Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.
I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.
There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990’s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.
The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.
It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.
We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
3 ½ – 4 qts. Cold water
The summer may be just about behind us, as tomorrow marks the first official day of Fall. A flurry of activity centers around the summer season for most parts of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. This included many early mornings and late evenings spent on water – fishing, or on land – processing fish species or harvesting our forest products. Not to mention the fun and frolicking of summer vacations, festivals, Come Home Year Celebrations, weddings and other special activities that illuminate the liveliness of summer!
Well…Fall is a time not only for moose hunters, but for those who in late Spring planted seeds. Only to be rewarded with an array of fresh vegetables in their gardens. The mainstay crop has traditionally and still is the potato. However, the tastes of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have diversified to include turnip, carrot, cabbage, onion, radishes, beets, greens, pumpkins, squash, and peppers to name a few.
As I look into my backyard, I see two big plots of land that serve as gardens for subsistence living. I remember as a youth with my grandmother spending many hours tilling the land, marking the locations for potato beds, placing the small seeded potatoes (they had to be just so for my grandmother), adding kelp (seaweed) for natural fertilizer and then covering the bed with mud. I think I somehow always found an excuse never to help with the weeding of the garden. However, I would always enjoy pulling up a ripe carrot, brushing the mud away from it and eating it right there on the spot. It was so delicious, with no harmful pesticides. The food we grow always tasted good and nutritious!
I loved digging up the potatoes in the fall of the year. I remember this one year, my grandmother and I were digging side-by-side. She had struck a marvellous, well-rounded potato. This started a competition to see if I was able to find one bigger. Well, I managed to get a very large potato. It was a little deformed. I would say now it was a mutated family of potatoes, but not then as I argued it was the bigger one! After holding each potato in our respective hands, we were unable to determine a winner. It is like those moments in a close curling match, when the teams call on a third-party to measure. Well we had to get my father to be that third-party in this scenario and weigh each potato. Well, “I was victorious by just an ounze, maybe two”, but it certainly would not have won a beauty pageant. That prize would have to go to grandmother.
The Government is now instituting stricter regulations on road signage. I only hope they do not consider repatriating or expropriating our rights of residents to till the grounds our ancestors did as a means to subsist of the land!