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St. Anthony Come Home Year Showcased Strength of Volunteers, Community Groups

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St. Anthony hosted its second Come Home Year celebration since 2012. Thousands of people that year registered and flocked to our largest community on the Great Northern Peninsula to celebrate that special place, “Home”. I enjoyed participating in the celebration immensely and meeting residents from all over the province. My colleague Dale Kirby came with his family to participate and engage in a number of meetings with groups and organizations. It was a remarkable nine days of celebration, where I even camped out several nights, as weather was beautiful!

A small group of volunteers worked tirelessly over a couple of years to plan and organize such an event. Some billed the second Come Home Year as “too soon” but I never feel it is “too soon” to come home. However, given the short time lapse from the last celebration, looking back now, it may have been better to plan a shorter four day event from a Thursday to Sunday. I’ve seen weekend Come Home Celebrations happen like this on the South Coast and similarly the Annual Garden Parties of Conche and Goose Cove see residents return home each year to take in a weekend of planned festivities.

Little over a week before the official start, an email circulated that Come Home Year 2015 was cancelled. Several hundreds of people were registered including myself, vacation plans made, bands were booked and many commitments made. Certainly no easy decision from this six person team. However, this decision led to many community organizations and local businesses stepping up with sponsorship and a willingness to see Come Home Year 2015 take off and take off it did!

The opening ceremonies was attended by hundreds of registered guests and more than 1500 toutons were served at the Legion that day as guests registered. It was a pleasure to bring greetings and encourage people to enjoy their week of activities and commended the committee and community sponsors for ensuring that big things can happen in our small communities.

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Community organizations like the Legion sponsored dances during the opening weekend, which provided a change on venue and ensured meals were available for the large crowds throughout the week. A condensed showing of concerts seemed to work well under the revised plan and some activities were spearheaded by the others like Monday’s Carnival of Fun and Tuesday’s Grenfell Heritage Day Celebration & Teddy Bear Picnic.

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Monday’s Carnival of Fun by the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club was Minion themed (for those of you who didn’t know, I love the Minions). It brought lots of kids out for a fun filled day to support a local organization that offers programming, social and various activities for our youth!

Partnerships work and the St. Anthony Come Home Year, originally partnered with the Grenfell Foundation and LG Health to host the Annual Grenfell Heritage Celebration was promoted as well by the committee. I volunteered at the door for the Teddy Bear Picnic, which saw more than 300 children visit and participate in all the fun. It was quite the afternoon and the most successful to date. Additionally, at night a number of people flocked to the floor of the Polar Centre to help further raise dollars for essential medical equipment by purchase tickets, buying food and listening to local talent of headliner Skipper Hot’s Band. It was great to also hear others share their talents like Calvin Blake, Adam Randell, Brandon White and Jade Gibbons. There may have been others and if I missed them I apologize.

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The concerts throughout the week were well attended, my mom and friends were so very excited to hear Johnny Reid – it was a major highlight for her and the close to 1,000 others watching that night. I’ve only heard rave reviews!

I would have loved to watch the lantern release on fishing point. I saw some photos and video on Facebook that showed it was quite the magical experience. As well, the craft fair showcased so much amazing talent of local artist and craft producers! I got many Christmas presents and enjoyed engaging with the artists.

A few volunteers truly engaged community, business and organizations to make great things happen. St. Anthony had a great schedule of events for everyone to enjoy with a balance enabling sufficient time for seeing family, friends and visiting the attractions and loving home. I want to thank you all for your hard work and memories you have given me and the people who call St. Anthony home! I encourage you all to keep making big things happen in our small communities!

Live Rural NL –

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

Embroidered Bread & Conche Caplin

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The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.

Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.

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The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.

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It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.

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Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.

Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & 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)

Happy 150th Birthday Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell – A True Hero of the North

I would like recognize the larger than life man who made big things happen in small communities – Sir Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, born February 28th, 1865. It’s been 150 years since the birth of such a visionary!

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Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which provided the first permanent medical services throughout the region. It established the first hospital in Battle Harbour (the unofficial capital of Labrador).

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! There is also the Grenfell cloth, making the traditional “Grenfell” coats people proudly wear in the 21st century.

There are many legacy pieces that remain with the International Grenfell Association with more than 100 years of activity and giving back to local causes in the form of education and community development. The Grenfell Memorial Co-op is 101 years and counting and the Interpretation Centre displays a collection of books, medical supplies and other records that attracts thousands. The hospital and outer buildings signal the impact the administration had on the local economy and society.

Dr. Grenfell received many honours in medicine, in academia and medallions. Today Memorial University -Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook is named after the legendary figurehead. As well, the Route 432 on the Great Northern Peninsula is named Grenfell Drive.

I get inspired when I think and learn about more about the undertakings of Dr. Grenfell. He is one of my role models, as he had a vision to diversify an economy, empower individuals and meet the needs of people serving so many communities. The Great Northern Peninsula is a better place because of him, he has created quite the legacy.

Dr. Grenfell is a household name on the Great Northern Peninsula and Newfoundland and Labrador. More must be down to recognize the significance of his work, the role he played and how the influence of one man forever changed the fabric of the Great Northern Peninsula. His vision had radically changed and developed the economy and the way we think – we know that more is possible because he gave us hope! Let’s keep building on Doctor Grenfell’s vision!

Happy 150th Birthday, you truly deserve the recognition!

Live Rural NL –

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

Your Road to Adventure Awaits…

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Those who live on the Great Northern Peninsula appreciate the true beauty, the mystique and charm that comes with Northern living.

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling many countries of the world, mainly visits to capital cities. They have their exceptional offerings, but one can not compare the authenticity of culture and place. I remember saying, “I’ve been to Dublin three times to my Irish friends and they would say, you have never experienced Ireland”. So in 2010, I took them up on this comment and rented a car and drove 1,800 kilometres from Kinsale to the Giant’s Causeway and all places in between. I can now say, I’ve truly experienced Ireland from the farmhouse dinners to the rugged shorelines to the nightly sounds at multiple pubs.

Now, the same is true with Newfoundland & Labrador, if you come and visit the Capital and never make it up the Viking Trail on the Great Northern Peninsula’s tip, you are truly missing a rural gemstone that will provide lasting memories and conversation pieces for a lifetime.

The road to adventure awaits and it can only be found as you travel up the tip! It is the only place in the world, where the human race came full circle for the very first time, which was 100,000 years in the making (Read: Where the World Came Full Circle)

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The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the only authenticated Norse site in North America at L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site. Only a short distance away is the Snorri and a Viking Village and Port of Trade. Norstead gives everyone the opportunity to interact and live like a Viking! Sagas, Stories and Tales and more are part of the original experience.

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Multiple cruise ship visits make L’Anse aux Meadows their port of call where they are greeted by a giant statue of Lief Erikson. Restaurants, craft shops, coffee shops, lounges, artisans, economuseums, walking trails, campgrounds to vacation rentals, and story boards make for unique experiences.

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The fishing stages, vernacular architecture and sights and surroundings are unique in itself. If you are lucky you will see moose, caribou and other wildlife.

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In Spring and Summer giant icebergs come to shore…only the biggest can be found the further North you go.

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Lighthouses hunters (Cape Norman, Cape Bauld, Flower’s Island), bird and whale watches and those in search of rare plants will want to trek the Great Northern Peninsula. The Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve has 300 species of plants, thirty of which are rare and one unique to the region.

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Images of wildlife and everyday living can be viewed at Town of Englee Municipal Building at their Mat Hooking Exhibition. Also in the building, is home to Glacier Glass, a glass art studio which has handcrafted items that are quintessentially rural.

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Main Brook and Roddickton-Bide Arm is home to excellent fishing and hunting experiences and adventure tourism. While visiting these hubs one can visit St. Julien’s & Croque and see the French Cemeteries and Fishing Stages or explore the tapestry in Conche, which is home to the French Shore Interpretation Centre. There is also a French bread oven in Quirpon and Dark Tickle is home to the Granchain Exhibit.

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We also have unique thrombolites at Flower’s Cove, or “living rocks” that are between 600 million to 1.2 billion years old.

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A boardwalk will take you there, as will a boardwalk take you back to Deep Cove, which is a winter housing Historic Site. In winter the trails are a great place to leisurely ski or snowshoe.

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Dr. Grenfell is a larger than life man and his work is reflective of the economy in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador today from the expanse of medical services, co-operatives, handicrafts and economic development – one will not want to miss the Grenfell experience at the Historic Properties. Fishing Point Provincial Park, Polar Bear Exhibit, Northern Discovery Boat Tours, The Great Viking Feast and the Legion Kitchen Parties are also for the to do list.

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The Iceberg Festival in June and Mussel Festival in August also draw lots of attention and provide fun for the whole family. Let’s not forget the times to be had at the Conche Garden Party and Goose Cove Garden Party.

Wherever the road takes you on the Great Northern Peninsula, the experience will be unforgettable – as the people, culture and place are just that.

Live Rural NL –

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

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