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Giving the Gift of something Handmade cannot be Beat

As we celebrate the season of giving, I still believe the best presents are not the ones that can be bought on-line or at some retail outlet but those gifts without price tags attached – but the gifts one makes by hand.

How wonderful are the holidays when grandma comes with a deliciously handmade apple pie, just ready to put in the oven? How often do we look forward to Aunt’s fruitcake, cousin’s cookies or a friend’s cinnamon rolls? There are those that always make an ornament or holiday wreath. We have knitters and quilters that do it their way, knit and sew stitches with ultimate care. We all have those crafty friends and family members that take the time out to show they care. These types of presents are the gifts that simply can not be replaced.

I’d like to share with you some of the handmade items, I received this year for Christmas:

1.Hooked Rug: It is certainly not every day someone will give you a hooked rug. It takes many hours of time and dedication to end up with a finished product. I remember making my first and only hooked rug to date in Winter 2011. It took 50 hours to complete. Hooked rugs represent a time of economic development, especially for women, as Dr. Wilfred Grenfell encouraged women to make hooked rugs to help supplement family incomes. They still sell Grenfell rugs at the Grenfell Centre in St. Anthony today. I love this rug and everything it represents as it depicts a shrimp at sea – the lifeblood for many communities of the Straits-White Bay North. Without such fishing activity and processing our region would face much difficulty. It now hangs in my bedroom near the window, which boasts a view of the water. I can not thank the giver enough for what it means to be presented with such a gift!  Please do keep up your efforts, as this hooked rug inspires me to push harder for the fishers and those who make their living from the sea.

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2. Knitted Socks: My grandmother had included in her present a pair of knitted socks. I love them – a pair of knitted socks is to be coveted. I’ve already placed one on my feet when I attended the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk.  The other foot had a striped knitted sock done by my Aunt Christina. These socks like others will find a home when I wear my seal skin boots or want to ensure my feet remain nice and cozy. These have been a tradition of Newfoundland & Labrador for centuries.

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3. Sealskin Business Card HolderA traditional-bark tanned sealskin has been designed to hold my braille business cards. I will use it proudly. We have such a history on the Great Northern Peninsula when it comes to sealing. For instance, St. Barnabas Church, Flower’s Cove is known locally as “sealskin boot church” because the building fund was provided by sales of women making and selling sealskin boots. This product will go nicely with my bark-tan wallet. Thank you SabrinaLisa for another incredible gift.

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4. Handmade QuiltMy 81-year-old grandmother has given me a beautiful handmade quilt for Christmas that she made herself this year. She has always made lots of quilts throughout the years, but never one to call my own. Christmas 2012 is very special to have the gift of a handmade quilt from Nan. I’m not sure how many more she’ll make, but I hope she continues the tradition. I’m quite pleased to see at least a couple of her daughters have picked up the skill, keeping quilt-making in the family alive and well.

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Traditions, culture and local knowledge should be passed on. I hope my liveruralnl.com blog continues to help document some of the many traditions, culture, heritage, history, landscapes and people of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Happy Holidays & New Year to All –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

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Get Your Own Sealskin Slippers at www.gnpcraft.com

I am the proud owner of two pairs of sealskin moccasins or slippers as well as other sealskin products. Some people have seen me wearing the slippers at the Confederation Building over the past number of weeks. Santa did bring me a pair.

If you would like to get your own pair, GNP Craft Producers in Shoal Cove East on the Great Northern Peninsula can take your order over the telephone and ship your product. Visit their site at http://www.gnpcraft.com. Their prices range from $115-130 a pair depending on size. They also have children’s sizes and a variety of other products.

All items are locally made, by local people. This social enterprise continues to train and pass on the long-lived traditional skills of making sealskin clothing and boots. They have their own tannery, workshop and storefront.

Support local business, local traditions – let’s create larger local demand for sealskin products!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Sealskin Slippers for Christmas?

There is snow on the ground and a crisp chill in the air – already this season appears to be one that promises a more traditional Christmas season. As the weather becomes colder, I ponder if I should purchase a warm pair of sealskin slippers made by local artisans?

I remember one year for Christmas receiving a pair that would be much to small for my now adult-size feet. They were incredibly warm and completely comfortable, conforming to ones feet.

My father was a fishermen and a sealer. He took great pride in preparing the sealskin, barking them in the water, lacing them in frames, soaking them in “Skin” Pond and letting them tan to perfection before using a pattern to prepare the sealskin leather. A local woman from Green Island Brook, would make our boots. She has been doing it now for more than 7 decades. There is a natural process that is followed that is part of our living heritage on the Great Northern Peninsula.

If you would like to purchase sealskin products that are 100% handcrafted and made by local artisans visit www.gnpcrafts.ca. They have an array of product for those of you that would like to also experience rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

I will most likely pay a visit to GNP Crafts in the near future as sealskin slippers will surely keep my toes nice and snug when we hit -40 degrees C.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

GNP Craft Producers Launches Website – Shoal Cove East, NL

NEW WEBSITE: www.gnpcrafts.ca

GNP Craft Producers Launch New Website: www.gnpcraft.com

Visit them for a unique offering as they specialize in sealskin products.

Products are locally made. The pleated sealskin boots are made by a local resident in her early 80’s. She has been producing the boots for 7 decades. Seal skin boots protected us from the harsh winter conditions and damp weather.

You may want to pick up the “Out of Necessity – The Story of Sealskin Boots in the Strait of Belle Isle“.

I proudly wear my sealskin boots during winter. I turned a few heads at Memorial University on days walking across campus wearing sealskin prepared by my father.

Take some time to learn about our culture – the seal hunt, the impact on our economy and the art of sealskin boot making. You may be amazed with what your find out.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

Live Rural NL retaliates against Ellen’s stance of “Stop Seal Hunting in Canada”

Dear Ellen Degeneres

I am deeply disappointed that you have chosen to become the latest  celebrity to advocate against the Canadian Seal Hunt, joining forces with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). You have joined a growing list of mis-informed celebrity predecessors, including Beatle Paul McCartney and Playmate, Pamela Anderson. We only need to remember then Premier Danny Williams taking on Paul McCartney and Heather Mills-McCartney on Larry King Live. Danny Williams not only illustrated how un-educated Paul and now former wife was on the matter of the seal hunt, he also embarrassed them in terms of knowing their Canadian geography. Mr. Williams invited them to come to Newfoundland & Labrador to see for himself. Paul remarked along the lines that he was already there when really he was in Prince Edward Island, another province.

PETA is an organizations that uses images of baby seals and presents mis-information to create a cash infusion.  Their website states: “PETA is drawing global attention to the annual slaughter of tens of thousands of baby harp seals”.

This statement is false! Myth: The Canadian government allows sealers to harvest white coat seals.

Reality: The harvesting of harp seal pups (white coats) and hooded seal pups (blueblack) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987. The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals. (Source: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/index-eng.htm)

Ellen your website states: Seal hunting is one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s manages the seal hunt, which is sustainable. One only has to look at the harp seal population growth. In the 1970’s there were less than 2 million seals, now in 2011 there is more than 9 million harp seals. The government allocates an annual harvest quota that is supported by scientific research. The Seal Hunt is HUMANE, STRICTLY REGULATED and ENFORCED. How is harvesting seals any more atrocious and inhumane than the fish that is caught, cows, chicken, pigs, moose and other animals that are killed for human consumption? What about cattle that are ranched and grown strictly for human consumption? They have no chance for anything but ending up as some form of beef, maybe a burger – unlike seals, who are self-reliant, independent and able to fend for themselves.

The seal hunt has been around in Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. Without the seal meat, oil and skin for clothing many people of the rural communities would be burdened with economic hardships and other woes. The sealskin boot has provided the warmth and protection from the elements of surviving in a difficult winter climate. The seal skin is water-resistant, protecting the feet from getting damp when cutting firewood to heat one’s home. Seal skin provided necessary protection that may have saved human lives.

My father was a fisherman, his father and his father before him. They have all harvested seals to aid them in providing for their families. My father had prepared seal skin to be made into boots. I still proudly wear them, as winters in Northern Newfoundland tend to be very stormy. I walk knee-deep in snow, many days throughout winter to reach my car. I understand the deep-rooted tradition and the necessity of the seal hunt to ensure life in rural regions could continue. How dare you make such uninformed comments that continue to negatively impact the fishers in rural regions.

I ask that you do further research on this matter and re-consider your stance on the seal hunt. I invite you to come to Rural Newfoundland and Labrador to experience for yourself first-hand the seal hunt. You should use your celebrity status to do good instead of blatant abuse.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

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