The Quidi Vidi Village of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador is not found on the Great Northern Peninsula but is part of the fabric that quintessentially exudes rural living.
As I strolled through the Quidi Vidi Village one just falls in love with the rocky and curvy coastline, the small fishing boats, fishing rooms, stages, walking trails and the colourful houses.
If we look much closer we see a thriving small business community with the presence of Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, Quidi Vidi Brewery, Mallard Cottage, The Inn of Olde, tours and future opportunities with expressions of interest being accepted for a vacant property. Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has sustained itself on producing its own goods and services, bringing new dollars into the economy from working away and supporting the local small business community.
The Quidi Vidi Village Plantation should be replicated across the province. This concept is remarkable for supporting craftspeople at the beginning of their career. There are ten studios to visit in which unique craft product is being made before your eyes. It is a great opportunity to talk with the creator, ask questions about their process and see all the hard work and skill that has gone into making their product. This is a great incubation program when artists can renew a lease agreement with the City of St. John’s for up to three years. After three years individuals should be amply prepared to launch into the marketplace somewhere in the Province (More info: http://www.quidividivillageplantation.com/).
It was quite nice to also see some our Great Northern Peninsula’s finest wildberry jams and teas for sale at this venue via The Dark Tickle Company (http://www.darktickle.com/). Artist studios are becoming much more popular, one only has to look at the work done by the Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island (www.shorefast.org). Here’s a photo I took of one in Joe Batt’s Arm in 2012.
Could Brown Cottage, St. Anthony supported through Grenfell Handicrafts be the next location for an artisan incubator? Englee with their mat hooking and glass art studio? Conche with their tapestry? As you can see we on the Great Northern Peninsula have ample opportunity as we have an abundance of local crafters and could attract new artisans to the area.
Craft breweries are growing in popularity, especially in tourist towns of Jasper, Banff and Granville Island. Quidi Vidi certainly makes a great location. One can visit for a tour and tastings on the hour until 4 PM. They are most notably famous for their Iceberg Beer in the beautiful blue bottles. They produce “Eric’s Cream Ale, formerly branded as “Eric the Red”, which has a connection to Leif Erikson, the first European to re-discover North America at L’anse aux Meadows more than 1,000 years ago.
Could venues like the former Fisherman’s Galley work as it is en route to L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage Site? Or would a place like the Clock Shop in St. Anthony be a better venue to support local entertainment, pub, artist village, hostel and offices all under one roof? Or maybe some other combination is best to create a thriving rural business. There are opportunities in rural Newfoundland & Labrador to grow small business.
A unique character certainly is a selling point for a small business. The Inn of Olde certainly has that interesting atmosphere with mountains of items hanging all around. One that stood out was the sign “Gettin’ Married in the Fall – Fish or No Fish!” It reminded me of an Irish pub my mother and I visited in Cork during November 2010. The walls were covered in all sorts of postcards and other memorabilia.
Here’s a snap of the Irish Pub
Skipper Hot’s Lounge in Straitsview is a venue that offers a unique atmosphere, promotes their own local band and does regular screech-ins. Kitchen parties are every Friday night during the summer. The Eagle Lounge in Sandy Cove has undergone new ownership, which may lead to changes to provide a more pub style atmosphere to cater to the local and visitor markets.
Mallard Cottage is one of the oldest wooden structures in the province. It recently undergone extensive renovations to preserve the building and create a restaurant under the ownership of Chef Todd Perrin. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this venue as it truly does provide a very unique experience. It is a great place to get lost in conversation, while enjoying some amply prepared seafood and meat dishes that were sourced locally. One will not want to leave without the carrot cake cheesecake. My two favourite desserts blended in to one, makes you always wanting more.
We have many local restaurants on the Great Northern Peninsula that work to support local hunters and source seafood locally. We must reduce barriers where possible to enable more local food to be sold closer to home.
A rural economy will only survive and thrive if we support those who have business, make, grow, produce or sell a product or service. This is basically the premise of our existence from before the days of currency existed we would have our own gardens, animals, cut wood for winter and catch our own fish. For things we needed we would use the barter system. All this provided what we needed to live our daily lives. Although rural Newfoundland & Labrador has adapted to new transportation and telecommunication opportunities, we must recognize that we still require the support of those around us in community from our small business to everyday people to truly thrive in a modern day world.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA