Blog Archives

Having a Good Scuff at the 10th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival

On August 5, 2011 myself and a friend had plans to take in the 10th Annual St. Anthony Music Festival. After a quick stop at Tim Horton‘s for an ice cap, we drove up to a little paradise with panoramic views, trails, restaurants and an emporium. It can be the peak of your experience. I was able to park my car and get a good view of the many icebergs.  There is also one lonely fisherman in the harbour, maybe he plans to catch a few cod-fish while the recreational fishery.

The reason for the trip was to take in the festivities and hear the diverse talents of our local musicians. They had a great line-up of performers that would appeal to everyone’s fancy, from Folk, Traditional Newfoundland & Labrador, Blue Grass, Country, Old Time Rock N’ Roll and other songs from popular culture. The Olympia was a buzz – there was a sense of happiness from the people in the room. I spoke with a number of people and even found some travelling to St. Anthony from Corner Brook, NL and even as far as Northern Quebec and Nunavut.

Addmission was just $10.00 to hear 9 different bands/performers. The schedule was as follows:

  • 7:30 PM Doors Open. Recorded Music
  • 8:00 PM The Pumper Boys
  • 9:00 PM Angela Byrne & Alphonsus Reardon
  • 9:30 PM Alphonsus Reardon & Albert Kinsella
  • 9:45 PM Wade Hillier
  • 10:15 PM Max Sexton
  • 10:30 PM Jade Gibbons
  • 11:00 PM Skipper Hotts Band
  • Midnight  Sam S., Adam R., Trevor N., & John H.
  • 1:30 AM – Close Dwayne Snow

Alphonsus Reardon & Angela Byrne perform some traditional music. She had a beautiful voice and was the only female performer during the whole show. Great job & hopefully next year more female singers will come out and participate. There certainly were no shortage of women in attendance, as they filled up the dance floor.

Wade Hillier has many talents – Viking re-enactor, story and joke teller, as well as a musician. I heard him the Friday prior performing at the Norseman Restaurant in L’Anse Aux Meadows. My two friends from California enjoyed his tunes, that they purchased a copy of his CD. I love the deep voice Wade has and especially love hearing his rendition of Aunt Martha’s Sheep and anything he does by Johnny Cash!

Ford Blake is one part of the Skipper Hotts Band, as he riddles out the tunes on the old squeeze box. I had the joy of hearing him and a part of his band play at Skipper Hotts Lounge in Straitsview the previous Friday as well. There my two friends would get Screeched-in (photos and story to follow). Tonight they had their full complement and their music pulled the people out on the floor to dance up a storm.

Prior to his performance I had asked him about playing the accordion. He had told me he started learning by playing on his father’s old one as a little boy, because you certainly were not allowed to use the good one back in those days. Drop by Skipper Hotts Lounge in Straitview and you too may be greeted by this self-taught talent and his band’s traditional music. The sound of music in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is vibrant and even more so due to the people with the talent of being able to play the accordion.

Despite the chill in the air of the stadium, the night ended up drawing a large crowd. I have to commend the organizers as they handed out a schedule with important information, which included a floor plan. This helped people find the washroom, concession stand, bar, drink ticket area, seating area and designated smoking area. As well, the local Boys & Girls Club benefited from revenues sold at the concession stand. It was nice to see that monies would go back to a local cause and benefit the area’s youth.

The Music Festival brought a crowd of young and young-at-heart alike out to the floor. I had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old friends, having a glass of Screech & Coke, dancing and enjoying the life in the stadium created through music.

Great Job!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Twitter/LiveRuralNL

Behind every door…there is always a story

A story behind every door in Ireland

The above photo was taken while visiting the streets of Dublin, Ireland in late-November 2010. I could not resist snapping an image of iconic and colourful doors, which are found in both urban and rural settings throughout the country.

Behind every door there is a story to be told – I find this especially through in rural regions. As I have been invited passed the door and into the home of the owner. Usually our conversations would be had at he kitchen table over a cup of Tetley tea, with a view of the water. I enjoy striking up a conversation with the elderly to tell me about the past, the stories that bring smiles to their faces and mine. I am inquisitive, asking about the way of daily living, how they earned a living, how they lived from the land and sea, what they did for entertainment, what it was like to raise a family, how the holidays were spent? I can only try to envision the way it use to be, as I have been raised at a much different time for rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Most doors of rural Newfoundland & Labrador are no longer painted with vibrant color. Locally, my aunt Glad is the exception with the bright orange doorway. Despite a trend of white washed doors – there are still good stories to be told to those willing to listen.

Live Rural NL

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

An Opportunity for More Rural Social Space – The Coffee Shop?

Treats at the Coffee Shop, Northern Ireland

Where are the local coffee shops in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador? I am not talking about the Tim Horton‘s that are springing up practically everywhere, including rural areas. There is even a Tim Horton’s in St. Anthony, NL on the peninsula’s tip that has a town of under 3,000 people. Some residents from the Strait of Belle Isle region, where I reside have even driven more than 100 kms to get a “cup of Joe” combined with a high calorie sweet to match. This is the power of branding and the importance of changing to fit with market demands.

It was not too many years ago, that there was a local bakery in Flower’s Cove, NL. It operated for a number of years under the Dot’s Pantry “franchise”, to later be operated as Sweets & Eats. As a youth, I did not appreciate the business as a venue to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee; however, they never really promoted themselves as a coffee shop in the traditional sense.
 
For me, it was really more of the bakery, a place to get a cake for a birthday or other special occasion. One could also get freshly baked bread, pies, squares and other desserts, as well as a limited variety of lunch choices, which included jigs dinner, soups, sandwiches and chili. However, the coffee was limited to just basic brewed. Additionally, there were only two small tables with a couple of chairs.

Espresso and Latte in Paris, France

 
A coffee shop in rural parts of Europe have a variety of good java. One can get a selection of freshly brewed coffee with flavours to choose. There is also mocha, cappuccino, latte and espresso. I certainly love a good espresso! As well, there is an array of teas, herbal, chai teas, decaffeinated teas, coffees and of course hot chocolate. Tim Horton’s has even adapted a number of these products to their menu, but offers them at a low-cost price. This is reflective of quality, as Tim Horton’s  is less generous with whip creams and syrups.  European coffee shops exhibit a nice relaxing and inviting atmosphere, versus the cafeteria or institutional/fast food stylings of Tim Horton’s.
 
There is an opportunity for more  social space in Rural Newfoundland and Labrador, with the decline of the local lounges. The social commons is changing from the local wharves and the kitchen tables, as we have become more integrated into larger regional communities. We need a fitting space for those to mingle and discuss events of the day. We require a space that is senior, seasonal employee, family, youth, tourist, handicap and professional friendly to survive and thrive in a sparsely populated rural setting.
 
Gros Morne National Park has a gem of a coffee shop in Java Jacks! I highly recommend it. Only time will tell if there is room for a coffee shop in the Strait of Belle Isle region and if it can fill the need of creating a social space that is acceptable by those living and passing through our rural region.
 
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore

Our Beloved Purity Factories…

 Our beloved Purity Factories resounds to all Newfoundlander’s & Labradorians as being quintessentially “home grown”.  The Purity brand since 1924 has been served in households and played a big part of growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador. Ask any Newfoundlander & Labradorian about their ever so popular Cream Crackers, Syrups and Candies (Peppermint Nobs, Climax Mixture or Assorted Varieties of Kiss Candies). According to Purity’s website, they make more than 50 products.

Even today, following a dinner out of office, our employer had a package of the famous Peppermint Nobs in his car. It was the perfect after meal treat. Who really needs tick tacks anyway?

The company touts itself as a leader in family tradition across the island for nearly a century. In a recent article about the Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive, I noted the syrups were served as they would be locally when the costumed “Mummers” would come ’round at Christmas. In the Lure of the Labrador Wild, on the Exhibition – Wallace and Hubbard had taken many pounds of hard tack or hard bread – a staple of many Newfoundlander’s & Labradorian’s diet; especially for fish n’ brewis.

This holiday season, there were worries as no Purity Hard Bread could be found at local retailers and other related products. This occurred in part by the company locking out its workers,  affecting production. I searched online selling and auction sites, eBay and Kijiji to find a couple of sellers with the product willing to part with a bag at a premium price tag. Tuesday night brought good news! After four months of a lock-out, the union and management reached an agreement, which means our favourite products will be available locally in abundance and other specialty retailers outside of province.

First of all, I love Jam Jams! Secondly, I will never forget visits to my grandmother’s house when I was younger. I would always ask for a glass of the Strawberry Purity Syrup. She would know exactly how to mix it, so that it had an extra special feel for the tastebuds. As well, can not forget disliking the brewis and eggs we had some Sunday dinner‘s when church service was in the morning. Now, I certainly enjoy a heaping serving of the Purity Hard Tack! When I travel to Europe and other destinations, or want to give someone a treat from my home province, I ensure to bring Purity Kiss Candy. They have become popular with my friends. This past fall, two German girls couchsurfed at my house and they really loved the variety of flavour, as well as the classic packaging. These are memories made in part by an iconic company that truly is local, unlike companies such as Tim Horton‘s, Molson and the Hudson Bay Company which started Canadian  are now owned by foreign stakeholders.

Buying local supports local jobs, builds a stronger economy and allows our communities to prosper. Next time you consider making a purchase, the savings from a big box store to a small local business may be nominal when you consider all the costs, foregoing customer service and the potential loss of the service in your own community when there is an essential need and the distance to the big box store is beyond reach. Many small towns in Europe survive and thrive on small business, complimenting each others services so they are not competing for same small pool of consumers in the local market.

To close, memories can be made with Purity products, or with other local products. We have a rich culture and tradition, why not build your own brand? Opportunities are around every corner here in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

%d bloggers like this: