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Old-Fashioned Time in the School House Tonight

The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year injected a lot of life into all five of these communities as the population likely tripled from a combined 250 to well over 700 throughout the week. The planning of Come Home Year led to a group of community-minded people in Quirpon (population of 70) to step up, fundraise to save their community hall, and save it they did. IMG_20150731_181916

A big card game was held on Tuesday night, but one of the most talked about events was the old-fashioned time at the former school house. For some it was returning to a place of their younger days when people from all over would flock to Quirpon for a meal, a dance and a chance to meet a pretty girl to share a kiss or two.

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Several hundred attended the event with 250 bowls of soup served. There were games, grabs and good conversations as the old school house was bursting at the seems. It was my first time and I was impressed by the set-up. I heard my grandmother and others talk about the old-fashioned times and how they would pay 10 cents for their meal and look forward to the music and square dancing. The games presented the opportunity to win a sack of potatoes pending the dart score, a log of bologna was up for grabs at the bean bang toss, and kids were trying their hand at balloon darts. For a coin, you could buy a wrapped up present called a “grab”. These were certainly popular and did not last long. There were raffles, line sales and guess cakes. There was some fun to be had by all. Especially when Quirpon local Wayne Bartlett stepped in and sang his song “Old Fashioned-Time in the School House tonight”. I got to talk with Bill and Mabel Bartlett, who told me there was fine crowd on, it may not be the biggest in the history but certainly the most people Quirpon has seen in years!

Community thrives when people get together and support a cause. Quirpon residents and those with a connection to this place should be proud of the initiative taken by the Save our Hall Committee. All your contributions and support is to be commended and celebrated. I hear the time last well past one and that maybe this may become an annual event. I certainly hope this continues!

Also, former Quirpon resident Marilyn (Bartlett) Earle who was part of the committee shared her talent by painting the old school house. If you would like a print that captures childhood memories for you or that connection to home, she has them for sale for $20. You can reach her at +1-709-623-2069.

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This may be the first old-fashioned time in the school house in years, but let’s hope it is not the last.

Live Rural NL –

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

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

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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.

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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
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