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Craft Producers on Great Northern Peninsula Share Experiences

The Great Northern Peninsula has a number of craft producers that are hobbyists, part-time or engaged in the business earning a living full-time. There is significant opportunity to start and even grow markets in this sector. I recently attended a workshop at 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre, Bird Cove to learn more and provide my own feedback.

I was impressed by the array and diversity of craft producers at the session, ranging from two Youth Ventures participant presentations including Sami’s Cakes and Jasmine’s Nail Designs. Coordinator Sidney Coombs was on hand to talk about the businesses and willing to assist others throughout summer, providing support and advice.

The Western Newfoundlandd & Labrador Developer’s Coop has an exciting idea of an on-line marketplace and also does website development. This offering will help producers have access to a space for market and entry into the on-line or digital world. These are gaps that prevent many from reaching their full market or price potential.

Pricing was discussed by Craft Market Development specialist Brenda Stratton. Members of the CBDC Nortip team was also available as they hosted the session to provide business advice, counselling or financial support.

Woodworking & chain maille jewelry (Robin Gosse), photography (Frank Walters), painting (George Bussey), musical & literary art (Sabrina Whyatt), quilting (Ann Cunard), snowshoe making & traditional crafts (George Elliott) & Mummers (Sheila Short) were just a sampling of what was on display throughout the afternoon.

The session highlighted use of PowerPoint, Skype for virtual meeting, demonstrations and public discussion. There was a lot of engagement and interest in the room. More sessions should be held to encourage more local artists and craft producers to become involved, network and find ways to get their product into the hands of more and more customers.

It was exciting to see involvement from 9 to 90. For Mr. Elliott, he extended the offer to teach others his knowledge of making traditional snowshoes. I hope someone takes him up on that offer. I remember buying some of his pieces when I owned and operated Flower’s Island Museum back in 2002. I hang one of his killicks on my Christmas tree each year.

Talking with craft producers on the Great Northern Peninsula as they share their experiences is one of the unique and authentic encounters when visiting.

Live Rural NL –

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

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Art, Craft & Culture Thrives on the Great Northern Peninsula

A craft fair in St. Anthony yesterday, hosted by the St. Anthony Come Home Year Committee attracted artisans and craft producers from all across the Great Northern Peninsula. More than two dozen tables were filled with such a diverse array of product, it reinvigorated my belief that we could have a thriving craft industry, artisan studios like the Quidi Vidi Plantation of St. John’s or those on Fogo Island.

The Grenfell Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Historic Properties is the perfect anchor, with 8,000 visitors annually, they would be the ideal location to purchase from these local craftspeople and artists. Their Brown Cottage at the corner of their parking lot can be converted into a multitude of artist studios, just like mentioned above to provide space and an outlet for these craftspeople to grow, produce and share knowledge with each other.

One of the last tables I visited was Lott and Christina’s Driftwood Creations. I was just taken away by each unique piece of art. Christina was very passionate about her creations, telling me that the wood was collected on family outings combing the beach, some of it close to where I live. The story and connection added to the beauty of the one of a kind art. I also loved the professional tagging and a focus on Made in Newfoundland, highlighting St. Anthony on the map. These are the types of things that certainly add value to the buyer. I’m quite proud of this piece, “Some Day on Clothes” and will proudly hang it for many to gaze at something quintessentially “Rural Newfoundland & Labrador”.

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Driftwood Creations has their own Facebook Page offering unique Handcrafted Home Decor made from driftwood found on beaches of Newfoundland. They also make pine furniture made with a rustic country style. They can be reached at 454-3402.

Loving Stuff is handcrafted by Heber and Loretta Hussy of St. Anthony. I was fortunate enough to purchase her product before at the 2012 St. Anthony Come Home Year craft fair. There I got myself the last four remaining mummers, this year I manage to get several more to add to my collection and some on my Christmas list may be also receive one as well!

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After 5 years of co-founding and organizing the Mummer’s Walk in the Straits on the Great Northern Peninsula, people know I love mummers and the concept of what mummering or jannying as we use to call it means to those who grew up in outport or rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I love how Loretta and Heber capture them in such a traditional way! Her product is also tagged professionally and has a story explaining what mummering is all about. I could not resist purchasing the pair of child’s hide slippers. Lot’s of my friends seem to be having babies these days! You can reach Loving Stuff at 454-3513.

Shirley and Doug Mills are quite the team in their craft production, which was exhibited at yesterday’s fair when those who wanted ornaments with their names on them, Shirley called on Doug to handle that task. The array of product Shirley makes is phenomenal, which seal skin has taken a focus.

She makes guitar straps, strap purses, coin purses, boot cuffs, slippers, mittens, earrings, bracelets and now mummers and Christmas ornaments, which I think are totally brilliant.

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Her jewelry and some of these items can be found at the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe, St. Anthony. I can’t wait to hang these incredibly ornaments on my Christmas tree :).

There are so many artisans and craft production on display, from handmade quilts, Minion slippers, Bruce Pilgrim’s Prints, framed Art, Frank Walter’s magnets & prints, Colleen Loder’s iceberg art and ugly sticks, carvings, Carol Roberts’ hand painted rocks, felting and ornaments, original paintings, face painting, knitting items, baked beans, homemade pies and so much more.

It is evident art, craft and culture thrives on the Great Northern Peninsula! I encourage you to support out local artists and craft producers. I want to thank the St. Anthony Come Home Year committee for organizing and providing a venue for these local craft producers and artists an outlet to sell their product and services. We need more space and opportunities throughout the year. Let’s keep making big things happen in small communities!

Live Rural NL –

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

Canada Bay Quilters launched on Great Northern Peninsula

Quilting has been something my grandmother has done for decades. She has passed on this tradition to her eldest daughter but certainly more people could learn this skill. Every night, I enjoy turning in under the handmade quilt that my aunt or grandma made for me. There is something special about things that are handmade, the care and the extra bit of love put into seeing them complete.

On the Great Northern Peninsula there are a number of quilting guilds. Canada Bay Quilters is a new opportuny for those of all ages and all levels of experience to learn the art of foundation paper piecing from beginner to advance.

Joan Penney-Flynn has 40 years of experience and is available to teach others for a fee of $50. After a class, you should have a completed project. Information is listed below, if interest in such workshops.

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The Great Northern Peninsula has a long history of making things by hand. Our ancestors who came from England and other parts of Europe brought these handmade traditions and skills with them. Some of these skills were commercialized under the leadership of Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell as he created an industrial division that focused on handicrafts and textile products. One of the products made was the hooked rug, which are still practiced and available for sale at Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony as women in the region still make new and traditional rugs.

In Englee, there is a rug hooking exhibition that is open 9-5 on Monday to Friday at the Town Hall. They are also home to Glacier Glass, glass art studio and gift shop as well a space where quilting can take place.

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The Great Northern Peninsula is embracing all things handmade and your destination to experience these types of learning vacations, workshops or purchase handmade products.

Live Rural NL –

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

Quidi Vidi Village is Representative of Outport Living

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The Quidi Vidi Village of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador is not found on the Great Northern Peninsula but is part of the fabric that quintessentially exudes rural living.

As I strolled through the Quidi Vidi Village one just falls in love with the rocky and curvy coastline, the small fishing boats, fishing rooms, stages, walking trails and the colourful houses.

If we look much closer we see a thriving small business community with the presence of Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, Quidi Vidi Brewery, Mallard Cottage, The Inn of Olde, tours and future opportunities with expressions of interest being accepted for a vacant property. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has sustained itself on producing its own goods and services, bringing new dollars into the economy from working away and supporting the local small business community.

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The Quidi Vidi Village Plantation should be replicated across the province. This concept is remarkable for supporting craftspeople at the beginning of their career. There are ten studios to visit in which unique craft product is being made before your eyes. It is a great opportunity to talk with the creator, ask questions about their process and see all the hard work and skill that has gone into making their product. This is a great incubation program when artists can renew a lease agreement with the City of St. John’s for up to three years. After three years individuals should be amply prepared to launch into the marketplace somewhere in the Province (More info: http://www.quidividivillageplantation.com/).

It was quite nice to also see some our Great Northern Peninsula’s finest wildberry jams and teas for sale at this venue via The Dark Tickle Company (http://www.darktickle.com/). Artist studios are becoming much more popular, one only has to look at the work done by the Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island (www.shorefast.org). Here’s a photo I took of one in Joe Batt’s Arm in 2012.

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Could Brown Cottage, St. Anthony supported through Grenfell Handicrafts be the next location for an artisan incubator? Englee with their mat hooking and glass art studio? Conche with their tapestry? As you can see we on the Great Northern Peninsula have ample opportunity as we have an abundance of local crafters and could attract new artisans to the area.

