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NSHLQ Come Home Year Celebration a Major Achievement – Then, Now & Forever!

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When communities come together for a common goal on the Great Northern Peninsula anything seems to be possible. I only have to think about the $100,000 Breath of Fresh Air Playground that was established in Cook’s Harbour-Wild Bight-Boat Harbour with three communities of about 200 people.

The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year Celebration saw five communities all with a total population of less than 300 come together to make something unforgettable happen for residents, those with a connection to this special place and some to make their mark for the very first time. The last Come Home Year was in 1997, it was decided long overdue to host another and this time Quirpon would be added. This inclusion of Quirpon also invigorated interest to save their local hall to allow for events and activities to take place throughout the week.

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After months and months of planning by a dedicated group of youthful committee members, the day would finally arrive on July 27th and they were certainly ready. Leading up to the event, the Facebook page would keep everyone up to date. A full schedule was also advertised in the local newspaper, the Northern Pen. Not to mention a Twitter hashtag, showing their innovation and adaptation of technology. I was greatly impressed by their organization, what they offered registrants, how they partnered with all their key businesses and community groups to share in the success of this community celebration would bring. There is much strength here – then, now and forever!

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The Viking RV Park would be the primary site of activity throughout the week, with the official opening started after people registered at the fire hall. The crowds flocked, enjoying the weather and meeting those returning home as they fended off the flies. After the speeches, the cafe was cut, music was played by our multi-talented Calvin Blake, Adam Randell and Brandon White, mussels were steamed, faces painted and the mood set for a massive fireworks display.

The fireworks display was impressive, it seemed to go on and on and on. There were many awes and an astounding round of applause as the show concluded. A truly successful evening that could not have ended with a bigger bang. Cue the music!

The week would follow with fish frys, hikes, coffee shop visits, exercise programs, kids activities, duck races, memorial events, old-fashioned times, kitchen parties, row boat races, family days and so much more! This was no small feat for a small group of organizers, that should great leadership. So many others would step up and give time in a volunteer capacity to ensure all of these activities could happen. I’m amazed by the generosity and community spirit during these Come Home Year celebrations and always look forward to the next.

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A sampling of some of the activities:

I’m confident Skipper Hot’s band was rocking every night, that many screech-ins were had and the conversations lasted into the early morning hours and likely will continue until the planning of the next Come Home Year celebration begins. Be proud of your major achievement for making big things happen in small communities!

Live Rural NL –

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

Icebergs anchor in St. Anthony Bight, St. Carol’s and Great Brehat!

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Icebergs are a common sight on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula – it is the iceberg alley after all! The best viewings of icebergs surround L’anse aux Meadows, St. Anthony, Conche, Englee and surrounding communities.

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On a visit to St. Anthony in June, I detoured to St. Anthony Bight, St. Carol’s and Great Brehat. I was only to be impressed by the vernacular architecture, fishing boats and stages, wood piles and of course squid drying and icebergs nestled in the Bight – rural living at its finest!

St. Anthony-Bight has a 100 year old house owned by Mr. John Pilgrim. The St. Anthony-Bight Loop Trail is located about 2 km outside the community and is well-maintained. St. Anthony-Bight is also known as the “Iceberg Graveyard”, as icebergs come to rest in the coves and melt. Many people are sure to get their hands on the beloved bergy bits and use the iceberg ice to add iceberg ice to a beverage.

Just a few kilometres away is the community of St. Carol’s, which has a hiking trail that leads to John Patey’s Cove where there is a great view of icebergs and whales. A population of less than 60 residents today, still boasts a strong fishing community. I had the pleasure of seeing squid left to dry on the flake on this particular day.

A little further down another road is Great Brehat (pronounced Braha). This community like the others, where heavily influenced by the French in the 17 and 1800’s as fishing stations. Great Brehat has a walking trail behind the local cemetery known as Flat Point Lookout and there is also another trail leading to Little Brehat (which one of our many NL re-settled or ghost communities).

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The presence of the fishery still remains a big part of this community, although some of the smaller stages and wharves are being lost to the perils of harsh weather.

These three communities are on the outskirts of the Town of St. Anthony, recently became connected to the digital world via broadband Internet and they are between L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site. On your visit to the Great Northern Peninsula these may be communities you will want to visit to see rural living and icebergs, or you may just want to stay awhile longer.

Live Rural NL –

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

River of Ponds rocked their 1st Come Home Year

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River of Ponds just northeast of Daniel’s Harbour gets its name from the river that flows from a number of ponds in the area extending from the foot of the Long Range Mountain to the ocean. River of Ponds is a fishing community with many lobster fishers, but also boasts incredible recreational salmon and trouting seasons.

The community’s first census marked 16 residents in the 1800’s to reach a high water mark of 341 prior to cod moratorium of 1992 to a population of 200 today. July 20th marked the commencement of the first ever Come Home Year celebration. A committee of volunteers planned a week of incredible events, a cook book and calendar was prepared and each family took pride in printing individualized banners showcasing the landscapes, portraits and their family namesake.

It was a real pleasure to join committee chair, Mayor, and MP officially open the celebration with hundreds of family and friends connected to River of Ponds. I was happy to join the families and parade around the picturesque community.

Nightfall would bring a fire on the beach and fireworks. Lots of great conversations were to be had, without a ripple on the water.

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Throughout the week there were bands, local talent, gospel concerts, cards, meals, baseball games and bouncy castles.

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River of Ponds Come Home Year provided many new memories, as old friends met and new ones were made. It clearly shows that big things are happening in small communities.

Be proud of all your accomplishments and keep “Living the Dream”!

Live Rural NL –

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

Peaceful times in Pond Cove

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Pond Cove is a small fishing community on the Great Northern Peninsula just 5 KM north of Plum Point and surrounding the beautiful and serene Genevieve Bay. The community is a quiet place, with just twenty homes.

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On a recent visit the water was peaceful. On the wharf, lobster traps were neatly stacked. In fact, they were stacked all around the community. The season may have been over, but their presence showed the importance of this fishery to the community, still today.


I’ve been told Pond Cove is a quiet place to pick berries, dig clams, or certainly take in a boat ride or a nature walk. One did not have to go far to see the wood piles, hear the birds chirping and I’m sure there are moose and caribou not to far away.

There is a photograph waiting almost around every turn you take.

Live Rural NL –

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

Georgia Love! – Post 600

Live Rural NL Blog has now reached 600 posts and more than 795,000 views! I primarily write about the Great Northern Peninsula, but for this post I opted to share a recent travel experience of a rural Newfoundlander:

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During Easter holiday I travelled to Georgia, which is at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe and nestled just south of the Russian border. This was one of the most memorable trips taken, imagine to leave Canada on holiday to go to a mountain country that had lots of snow. I even stopped to visit the Town of SNO! IMG_20150407_094941

Georgia offered the perfect mix of natural beauty, historic charm with traditional food and culture to compliment their ever expanding tourism industry. However, you would just have to go there to truly experience it.

I flew in Tbilisi and toured the capital for a day, while waiting for clearance that the road would be open. Apparently, there was lots of snow on the mountain roads and crews were working hard to ensure it would be clear to allow travel, however, with the Easter holiday no one could give assurance that it would be open for travel. I would have been deeply disappointed if I had not gotten to Kazbegi, which borders south of Russia.

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Tbilisi has a cobblestoned old town which has markings of Persian and Russian rule. The architecture is quite diverse when taking the cable car to the top of the hill as you can see all the surroundings. One will pass Orthodox churches, art nouveau buildings with ornate balconies, a reconstructed 4th-century citadel and the iconic statue of Mother Georgia to name a few.

It was remarkable to visit the museums, galleries and visit the small shops as local entrepreneurs sold their wares – carpets, honey and local fruit and nut treats were commonplace. It was a treat to sample some of the homemade cheeses and talk with owners. Georgia was a peaceful place to travel, as no one tried to get you to buy their product or lure you into their shop. It was an extremely welcoming place to truly experience and enjoy. The city boasted some impressive architecture, only enhanced from aerial views which included the bridge of peace. Many of the churches were filled with local people as they celebrated their Easter holiday.

Since the roads had taken longer to open than expected, the option to visit neighbouring churches and monstaries were added to the vacation including the Mtskheta from Church of Jvari. One could see candles being lit, prayers sent and artwork on display. There were livestock, beautiful views and wares to be purchased in the adjacent town.

After dinner, clearance was given to travel to Kazbegi. This meant no mini-bus option and that a driver had to be hired but the cost of a 4 hour drive was not much more than a taxi from Toronto airport to a downtown hotel. Arriving to a moonlit view of the mountains was just too perfect! IMG_20150407_061103

After a nice breakfast, mountain hiking to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits below 16,500-foot Mt. Kazbek in the Caucasus Mountains of Kazbegi was in order. The 14th-century monastery, at 7,100 feet, was the goal. The 1,400-foot climb provided unforgettable experience as at the Church, it provided a true snapshot of rural Georgian life. Hours of hiking and a little sunburn was certainly worth it!

If you need a place of the ultimate rest and relaxation, than Kazbegi is that perfect rural town that offers horseback riding in the mountains, delicious foods and local authentic encounters.

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After a swim, reading and adoring the mountains, this special place offered an easy place to rest. An early morning would mean a visit to a partially frozen waterfall where I brought my Downhome Magazine, more monasteries, Sno village and of course road closures while the snow was cleared on the mountain roads. Delays were no bother, as this holiday was just perfect. Georgia well exceeded my travel expectations and I do hope to return in the future to this amazing place.

One of the best moments, was the stop at this viewing area, the art, the view and memories…it all came full circle.

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Georgia Love!

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

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