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Great Northern Peninsula would benefit from An Artisan’s Nook

This past summer I visited the Burin Peninsula, which is quickly developing its tourism product. Heritage Run is quickly becoming a destination for many travelers to our province. With a direct ferry connection to an international destination of St. Pierre-Miquelon, an economuseum, expansive trails, museums, heritage square, dinner theatres, beaches and more. One place that stood out as a model to truly replicate in our rural communities was the Artisan’s Nook in Lamaline.


The importance of buying local and filling a gap that residents and tourists want – access to quality made locally produced products that are handmade. The concept is quite simple of using space in a community building to set-up a permanent craft shop that is professional and operated by one of the artists. A collective of artisans working together in a cooperative has created something beautiful for residents and tourists alike.

Four  talented locals came together, quilter Christina Lundrigan, artist Kathy Hillier, rug hooker Anne Kirby and knitter and crocheter Melaine Lambe operate this shop, but also work and interact with visitors as they are surrounded by their creations.

I have several pieces of Anne Kirby’s hooked rug ornaments hanging on my tree. I especially loved my line of salted cod.


I also purchased mummer things, which is quintessentially a part of our Newfoundland and Labrador cultural activities, still celebrated today.


The shop is an outlet of creativity, to purchase a variety of product, utilizes technology and illustrates the type of success people in small communities can have by working together to create the right atmosphere. Four artists now will spend less time marketing and more time creating. A permanent shop reduces setup time, provides continuity for repeat customers and multiple people allows for sharing the day required to be physically at the shop. Sales are not lost because of cooperation.


This is a more sophisticated model of a continuous craft fair that adds so much value to the artist, the community and the tourism product offering. I was impressed by use of the “square” (a credit card processing and business solution that connects to a mobile or iPad and allows for direct sales I’ve seen more crafters using this technology at fairs, markets and at shops, which has led to increased sales.

I would encourage communities to open community hall or other spaces and artists to consider a model like the Artisan’s Nook. It can be a valuable addition for all involved. Drop by Lamaline, say hello and get some great pieces of art today!

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development


My Christmas Tree Tells Many Stories…

I put up my Christmas tree the last weekend of November. It is certainly a different process than my childhood, as we would have a real tree that would not be cut until December 21st. My father would spend lots of time prior, searching for that perfect tree. Actually, if it was not perfect he would begin the drilling process adding a few limbs and doing the necessary pruning. I would only accompany him on the day of cutting the tree. This was always exciting! Dad would always put on the lights and the garland, then as a family we would add the ornament, especially the old-fashioned glass balls, adding lots of tinsel before topping the tree top off with a handmade angel. Not to be forgotten, the tree was always placed in a plastic salt beef bucket for good measure and stability. I may be getting a little nostalgic, but this was always a special time and these memories of growing up in rural Newfoundland and Labrador as ones I will always cherish.


Now the Christmas tree is a modern 8′ artificial, one that was supposedly pre-lit. However, my first order was to remove the 1,000 lights as they never really worked from the beginning and add new ones.

This was quite the task and consumer of my limited time. However, I’m happy to have more space now to add new ornaments. I collect Christmas ornaments from rural Newfoundland & Labrador, as well, when I travel abroad. This year, I’ve added many new ornaments sourced locally at outlets like Mayflower Inn Gift Shop, Roddickton-Bide Arm; Glacier Glass, Englee; Grenfell Heritage Shoppe, St. Anthony and King’s Point Pottery, King’s Point. As well, from my friends, a lovely NL ornament from Mona and the always happy Minion from Amanda. 🙂

These hand-hooked mummer’s, puffins, houses and Inuk are carefully stitched and will joined my salted cod on the line by Anne Hodge-Kirby. The glass and pottery formed salt cod will add to the variety.

I love to travel and this past year, I’ve collected ornaments from a family cruise on “Oasis of the Seas”. Our ports of call were in the Bahamas, St. Maartan and St.Thomas, Virgin Islands. As well this past summer, I made my annual trek to Europe, collecting ornaments from Ireland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I did not manage a new ornament from Austria or Hungary, despite amazing new experiences and memories of a lifetime. I’ll have to get one on my next return.

These ornaments have joined other handmade, felted, fabric, metal or hooked mummer’s, accordions, violins, dories, snowshoes, skin boots, fish and other sea life. There are childhood ornaments and others purchased on trips to London, Olbia, New York and various other places life has taken me.

