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It’s Like Walking on Mars – Tablelands of Gros Morne

After two days of being in the concrete jungle of a major Canadian city, it was very refreshing to spend a week on holiday in our beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Day 1: Tablelands

There is something magical about visiting the Tablelands, a World UNESCO Heritage Site in Gros Morne National Park. Each step you take, you feel as if you are on another planet. On the opposite roadside there is normal vegetation, but where the Earth’s mantle was pushed upwards and exposed, the pinkish brownish rock and masses are quite barren. This highly educational experience is also a photographers dream. Well, you know, it was a half billion years in the making!

I highly recommend the daily guided tour at 10 AM by Parks Canada staff. However, if you happen to miss it, there is an App where you get an interactive  tour along the way from a Parks Canada staff member. With my Discovery Pass good until June 2018, when visiting the Discovery Centre, I was given a tablet with the App pre-loaded that worked by GPS coordinates and proved very helpful on my trek.

Without the App, I would have missed intricate details about boulders being out of place, where the water comes from and many other features of glacial formation along the way.

It was nice to see the provincial flower, the Pitcher Plant on display along the trail. This is a carnivorous plant that is found at the end of every single tourism commercial we run.

Along the two hour return hike, I encountered a range of visitors from the enfant to senior, from California to Ontario to Germany. There must have been 100 people on site, as there was no room for parking in the lot. Its fascinating to see all those with an interest to walk someplace so geological unique where the Earth’s mantle lies naked. It is most likely the best place in the World to see such a wonder and a great place to begin your adventure in Gros Morne National Park.

Trout River

A few kilometres down the road is a quaint fishing village of Trout River. It boasts a beautiful beach and walking trail and a few years ago have a whale beached along this very coastline. There is a nice restaurant, accommodations and some small shops. There’s a photo to be taken around every corner.

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Woody Point

Given my stay in Gros Morne would be very short, I decided to reach Woody Point for a later than normal lunch at the Loft Restaurant, which was full of buzz. I was quite fortunate to get an outdoor table overlooking the beautiful Bonne Bay. While eating the EmmCat Boat Tour came by for a cruise and we waved to those aboard.

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I had the fish and a salad with a glass of house white wine, that was generously poured. The fish was perfectly prepared, very moist and flaking apart as you placed your fork into it. This restaurant comes highly recommended and is open until September 30th.

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Walking around the waterfront, the downtown of Woody Point, seeing the historic buildings it something that just makes this place a must visit location. The Merchant Warehouse is a lovely place for pub grub and usually evening entertainment. There is a classic diner on site and the Legion is next door. Studios, craft shops, coffee shops and general business seem to keep growing. Including Gros Morne Summer Music, Woody Point Writer’s Festival and the performances that take place as Woody Point Theatre. This Town has a lot going on day or night and likely was a reason there was no accommodations available. Be sure to book early if you wish to stay here and many places on the island of Newfoundland and Labrador. Tourism is growing in numbers!

Norris Point – Overnight

I love Norris Point, it is home to the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, which kicks off the season in early May. I was fortunate to get two nights at Neddie’s Harbour Inn. The view is just spectacular and it truly is the perfect getaway.

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The first two images below is that of Jenniex House, a heritage home and the view of Norris Point as you enter. It truly is breathtaking. I love the vibe here, including the Voice of Bonne Bay (VOBB) Community Radio. There are pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, boat tours, adventures, craft shops, Bonne Bay Marine Station and so much more.

The final 4 images are the view from Neddie’s Harbour Inn and some great eats at the Black Spruce Restaurant at the same location. It has a view of the Tablelands and the Appalachian Mountains of either site. The view, atmosphere and food is all of the highest quality. It’s no wonder they were a focus of Air Canada’s En Route Magazine.

I pack a lot in a one-day adventure in Gros Morne. If you have more time, you may want to space out your activities over several days. There are many great walking and hiking trails and places to visit that make for a unique experience.

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences on the Great Northern Peninsula and across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador with regular postings. Follow me on twitter @MitchelmoreMHA

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador

Red for Miles – Right Through the Fog!

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I spent time yesterday in the “Beauty Spot of the North” – Conche, NL to talk with residents and participate in the annual garden party tradition. After lunch and between the matinee, I did take some time to visit Fox Head, memorial airstrip, French Shore Interpretation Centre, wharf, tour the town, chat with residents and of course visit the red fishing rooms.

I think it was the first time in Conche where I experienced such fog, it seems the days are typically sunny in this vibrant and cultural centre. I did snap lots of photos from flowers to fishing nets to the colourful houses and stages, especially the red fishing rooms on Crouse Drive. Even through the fog, it feels like fisherman red for miles!

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The bright read gleams in the fog as the lobster traps and fishing boats are safely moored in the harbour.IMG_20150802_142826

These buildings have recently been painted, ensuring that they are around for the long haul. I had a great chat in the shed with Gerard and his cousin on my last visit about the fishery, the many challenges and the future. They are quite industrious as they were engulfed in building their own boat launch.

Our history, culture, tradition and our future is proudly on public display in the community of Conche. A true destination, over a 17.6 KM gravel road that is desperately in need of paving.

