After taking a few seals in April, the first week of May had always represented a time of urgency for my father to get back on the water. After a long winter of making new traps, sometimes building a new flat bottom boat and obtaining knitted lobster heads from my grandfather, May was the true start of a busy fishing season that would last into the Fall. My father was a lobster fisher until his death in 1999.
These are modern lobster traps taken in St. Paul’s at roadside on the Great Northern Peninsula. They are unlike the wooden ones I am use to, which had concrete poured into them to give the added weight to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor. It is evident that things are rapidly changing, even in the fishery. We are losing some of our very important traditional and institutional knowledge. My father was a boat builder, he could make a lobster trap and knit a net. These are all skills, in which I did not learn.
In modern times, it appears there is competition for new technology and the continuation of our traditional ways. There is value in both.
I remember each year when lobster season opened. The now re-settled community of Barr’d Harbour would be one of the most populous places with fishers, partners, their children and helpers would be out in full force to get their lobster pots in the water as quickly as possible.
There was a real sense of urgency, creating a need for co-operation. All available hands would make for easier work, as we cut, baited and stacked dozens of traps into a truck to deliver to shoreline. Some traps were collected by steaming to islands and others were already loaded or near the shore. A real strategy was deployed by the license holder, ensuring they could work with the rising and falling tides.
I have always been impressed by the complexities of fishing and how our skilled and experienced fishers knew exactly where they dropped hundreds of traps, intermingled with other fishers scattered along the coastline over several miles.
The short time I had with my father on the water, will always be held as treasured memories. This was the place where he earned his living and provided for us, his family. He was very proud of what he did, fishing was in his blood extending many generations.
The shoreline continues to be packed with ice despite lobster season being just around the corner. There is a real sense of urgency that this ice go as quickly as possible or an intervention as in the past for an ice compensation package for those impacted. It is essential that our fishers be able to earn a living and provide for their families.
I’m looking forward to getting a feed of fresh lobster from the Great Northern Peninsula. I believe local lobster tastes better.
Live Rural NLChristopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA
My father, Clyde Mitchelmore Jr., left this world on September 17, 1999, he was just 38 years old. It is approaching 14 years since this life altering day. Now at 27, I have spent more than half my life without his guidance, the ability to learn his many talents and share with him life’s successes and failures.
Today, I reflect on his life, through photos, his journal and other memories in which I hold dear. My father was the sixth of eight children born to Clyde and Rhoda Mitchelmore of Green Island Cove. He was very young when he fell in love with my mother in the 1970’s. They shared almost 20 years of marriage before his untimely death.
My father was a teenager when my sister was born. He took his responsibilities as a father very seriously and went to college in St. Anthony to further his skills as a carpenter. He worked hard and built a home for my mother, sister and soon a son – I was to arrive in the Fall of 1985! We certainly lived modestly, but we were very happy, because we had each other.
My dad always made time for me, whether it was my little wooden boat for the yard puddles, the ‘horse’ or ‘piggie’ back rides, pulls on my sleigh that resembled a ski-doo, tailing rabbit snares in the woods, making a Dennis the Menace sling shot, homemade ring toss, wheel barrel, bow and arrow or using up most of his lumber to build me a basketball court. He also made the best snow tunnels and houses. Dad could do it all! He helped with perfecting that pirate beard for Halloween or designed the Matthew, which would undoubtedly win the bicycle decorating contest in 1997.
Dad was a small boat fishermen – he built his own flat bottom boats and took me with him cod fishing in 1999. One day off Labrador, I let the big one get away as I was a real “greenhorn” with the gaff and likely not to follow in my father’s footsteps as a fisher. However, his journal recordings show that I did pull in more than 450 lbs that day. Those days on the water were good – I hope never to forget them. From the ‘lassy bread, Big Turk Bars and other goodies in our beef bucket lunch pail, to the 4 AM wake-up calls and long days. One evening, I must have been deeply dreaming of jigging as I perched up on the sofa and started pulling on the lines, back and forth as I rocked back and forth. I must get that trait from my mother. 🙂
Now, Dad had his routine habits, which included the nap after supper daily and the nightly visits to “mother and father’s house, Tuesday night darts, plaid shirts, movies on ASN and keeping records of all the NHL hockey play-off games before the Internet was there to keep the records. His journal records show he paid attention to weather, daily events and his family. There are many mentions of how I did on a test or my report card. He also loved golf.
He even designed his own driving range on the front of the house. He likely would have kept driving those balls, but the net didn’t always catch them and he likely didn’t want to risk breaking a windshield of passing traffic as some balls bounced off the nearby Route 430 asphalt. He would have loved the Newfoundland themed golf-course I designed that my Uncle Dan & his crew built for Flower’s Island Museum in summer of 2003. One of the last journal entries he wrote in August 1999 had a line “Christopher beat me at mini-golf today, it won’t happen again” and he was right, it never did.
My father had so much talent, he could build anything – he made snowshoes and bark-tanned sealskin to make traditional seakskin boots. He even liked to sing, especially during Christmas visiting. One thing for certain, I don’t think anyone in our family of four were blessed with hitting any high notes.
I look up to my father – remember him as honest, hardworking and diplomatic. I only hope to conduct myself in a similar way of being fair to people and helping out where possible.
Before Dad left for his last journey fishing in Nain, Labrador he said to me, “you are the man of the house now, so be sure to help your mother – be sure to take out the garbage and help with the chores”. At that moment, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see him again.
