Blog Archives

Happy 150th Birthday Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell – A True Hero of the North

I would like recognize the larger than life man who made big things happen in small communities – Sir Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, born February 28th, 1865. It’s been 150 years since the birth of such a visionary!

IMG_20140902_122611

Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which provided the first permanent medical services throughout the region. It established the first hospital in Battle Harbour (the unofficial capital of Labrador).

In addition to advancing the medical administration, headquartered in St. Anthony, the mission worked to make social changes and reduce poverty through advancing education, agriculture, textiles and industrial projects. A number of schools were built, a lumber mill was established in 1908 in Canada Bay to create year-round employment, farms developed and co-operatives created to reduce the reliance of merchants and their crippling credit-system for fishers.

To stimulate industrial development, mission workers also organized the local handicraft industry enabling residents to sell hooked mats, knitted goods and other items at North American retail outlets. People would save their silk stockings and send them to Labrador or the Great Northern Peninsula for the women to make and sell Grenfell hooked rugs. There is great pride taken in displaying the Grenfell rug which the handicraft group has been proudly producing for a century! There is also the Grenfell cloth, making the traditional “Grenfell” coats people proudly wear in the 21st century.

There are many legacy pieces that remain with the International Grenfell Association with more than 100 years of activity and giving back to local causes in the form of education and community development. The Grenfell Memorial Co-op is 101 years and counting and the Interpretation Centre displays a collection of books, medical supplies and other records that attracts thousands. The hospital and outer buildings signal the impact the administration had on the local economy and society.

Dr. Grenfell received many honours in medicine, in academia and medallions. Today Memorial University -Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook is named after the legendary figurehead. As well, the Route 432 on the Great Northern Peninsula is named Grenfell Drive.

I get inspired when I think and learn about more about the undertakings of Dr. Grenfell. He is one of my role models, as he had a vision to diversify an economy, empower individuals and meet the needs of people serving so many communities. The Great Northern Peninsula is a better place because of him, he has created quite the legacy.

Dr. Grenfell is a household name on the Great Northern Peninsula and Newfoundland and Labrador. More must be down to recognize the significance of his work, the role he played and how the influence of one man forever changed the fabric of the Great Northern Peninsula. His vision had radically changed and developed the economy and the way we think – we know that more is possible because he gave us hope! Let’s keep building on Doctor Grenfell’s vision!

Happy 150th Birthday, you truly deserve the recognition!

Live Rural NL –

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

Caribou and the Great Northern Peninsula

Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, who founded the Grenfell Mission more than 100 years ago, was the first to introduce reindeer to the Great Northern Peninsula. After reading Rompkey’s “Grenfell of Labrador” it is clear Grenfell purchased some 300 reindeer from Scandinavian countries to help provide a food supply to locals of the North.

In North America, reindeer are commonly referred to as the caribou. On the Great Northern Peninsula we are seeing the caribou coming back in larger numbers.

The Great Northern Peninsula has a unique offering including the presence of abundant nature and wildlife. This past winter when I drove from St. Anthony to Green Island Cove I was greeted by a small heard of caribou in Eddies Cove East (Route 430 – Viking Trail) and pulled over to wait for them to cross the road. After driving through this tiny community in “The Straits” to the south I saw a total of nine caribou. It was unusual for them to be grazing for food on the opposite side of the road adjacent to the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador dominating in the background. It was one of those moments when you just stare in amazement.

In late May, when attending the graduation of students at James Cook Memorial, Cook’s Harbour I also saw a bunch of caribou off Route 435.

Enroute to Croque and St. Julien’s, I met these caribou trotting along Route 432 (Grenfell Drive) near the Town of Main Brook.

The Great Northern Peninsula is a place to visit at any time of year, especially if you want to view the majestic caribou (reindeer).  The Christmas season is quickly approaching, reminding us that Santa and his reindeer will be on his way in just a month from today.

Here is a link to another posting with some great shots of caribou on the Great Northern Peninsula: What a view today on the Great Northern Peninsula…

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

A Milestone Moment – Happy 100 Years to Grenfell Memorial Co-op

St. Anthony-20130607-01923

A co-operative is formed when people are empowered to work toward a common goal. They are virtually involved in every sector of the economy, including finance, housing, fishing, forestry, childcare, film, craft, farm and retail. Co-ops are owned and run by its members – they share the profits, benefits and meet the local needs of people, because they are the co-op.

Last night, as the MHA for the Straits-White Bay North, I had the pleasure of applauding the members, employees, management and board members of Grenfell Memorial Consumer’s Co-op in St. Anthony on a milestone moment – turning 100th on June 7, 2013. A centennial is a milestone for any organization and certainly a reason to be proud of all that has been accomplished to date. Grenfell Co-op is the oldest consumer co-op in Newfoundland & Labrador, and one of the oldest in the country.

St. Anthony-20130607-01915

I am a proud supporter of co-ops, because I believe in the co-operative principles. Co-ops are socially responsible,  sustainable, meet local needs, put people over profits, and are democratically run, as they are based on one member – one vote. I had the pleasure of attending a “Cultivating Coops” Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in affiliation with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and could see first hand that diversity and great work co-ops were doing there and hope to see more started on the Great Northern Peninsula.

As a Member of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland & Labrador, I stated the importance of rural and regional co-operation, highlighting Eagle River Credit Union, Grenfell Memorial Co-op, St. Barbe Consumer’s co-op and NorPen Regional Waste Disposal in my maiden speech.

I am not alone in believing in co-ops, as 1 Billion people worldwide are members, accounting for 100 million jobs with the world’s largest 300 coops having sales of over $1 Trillion. 2012 was named by the United Nations as the “International Year of the Cooperative”.

Co-operatives empower people! Grenfell Memorial Co-op’s success is a true reflection both of the legacy of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and the importance of cooperatives to communities such as St. Anthony and area.

Grenfell originally set up his work in Newfoundland & Labrador to focus on health care. However, he recognized the importance of employment and education to healthy lifestyles. His mission expanded to include schools, orphanage, co-operatives (fishery, retail, forestry and the world-famous crafts), industrial work projects, agriculture and aspects of social work. Grenfell was much more than a missionary in my view, he was a cultural politician, who fought the concept of colonialism that brought riches to the very few. He believed in a social democracy that would give back a greater share of the wealth to those who had the resources. The co-operative model was the best way to break the merchant truck-system, increase quality of life and ensure long-term sustainability for people of the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador.

The cooperative business model is one government should encourage and nurture, as well as people especially in rural areas embrace. When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success.

On June 7th, I visited the co-op for it’s 100 year celebrations which featured free refreshments and a cake cutting by the oldest co-op member, Violet Decker, and the youngest kids’ club member Jaycee White. Traditional music was performed by Adam Randell and Brandon White.

St. Anthony-20130607-01920St. Anthony-20130607-01916

I encourage communities and individuals to come together, be proud of and support your local co-op –  it’s yours. Encourage others to be involved. As a politician, I’ve seen the Grenfell co-op, their mascots and employees giving back to the community in the form of sponsorship, donations and volunteer hours at numerous community events throughout the region.

To Grenfell Memorial Co-op Members – it has been a pleasure to be at your 100th Anniversary, Annual General Meeting and the celebration dinner and dance. You have much to celebrate!

It’s Time to re-visit our past successes and replicate them to have such success in the future. We need to begin the process of setting up more co-ops – whether a community marketplace, craft co-op or other endeavor. The future is brighter when we work together to find co-operative solutions.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Happy National Heritage Day – I took time today to explore the Grenfell Legacy

Today is National Heritage Day and Canadians are invited to celebrate Heritage  by learning about our country’s immense historical, cultural and natural heritage. Newfoundlanders & Labradorians have  deep roots and are strongly connected to our many aspects of heritage.

I took the opportunity today to explore one of our cultural icons off the Great Northern Peninsula – Sir Doctor Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. I began by reading a couple of new chapter’s of Ronald Rompkey’s “A Biography Grenfell of Labrador“. This work of Canadian History had received such comments from The Globe and Mail:

Ronald Rompkey shows that Grenfell went beyond being a doctor or a missionary to become a cultural politician who intervened in a colonial culture. Grenfell of Labrador provides a vivid picture of the man and the social movements through which he worked.

There is an abundance of social history here and all of it is worth knowing                                                                                                                   – The Globe and Mail

DSC_0245

I still have many pages of this work to read, and look forward to hearing about how Grenfell set-up his missionary work focusing on health care. He believed that advancing employment and education was a means to promote healthy lifestyles, so his mission developed schools, an orphanage, cooperatives (fishery, retail, forestry, craft), industrial work projects (agriculture), and aspects of social work. His mission, the International Grenfell Association gained international status in 1914. It will be celebrating its 100 year in 2014.

The legacy continues, even today as the Grenfell Historical Society continues to operate a museum, archives and interpretation centre that has thousands of visitors throughout the year. There are regular craft nights and a focus to retain the Grenfell Handicrafts and use the famous “Grenfell cloth” in its clothing.

I dropped by the Heritage Gift Shop and purchased the coaster below. If you would like to make a purchase on-line visit: http://www.grenfell-properties.com/STORE/

DSC_0244

I encourage you to take some time today to reflect on an aspect of heritage. We can learn much from where we have come, as we plan for the future.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
 

A Winter Wonderland – Roddickton, Newfoundland & Labrador

Roddickton coined “Moose Capital of the World” is also a winter wonderland. I took some time to visit some residents, talk about local issues and take a few snaps a long the way.

I couldn’t resist capturing this snowman. It reminded me of family and how they are the cornerstone of our lives and society. One evening back  in senior high I was studying for a biology exam with my cousin when the snow began to fall. You know that perfect wet stuff? Well, we could not resist. Our inner child said, “build a snowman”. So we listened! We even got a chair to help lever the snowballs. It was spectacular! I love seeing when individuals, children, parents and others bring out their inner child and build there very own snowman.

DSC_0169

Roddickton is known as a lumbering town – home of Lumberjack’s Landing and it surrounded by big drokes, towering trees and rich forests. Dr. Wilfred Grenfell founded local cooperatives and started a saw mills and farm in Canada Bay more than 100 years ago, as he understand having paid employment was another means of promoting good health. This initiative would lead to the eventual development of the Town of Roddickton. Despite challenges in the forest industry, it remains a vital part of the Town’s economy today. I snapped a photo of a nicely packed tier of firewood. There is nothing like the heat from an old wood stove on a cold winter’s day.

DSC_0175

Does anyone know more about this vehicle? It certainly appears to be resting during the winter.

DSC_0176

Agriculture has played a role in this Town, with grants going back to pre-confederation. There is opportunity for more growth and it’s nice to see the presence of a tractor.
DSC_0177

This Town, like Englee was dealt an economic blow when it lost its fish plant several years ago. It joins many other Towns in the District that are left with former fish plants that were once a pulse of the community and are now idle and derelict. There are still fishers in the community, lots of life and activity. Below is a picture of the ‘Jolly Rogers”.

DSC_0180

Roddickton – boasts a mountains backdrop and is surrounded by both water and rich forests. It is a nature lover’s paradise! If one enjoys winter life, then come visit this Town of great snowmobiling and outdoor adventure. If you are unable to make a winter visit then why not join the summer fun? 2013 is Come Home Year in Roddickton from August 5-11th.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

%d bloggers like this: