Community economic development should be at the heart of any small Town. The Great Northern Peninsula has numerous development associations (White Bay South, White Bay Central, St. Barbe, Straits Development and Rising Sun), as well as St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated (SABRI). These entities have partnered with communities and local groups to create and maintain infrastructure, provide employment, training and the delivery of a number of programs. We need these entities to build stronger economies and communities in our region.
The Main Brook Research & Development Corporation is another shining example of community building at its finest. The non-profit corporation has local Directors and develop the Town’s assets, such as the property leased by Northern Lights Seafoods. The attraction of a processor to the Town has created dozens of direct local jobs and supported many fishers on the Great Northern Peninsula since 2009. This has lead to millions of dollars in economic value re-circulating in the community and greater region. Northern Lights Seafoods is also pursuing new product development for scallops, which can lead to longer-term employment and more secondary-processing. This creates greater sustainability for the company, workforce and community.
Another major milestone for the Main Brook Research & Development Corp. was the divestiture of the Federal Public wharf. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Mayor Leander Pilgrim (Director of MBRDC) and I took part in the official transfer ceremony at Long Pond, CBS.
The corporation and community now has control over an asset, which they can use to generate revenues and create new opportunities for off-loading of fish product, shipping and receiving goods and services at this deep-water port and also be a destination for recreation, pleasure and commercial craft.
A public meeting was hosted on Thursday, where the corporation updated residents on matters of the wharf and other potential ventures it would look to pursue or find partners to create more economic development for the Town. The meeting clarified the $675,000 Federal transfer and noted the uses of these funds are for the long-term maintenance or the removal of the structure in this was necessary. However, the corporation has a business plan to generate revenues and wisely use invested dollars to create new opportunities, make enhancements and create employment at this location. It is great to see an engaged group of residents, as dozens came out to participate and become more informed, including myself.
The actions taken by Main Brook Research & Development Corporation has really position the community for further growth and sustainability as they continue with their diversification plan. I commend these community-minded individuals for taking ownership, working together and never tiring to advance the place you call home. It is making a tremendous difference.
The Town of Main Brook has a population of 265 people according to the last census, it has survived the devastation of being a one industry town and losing that big employer. Employment in the 1930’s was almost exclusively in the forest industry, when the community first started to become inhabited. In the late 1940s, Bowater’s moved in and constructed a company town which consisted of apartment buildings, offices, machine and carpenter shops, two warehouses, a retail store, a garage, and a complete water system to capitalize on the rich timber resources.
Main Brook holds the distinction of being once of only 11 Towns that were incorporated before Confederation. Population was growing, but all was halted in 1968 when Bowater’s closed their Main Brook operations, citing weak markets and advancing technology. The community never gave up, smaller scale forestry operations continue and still today Coates’ Lumber produces quality products that are found in many homes, garages and buildings around the region. Many pursued the fishery and tourism also played a significant role. Main Brook is home to the award-winning internationally recognized Tuckamore Lodged, owned and operated by Barb Genge (http://www.tuckamorelodge.com/).
Today the Town and Recreation Committee continues to put the finishing touches on a beautiful 35’*50′ Community Centre that can host functions large and small. This social space will create new activities and opportunities for the Town, with hundreds of thousands invested since 2012. The Town has approved an number of new building lots, which will help boost the population and purchased a brand new piece of snowclearing equipment, as well upgrades are occuring to the chlorination system to improve Town drinking water. The community has a K-12 school, family resource centre, four churches, fire department and the White Bay Central Development Association.
There is a vibrant small business community in Town too, given the amount of people coming to Town to engage particularly in fishing and hunting activities. Isabella’s Country Meats, J&B Outfitting, Tuckamore Lodge, Main Brook Convenience & Gas Station, Hare Bay Stores & Liquor Express and more.
The community is part of the French Shore, has a neighbouring ecological reserve, incredible trails, bi-lingual stop signs, a recreational park and some of the best waterfront views around. Not to mention St. Anthony airport is just a 30 KM drive away. Main Brook is growing due to the determination and ingenuity of those who live there and also those who support the local businesses and organizations, you are all are building a stronger community and making a better Great Northern Peninsula.
I encourage you to find ways in your own community to incorporate new ideas and create the opportunity! Let’s keep making big things happen in our small communities on the Great Northern Peninsula. Congratulations Main Brook on all your success!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA
The fire still burns in the small town of Conche, Newfoundland on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula East. This community has embraced its storied past, which includes early visits from the French through the migratory fishery in the 17 and 18 hundreds to their shores. On a recent visit, the French Shore Interpretation Centre had their French oven lit, in preparation for a tour group to their Centre.
The census may list the population of Conche at 181 people, but there is much more support than that for the survival of this small Town. The people of this community are hardworking, resourceful and full of hospitality.
An active fish plant, Conche Seafoods Ltd., employs dozens of people from across the Great Northern Peninsula and parts of Western Newfoundland. This fishing Town is bucking the trend and seeing increased activity and additional employment, not less. A recent tender was called by DFO for wharf expansion and improvements in the range of up to $1 million. All signs of a strong economy. Each year hundreds of commercial trucks travel over a 17.6 KM gravel road. It is long overdue the provincial Government live up to its commitment and pave Route 434.
The community is supported by a strong local business community and amenities for residents and visitors to engage.
Museums and Heritage Facilities include:
- Casey House Artist Retreat, the French Shore Interpretation Centre
- A traditional harbour lighthouse
- Remains of a World War II Boston BZ277 plane crash
- The Casey Store, a Registered Heritage Structure – one of the oldest fisheries buildings remaining on the French Shore, and Martinique Bay, the site of a 1707 confrontation between English warships and the trapped French fleet – a designated Site of Historic Significance
- Chaloupe Exhibit
- Crouse Beach – a half-buried flat pebble beach that was the site of a vast French codfish drying operation in the 19th century. The beach offers a view of picturesque wharves in Southwest Crouse
- Boat tours can be arranged upon request
- Conche Ball Field
- Conche Playground
- RV and Camp site
- Beach Volleyball area
- Array of walking trails
- Roman Catholic Church
- Parish Hall
- Sacred Heart All Grade
- Northern Peninsula Family Resource Centre
- Bits-n-Pieces Cafe
- Bed & Breakfast
- Convenience Store
- Fish plant
- Town Hall
- Volunteer Fire Department
The community also has unique vernacular architecture you basically wont see in other communities on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Traditional stick homes are still fashionable here and full of colour!
Artists and artisans can thrive in Conche. They have talented painters, authors, storytellers, dancers and folk signers that will gladly put on a performance. Summer is when Conche truly comes to life. In 2013, Conche celebrated a successful Come Home Year bringing hundreds of residents home. The committed volunteers truly make amazing things happen in small communities. The Annual Garden party is certainly a wonderful experience for anyone wanting an authentic rural experience.
Only a few kilometres away in Roddickton-Bide Arm is a 24/7 health centre, banking, Government services and a suite of retail, manufacturing and other small businesses. Partnerships have also been established with the Mayflower Inn & Adventures to provide zodiac tours and cross-promote regional tourism.
Conche benefits from strong organization (especially from their Town Council past and present), an ability to embrace their past and ability provide the services any small community would want and ensure their local businesses are supported. This is the only way in which our small communities will survive and thrive. It must be through local innovation and a strong will to give back to your friends and neighbours to ensure the services we want and expect can be provided. Small business is certainly a means to rural communities growing.
Conche is one of those towns that has incredible potential to be further developed. More than 2,000 tourists go out of their way to trek down this gravel road on the Great Northern Peninsula East to visit this picturesque town. It has worked hard to establish itself as a destination. Conche is on the map for so many reasons. The establishment of the French Shore Interpretation Centre has truly helped accelerate this growth.
A 222-foot tapestry on Jacobian linen depicts the history of the French Shore. It is proudly on display, designed by J.C. Roy and made by the women of Conche. This summer there centre spent close to a year developing 9 new exhibits that remember the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. This now has the potential to travel the province or other parts of the world as a touring exhibit to further promote the community of Conche. These initiatives are building blocks to growing a rural community.
Conche is truly a destination on the Great Northern Peninsula that must be visited an experienced by residents and visitors alike. There is potential for new business endeavors in town and more development. Their success can be replicated! Let’s keep working together to build stronger communities.
Rural success is occurring! The fire still burns…
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North