Seals are a valuable natural resource, and the seal harvest is an economic mainstay for numerous rural communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the North. As a time-honoured tradition, Canada’s seal harvest supports many coastal families who can derive as much as 35% of their annual income from this practice. (Department of Fisheries & Oceans, http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm).
My father was a sealer, his father before him, his father’s father on down the family line since the early 1800’s. Like many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s the commercial seal hunt added to the viability of rural living, providing an additional source of income as the meat and pelts were sold to merchants to be shipped to the European marketplace.
The seal was a way of life for us. The meat was eaten, sometimes preserved. The flipper is still considered a seasonal delicacy today. Seal fat was rendered for oil to provide light for lamps. It’s interesting how the seal hunt correlated with the Industrial Revolution in Europe to provide much-needed oils, yet today the product is being banned. The seal skin was also used for clothing. I still have my seal skin boots from 14 Christmas’ ago. It was the last pair my father bark-tanned before his passing. I continue to wear them proudly.
We have a history that must be shared as we made and continue to make our “Home from the Sea”. This past winter I attended the Seal of Approval Dinner, where 5 of Newfoundland and Labrador‘s Top Chefs served up a menu of seal dishes, including seal oil ice-cream. Look out Ben & Jerry’s, as my mouth still waters at the thought of getting another scoop. The Home from the Sea Campaign is raising money to build a Sealer’s Memorial and Interpretation Centre in Elliston, NL (root cellar capital of the world). If you would like to read more or donate visit: http://www.homefromthesea.ca/
I believe seal meat should be available as a specialty item at our grocery stores and served at local restaurants, especially in tourist season. Whenever I travel to other countries I try localize food as much as possible. Last month in Iceland I tried Puffin with blueberry sauce. Moose burgers, stews, soups and poutine is a big hit, why not seal?
I’ve purchased a seal skin tie, multiple pairs of slippers, gloves, purse and a belt at GNP Craft Producers, visit www.gnpcraft.com to view their on-line store. As well, own a bark tanned wallet designed by Sabrina Lisa and bark tanned business card holder given as a gift too. While on Fogo Island at the Wind & Waves Artisan’s Guild, Joe Batt’s Arm, I bought a sealskin compact and seal skin cufflinks. The product possibilities are near endless.
On October 20th, 2o12 I visited NaturaL Boutique, which is operated by two locals from Rocky Harbour on the Great Northern Peninsula. They have a variety of what I would consider to be more modern seal apparel. You can visit their store at 152 Water Street, St. John’s, NL. They also have a booth set-up at the Avalon Mall in preparation for the Christmas Season. Their website is www.naturalboutique.ca.
I purchased a seal skin jacket from NaturaL Boutique, shown below with co-owner, Kerry Shears.
I will wear it proudly as I continue to support the Canadian Seal Hunt, the sealers who risks their lives each year as they take to the ice as well as the local artisans and crafters. We have a history and a future of sealing in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Let’s continue to show our support for the industry.Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
After the show, Tobias and I set up a giant chessboard for a challenging game. My goal was to get the dark queen of the night. However, she would be my downfall. Although I reached checkmate, it would be illegal. I ended up losing in the end to the dark queen. Great match from a worthy competitor.
It added to the travel adventure, as we realized we were not taking the expressway. We stopped numerous times to exchange wares, pick up some locals and even stop to check on some motorists that were having car troubles. At Santo Spiritus we got a “chico” (driver) for 30 C.U.C. to take us the remaining 71 km to Trinidad. According to the original bus station at Varadero it would only be 30 km and 10 C.U.C.. Nevertheless, it was well worth the cost as we rode the distance in a Cruella DeVille 1940’s or 50’s Chevrolet automobile.
We arrived at 174, the Casa populaire of Dr. Suerez and Addys. Great house! Best laughter from this women who is an amazing cook. After getting a view from the Terrace, we decided to have dinner as the music from Casa de La Musica played in the backdrop. Addys whipped up an excellent jumbo shrimp dish. I also enjoyed the delicious vanilla ice-cream with sprinkles. We decided to venture into the streets and find our way to the outdoor concert. It was quite impressive to hear and watch the performance of the musicians and dancers.