Blog Archives

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.

IMG_20150717_125711

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.

IMG_20150717_133724

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!

IMG_20150717_183347

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)

Advertisements

Some size….SABRI Mussels are just divine!

IMG_20150728_192739

St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI), is a social enterprise formed in 1997 to benefit the residents from Big Brook to Goose Cove East. Their impact has been tremendous, with $15.9M+ invested in infrastructure, hundreds of jobs created and significant community and economic spin-off for the region.

One of their initiatives is a mussel farm that began in 2002 and expanded to three commercial sites in 2004. They employ three seasonal workers and a student at their farm and primary processing plant at St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove.

Fresh mussels are available for purchase from June to September at Hedderson’s Store, St. Lunaire-Griquet; Burden’s General Store, St. Lunaire-Griquet; Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Anthony; Foodland, St. Anthony. These mussels also find their way on menus at many local restaurants. There is further opportunity to tell the story of our locally grown, locally sourced seafood on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

The mussels are excellent quality and it’s evident from a purchase yesterday that they maintain an exceptional meat yield. I encourage you to buy your mussels locally at any of the above locations, 10 lbs are just $15.00. I enjoyed a bag last night and they were some size!

The night prior, the Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon (NSHLQ) Come Home Year Opening Ceremonies hosted a mussel boil, which served up SABRI mussels.

This economic initiative has also led to Town of St. Lunaire-Griquet to establish an Annual Mussel Festival, which is coming up on August 6-9th. Join us for an amazing opening ceremonies at 8 PM, serving up SABRI’s own mussels.

The economic impact of what a mussel farm does to create and support regional employment, business and special events is quite significant. I only hope more of these types of initiatives can lead to more success for local residents, local business, local municipalities and those who visit our region. Let’s keep buying local, it has so many positive impacts in our communities.

If you have any questions or comments concerning our Mussel Farms please contact SABRI’s Alicia Shears at ashears@nf.aibn.com or call the SABRI office at 454-3484.

Enjoy a fine feed of locally grown and locally sourced mussels when you visit the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

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

Population of Grandois will hit high-water mark in mid-July!

IMG_20150130_121734

Most people will never experience the serene beauty of Grandois. It can be found at the end of almost 30 kilometres of gravel road on Route 438. On my visit yesterday, most residents brought up the “winter pavement” they now have given the snow has settled and the road solidly frozen. It was evident that Transportation & Works was working hard to maintain this winding road and from my observation doing an incredible job!

This place is part of the French Shore with a strong connection to the migratory fishery and even current residents have connections to the Grey and Fishot Islands. There are many stories to be heard over a cup of tea or coffee, which will be offered at every homestead, because of the incredible generosity and hospitality of the livyers, to this very day!

Grandois has an historical church with an altar carved from a pocket knife in the early nineteen hundreds, it is certainly a place you will want to visit while in the community. The French connection is ever present with a bread oven at the end of a walking trail. There are rocks remaining in the location where the French dried their fish and a trail leads to rings in the cliff where the French tied up their boats.

DSC_0582

The community is only a fraction of what it was based on the 2011 census, with more lights out as residents move on or sadly pass away. It is difficult to tally and realize vacant properties out number those with permanent residents. It is quite clear many of our rural communities are struggling to cope with an aging population and trying to maintain a strong vibrant community.

I was very happy to be in Grandois – the residents are passionate about the place they call home. It is evident from the photos and views, who wouldn’t fall in love with this special place? There is activity in the works as a Come Home Year Celebration in July will bring people home in droves. A recent project supported employment and saw additions to the Community Hall. I was told at the last Come Home Year, people congregated and filled the Hall well past capacity and even ended up to the roadside.

These are the stories I love hearing, about all the activity, community interactions, the fishery as the boats leave the harbour, the mystery of the re-settled French Islands and the quest for the copper cod. There is hope for this community, since its depletion of its people after the 1992 cod moratorium as there was a mineral find near the community, as well a former marble mine sits idle. As time passes, and with the right investment we could see a small place like Grandois boom with economic activity.

Legend says, “there’s gold in them hills”

I look forward to more stories and celebrating the strength of community in July as the population hits the high-water mark for 2015. Bring on the accordion music and song…

Live Rural NL –

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

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

 

IMG_20140814_184309

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

 

 

Community Kitchen Party Thrives on Tradition – Green Island Cove, NL

IMG_20140711_214025

Our rural communities will thrive with active participation of residents. We saw significant success on July 11, 2014 with the first ever promoted community kitchen party to be hosted at Green Island Cove wharf. The event ended up being held at the neighbouring fishers’ gear shed and drew throughout the evening upwards of 200 people from under eight to nearly eighty years of age. It was truly a gathering to celebrate community, tradition and enjoy each other’s company at one of the busiest times of year.

Music brings people together and we are blessed to have local people willing to share their talents. Guitars, accordions, ugly sticks, brooms, spoons and kajoons paired with a vocals of Clara and Loomis made for an incredible night where tradition thrived. I’ve always heard my grandparents talk about the old-fashioned time and this is likely the closest I’ll get to experiencing those community celebrations of food, song and dance. With fishing nets as the backdrop, songbooks distributed, the waltz, two-step and jigs began to play and the old wooden floor of the gear shed got some action.

There was a little magic in the room that evening as we all embraced our small fishing community way of living, as those who came before us would always take time throughout summer to have a time. Even the little kids were eager to learn the dance moves. A tumble or two would not deter them.

A group of men and women also treated us to a good old-fashioned square dance. This dance was once commonplace and now only a handful know all the moves. When these dancers took the floor, all eyes were on them. A couple of brave souls joined in with the group and learned the steps as they went. I believe everyone else wish they knew the moves, so they too could take to the floor.

It has become quite clear that the success of our rural communities is about how we interact with the space we have in our everyday lives. I think ensuring that a gear shed or a wharf can also be the gathering place as they were pre-moratorium of 1992 is vital to maintaining and sustaining our outport communities.

I must commend the leadership of Dr. Kathleen Blanchard, President and Founder of Intervale. This organization produces programs and services in the fields of conservation, heritage interpretation, and sustainable development. Her interest in sustainable fisheries and community economic development was the driving force to documenting and organizing with fishers Loomis and Brenda such a tremendous event, which can be shared with others.

IMG_20140625_223403

The success of the evening has already sparked talks to host another, possibly make this an annual event like the Conche and Goose Cove Garden Parties. The evening also stimulated discussion of hosting another Come Home Year in 2016 – one for Green Island Cove and Pine’s Cove. The dates have been set, so mark your calendars – August 15-21st, 2016 because home is where you will want to be. Please join us!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA
%d bloggers like this: