craft producers with MHA Paul Lane at the Arts and Culture Centre and much happening in the House of Assembly.

I picked up my completed glass art poinsettia and coasters, visited residents at Richfell Place and closed off November by attending the Regional Community Youth Centre, Flowers Cove where I tied a ribbon for those who serve at the annual tree lighting.

December seems like only yesterday. I met Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl Liberal Candidate and former host of CTV’s Canada AM Seamus O’Regan, Miss Teen NL Alaina Joe, fundraisers in Mount Pearl and helped with the Community Food Sharing Association and their food drive efforts. IMG_20141204_153139_edit

I visited the Mummer’s Festival Seminar by Dale Jarvis at the Rooms. As well, there were more firefighter appreciation dinners, firefighter schools and even ticket draws for Search and Rescue. I saw more caribou, laid a wreath at the cemetery to remember fallen soldiers, decorated my Christmas tree, rigged up the Christmas lights, put together a gingerbread house and wrapped presents. There was also parade, after parade, after parade. I was able to attend St. Anthony, Flower’s Cove, Conche, Main Brook, Roddickton, Bide Arm, Savage Cove and Anchor Point. I would have also taken in St. Lunaire-Griquet and Englee but their postponements made it impossible. Scheduling conflicted with my ability to attend L’Anse aux Meadows-Straitsview-Hay Cove and Noddy Bay’s parade. I also took in the visit from Santa at Green Island Cove. Visits were made with all the residents of Shirley’s Haven, Roddickton House and Ivy Durley Place. We took in the St. Anthony Hospital Tree Lighting, St. Lunaire-Griquet Tree Lighting, as well the grand opening of a reading room at Truman Eddison Memorial. There were visits to schools and celebrations for our Christmas card winners and their classes with more than 150 submissions there were 10 winners and visits to the Girl Guides, White Hills Academy, Truman Eddison Memorial, Mary Simms All-Grade, Cloud River Academy, HG Fillier and Canon RIchards.

Lion’s Members and Authors were recognized, there were visits to St. Anthony Bight, Raleigh and many communities in between. I attended the swearing-in of two more colleagues at Government House, attended a health care forum in St. Anthony and conducted the people’s work in the House of Assembly.

Residents of Pine’s Cove and Eddies Cove East are quite happy with the option now of high-speed Internet. All indications are more is to come in the very near future. Let’s keep working together to find solutions to advance our transportation and telecommunication needs in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. It will lead to a stronger economy and stronger communities.

It has been a very busy year, with many successes along the way. A few posts could not capture all the conversations or happenings on the Great Northern Peninsula. It does give one a glimpse of rural living and how busy were are as small communities, ensuring we do our part for a brighter tomorrow.

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I had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends. I finished Earl Pilgrim’s book Josephine and Michael Crummey’s Sweetland. As well, we celebrated our 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk in Sandy Cove! There was lots of feasting, music and happy times. Before the year closed though, I did catch a cold as I usually do. So I’ve been recovering and look forward to starting 2015 just like I did in 2014 with lots of hope and a plan for hard work!

I’ll do my best to keep you informed and keep my blog updated. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is alive! Full of culture, tradition and the Great Northern Peninsula is truly a place you will want to experience.

Happy New Year,

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

Rural Reflection of Summer – July & August 2014: Happy New Year (Part II)

A lot can happen in a year and 2014 was filled with adventure, travels, issues and accomplishments for this rural Newfoundlander & Labradorian.

Part II:

July begins with a wreath laying to remember those fallen Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, as well is a celebration of Canada’s birthday. This year, I spent the festivities parading around the Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm and also the events at Town of Main Brook. Each evening my family members both Mitchelmore’s and Way’s are invited to converge for a relatively new tradition of a bbq in the shed and fireworks! It is always fun to spend time with my family, they are a whole lot of fun to be around!

July is also the Annual Grenfell Heritage Days in St. Anthony, it is always a great fundraiser for much needed hospital equipment. I also view greenhouses, gardens, lumberyards and icebergs. I went cod jigging and enjoy a kitchen party in the gear shed at Green Island Cove. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the community come together for a random summer occurrence like that night. There must have been 100 plus people having a scuff, playing an instrument or having a yarn. You never know what unique experience may just pop up in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Tourism was in full-swing giving me the opportunity to visit Raleigh, Ship Cove, St. Lunaire-Griquet and L’Anse aux Meadows for some of the Peninsula’s finest attractions, foods and unique landscapes. There is no place like the Sortie Tearoom and its company. This place does the mind, heart and soul a world of good. Thank you Mark and Linda for being so very wonderful.

July came with the planning of a 50th Wedding Anniversary Party for my grandparents, a slideshow which must have taken 50 or more hours to produce and a family reunion. More than 150 Way Family Members converged for an unforgettable weekend, 25 years since the last!

At the end of July, I flew to Ireland on Westjet’s $400 return seat sale, a place I’ve been many times and it will always be a place where there are some Irish connections. The last day of July brought another reunion with a friend I met in Prague in 2007. I stayed several days in Switzerland with him and his girlfriend. They provided me with a very authentic Swiss experience. It was truly unforgettable! My last day of July was on lake Brunnen, sailing. Oh, what fun!

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August kicked off with a brilliant fireworks display in Switzerland. I was in the country as they celebrated their national holiday. I took a boat tour to the Rutlii, the place where Switzerland was founded in 1291. There were numerous dignitaries including the President of the Swiss Parliament, in which I took some time to share conversation. Traditional Alp Horns, Clothing, Song, Food, Entertainment and Flag Displays dominated the special ceremony. My friends and I took a river cruise instead of the train to our home where more fire works would be fired off from the rooftops. My Swiss vacation also included visiting a farm, riding a mountain cable car and enjoying my friend’s 30th birthday at Lake Lucerne.

My holiday continued with a bus to Liechtenstein for some incredible R&R, and a high-speed train ride to Budapest for a magical five days to experience culture, vernacular architecture and fall in love with all my surroundings. 🙂

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I enjoyed a trek of the fjords at Western Arm Brook, the Arches Provincial Park and the opening of the Eddies Cove Come Home Year, St. Lunaire-Griquet Mussel Festival and the Goose Cove Garden Party. I toured Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade, as well, L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. There is tremendous beauty along our walking trails like the berry patches, Inukshuk or root cellars like the photos below from Goose Cove.

I visited Stephenville, Stephenville Crossing, St. George’s and other communities campaigning for now MHA Scott Reid. I ended up tenting and enjoying the sights, sounds and surroundings of the beautiful West Coast. On the 23rd my grandparents would celebrate 50 years of marriage. August also brought much municipal pavement in Conche, St. Anthony, Roddickton-Bide Arm and work in Flower’s Cove would continue throughout the Fall. A 25′ wharf extension was granted for Conche. We saw a little free library pop-up at Consumer’s Co-op in Flower’s Cove and the Burnt Cape Cafe, Raleigh. My friends arrived from Alberta and we spent the weekend in Woody Point, Trout River and Norris Point. More beauty on the West Coast.

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I’ve spent summer travelling all over The Straits-White Bay North, the West Coast, a little time in St. John’s and some European travels. It was a well-rounded time to connect, experience with people and places at the doorsteps, at business, in community and at special events. Summer is truly bustling in Newfoundland and Labrador!

Live Rural NL,

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

Another Year of Blogging for Live Rural NL – Happy 2015

The last day of December on the Great Northern Peninsula was pretty bone chilling, approaching minus 20 degrees Celsius. Life in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador is quite unpredictable, just like the weather. A few days ago, we were plus 10 degrees, at freezing and now in a deep thaw. One only has to look from their window to Labrador and see the natural phenomena of the Strait of Belle Isle freezing. Usually by February pack ice will be so thick, that people are brought back to the days of Grenfell and his adventures via dog team and the delivery of the winter mail over these temporary sheets of ice. One day we will be permanently connected to Labrador and the rest of mainland Canada.

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Our people were and are visionaries, leaders and community developers of the North. 2014 has truly proven the strength of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Here are some of my 2014 Highlights:

January brought us chilling temperatures, power outages to hundreds of thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador households and the resignation of Premier Dunderdale. We saw caribou re-appearing in the region and also the opening of the Strait of Belle Isle Health Centre in Flower’s Cove and work continuing on the Strait of Belle Isle Cable Crossing in Shoal Cove East.

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February was full of farewells, new beginnings and family vacation, more snow and of yes, time at the hockey rink. A legacy had ended as we wished Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Mary O’Keefe well in their retirements after dedicated decades of their lives to the people of the North. On February 4th, I made an official political announcement that I had joined Dwight Ball and the Liberal Team after sitting months as an Independent Member of the House of Assembly. It was the first time in a very long-time that my mother, sister and I had a family vacation. It was a wonderful time to celebrate Mom’s birthday and explore the sunny south and Caribbean seas, only to return to mountains of snow.

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March renewed my support for the seal hunt, as I attended the 100th Anniversary of the Great Sealing Disaster. I continue to wear my seal skin boots during the winter months. A lot of causes get much attention in March on the Great Northern Peninsula, from local Lion’s Club carnivals, St. Anthony’s Winterfest, Randy Simms was Guest Speaker at the Chamber AGM, 10th Annual Ride to Support Breast Cancer Research, Sandy Cove Janeway Ride, Roddickton-Bide Arm boasted snowmobile races and of course, there were by-election races. I was joined by MHA Lisa Dempster to tour the District and talk about common issues pertaining to delivery of health care. Additionally, frigid temperatures brought water woes and led to increased pot holes on some of our roadways. Thankfully, summer would bring much blacktop and repairs.

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April was filled with Easter Hockey Tournaments from St. Barbe, St. Anthony, Placentia,St. John’s and Torbay! It also was the month Cathy Bennett was elected as MHA for Virginia Waters. It was also the month when Route 430 the Viking Trail had collapsed, cutting off traffic for a number of hours while emergency repairs were conducted. There were sustainable fishery forums and many constituency visits. Official Opposition Dwight Ball came and visited the College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus, toured Curtis Memorial Hospital and delivered an address at the Chamber of Commerce. There were charter nights, church concerts, election of Legionnaires, new loader for Main Brook, century old business in Englee changed ownership and a tapestry was created to commemorate the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.

May on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is filled with weekly high school graduations, tournaments, annual general meetings, fundraisers and a flurry of activity relating to fish processing and production, wildlife and an abundance of tourism. I also got to do a taping with Snook Ol’ Man, served up treats at McHappy Day, judged Heritage Fair projects and sampled traceable seafood with MHA Sam Slade!

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June brought lots of icebergs to the Great Northern Peninsula, lots could be seen in the Straits, St. Carol’s, Great Brehat, St. Anthony, Goose Cove, Croque, St. Julien’s, Conche, Englee and elsewhere. The Iceberg Festival continued to thrive with iceberg sculptures, painting, iceberg hunters, tastings, the Wonderbolt Circus and more! I met up with the former Member for the District and past Lieutenant-Governor Ed Roberts, attended the Annual Reviews for Sea Cadets and Air Cadets. A successful campaign saw 1550 Liberal supporters vote in four hours during the candidacy nomination, selecting myself as the candidate in the next general election. This was more votes than I received in the 2011 General Election.

There were culinary adventures, encounters with new authors, coffee shop visits and Radio Quirpon. One year childcare centre anniversaries and 20 years for another! Fires, friendships, golden sunsets and the wonderful legacy for Wes Eddison in the completion of his old-fashioned motorboat (may you Rest In Peace dear friend).

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I’ll continue with the second half of 2014 highlights in a future posts, from Family Reunions, 50th Anniversaries, European travels, fishing, by-elections, broadband and so much more. There is lots happening on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Come for adventure, hospitality and fall in love – you’ll want to stay awhile.

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Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North

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