Blog Archives

Red for Miles – Right Through the Fog!

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I spent time yesterday in the “Beauty Spot of the North” – Conche, NL to talk with residents and participate in the annual garden party tradition. After lunch and between the matinee, I did take some time to visit Fox Head, memorial airstrip, French Shore Interpretation Centre, wharf, tour the town, chat with residents and of course visit the red fishing rooms.

I think it was the first time in Conche where I experienced such fog, it seems the days are typically sunny in this vibrant and cultural centre. I did snap lots of photos from flowers to fishing nets to the colourful houses and stages, especially the red fishing rooms on Crouse Drive. Even through the fog, it feels like fisherman red for miles!

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The bright read gleams in the fog as the lobster traps and fishing boats are safely moored in the harbour.IMG_20150802_142826

These buildings have recently been painted, ensuring that they are around for the long haul. I had a great chat in the shed with Gerard and his cousin on my last visit about the fishery, the many challenges and the future. They are quite industrious as they were engulfed in building their own boat launch.

Our history, culture, tradition and our future is proudly on public display in the community of Conche. A true destination, over a 17.6 KM gravel road that is desperately in need of paving.

Fire wood, folk art and an forgotten Ford (maybe) are also part of the visual one will experience in this part of the Town.

I have many more images of the jelly bean row houses, the open art, music, dance, history and more that I will share in another post. Don’t worry about the fog, if you’re in Conche – you’ll still see red for miles!

Live Rural NL –

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

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Candace Cochrane Adds Creative Flair to Conche, NL

I first met Candace Cochrane via her literary work, which is a photo book of Outport NL, which is proudly on display at my Confederation Building office, along with many other outport things. She has since the 1960’s been engaged and active in research and promotion of rural life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Her engagement to this place and time has led her to set up a seasonal residence in Conche and play a critical role in the ongoing development of the French Shore Interpretation Centre and the open air art exhibits that exits around the community.

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The French Shore Interpretation Centre is home to the 222 ft tapestry crafted by hand over a three-year period from the women of Conche, it is the only of its kind in North America. This centre has expanded its tapestry art with a 9 panel exhibit commemorating the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 and does commission pieces for those interested in purchasing one of a kind artwork.

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Candace herself is an artist and her artwork can be found at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche; Darkle Tickle Company, St. Lunaire-Griquet and Grenfell Historic Properties, St. Anthony. Her Shipwreck Arts create unique design coasters, hot plates or showcase art pieces for the home or office is worth a visit. If you are an outlet to sell authentic rural Newfoundland & Labrador product, than I would recommend you contact Candace to purchase her product wholesale. She also makes unique desk calendars that depict rural living in art. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy or buying bulk purchase from her as each month you will be smiling as you view something quintessentially rural.

Retailers can reach her at 709-622-3142 or ccochrane@qlf.org until mid-August.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North

Croque – “Administrative Headquarters” of the French migratory cod fishery on GNP

Today, Croque is a tiny settlement on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula that still maintains strong connections and has a storied past as the former administrative headquarters of the French Shore.

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In the 1600’s all French fishing ships were to register at Croque upon arrival at le Petit Nord. This created a hub of activity during the presence of the French migratory cod fishing fleet in this area. This community continued to play an important role for the French navy, as they used Croque as their headquarters on the French Shore.

Croque has the only official French cemetery on the French Shore and is the final resting place for both French and English seamen, which is depicted below. The French Navy kept up the cemetery long after the French Shore Treaty ended in 1904. During their visits, they would provide medical services to the local residents with the ships doctor.

It is hard to imagine that our communities were so disconnected and isolated just a few decades ago, but the road connecting this community to the outside was not complete until 1975. Dog teams and ships were the avenues in which those would travel to gain access to a doctor, which may be as far away as St. Anthony or a nurse at Conche. During the era of re-settlement, of the late 1960s and early 1970s several families from the Grey Islands and Northeast Crouse resettled to Croque. Residents today, still talk about their home or ancestors of the Grey Islands.

Although the last official visit of the French Navy was in 1971, there is still lots of evidence of both the French and settler history by viewing the historic waterfront buildings, the French cemetery and just outside of town the names of ships are carved on the rocks by French fishermen.

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We have to reflect upon our past, there is a cultural connection to be made between Newfoundland and Labrador and France to pursue other opportunities to share artifacts, stories and our heritage past and present. Our early settler to the community was Patrick Kearney, which the Kearney namesake is still present today, who was responsible for being a caretaker of the French fishing rooms in the early 1800’s.

Let’s do more to tell our stories of the past, because Croque, Petit Nord and the Great Northern Peninsula have played a very important role and it is a place you must experience!

Live Rural NL –

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

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

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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.

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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)

Destination Towns: Conche, NL

There are destinations one must experience when visiting Newfoundland and Labrador. The Town of Conche is one of the those unique spaces that offers a package of culture, authenticity, nature, history, adventure and so much more. I have a t-shirt from two young entrepreneurs from the community, which states “good food, good drink and good company”. That line sums it up nicely that there is incredible hospitality that exists past Sailor Jack’s Hill.

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Conche is a vibrant town with an active fish plant that employs dozens of people from across the region, a tourism economy with the French Shore Interpretation Centre and it’s tapestry on fine display. There is an artist retreat, bed and breakfast, cafe convenience store, zodiac tours, playground, walking trails, lounge and lots of learning and entertainment for all.

The people of Conche are resilient, working hard to find solutions to complex problems. A 25 ft extension has been added to the present wharf infrastructure, water supply improvements are occuring and the fire hall received an expansion. The Town Council has been very active working on these matters and also successful in obtaining new pavement throughout the Municipal boundaries, after a failed chip seal program. This will greatly benefit those who want to experience the beauty or settle in this Town. Residents get relief by saving their vehicle from mountains of potholes. However, there is a caveat of having to drive over 17.6 KM of gravel road, which requires paving to expand the economy of not only this Town but the entire region of the Northern Peninsula East.

It is truly a pleasure to work with those who have a strong sense of community and press hard to economic development and long term sustainability. The communities of the Great Northern Peninsula have natural leaders, attractions, amenities and new opportunities. They await your visit, your investment of time to experience our destinations.

Conche is one of those destination towns. Come and stay for awhile.

Live Rural NL,

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

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