Blog Archives

Become A Cultural Ambassador of Newfoundland and Labrador

This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of travelling many communities across Newfoundland and Labrador attending many festivals, events and activities that showcased our uniquely rich culture and heritage. There is likely no place on earth where people have such a strong sense of place, of community or belonging than in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. No matter where we go or for how long we stay, we always refer to Newfoundland and Labrador as going “home”.

The Rooms, our premier cultural institution is home to our provincial art gallery, museum and archives. This summer visitors had the opportunity to experience authentic culture and heritage thanks to many volunteers that showcased our music, nature, geography, cuisine, art and stories. I even had the opportunity to participate, you too can volunteer and be a Cultural Ambassador at the Rooms https://www.therooms.ca/the-rooms-volunteer-application-form.

Newfoundland and Labrador has a population that is incredibly talented and a culture that is to be shared with the world. Just ten days ago Canada’s Busiest Airport turned into a Newfoundland Kitchen Party  and Broadway’s Come From Away Musical, which is a story of Newfoundland and Labrador’s genuine kindness and hospitality has been nominated for a Grammy award.

Be proud of your rural roots, the authenticity of tradition and heritage, learn it and pass it on. Become one of our own Cultural Ambassadors.

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

My Turkish Times – The Real Turkish Delight

During the Easter Holidays, I added Turkey to my travels to experience the real Turkish delight! After a few unforgettable days in the Georgian mountain town of Kazbegi, it would be Istanbul before making the trek to Romania.

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Istanbul with a population of more than 14 million, is a crowded city of Turkey that is located between Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. There are many unique architectural pieces and cultural influences that highlight the history of the Sultans, the Roman-era, Egyptian influences and also Christian mosaics.

One of the highlights was shopping at the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, which spans 61 streets and over 3,000 shops. I purchased some Jasmine and natural teas, items for my shisha and an ornament for my International Christmas tree. It was also nice to stop for Turkish tea and a traditional sandwich. During the afternoon or mid-day while I was there, most patrons closed up shop for one of their daily prayers. If my sister was with me on vacation, I’m sure she would still be there perusing all the shops and their wares.

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I spent the day touring the major attractions, such as Sultan Ahmet’s (Blue) Mosque, Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeology Museum and other surrounding sites.

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The Aya Sopha was the emperor’s statement to the world of the wealth and technical ability of his empire. Tradition maintained that the area surrounding the emperor’s throne within the church was the official centre of the world. The Aya Sofya has remained one of Istanbul’s most cherished landmarks.

Topkapi Palace has many highlights including the Harem, Palace Kitchens, Council Chambers, Sultan’s private rooms, safekeeping room and treasury. You’ll need at least a half-day just for this one spectacular site.

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is just a short distance from the Palace. It has multiple complexes including the Museum of the Ancient Orient; the Archaeology Museum and the ceramic collection at the Tiled Pavilion of Mehmet the Conqueror.

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The Blue Mosque was Sultan Ahmet I’s grand architectural gift to his capital, built between 1609-1616.

I spent time walking the streets, enjoying the blue skies, flowers and vibes of Istanbul. There were many enjoyable moments of consuming culture, including the food and dining with the locals. It was truly a unique experience.

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My time in Turkey was short, but I was ambitious and covered much ground. Even the return to the airport was hurried as the taxi driver by-passed all traffic by primarily driving on the shoulder of the road. Despite all the efforts of locals, I did not return with a rug. I did buy lots of Turkish delights and brought back memories that will last a lifetime. I highly recommend Turkey to your travel list.

One of my favourite purchases was this t-shirt “Experience: On the Road Again – 1985”. Given my birth year being 1985, my love for travel and the experiences my time of the road has given me, it was only fitting! I’ll wear it proudly.

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Live Rural NL –

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

There’s No Place Like Home – Grandois 2015

Like a line from the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Dorothy is heard saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”, Grandois was just that during its first ever Come Home Year from July 17-20.

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This tiny community of 19 permanent residents was able to register 240 and more than 300 participated in the fun filled weekend organized by Peggy McGrath and Josephine Clarke. These two women are incredible organizers and should be commended for making something extraordinary possible in the community that may be small in numbers but exudes spirit, heart and sense of belonging.

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As I drove the 30 kilometer gravel road of route 438 to reach Grandois – you could feel the energy as the sun was beaming down, banners and flags flying high and campers and traffic scattered in the cove. The community hall was crowded and there were children everywhere. This was a remarkable shift from the usual daily life in this quiet community of just 19.

The children were gravitating to the beach, playing upon the rocks, which made for a beautiful photo. It was not the first time people talked about how good it was to have dozens of youth in Grandois again!

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It was a pleasure to march in the parade through the community with the Clarke’s, Hillier’s, Walker’s, McGrath’s, Sexton’s, Bromley’s, Alyward’s, Whiteway’s and other families that have a connection to the community. The McGrath and Whiteway seemed to have the biggest turnout! Inside the old school house, now community hall was a memorial tree, with photos of those loved ones who passed on. I thought that was a really nice touch, as well the candle lighting with a family representative at the opening. Organizer Josephine addressed the crowd and greetings were brought by myself and a representative from the MP’s office. It was a pleasure to hear special guest, Benjamin Swett, New York Photographer deliver a speech. He first came to Grandois in 1977, where as part of the Quebec Labrador Foundation (QLF), he supervised a summer camp. While in Grandois he took photos of the people and the community way of life. It was a pleasure to buy a copy of his collection that went to print especially for the Come Home Year. We need to do more to document and tell our stories. Raw emotion could be heard when Peggy McGrath took front and centre. She had worked tirelessly to get back to the community and organize a celebration that would be remembered. She talked about her parents, about her children and about being home. It was truly a special moment. Festivities continued with cake cutting, healthy snacks, gifts for the 19 residents, sale of memorabilia and of course some music by Conche’s own Danny Carroll.

The next day, I decided to walk some of the trails in beautiful Grandois. I was not disappointed, but the close encounter wit hthe bear could have been left for another day :).

The weekend continued with beautiful breakfasts, each family working together to serve up and prepare the meals and easing the burden. There were children’s games, face painting, bingo and lots of music. I thoroughly enjoyed my big turkey dinner and an afternoon of local talent.

It’s the little things that truly matter, this Come Home Year focused on community, on family, on this special place. There was a unique place mat design for each day, detailing when picking up the cutlery, themed banners and the amazing photo print quilt of all the old family homesteads, school, church, fish plant and community spaces. The expressions on people’s faces, especially the children, the people who stepped us as volunteers to make everything run so smoothly and of course the exceptional music that lasted long into the nights.

The community conversations, the memories and connections made will last a lifetime. They will be told both in Grandois and around the world. This may be the first Come Home Year for Grandois, but surely it will not be the last. This is a remarkable story, a remarkable strength found in a small community of 19 at the end of a gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula. I always say big things happen in small communities and this weekend was just that!

No matter where we go, we never forget where we came from, one fact is unchanged: There’s No Place Like Home

Live Rural NL –

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

Candace Cochrane Adds Creative Flair to Conche, NL

I first met Candace Cochrane via her literary work, which is a photo book of Outport NL, which is proudly on display at my Confederation Building office, along with many other outport things. She has since the 1960’s been engaged and active in research and promotion of rural life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Her engagement to this place and time has led her to set up a seasonal residence in Conche and play a critical role in the ongoing development of the French Shore Interpretation Centre and the open air art exhibits that exits around the community.

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The French Shore Interpretation Centre is home to the 222 ft tapestry crafted by hand over a three-year period from the women of Conche, it is the only of its kind in North America. This centre has expanded its tapestry art with a 9 panel exhibit commemorating the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 and does commission pieces for those interested in purchasing one of a kind artwork.

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Candace herself is an artist and her artwork can be found at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche; Darkle Tickle Company, St. Lunaire-Griquet and Grenfell Historic Properties, St. Anthony. Her Shipwreck Arts create unique design coasters, hot plates or showcase art pieces for the home or office is worth a visit. If you are an outlet to sell authentic rural Newfoundland & Labrador product, than I would recommend you contact Candace to purchase her product wholesale. She also makes unique desk calendars that depict rural living in art. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy or buying bulk purchase from her as each month you will be smiling as you view something quintessentially rural.

Retailers can reach her at 709-622-3142 or ccochrane@qlf.org until mid-August.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North

Embroidered Bread & Conche Caplin

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The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.

Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.

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The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.

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It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.

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Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.

Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & Live Rural NL –

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

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