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Our Beloved Purity Factories…

 Our beloved Purity Factories resounds to all Newfoundlander’s & Labradorians as being quintessentially “home grown”.  The Purity brand since 1924 has been served in households and played a big part of growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador. Ask any Newfoundlander & Labradorian about their ever so popular Cream Crackers, Syrups and Candies (Peppermint Nobs, Climax Mixture or Assorted Varieties of Kiss Candies). According to Purity’s website, they make more than 50 products.

Even today, following a dinner out of office, our employer had a package of the famous Peppermint Nobs in his car. It was the perfect after meal treat. Who really needs tick tacks anyway?

The company touts itself as a leader in family tradition across the island for nearly a century. In a recent article about the Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive, I noted the syrups were served as they would be locally when the costumed “Mummers” would come ’round at Christmas. In the Lure of the Labrador Wild, on the Exhibition – Wallace and Hubbard had taken many pounds of hard tack or hard bread – a staple of many Newfoundlander’s & Labradorian’s diet; especially for fish n’ brewis.

This holiday season, there were worries as no Purity Hard Bread could be found at local retailers and other related products. This occurred in part by the company locking out its workers,  affecting production. I searched online selling and auction sites, eBay and Kijiji to find a couple of sellers with the product willing to part with a bag at a premium price tag. Tuesday night brought good news! After four months of a lock-out, the union and management reached an agreement, which means our favourite products will be available locally in abundance and other specialty retailers outside of province.

First of all, I love Jam Jams! Secondly, I will never forget visits to my grandmother’s house when I was younger. I would always ask for a glass of the Strawberry Purity Syrup. She would know exactly how to mix it, so that it had an extra special feel for the tastebuds. As well, can not forget disliking the brewis and eggs we had some Sunday dinner‘s when church service was in the morning. Now, I certainly enjoy a heaping serving of the Purity Hard Tack! When I travel to Europe and other destinations, or want to give someone a treat from my home province, I ensure to bring Purity Kiss Candy. They have become popular with my friends. This past fall, two German girls couchsurfed at my house and they really loved the variety of flavour, as well as the classic packaging. These are memories made in part by an iconic company that truly is local, unlike companies such as Tim Horton‘s, Molson and the Hudson Bay Company which started Canadian  are now owned by foreign stakeholders.

Buying local supports local jobs, builds a stronger economy and allows our communities to prosper. Next time you consider making a purchase, the savings from a big box store to a small local business may be nominal when you consider all the costs, foregoing customer service and the potential loss of the service in your own community when there is an essential need and the distance to the big box store is beyond reach. Many small towns in Europe survive and thrive on small business, complimenting each others services so they are not competing for same small pool of consumers in the local market.

To close, memories can be made with Purity products, or with other local products. We have a rich culture and tradition, why not build your own brand? Opportunities are around every corner here in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent…

Newfoundlanders’ & Labradorian’s are well-known for their strong work ethic, craftsmanship, hospitality and of course,  ability to perform.

This weekend marked the opening of the 4th Annual Big Droke Heritage Festival (visit www.bigdroke.ca for complete schedule). I rushed from work to attend the opening ceremonies. It was certainly a real treat for those able to be at the Big Droke Interpretation Centre. The opening performers were students of Viking Trail Academy’s Youth Choir, their voices angelic and their traditional tunes, spirited and touching. This group had stolen the limelight from Festival Organizers, Board Members, Politicians and other special guests. No spoken words were as powerful of those youth in that room. The power of music and the future in our youth is a bright shining star!

Dinner followed at the Plum Point Motel. A delicious serving of Fisherman’s Brewis was to be had, served with homemade pickles and the freshest of rolls. Tea or coffee was to compliment the choice of bakeapple, blueberry or partridge-berry tarts for desserts. The meal was delectable. All this was enjoyed by the sounds of very talented local entertainment strumming on their guitars. What more could one want, great food and songs in the company of friends. Well…there was more…

Around 8:30, “Rose” had dropped by to pay a visit. Rose is quite the character in these parts, with her well endowed top and bottom, splashy make-up and attire, all complimented with a firecracker personality and some witty humour that would light the place up. Yes, Rose made my night. I could not hold back the laughter, and neither could the others in the audience. Rose has an incredible talent to make others laugh – through her stories, jokes, song and silly antics. She was also complimented by fisherman Skipper George (pronounced Jaarge), who captivated the audience by sharing our local dialect and interacting to engage in some tongue-twisting. This led to 10 CFA’s (Come From Aways) to want to be screeched-in to become Honorary Newfoundlanders (for ceremony and significance, refer to earlier blog post, entitled “Black Gold”). It is pretty safe to say, that George and Rose left an impression with these 10 people, that this moment will be forever engrained the highlight of their vacation.

On Saturday night, I listened to the Wade Hillier Band at Thirsty’s Lounge. A little disappointed with the number people making their way out on this night, as the band really put on a show. They even played some of my favourite tunes. One specifically stands out from Ryan’s Fancy, “Candlelight & Wine” (click for youtube clip).

Last night I attended an evening of Music & Friends and Big Droke Idol. For the many in attendance, all eyes were watching, ears listening and lips smiling as they heard local resident Mr. Kean tell stories of the first settlers;  Mr. Doyle play his squeezebox (accordion) and sing some karaoke; Ms. Hartery perform traditional Newfoundland songs, including a counting song that garnered the audience’s participation; Mr. Kennedy was on hand to play guitar, with a special talent to pick up the chords for any song; Ms. House sang a number of songs; Ms. Caines, 74, got up to share a tune among other singers, performers, storytellers and joke sharers. It was an evening to remember, to reflect of where we came from and where we are. Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sinnicks performed and had the crowd cheering.  Special Guest Singer from Cape Breton Rita McNeil even made an appearance. Well it wasn’t really her, but if you didn’t know, it would have been difficult to tell. This woman was remarkable, her beautiful voice, body movements and hand gestures had everyone’s attention. Not to mention the entrance and blowing the crowd kisses.

This was followed by an IDOL competition, with contestants ranging in age from 19 – 76. Imagine how much from we have in Rural Newfoundland. Stay young, fun at any age and share your talent, experiences and abilities.

After watching the acts, I realized Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent. Does this mean the CBC & NTV television stations need to jump on the reality band wagon to give us our own show. The answer is…NO. However, we should take time to truly appreciate the talented people around us, that make contributions to our culture and heritage. Some preserve, while others help it evolve.

Still searching for my musical talents –

CCM

Friday, July 23, 2010.

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