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A Little Piece of Heaven Exists on Change Islands, NL

As the sun sets on the horizon, one has a feeling that a little piece of heaven exists on Change Islands, NL,

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On Saturday, May 2nd I found that little piece of heaven as I took the afternoon ferry, the MV Earl W. Windsor from Farewell to Change Islands. The return fare with a vehicle is $7.15. No doubt this 30 minute direct run, which was slowed by heavy pack ice is heavily subsidized by the Province. If you have not yet been, you are missing out on one of rural Newfoundland & Labrador’s best kept secrets.

The 12 kilomentre jaunt into Town, with a population of 160 has incredible views. The southern part of the island is uninhabited, with trees, bogs and marsh dominating the landscape. Before reaching the second island, I pulled over to take photos of clothes hanging on the line. It made me think of Deborah Gordon and her clothesline calendars. I took several dozen photos before I even reached the bridge and was forced to pull over as the views at both sides of the Tickle would not let me go further.

I stood by the boats took some snaps, after looking around, I just couldn’t contain myself and jumped up and down with joy. This place was real, this place was what is rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as the fishery dominated the landscape – the boats, the wharves, nets and the fishing sheds. I knew at that moment, I was really going to like this place.

The Burgundy Squid and Craft Shop is currently closed, as it is still early for the season. The “For Sale” sign in the window presents a unique business opportunity for the right individual. Behind this dwelling is a Knitting Economuseum and views that will take you breath away.

After passing the Seven Oakes, I made my way to the North end of the island where I would take some photos of the lovely vernacular architecture, view the 120 year old St. Margaret’s Church, pass the “Pink” house, see the shed from Harry Hibbs’ squidjiggin’ ground* and make a trek up on Squidjiggers Trail.

*Editors Note: I’ve been informed Arthur Scammell had written the squid jigging grounds and was born on Change Islands. The school is named A.R. Scammell, so it may be named after him? I could only re-call Harry Hibbs version of what is Scammell’s song. Thank you “Proud to call it home” for your comment.

Squidjigger’s Trail was not possible for me to fully navigate, given rubber boots would have been better footwear than my mesh sneakers, but I did get to the top of the hill. It was quite the look out. You could see where the birds would drop sea urchins or crabs to expose the meat. The ice views and dwellings, while the wind gently blew was nothing but awe inspiring.

Change Islands does not only the mind good, but the body as well. The food that is served is nothing but the best of Newfoundland dishes. My supper included fish n’ brewis, with a helping of scrunchions (fried pork fat). To top it all off was homemade lemon meringue pie. One could not ask for a better tasting dish or better hospitality.

Dinner table conversation led to more adventure. Another walk around the island, but as the sun was about to set. Serenity, tranquility are words that come to mind. As that last ferry sailed away for the day, you know you were just that little bit removed from the rest of the world for the night.

I was only on Change Islands for a few hours, but there was a real sense of contentment here – that I felt at home!

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to views like this?

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On Sunday morning, I had a meeting at 11:30 AM, so I made sure to get up early to trek the roads and places I had not been the day before.

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Despite the morning rain it was quite a fruitful experience, from the homes in the NL Tourism Ads, Newfoundland Ponies, trails, wood piles, root cellars, encounters with locals and more postcard perfect views around every single corner – I certainly made the most of my time.

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I met at the Town Hall with the Manolis L. Citizen’s Committee as they continue to raise concerns about the 600,000 litres of oil that must be removed from the 30 year old sunken vessel. Chronic leaks have been detrimental to bird and sea life. Further action must be taken, to prevent a catastrophic spill that would put at risk the environment and economy of the entire Notre Dame Bay Region.

I am very thankful to the hospitality exhibited from the residents of Change Islands. I feel now, I have friends on these islands that I look forward to continuing to have conversations and learn more about the storied past and the ever changing future of this dynamic island economy.

Time had passed very quickly, as I waited for the MV Earl W. Windsor to depart the harbour. The heavy pack ice was ever more present that day, requiring ice breaking assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard. It was smooth sailing as I made my way back to the busy city life. Reality was setting pretty quick – it would be another week before I would get back to the authenticity and beauty that is home.

