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Old-Fashioned Time in the School House Tonight

The Noddy Bay-Straitsview-Hay Cove-L’anse aux Meadows-Quirpon Come Home Year injected a lot of life into all five of these communities as the population likely tripled from a combined 250 to well over 700 throughout the week. The planning of Come Home Year led to a group of community-minded people in Quirpon (population of 70) to step up, fundraise to save their community hall, and save it they did. IMG_20150731_181916

A big card game was held on Tuesday night, but one of the most talked about events was the old-fashioned time at the former school house. For some it was returning to a place of their younger days when people from all over would flock to Quirpon for a meal, a dance and a chance to meet a pretty girl to share a kiss or two.

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Several hundred attended the event with 250 bowls of soup served. There were games, grabs and good conversations as the old school house was bursting at the seems. It was my first time and I was impressed by the set-up. I heard my grandmother and others talk about the old-fashioned times and how they would pay 10 cents for their meal and look forward to the music and square dancing. The games presented the opportunity to win a sack of potatoes pending the dart score, a log of bologna was up for grabs at the bean bang toss, and kids were trying their hand at balloon darts. For a coin, you could buy a wrapped up present called a “grab”. These were certainly popular and did not last long. There were raffles, line sales and guess cakes. There was some fun to be had by all. Especially when Quirpon local Wayne Bartlett stepped in and sang his song “Old Fashioned-Time in the School House tonight”. I got to talk with Bill and Mabel Bartlett, who told me there was fine crowd on, it may not be the biggest in the history but certainly the most people Quirpon has seen in years!

Community thrives when people get together and support a cause. Quirpon residents and those with a connection to this place should be proud of the initiative taken by the Save our Hall Committee. All your contributions and support is to be commended and celebrated. I hear the time last well past one and that maybe this may become an annual event. I certainly hope this continues!

Also, former Quirpon resident Marilyn (Bartlett) Earle who was part of the committee shared her talent by painting the old school house. If you would like a print that captures childhood memories for you or that connection to home, she has them for sale for $20. You can reach her at +1-709-623-2069.

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This may be the first old-fashioned time in the school house in years, but let’s hope it is not the last.

Live Rural NL –

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

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Community Kitchen Party Thrives on Tradition – Green Island Cove, NL

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Our rural communities will thrive with active participation of residents. We saw significant success on July 11, 2014 with the first ever promoted community kitchen party to be hosted at Green Island Cove wharf. The event ended up being held at the neighbouring fishers’ gear shed and drew throughout the evening upwards of 200 people from under eight to nearly eighty years of age. It was truly a gathering to celebrate community, tradition and enjoy each other’s company at one of the busiest times of year.

Music brings people together and we are blessed to have local people willing to share their talents. Guitars, accordions, ugly sticks, brooms, spoons and kajoons paired with a vocals of Clara and Loomis made for an incredible night where tradition thrived. I’ve always heard my grandparents talk about the old-fashioned time and this is likely the closest I’ll get to experiencing those community celebrations of food, song and dance. With fishing nets as the backdrop, songbooks distributed, the waltz, two-step and jigs began to play and the old wooden floor of the gear shed got some action.

There was a little magic in the room that evening as we all embraced our small fishing community way of living, as those who came before us would always take time throughout summer to have a time. Even the little kids were eager to learn the dance moves. A tumble or two would not deter them.

A group of men and women also treated us to a good old-fashioned square dance. This dance was once commonplace and now only a handful know all the moves. When these dancers took the floor, all eyes were on them. A couple of brave souls joined in with the group and learned the steps as they went. I believe everyone else wish they knew the moves, so they too could take to the floor.

It has become quite clear that the success of our rural communities is about how we interact with the space we have in our everyday lives. I think ensuring that a gear shed or a wharf can also be the gathering place as they were pre-moratorium of 1992 is vital to maintaining and sustaining our outport communities.

I must commend the leadership of Dr. Kathleen Blanchard, President and Founder of Intervale. This organization produces programs and services in the fields of conservation, heritage interpretation, and sustainable development. Her interest in sustainable fisheries and community economic development was the driving force to documenting and organizing with fishers Loomis and Brenda such a tremendous event, which can be shared with others.

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The success of the evening has already sparked talks to host another, possibly make this an annual event like the Conche and Goose Cove Garden Parties. The evening also stimulated discussion of hosting another Come Home Year in 2016 – one for Green Island Cove and Pine’s Cove. The dates have been set, so mark your calendars – August 15-21st, 2016 because home is where you will want to be. Please join us!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
@MitchelmoreMHA

Kitchen Party tonight at Green Island Cove Wharf

Tonight there will be a unique experience at my hometown community, which has a population of 187 residents. Let’s hope the wharf will be fill with spectators as our very own multi-talented Loomis Way and a band of musicians perform traditional music, hosting what is likely the first Kitchen Party at the Green Island Cove wharf.

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Join us tonight to celebrate the Spirit of Newfoundland & Labrador Inshore Fishery & Fishing Communities. Details are below:

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The inshore plays a vital role in our rural communities. It has been our reason for existence. There is no secret the return of the mighty cod is nearing. Now is the time for policymakers to  involve the inshore fishers in this process so we are ready to deal with cod quota increases, when they occur.

Rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians believe in their community and sustainably harvest the resources that are available to them. We have exceptional cultural assets as well that stem from the activities in which we live in our daily lives. Tonight’s Kitchen Party will be a prime example as we celebrate our small fishing communities through song and dance in the surroundings of friends.

Come out tonight if you can, for a truly authentic rural experience on the Great Northern Peninsula.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

The Roving Newfoundlanders

Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s continue to roam the world, passing on talents, exploring and making history. I’ve been reading Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs of the People from the Days of our Forefathers. Compiler and Publisher, Gerald S. Doyle (1892-1956) was one of Newfoundland’s most successful businessman, establishing a province-wide pharmaceutical and home products business. Additionally, he had a passion for preserving culture. His newspaper, “The Family Fireside” was provincially distributed, provided good advice and noted first-hand accounts about the social and economic conditions of rural communities, as well as promoted his products. He certainly was a very savvy businessman. He has done us all a remarkable service through his publications. We now have preserved in time these songbooks for us to enjoy, reflect and compare with current Newfoundland folk songs.

Newfoundlanders  are known for being musical and having our own unique folk songs. Today, I will share with you “The Roving Newfoundlanders” taken from Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland

The Roving Newfoundlander

  • As I was setting in my homestead on day
  •          while all alone,
  • I was thinking of my countrymen and
  •         where they had to roam,
  • From England to America, Australia and
  •        Japan
  • Where’er you go you’ll surely find a man
  •        from Newfoundland.
  • They’re the pride of every country, good
  •        fortune on the smile!
  • They climbed the heights of Alma, and
  •        crossed the river Nile,
  • They sailed unto Vancouver, you’ll find it on
  •        the roll,
  • And on the expedition went nearest to
  •       the Pole.
  •  
  • It’s way out in South Africa where hogs
  •       they stand so high,
  • They used their guns and bayonets the
  •       Boers for to destroy,
  • Where cannons roar like thunder
  •       destructions on the plain
  • You sons of Terra Nova, you fought for
  •       England’s fame.
  •  
  • ‘was Nelson at Trafalgar the victory
  •        did gain,
  • The Americans fought the Spaniards for
  •        blowing up the Maine;
  • She sunk with all of her gallent crew,
  •       that gay and gallant band,
  • They’re sleeping in their watery graves like
  •       sons of Newfoundland.
  •  
  • When my mind been bent on roaming, ’tis
  •       something sad to tell
  • Out in the mines of Cuba one of my
  •      comrades fell.
  • His age had scarce been twenty-one, just
  •      entered in full bloom,
  • On the eighteenth day of June was
  •      summoned to his tomb.
  •  
  • They sailed the Mediterranean, I’ve heard
  •       the clergy tell,
  • They went out into Egypt, from that to
  •       Jacob’s Well,
  • They’ve fished the Northern and Grand
  •       Banks from every hole and knap,
  • They are the tyrants of the sea, they
  •       fished the Flemish Cap.
  •  
  • And now my song is ended, I think I have
  •       done well,
  • My birthplace and my station I’m trying
  •      for to tell.
  • I’ve spoken of every nation, I’ve freely won
  •      my race,
  • I am a Newfoundlander belongs to
  •      Harbour Grace.

My grandfather at 80 years, passed away this June. He had a remarkable memory and ability to rhyme off anecdotes, jokes, stories, poems and other lines from days gone by. I only wish we had greater written accounts of all his knowledge and tales. He is sadly missed. So take time and write down that traditional song, story or event, it can help us preserve our Newfoundland & Labrador culture as  we continue to advance in society. In the early 1900’s we may have been required to own a newspaper company to reach the mass of a province; however, today we have social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and others to reach the world.

Live Rural Newfoundland –

CCM

Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent…

Newfoundlanders’ & Labradorian’s are well-known for their strong work ethic, craftsmanship, hospitality and of course,  ability to perform.

This weekend marked the opening of the 4th Annual Big Droke Heritage Festival (visit www.bigdroke.ca for complete schedule). I rushed from work to attend the opening ceremonies. It was certainly a real treat for those able to be at the Big Droke Interpretation Centre. The opening performers were students of Viking Trail Academy’s Youth Choir, their voices angelic and their traditional tunes, spirited and touching. This group had stolen the limelight from Festival Organizers, Board Members, Politicians and other special guests. No spoken words were as powerful of those youth in that room. The power of music and the future in our youth is a bright shining star!

Dinner followed at the Plum Point Motel. A delicious serving of Fisherman’s Brewis was to be had, served with homemade pickles and the freshest of rolls. Tea or coffee was to compliment the choice of bakeapple, blueberry or partridge-berry tarts for desserts. The meal was delectable. All this was enjoyed by the sounds of very talented local entertainment strumming on their guitars. What more could one want, great food and songs in the company of friends. Well…there was more…

Around 8:30, “Rose” had dropped by to pay a visit. Rose is quite the character in these parts, with her well endowed top and bottom, splashy make-up and attire, all complimented with a firecracker personality and some witty humour that would light the place up. Yes, Rose made my night. I could not hold back the laughter, and neither could the others in the audience. Rose has an incredible talent to make others laugh – through her stories, jokes, song and silly antics. She was also complimented by fisherman Skipper George (pronounced Jaarge), who captivated the audience by sharing our local dialect and interacting to engage in some tongue-twisting. This led to 10 CFA’s (Come From Aways) to want to be screeched-in to become Honorary Newfoundlanders (for ceremony and significance, refer to earlier blog post, entitled “Black Gold”). It is pretty safe to say, that George and Rose left an impression with these 10 people, that this moment will be forever engrained the highlight of their vacation.

On Saturday night, I listened to the Wade Hillier Band at Thirsty’s Lounge. A little disappointed with the number people making their way out on this night, as the band really put on a show. They even played some of my favourite tunes. One specifically stands out from Ryan’s Fancy, “Candlelight & Wine” (click for youtube clip).

Last night I attended an evening of Music & Friends and Big Droke Idol. For the many in attendance, all eyes were watching, ears listening and lips smiling as they heard local resident Mr. Kean tell stories of the first settlers;  Mr. Doyle play his squeezebox (accordion) and sing some karaoke; Ms. Hartery perform traditional Newfoundland songs, including a counting song that garnered the audience’s participation; Mr. Kennedy was on hand to play guitar, with a special talent to pick up the chords for any song; Ms. House sang a number of songs; Ms. Caines, 74, got up to share a tune among other singers, performers, storytellers and joke sharers. It was an evening to remember, to reflect of where we came from and where we are. Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sinnicks performed and had the crowd cheering.  Special Guest Singer from Cape Breton Rita McNeil even made an appearance. Well it wasn’t really her, but if you didn’t know, it would have been difficult to tell. This woman was remarkable, her beautiful voice, body movements and hand gestures had everyone’s attention. Not to mention the entrance and blowing the crowd kisses.

This was followed by an IDOL competition, with contestants ranging in age from 19 – 76. Imagine how much from we have in Rural Newfoundland. Stay young, fun at any age and share your talent, experiences and abilities.

After watching the acts, I realized Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent. Does this mean the CBC & NTV television stations need to jump on the reality band wagon to give us our own show. The answer is…NO. However, we should take time to truly appreciate the talented people around us, that make contributions to our culture and heritage. Some preserve, while others help it evolve.

Still searching for my musical talents –

CCM

Friday, July 23, 2010.

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