Craft breweries are growing in popularity, especially in tourist towns of Jasper, Banff and Granville Island. Quidi Vidi certainly makes a great location. One can visit for a tour and tastings on the hour until 4 PM. They are most notably famous for their Iceberg Beer in the beautiful blue bottles. They produce “Eric’s Cream Ale, formerly branded as “Eric the Red”, which has a connection to Leif Erikson, the first European to re-discover North America at L’anse aux Meadows more than 1,000 years ago.

Could venues like the former Fisherman’s Galley work as it is en route to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site? Or would a place like the Clock Shop in St. Anthony be a better venue to support local entertainment, pub, artist village, hostel and offices all under one roof? Or maybe some other combination is best to create a thriving rural business. There are opportunities in rural Newfoundland & Labrador to grow small business.

A unique character certainly is a selling point for a small business. The Inn of Olde certainly has that interesting atmosphere with mountains of items hanging all around. One that stood out was the sign “Gettin’ Married in the Fall – Fish or No Fish!” It reminded me of an Irish pub my mother and I visited in Cork during November 2010. The walls were covered in all sorts of postcards and other memorabilia.

Here’s a snap of the Irish Pub

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Skipper Hot’s Lounge in Straitsview is a venue that offers a unique atmosphere, promotes their own local band and does regular screech-ins. Kitchen parties are every Friday night during the summer. The Eagle Lounge in Sandy Cove has undergone new ownership, which may lead to changes to provide a more pub style atmosphere to cater to the local and visitor markets.

Mallard Cottage is one of the oldest wooden structures in the province. It recently undergone extensive renovations to preserve the building and create a restaurant under the ownership of Chef Todd Perrin. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this venue as it truly does provide a very unique experience. It is a great place to get lost in conversation, while enjoying some amply prepared seafood and meat dishes that were sourced locally. One will not want to leave without the carrot cake cheesecake. My two favourite desserts blended in to one, makes you always wanting more.

We have many local restaurants on the Great Northern Peninsula that work to support local hunters and source seafood locally. We must reduce barriers where possible to enable more local food to be sold closer to home.

A rural economy will only survive and thrive if we support those who have business, make, grow, produce or sell a product or service. This is basically the premise of our existence from before the days of currency existed we would have our own gardens, animals, cut wood for winter and catch our own fish. For things we needed we would use the barter system. All this provided what we needed to live our daily lives. Although rural Newfoundland & Labrador has adapted to new transportation and telecommunication opportunities, we must recognize that we still require the support of those around us in community from our small business to everyday people to truly thrive in a modern day world.

#buylocal

Live Rural NL –

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

Grenfell Handicrafts Proudly Producing for a Century!

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The Grenfell Centre, St. Anthony, NL commemorates the life and legacy of the legendary Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which the first permanent medical services throughout the region.

In addition to advancing the medical administration, headquartered in St. Anthony, the mission worked to make social changes and reduce poverty through advancing education, agriculture, textiles and industrial projects. A number of schools were built, a lumber mill was established in 1908 in Canada Bay to create year-round employment, farms developed and co-operatives created to reduce the reliance of merchants and their crippling credit-system for fishers.

To stimulate industrial development, mission workers also organized the local handicraft industry enabling residents to sell hooked mats, knitted goods and other items at North American retail outlets. People would save their silk stockings and send them to Labrador or the Great Northern Peninsula for the women to make and sell Grenfell hooked rugs. There is great pride taken in displaying the Grenfell rug which the handicraft group has been proudly producing for a century!

I’ve purchased a membership to the Grenfell Centre and encourage residents and visitors to drop by to visit the Centre and the Grenfell Handicrafts shop.

Grenfell rugs, carvings, labradorite rings, books, pendants, necklaces, paintings, prints, embroidered hand crafted items, apparel,  knitted items and a variety of other local souvenirs stock their shelves. I love dropping by to purchase locally made and handcrafted products. Some of their knitted goods went to Europe with me on my most recent vacation to give my friends a little piece of something from “the Rock”. If you are a local craft producer, you should look at having your product offered at this location. It’s so important to support and buy local products, as they have the greatest impact on the local economy.

Now 100 years later, the International Grenfell Association continues to promote the initiatives surrounding community economic development, health and education started by Grenfell and his believers that the people of the North should have access to these vital services and be masters of their own destiny. Many of the projects started are still in existence a century later, and others could stimulate new ideas and be re-visited to pursue economic opportunities for the people of the North.

The Grenfell Historical Society and Grenfell Handicrafts should be proud of their achievements. Let’s keep building for the next century!

Live Rural NL –

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