Fire wood, folk art and an forgotten Ford (maybe) are also part of the visual one will experience in this part of the Town.

I have many more images of the jelly bean row houses, the open art, music, dance, history and more that I will share in another post. Don’t worry about the fog, if you’re in Conche – you’ll still see red for miles!

Live Rural NL –

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

Add 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre to Your List

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For 5,000 years aboriginal cultures have hunted, gathered and made Bird Cove home. From the Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians, an exhibit outlines a timeline of 50 centuries of history to recent day residents. The Interpretation centre has undergone significant renovations to their display rooms, the addition of a tea room and an upgraded gift shop has created new experiences for those wishing to learn about the past, present and share conversation about the future over a mug up!

An artistic display by the talented Pam Hall illustrates an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge. There are dozens of images that explain activities of craft and everyday living on the Great Northern Peninsula.

50 Centuries has hosted a Heritage Festival, currently in its 9th year. I was honoured to bring remarks at the official opening and get to share in the Norpen Aboriginal Women’s Circle’s drumming, song and actually participate in my first ever circle dance.

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These women continue the cultural activities of their ancestors. I encourage others of Aboriginal descent to connect with this group of women. You can find them on their Facebook Page.

50 Centuries Interpretation Centre is all about time, drop by and get a guided tour, enjoy a pot of tea and home-style Newfoundland baked goods, and take away a handmade craft at their gift shop made by local people. Directions are easy, just 5 KM off Route 430, take 2nd exit to Plum Point on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland & Labrador. It is nestled between Port au Choix National Historic Site and L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO site, as well as 15 minutes from St. Barbe (Strait of Belle Isle Ferry Service), which takes you to Red Bay Labrador, another World UNESCO site.

The Great Northern Peninsula has so much to offer visitors, it’s about time to experience our many wonders.

Live Rural NL –

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

A Viking Experience that is only found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland & Labrador

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L’Anse aux Meadows is where the world came full circle, an event 100,000 years in the making! When the super-continent Pangea broke up, people had the choice of going left or going right – they did not meet up until  just over 1,000 years ago when the Norse crossed the Atlantic met Aboriginals in L’anse aux Meadows on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a story that is completely untold and undersold as a reason to visit this community of 37, which is home to a World UNESCO site.

I love going to L’anse aux Meadows, to see the only authentic Viking site in North America, to enjoy the views of the islands, walking trails, visit Leif Erikson statue, dine at the Norseman Restaurant and of course, visit my favourite open air museum “Norstead Viking Village and Port of Trade”.

Norstead is just 2 KM from the UNESCO Viking Settlement and was established in 2000 as part of the millennial, celebrating 1000 years of the Vikings’ arrival to the New World. During it’s inaugural  year it saw 28,000 visitors, making it a top destination for visitors.

At Norstead you get to join costumed interpreters in the dim light of a lit fire at the Viking-style Chieftain’s Hall and listen to mysterious Viking tales. One can step aboard the Snorri, the Viking replica ship that sail across the Atlantic, marking the journey of the Vikings from Iceland to Greenland to Northern Newfoundland. An active pottery studio, enables workers to shape clay into pottery the way the Vikings did. The workers also proudly spin sheep fleece into yarn using ancient drop spindle technology, dying the yarn bright purple, pink, or rusty yellow using local plants and berries and weave it into cloth at the loom. You can watch workers make nails and other items in the forge, throw axes at the woodpiles, play nine man mills and tour other buildings such as the Church and visit with the animals. You can also get your Runes told, by the Runes Teller, visit the marketplace and even conduct trade at the trading station if you bring something to exchange.

Truly this is a unique hands on experience that offers something for all ages! Even I enjoy being a Viking for a day 🙂

Live Rural NL –

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

Rumbolt Sculpts Image from Iceberg with Chainsaw at Festival Opening!

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It all started with a block of iceberg ice propped up on pallets outside the St. Anthony Lion’s Club. This 10,000 year old iceberg ice would become transformed during the Iceberg Festival Official Opening by local carver Shawn Rumbolt.

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Spectators were guessing as bergy bits were being chipped away, would this be a polar bear or some image related to the Grenfell Legacy. It was an experience for those who travelled from Germany, Manitoba, Florida, Alberta, Nova Scotia to see the ice being carved right before their very eyes. As a local, I was indeed impressed by the work of Shawn Rumbolt, assisted by last years sculptor artist Randy Cull (owner of the Great Viking Feast and the Lightkeeper’s Cafe on Fishing Point).

It can’t be easy to get such precision with a chainsaw, but Rumbolt made the process look easy. It is not something you should try at home, leave this to those who are experienced. I would recommend that you make plans for next year’s Iceberg Festival to experience this unique art form found exclusively on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

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It became clear that the sculpture was that of an Aboriginal. This connects closely with the tradition and cultural aspects of the Grenfell Mission and his service to all people of the North.

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The Great Northern Peninsula clearly has residents with exceptional talent and skill. Their willingness to showcase this for others to enjoy is part of who we are as a society. Thank you Shawn Rumbolt for your art! This carving in ice is just one of the many aspects of the Official Opening of Iceberg Festival. There is still so much more to see and experience. Visit: www.theicebergfestival.ca  for schedule of events and more information.

Live Rural NL –

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

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