As a family, we moved forward together. I want to thank all my friends and family for helping me through such difficult times and being there for me, to support me in any decision I made, whether to start a business, travel overseas or enter a political race. Life is not always easy. We all face challenges, struggles, regret and loss. Life is also about the happier times, when we celebrate a milestone, a birthday, wedding, enjoy a great vacation or learn a new skill.
On Father’s Day, take time out to spend with your father in person, over the telephone, via Skype, at a cemetery or in your memories. Family is certainly a cornerstone of our lives and society – let’s not forget this!
Thinking of you today and always Dad.
With love –Christopher Clyde Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Family is the cornerstone of our lives and society. The moment we were brought into this world we become a member of a family. A unit that unquestionably had a significant influence upon our lives. Sometimes we take for granted how important our family is to us. We often forget that they are the people who have shaped who we are, supported us when we encountered problems and shared our hopes, dreams and accomplishments.
Did you ever hear the saying, “Don’t know what you have until it’s gone? Well I can tell you it is true. I have always had a strong sense of family, but when I lost my father I appreciated family even more. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about him. I often want to tell him something exciting that has happened to me or ask for his advice on a particular matter. But I can’t because he is not there. Although, I will never forget the wonderful memories and the things he taught me, especially our times cod jigging.
After all, this is one of the things families do, right? They teach us and guide us in the right direction. They try to provide us with a sense of right and wrong. As a toddler, they teach us safety and security. As a school aged child they teach us to respect others and as a teenage they teach us to be independent. The kind of person we become is a result of the values we were given throughout the years. Reams of advice came from our parents and siblings, “Don’t sit too close to the TV“, “Eat your vegetables” and “Don’t drive to fast” are some examples that come to mind.
At times we probably felt that the advice was not good and that our family was trying to ruin our fun. Instead, ironically, they were only looking out for our best interests. Our family sets the stage and are the supporting actors that mould our character.
How often did someone say, “You look just like your mother?” or “You have your dad’s sense of humour?” Family members show us how to love and how to make good decisions. When I am faced with a problem, I think, “What would my mother do now?” Our roots shape our personality and to some extent determine what we will do in life.
Sometimes we find that life is not all sunshine and happiness. There will be times when we are faced with obstacles, challenges and even failures. These are the times when we need our family the most. A family is supposed to form a safety net when one of its members is falling. It isn’t just there to shine brightly when everything is going perfectly. Family members will have problems from time to time – mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. Drawing on love, support and strength of the family can help us weather even the toughest storms. For instance, think of the young teenage girl who gets pregnant. She is still in high school, has no money and probably not emotionally ready to become a parent. What will she do and whom will she turn to? If she has a loving and caring family, they will provide the needed supports. What about the times when we find ourselves in financial hardships. Everyone knows that post-secondary education is very expensive. Even more so, if you have to move away from your home. Probably one of the most trying times is the lost of a loved one. Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that your family will be there for you unconditionally when all else fails.
My family has shared the highlights of my life. They have watched me become academically successful – obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and receive the James Barnes Award for Academic Excellence; create my own business; internationally live, work and travel, and moreover become my own person. Family is there for all the important events and make up most of our memories. They are there to praise you for all the good things you have done and give you a pat on the back for your efforts. They are the people we want to spend the holidays with.
Family is a true gift, most likely the best one we will ever receive. Even though we all have busy schedules we should appreciate those closest to us. If you have not talked to a member of your family in a while, give them a call, drop by and visit just to let them know you are thinking of them . It will make a world of difference to your life and theirs.
The social media is no substitute for that personal touch, which was evident today at dinner. We went out to my grandmother’s house as she prepared a big traditional Sunday dinner with fresh greens. It was quite the meal with moose meat, turkey necks, peas pudding, turnip, carrot, potatoes, salt beef, molasses pudding and gravy.
We were 10 total, my cousin came with her four small children. It was nice to see so much life in the house. The kids ate in the living room with a TV tray each. Brings back memories when I was a child when there were other little cousins around and you always ate in the living room or at a small table. Now as an adult, we talked and yarned around the table as we filled our puddicks (stomachs) with grandmother’s good grub.
Usually after dinner I would rush off to get back to work, but my little cousin asked me if I would play “Go Fish” with her. I quickly agreed and so happy I did. My cousin is the eldest of four and she said that her youngest brother and sister (the twins) had to play as well, they were only 3. It was amazing to see the request to have everyone included, one could sense the strength of the family unit. We worked out a way to help the two enjoy the simple card game of “Go Fish”. We let the youngest sister start. She got 4 pairs right from the beginning and in the end, took 1st place. Myself, we I was a distance last – but certainly the one who turned out to be the big winner.
When I got up to go, the four children all gravitated to my legs and did not want me to leave. They were like bolts that kept me secured to the floor. There is no greater feeling than spending time with your family, sharing smiles and making new memories.
Today brought back so many memories of my childhood. There is something wonderful about the sense of fun and freedom as a child. They truly enjoy life’s simplest pleasures.
In today’s busy world, please take some time to spend it with those who matter most.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
Christopher Mitchelmore was elected the first New Democratic Party (NDP) member for the District of The Straits-White Bay North on October 11, 2011 in the Newfoundland & Labrador House of Assembly. He is the youngest sitting MHA in the current legislature.