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Gateway to Market Great Northern Peninsula at Deer Lake Airport

Deer Lake Regional Airport is the gateway for visitors travelling the Great Northern Peninsula. This summer was record-breaking registering more than 40,000 passengers in both July and August. Last year more than 300,000 passengers passed through Deer Lake Airport earning it the record of the 4th busiest airport in Atlantic Canada.

While waiting for my bags at the carousel, I peered up at the wall and was pleased to see Parks Canada advertising L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. It got me thinking about how airports are gateways to promote local business and the tourism industry. We need to move past static signage and use more dynamic means of promotion – interactive screens.

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In the 21st century we have the ability to utilize technology and what better place than when waiting for baggage to come, sometimes 15-30 minutes of a captured market. Deer Lake Airport could have five large screens promoting distinctly the five economic regions: Tip of Great Northern Peninsula, Gros Morne National Park area, Corner Brook/HV, Stephenville & Port au Port, and the Southwest Coast. This was a message I relayed to Jamie Schwartz, CEO of Deer Lake Airport.

This is an opportunity to promote business, local attractions, events and images of landscapes and natural areas via short clips or imagery. This is what visitors really want. A partnership should be struck with Department of Tourism, Culture & Recreation; Department of Innovation, Business & Rural Development; Airport Authority; Western DMO and local industry stakeholders to add technology and pilot a project.

The screens and other static displays should have bar codes to provide further information by using tablet or mobile devices. This is being pursued by many countries in Europe. If we want to grow the tourism industry, we as well need to get with the technological times.

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We have so much potential to use our best assets to drive tourism, extend the stay of visitors and wanting them to come back for another stay before they even leave the airport on their current visit. These are simple matters that does not have a huge cost attached and the reward – significant.

Let’s reach Vision 2020 by 2018! It can be done if we put our creative ideas into actions.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
NDP Tourism, Culture & Recreation critic
 
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Tourism Season Extended with Gros Morne Fall Fest & Craft Fair

Gros Morne National Park is a crown jewel of the province, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors annually. This region of the Peninsula has been expanding its products and experiences for the tourism market by extending the season. I had the pleasure to join the beginning with the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival this past May. It was my second time attending the festival and hear the local talents of Jeff Quilty, Amelia Curran, Sherman Downey, Daniel Payne and many others who came from away, especially the Blue Grass music of the Spinney Brothers. Next year’s schedule will be posted in February at http://www.trailstalestunes.ca/schedule.html. It certainly is the place to be to get an early start on summer fun in Newfoundland & Labrador.

And the season extends into October…

Cow Head is a vibrant community, home to the Gros Morne Theatre Festival and the Dr. Henry Payne Museum. This tiny town has a group of dedicated volunteers that work tirelessly to ensure their Town is a place to visit on the Great Northern Peninsula. The creation of a four-day “Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair“, stems from the success of a one day craft fair. The festival focuses on traditional skills, craft, music and local culture does exactly that. It attracts people to the region, well beyond the peak of July and August tourism season. It is also an opportunity for locals to get involved, as the busy fishing season winds down.

I attended the official opening on Thursday night with a room of 100 people or more as we celebrated the efforts of all those who made this possible, especially organizer Ms. Glenda Reid-Bavis. This followed a Kitchen Party hosted by local talents, Stephanie Payne and Rob Thorne at the Shallow Bay Motel. The accordions, fiddles and song had everyone enjoying their evening.

On Friday, I also got to talk with the instructors and participants of the Moose Tufting and Basket Weaving Workshops. Maybe next year, I’ll get to participate.

Festivals and community events can be built around local instructors sharing their knowledge and teaching others, as we have such incredible talents and those who want to learn. I encourage other communities to reach out and create unique Fall experiences.

The printed schedule is available at the Shallow Bay Motel and there is still time to take in Traditional NL music, kit making, fiddle workshop, fine dining, silent auction, musical soiree, karaoke, craft fair and gospel concert over today and tomorrow. 

This festival is professionally put together by community partners. It is impressive to see what happens when the business, non-profit, non-government agencies, government and volunteers work together to make big things possible in small towns.

The Gros Morne Fall Fest and Craft Fair is just the beginning of many more. So mark your calendars, find out the dates next year when Cow Head will be host again to a flurry of Fall activity.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Few Snaps of “the Beauty Spot of the North”

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Conche is tagged as “The Beauty Spot of the North”. It is nestled at the edge of the Great Northern Peninsula East and is home to 181 residents, but there are hundreds more ‘Die hard Conchers’ out there and many are home to celebrate Come Home Year of 2013. It truly is a magical place.

This fishing community has a beacon of activity from an extremely active fish plant, that employs people throughout the region. The fish must be trucked in and trucked out of a dusty gravel road. There is constant commuting and significant economic benefits that Conche has contributed to the economy over the years. There must be serious consideration given to Government to pave the remaining 17.4 KM of gravel road.

Conche has also transitioned to be a sought after tourism destination. It is at the heart of the French Shore, with an interpretation centre, 222-ft tapestry depicting the history of the French Shore, textile exhibits, WWII memorial, archaeology digs, cafe, writer’s retreat, B&B, playground, walking trails, icebergs, bird and whale watching, as well as much more activity from talented artists, writers, singers, dancers, crafters and more.

The community understands it must add new economic opportunities by working to establish a fully functional RV site,  beach volleyball and other recreational services. It has carefully placed yellow chairs around viewing areas of the Town. This is similar to an initiative that Gros Morne National Park has done for its 35th Anniversary. These are important and relatively low-cost initiatives that make a community more inviting and tourist friendly. There are storyboards and panels and certainly more room for murals.

I am encouraged  by the economic drive of such a small community. There is much room for growth. It is persevering, despite continuous neglect and inaction from Government that treats residents and road users of Route 434  as second-class citizens. It is unacceptable in 2013 to be driving over a gravel road with no calcium chloride program. Government has invested $6M a few years ago to re-build and re-align this road. Each year there is no pavement,  this investment is being eroded to the bedrock and will cost more to complete. We need better, multi-year planning to protect our investments. Conche road should have been paved years ago.

Please contact Hon. Paul Davis, Minister of Transportation & Works at padavis@gov.nl.ca asking him to take the necessary action to pave Route 434.

It’s Time!

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

It’s All About Regional Marketing…

In 2010, my mom and I traveled to Ireland. We rented a car and went from Cork-Kinsale-Killarney-Galway-Sligo-Belfast-Giant’s Causeway-Dublin-Kilkenny-Waterford-Wexford-London. Cork is Ireland’s second largest city (about the size of St. John’s, NL), however, just a short distance away is Kinsale, a small town that is known for its food culture. With 2,257 people it is about the size of St. Anthony on the Great Northern Peninsula. The regional marketing had us take the drive to the neighbouring community. It was an experience!

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The Provincial Government has cut its marketing budget by 25%. Despite winning 183 awards and being internationally recognized, the market for the International, out-of-province and local market is highly competitive and stakeholders will have to do more to market their business to maintain their bottom lines. I believe it’s all about regional marketing, let’s pool our resources and develop vacation guides, business directory, updates, mini-sites and more in a modern Viking Trail Tourism website.

Check out how Kinsale market’s itself: http://kinsale.ie/.

The Great Northern Peninsula has many reasons for which one must visit. Here is a short-list:

  • Gros Morne National Park, WORLD UNESCO Site – home to the Table Lands and 155,000 visitors annually.
  • L’Anse aux Meadows, WORLD UNESCO Site – more than 1,000 years ago, the Vikings were the first Europeans to re-discover North America. The only authenticated North American viking site. Nearby, Norstead Viking Village & Port of Trade is home to the replica viking ship, the Snorri. Wonderful cuisine en route: The Daily Catch, Northern Delight, Snow’s Take-out and The Norseman Restaurant.
  • Community of 50 Centuries, Bird Cove – for more than 5,000 the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Gros-Water Eskimo and recent Indians. As well, a Basque presence and Captain James Cook cairn. Port au Choix National Historic Site has unique interpretation of archaeology and history.
  • The French Shore (Petit Nord) – Conche’s Interpretation Centre is home to a 222 ft tapestry depicting the French history, the Granchain Exhibit is found in St. Lunaire-Griquet
  • Grenfell Historic Properties – highlights the legendary Sir Doctor Wilfred Grenfell, his International Association, residence and his economic development through the co-operative process. Grenfell Historical Foundation and Handicrafts remain an integral part of the continuing story. Grenfell Memorial Co-op is the Newfoundland & Labrador’s oldest consumer co-op. Nearby are the Jordi Bonet Murals, Northland Discovery Boat Tours, Polar Bear Exhibit & Fishing Point Park.
  • Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve – home to more than 300 plants, 30 of which are rare and one Burnt Cape cinquefoil, which the Great Northern Peninsula is the only place in the world where this species grows. Raleigh is also home to a fishing village and carving shop.
  • Leifsbudir – The Great Viking Feast is the only sod restaurant in North America, built into the rock of Fishing Point, St. Anthony
  • GNP Craft Producers – a unique gift shop that makes seal skin products and shares the history of seal skin boot making. In nearby Flower’s Cove one will find “Seal Skin” boot church. The community is also home to thrombolites (existing on just a few places on earth).
  • Deep Cove Winter Housing Site – a National Historic Site is an open air museum which highlights the way of life residents experienced in both summer and winter living. It is south of Anchor Point which is home to the peninsula’s oldest consecrated cemetery.
  • Torrent River Salmon Interpretation Centre – the Interpretation centre in Hawke’s Bay is a must for the salmon enthusiast. Beyond the mighty Torrent, many salmon rivers exist in Main Brook. Roddickton-Bide Arm is a great place to also participate in recreational hunting and fishing, it is home to the natural Underground Salmon Pool.

An array of walking trails, nature, wildlife, icebergs, whales, recreational hunting and fishing, picturesque outport communities, attractions, shops, restaurants,  crafts, festivals, events,  local culture and heritage and people who will make any visit a treasured experience on the Great Northern Peninsula. We make need to take a page out of Kinsale’s book, and work as a region to pool our marketing resources and create a more dynamic on-line presence that takes in our region’s unique offerings!

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & start planning your vacation today!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

“Here’s to Great Ideas, Great Experiences and a Great Friendship” – 2013

Welcome 2013 – A new year to share with you all, more experiences of the Great Northern Peninsula and rural Newfoundland & Labrador in general.

Before I look forward, I must look back on the year that was. In fact, on the last day of the year I pulled out a book from the shelve my father made me some years ago. It was a Christmas present my cousin gave me in 2011 that I had yet had the opportunity to read. It was, Steve Jobs’ Biography written by Walter Isaacson. I think the sheer size and weight made it a little intimidating, since I’ve yet to complete War & Peace after several attempts. My new role as a politician has not helped my reading for pleasure, as I generally focus on reading reports, news and current affairs. However, since I’ve picked it up, I’ve been reluctant to put it down – even pulling it from my nightstand at 4 AM to continue on. I am fascinated by the creativity, determination, flaws and charisma Jobs had – his influence revolutionized the way we think of the computers, electronics, brand loyalty and consumer behaviour. I’m about halfway through Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and look forward to the next opportunity to pick it up. It’s certainly a worthy read.

I dog-eared page 217, which had the quote:

“Here’s to great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship! John.”

This line resonated with me, because life is truly about this – great ideas, great experiences and a great friendship. I only hope we act on this line more in life.

I reflect on my blog, as a means to share ideas, experiences and a great friendship with the world as well. In 2012, http://www.liveruranlnl.com received more than 100,000 hits across 166 countries around the globe. To me that is exponential growth, since sharing stories, culture, ideas, heritage, landscapes and other experiences would be quite difficult to reach through traditional means, since I live in a community of 167 people, represent a District of less than 9,000 people and live in a Province of just over 500,000 people. I was able to add just 87 posts for a grand total of 339 posts.

I’ll share with you some of this past year’s highlights:

January 2012 (48 posts)

I rang in the New Year in the Capital city of St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador with a Swiss and German friend, whom I met while studying in Prague in 2007.

On January 2nd we visited beautiful Bell Island, had some Dicks’s Fish & Chips and explored. The chilling air would not deter us from experiencing the well-carved coastline.

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My friends and I had ice-fished, mummered, visit Gros Morne National Park, fjords, L’Anse aux Meadows, Norstead, Tea House Hill & Grenfell Historic Properties, Jordi Bonet Murals, Snowmobiling, Screech-ins, Night at the Cabin, North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Joey’s Lookout, Deep Cove Winter Housing site and more. Needless to say January 2012 was quite eventful.

As MHA, I continued to hold Town Hall Meetings, in Conche and Main Brook, as well visited the communities of Wild Bight, North Boat Harbour, Croque and St. Julien’s/Grandois. I called into question the future of the Marystown Fish Plant Facility and repeated calls for the removal and remediation of the Englee fish plant. I also toured GNP Craft Producers, as I continue to advocate for the local marketplace and development of the sealing industry with future value-added products. Also attended pre-budget consultations hosted by Minister Marshall in St. Anthony.

February 2012: (16 posts)

Returned to Cuba.

Served as an opportunity to travel the province with NDP Housing Critic, Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) attending the Housing Roadshow, which started in St. Anthony. This continued to Norris Point, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand-Falls Windsor, Clarenville, St. John’s, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Marystown.

As NDP Fisheries Critic, I joined with three NDP MHA’s to support the picketers at Bay Roberts to oppose scab labour on an offshore vessel.

Gerry & I toured the French Shore Interpretation Centre – getting a view of the 220 foot tapestry designed by the local women of Conche on Jacobian linen. While there I got to purchase an amigurumi seal. It would be during summer that I would meet the creator during the Conche Garden Party Celebration.

We experienced traditional food at Lumberjack’s Landing and also toured Holson Forest Product, getting a demonstration on pellet heating.

Attended a Fisheries Forum

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I returned to Labrador – visiting Happy Valley-Goose Bay with NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. The highlight of my visit was to experience a traditional ride on a pure bred Labrador Husky Dog Team with Northern Lights. A remarkable experience.

March 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly opened on March 5th, 2012. The first time since I was elected on October 11, 2011. I raised issues of air ambulance, Englee Fish Plant removal, alternative fisheries models, fishery research funding, roadwork, cutting small business tax, co-ops, improved broadband, enhanced cellular coverage, 911 service, search & rescue and safe drinking water.

I also attended the Federal NDP Leadership Convention, supporting Thomas Mulcair for Leader. With thousands of New Democrats present in Toronto and 9 candidates, Tom Mulcair was voted Leader of NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition.

April 2012: (4 posts)

I had visited Trinity Bay North, as they had been dealt two economic blows – the closure of the OCI fish plant and sealing plant in 2012. I spoke with locals, visited Seaport Inn, and Coaker Foundation. Port Union is the only “union-built town” in North America.

Easter had me visiting Hockey stadiums – in St. Barbe, Placentia and St. John’s as I cheered on District teams.

Attended the Seal of Approval Dinner to support Seal Industry. NL’s top chefs prepared delicacies.

May 2012: (1 post)

Launched Orange Tent Tour in Corner Brook & attended the Trails, Tales & Tunes Festival

Orange Tent Tour 2012

I also spend many weekends attending graduations in the District.

June 2012: (0 posts)

The House of Assembly continued to sit through the month of June and a number of rural issues continued to pressed including, alternative energy (wind), energy efficiency program for non-profits, agriculture development, fleet separation, lobster co-op, wood cutting permit discounts for seniors, aquaculture, forestry certification, Regional Economic Development Boards, Englee & Sandy Cove fish plants, condition of primary & secondary roads, crown land & land use planning, a host of petitions and a number of other issues.

My first experience with a filibuster – Bill 29: Access to Information, which led to 70 hours of debate. Government passed a bill that increases secrecy and reduces transparency and accountability.

I participated in the annual Iceberg Festival and got to meet the Ennis sisters, Karen & Maureen for the first time. Also, continued to attend graduations in District.

July 2012: (1 post)

  • Participated in Memorial Day events at St. Anthony Legion War Memorial
  • NDP MP Ryan Cleary’s Empty Nets event: 20 Years after the Cod Moratorium
  • Community Meetings: Roddickton-Bide Arm, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet & Flower’s Cove, visted residents of Eddies Cove East
  • Added Salmon Fest with Aerosmith in Grand Falls-Windsor
  • Experienced the South Coast – visiting Bay D’Espoir, Belleoram, St. Alban’s and Harbour Breton.
  • Camped on Brimstone Head on Fogo Island, met Philanthropist & visionary Zita Cobb, visited Seldom, Little Seldom, Fogo, Fogo Central, Joe Batt’s Arm (get Growler’s Ice-cream & eat at Nicole’s Cafe), Tilting and attended Stag Harbour Days