I love decorating the Christmas tree. It brings a smile to my face knowing all the hard work and effort that has gone into producing these ornaments that truly reflect a piece of Newfoundland and Labrador tradition and culture. I also like placing ornaments from New York, recalling ice skating with my mother, sister and brother-in-law in Central Park; the seahorse which brings back a Mediterranean sailing trip with my European friends and of course, my glass ball from Prague – where I lived for four months and had the most incredible experiences and met the most amazing people! My tree is one filled with memories and the who process makes me very nostalgic.

I hope when you decorate your tree, you get similar feelings that reflect upon experiences, friendships, childhood and Christmas past.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for The Straits-White Bay North

A Labour of Love – Old-Fashioned Motor Boat Built in Noddy Bay!


Resident Wes Eddison of Noddy Bay proudly shows me his old-fashioned motor boat, which he has made by his own design and primarily by hand.  The boat is a result of many weeks of hard labour – a labour of love.


Wes is eager to take his old-fashioned motor boat on the water. He was waiting on the shaft to make the appropriate connection to the old-fashion make-and-break motor and the handmade rudder.


The boat is certainly not Wes’ first, but at 73 years of age he claims it will be his final creation. A project that started in February is now nearing completion and Wes looks forward to taking everyone out for a ride across the Bay.


It takes great talent and skill to craft such a boat. I am always impressed by what our local residents are capable of doing. We must do more to ensure that boat building as a past time and as a way of life does not die in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We need more people to take up this great trade.

Wes Eddison is a prime example of a local resident that exudes what it means to live rural. I hope others will follow his direction and see a renewal in boat building, especially those that model the trap-skiff.

Happy travels Wes!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North


Giving the Gift of something Handmade cannot be Beat

As we celebrate the season of giving, I still believe the best presents are not the ones that can be bought on-line or at some retail outlet but those gifts without price tags attached – but the gifts one makes by hand.

How wonderful are the holidays when grandma comes with a deliciously handmade apple pie, just ready to put in the oven? How often do we look forward to Aunt’s fruitcake, cousin’s cookies or a friend’s cinnamon rolls? There are those that always make an ornament or holiday wreath. We have knitters and quilters that do it their way, knit and sew stitches with ultimate care. We all have those crafty friends and family members that take the time out to show they care. These types of presents are the gifts that simply can not be replaced.

I’d like to share with you some of the handmade items, I received this year for Christmas:

1.Hooked Rug: It is certainly not every day someone will give you a hooked rug. It takes many hours of time and dedication to end up with a finished product. I remember making my first and only hooked rug to date in Winter 2011. It took 50 hours to complete. Hooked rugs represent a time of economic development, especially for women, as Dr. Wilfred Grenfell encouraged women to make hooked rugs to help supplement family incomes. They still sell Grenfell rugs at the Grenfell Centre in St. Anthony today. I love this rug and everything it represents as it depicts a shrimp at sea – the lifeblood for many communities of the Straits-White Bay North. Without such fishing activity and processing our region would face much difficulty. It now hangs in my bedroom near the window, which boasts a view of the water. I can not thank the giver enough for what it means to be presented with such a gift!  Please do keep up your efforts, as this hooked rug inspires me to push harder for the fishers and those who make their living from the sea.


2. Knitted Socks: My grandmother had included in her present a pair of knitted socks. I love them – a pair of knitted socks is to be coveted. I’ve already placed one on my feet when I attended the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk.  The other foot had a striped knitted sock done by my Aunt Christina. These socks like others will find a home when I wear my seal skin boots or want to ensure my feet remain nice and cozy. These have been a tradition of Newfoundland & Labrador for centuries.


3. Sealskin Business Card HolderA traditional-bark tanned sealskin has been designed to hold my braille business cards. I will use it proudly. We have such a history on the Great Northern Peninsula when it comes to sealing. For instance, St. Barnabas Church, Flower’s Cove is known locally as “sealskin boot church” because the building fund was provided by sales of women making and selling sealskin boots. This product will go nicely with my bark-tan wallet. Thank you SabrinaLisa for another incredible gift.


4. Handmade QuiltMy 81-year-old grandmother has given me a beautiful handmade quilt for Christmas that she made herself this year. She has always made lots of quilts throughout the years, but never one to call my own. Christmas 2012 is very special to have the gift of a handmade quilt from Nan. I’m not sure how many more she’ll make, but I hope she continues the tradition. I’m quite pleased to see at least a couple of her daughters have picked up the skill, keeping quilt-making in the family alive and well.


Traditions, culture and local knowledge should be passed on. I hope my blog continues to help document some of the many traditions, culture, heritage, history, landscapes and people of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Happy Holidays & New Year to All –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North


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