The photos are wonderful, but the views and experiences are even more brilliant in person. Thank you all for making Change Islands the destination that is worthy of being known as a little piece of heaven here on earth. You too, can experience this magical place too!

Live Rural NL –

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

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An incredible view at Farewell…

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A beautiful view at Farewell waiting for the ferry to the cultural communities at Change Islands and Fogo Island.

The fishing industry dominates the coastline of our many rural communities, highlighting the importance, the reason we have existed on this Rock for more than 500 years.

The crab pots, their design and the people who work them are all part of our rural experience in Newfoundland & Labrador, whether Fogo Island, Carbonear or the Great Northern Peninsula – your authentic rural experiences await!

Live Rural NL –

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

“Fill Ya Boots” – Barry Penton Art

Barry Penton, is a realist artist that grew up on Fogo Island in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. His artwork illustrates brilliant colors and impeccable attention to detail. His art certainly appeals to me as a lover of all things rural.

My first encounter with this artist was via Facebook. A friend had posted the image, “Fill Ya Boots” below as part of a contest. I decided to “like” and “share” this image with hope of winning the original artwork. It was shared nearly 2,000 times. To my surprise, I got a message from the artist, that I had indeed won the contest and could pick up the piece of original artwork in Mount Pearl. After the passage of time, the artist was so kind to mail me this piece which currently hangs in my bedroom near another Outport piece of punts from Fogo Island. I plan to later place this piece at my office.

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The image reminds me of my own childhood, as we grew up wearing rubber boots. They were an essential item given the time we spent on the shoreline of Green Island Cove in search of sea life and adventure. Some days were filled with picking mussels, catching sea lice, searching for jellyfish, skipping rocks, building sand castles or hopping from exposed rock to rock. Sometimes however, we went over our boots and would have to do this traditional dumping of water. #greatmemories

The art brings a smile to my face. My upbringing is one that is very rural, despite spending a year of my university days in some of the largest cities in the world, travelling dozens of different countries and being immersed in many cultures, my heart is always in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. I am one of the lucky ones, able to continue to work and live rural.

“When you live in a place so long, you learn about the place, history and it’s people. Once you have been gone for long, you gain a new appreciation for home and how you love to remember it”. – Barry Penton

I want to thank Barry Penton for sharing your talents. I hope others will enjoy your art of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. If anyone is interested in learning more about the artist or purchase some of his artwork, you can visit: http://www.barrypentonart.bigcartel.com/.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

I Went to One of the Four Corners of the Earth in 2012!

According to the Flat Earth Society, Brimstone Head on Fogo Island is one of the Four Corners of the World.

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A friend and I took a small tent and camped out at Brimstone Head back in June of 2012. In fact, we went right to the beach.

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A magical place, where the waves crashed gently and the sunrise and sunset was breath-taking. I’m not sure if anyone around us could hear our karaoke tunes from an iPhone as we belted out songs to a small fire on that pebble beach. Technology, isn’t it amazing!

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We climbed Brimstone Head. What an amazing view as we walk all around at the top. We could see birds and fishing boats off on a distance. It certainly is a destination!

I loved all aspects of our Fogo Island vacation, which included the fish at Nicole’s Restaurant, the homemade ice-cream at Growlers, the Heritage Quarter of Tilting, the crafts I purchased at the Wind and the Waves Artisan Guild, meeting Zita Cobb of the Shorefast Foundation as she launched the magic viewing boxes as marketing material, walking to the artist studios,museum tours, seeing the local sights, sounds and vernacular architecture and also dancing up a storm at Stag Harbour. We also did some local shopping at Riff’s, picked up food for cooking over our propane stove, met up with a friend from high school, attended a BBQ and chatted with lots of local residents. I also met with the Mayor and Councillors, to hear their concerns and get their view-point on the amalgamation of all the communities on the island to form the Municipality of Fogo Island.

We certainly did a lot in just a couple of days. It is amazing the fun you can have too! When I lived in Edmonton, Alberta, I was always a fan of weekend get-a-ways and random road trips, whether a drive to a neighbouring Town, province or state. I encourage all residents of Newfoundland & Labrador to explore a new outport this summer. Places like McCallum, Ramea, Burgeo, Grey River, St. Brendan’s and Hermitage are on my “To Visit” list. However, iceberg season is approaching and there is no better place than the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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