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  • Grand Opening of St. Anthony Come Home Year
  • NDP MHA Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) visits Public Library, College of North Atlantic Campus, meets with residents in St. Lunaire-Griquet
  • Re-opening of L’Anse aux Meadows UNESCO Site with Senator Norm Doyle
  • Visited Green Island Cove & Englee residents
  • Grand Opening of St. Lunaire-Griquet & Gunner’s Cove Come Home Year

August 2012 (0 posts):

  • Announcement by Government that Englee Plant would be removed and site re-mediated
Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

Disintegrating Englee Fish Plant

  • Grand Opening of Main Brook Come Home Year
  • Visit from NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (Sandy Cove, St. Anthony, Main Brook)
  • Tour of Southern Labrador -Port Hope Simpson, Mary’s Harbour, West St. Modeste, Pinware, Forteau, L’Anse au Loup, L’Anse au Clair
  • Grand Opening of Anchor Point & Deadman’s Cove Come Home Year
  • Attended Canadian Public Accounts Committee Conferece in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Aug 19-21)
  • Joan Simmonds, French Shore Historic Society Presented with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at MHA Tea Party
  • 1st Public Accounts Committee Meeting after 6 years of dormancy

September 2012: (0 Posts)

  • Labour Day with Federation of Labour and St. John’s District Labour Council at Swiler’s Rugby Club
  • 102 NDP MP’s congregate in St. John’s/Hosts Kitchen Party at O’Reilly’s Pub on iconic George Street
  • NDP Municipal Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA St. John’s East) visited Town of Englee, toured Roddickton-Bide Arm, held St. Anthony Public meeting and discussed regionalization in The Straits
  • Guest Speaker at St. Anthony & Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Visited Czech Republic
  • Toured Iceland Fish Plants, Buyer’s Markets, Geothermal Facilities, Gullfoss Waterfalls, Glaciers and many other natural wondersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Spent a weekend in Copenhagen with friends from Switzerland and Sweden. Riding the World’s Oldest Rollercoaster and experiencing the culture
  • Visiting Liverpool and taxi touring the old stomping groups of larger than life Beatles. Spent three days soaking up the culture and enjoyed visiting the Cavern.

October 2012: (6 posts)

  • Participant at the International Fisheries Symposium held in Norris Point by CURRA
  • Reflected on my first year in offices. There were accomplishments and so much more to achieve
  • Suggested opportunities for expanding tourism opportunities
  • Participated in Public Account Committee hearings
  • NDP Convention
  • Re-newed call to support sealing industry. Purchased sealskin coat to show support industry (see pictured below with co-owner, Kerry Shears of Natural Boutique).

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  • Met with protesters from Fortune on the steps of Confederation Building
  • Turned 27
  • Enjoyed Halloween as Professor Plum from Clue, made costumes from a Salvation Army visit. Those who know me well, know I collect Board Games.

November 2012: (10 Posts)

  • Marketing Rural Newfoundland & Labrador dominated the postings
  • Visit to residents of Englee, Great Brehat, Green Island Brook, Pine’s Cove and Shoal Cove East 
  • Attended Remembrance Day Ceremonies & annual hockey tournament in St. Anthony.
  • House of Assembly re-opened November 19th

December 2012: (4 posts)

  • Third ecounter meeting Ennis Sisters. They perform in St. Anthony
  • Participate in the St. Anthony & St. Lunaire-Griquet Christmas Parades with Granny & Mummer’s
  • Attend Straits Regional Fire Department Appreciation Dance
  • Englee Christmas Tree Lighting & Diamond Jubilee Awards to Mayor Rudy Porter and Councillor Robert Keefe.
  • SABRI Christmas Party
  • Filibuster #2 – 86 hours that would run until December 22nd
  • Fisheries Minister sells out Rural Newfoundland & Labrador Friday, December 21st at 7 PM  (http://www.nlndpcaucus.ca/nr122112QuotaSellout)
  • Returned home in time for Christmas Eve, wonderful holidays with my family
  • Record-breaking mummer’s parade with 40 mummer’s participating in 3rd year

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I’ve shared with you a sampling of some of my experiences during 2012. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many rural places on the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador and beyond. Many more than I’ve actually been able to write about; however, I look forward to sharing with you great ideas, great experiences and continue that great friendship in future posts of 2013.

Happy New Year to All –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
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