Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Merchants & Memories: What was your favourite shop when you were young?

Merchants & Memories Mug Up
Where was your favourite place to shop when you were young? What stores hold particular memories? Where was your favourite diner or soda shop? Which restaurants had the best service? Who was your favourite butcher, cobbler, hat maker, or dress maker? Where was the best place to buy penny candy? Do you remember your first job? And let's settle that age-old question: who served the best fish and chips in St. John's? We want to know! We'll put the kettle on, you bring your stories.

The Memory Mug Up is an informal story sharing session for seniors, where people gather, have a cup of tea, and share memories.

Merchants & Memories Mug Up
Marjorie Mews Public Library
12 Highland Drive
2:30pm, Wednesday March 29th

photo:  A. Harvey and Company premises. World War II censored photograph collection.
Collection GN 181, Item A 54-149 [1942-1945]. The Rooms

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#Folklorephoto Did you have a Newfoundland Certificate of Registration in the 1940's?

This Certificate of Registration belonged to Elsie Maud Whalen of Bradley's Cove. She was registered resident under the Defence (National Registration) Regulations on December 8th, 1942. Do you have memories of having one of these certificates? Did you have to show it to a police officer or Newfoundland Ranger? 

If you have information on these certificates, please email

~ Kelly

Monday, March 20, 2017

Collective Memory Monday - Joseph Cormier, "The Nipper"

This week, we take a peek into the history of the Newfoundland Railway.

Joseph Cormier of Grand Falls got his first job with the railroad at the age of twelve. Not old enough or strong enough to work with the maintenance crews repairing the tracks, Joseph was given another, just as important job.

B 3-190, The Rooms Provincial Archives

“Oh when I was a youngster I worked on the railroad, I was 12 years old. … I was a nipper, bringing water to the fellows who was working on the rail, you know? I’d have a bucket of water and an old tin dipper, dip down in the water and go around giving drinks to the men, see, who were out.”

Young Joseph, spending so much time around the older railmen, started picking up habits that his mother wouldn’t have approved of.

“I got so far ahead, I got [inaudible] topped boots, you know, and I got to chewing tobacco and smoking, see? And this day I was coming up the road which overlooked the river, about seven miles from my home and I was up with a big chewing tobacco in my mouth coming, walking up the road, see? And next I look and here’s my mother coming to get me. I damn near swallowed the chewing tobacco! [laughs]”.

To hear Joseph's whole story, take a listen at the DAI!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sharing Our Culture, a podcast with Lloydetta Quaicoe.

Lloydetta Quaicoe is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sharing Our Cultures, Incorporated. The program, established in 1999, engages high school youth in skills-development workshops which culminate in them sharing their cultures with the public and over 800 Grade 6 students at a three-day event at The Rooms. Lloydetta obtained her PhD in Education at the University of South Australia. Her areas of research are the psychosocial needs of newcomer children and youth and their sense of place and belonging.

In this episode we discuss the beginning of Sharing Our Cultures, the growth of the program over the past 25+ years, the importance of the program and how students and the general public respond, this year’s theme and what to expect at the event. Lloydetta also explains how Sharing Our Cultures is going national this year.

Download the mp3

Sharing Our Cultures - Photo courtesy of The Rooms NL Twitter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Notes from the Grey Sock Project - Knitting Our Heritage!

Notes from the Grey Sock Project - Knitting Our Heritage!

About the Women’s Patriotic Association

The Women’s Patriotic Association (WPA) was made up of over 15,000 women across Newfoundland and Labrador who donated their time to raise money and support those at home and overseas. One of the WPA’s goals was to provide Newfoundland and Labrador troops with the comforts of home. Volunteers knitted scarves, socks, mittens, and hats which were shipped overseas along with medical supplies and other goods.

To commemorate what the WPA did for those at home and overseas, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of St. John’s, and other partners are embracing their spirit to help those in need today. We have been gathering volunteer knitters to knit socks, scarves, hats and other knitwear to donate to groups and individuals in need.  The Grey Sock Project aims to link traditional craft and contemporary community by creating knit goods, sharing knowledge, and helping each other.

Read more about the Women's Patriotic Association and the grey sock here.

Sock Knitting Patterns

Historic Patterns
  • Check out our past ICH Newsletter for a WWI Knitting Pattern on page 5.
  • The American Red Cross also gathered volunteers to knit socks. Click here and try your hand at this modern pattern adapted from 1917.
  • The Canadian Red Cross Spring 1918 War Work book contains a pattern on page 15. No modern adaptation created. Take a look and give it a try here.
  • See Needlework and Knitting Instructions produced by the British Red Cross Society in 1914 on page 17.

Modern Patterns

Donate your knitting to a good cause 

There are lots of people out there who could use a warm hat, scarf, or pair of socks. You have a couple options for donating your knitting to a good cause.

1. Donate to Some Warm Welcome! It is an initiative created to welcome Syrian refugees that are arriving in Canada. Hats, mittens, socks, scarves, vamps or anything that will keep someone warm this winter are welcome. Attach a tag that says “Welcome to Canada” in English, French and Arabic. These tags are available to download.

Source: Some Warm 
Welcome Facebook page
To donate to this cause, drop off your knitted goods at:
  • any "Some Good Market" event (see for dates and locations)
  • Cast On Cast Off, 685 Water St, St. John's 
  • The Bay Roberts Visitor's Information Pavilion, call for hours 683.1798
  • MALA, 74 Broadway, Corner Brook
  • All 95 public libraries of Newfoundland and Labrador. Check for the closest one near you! 
2. You can mail or drop off your knitted goods to:

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street, 1st Floor 
PO Box 5171
St. John's, Newfoundland
Canada A1C 5V5

3. You can also donate to your local shelter and/or food bank

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#Folklorephoto Is there something wrong with this picture? How do you open a can of Carnation milk?

At our recent Tea Bun Workshop, a can of Carnation milk was opened like this, to the shock of many participants. How do you open a tin of evaporated milk?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Collective Memories Monday - The Childhood of Janet Story

In September of 2013, I had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Story at her home in St.John's on the topic of growing up in St.John's.

Janet Story was born in 1924 and grew up in St. John's, NL. The interview begins with her providing background information about herself and her family, and then reminiscing about the children's game "Hoist your Sails and Run", ice skating, hockey, tube skates, street cars on Water Street, attending Holloway's School, playing marbles in the spring and sliding in the winter, and summer activities such as swimming and catching tadpoles.

Janet also shares her memories of being a young girl in St. John's during WWII, the blackouts of the 1940s and the Air Raid Precaution Group, playing field hockey and basketball as a teenager, and other memories of her early life.

Janet passed away three months after our recording session, but the full interview is available on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative.

You can listen to more of Janet's memories of her life in sports here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Building Boats and Building Community, with Jim Dempsey

Jim Dempsey is the President of the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. Jim has been around boats and the ocean all of his life. As a boy, he spent his summers on the beach where he always had a boat to row. After studying marine biology and oceanography at university, he was fortunate to be employed in his field for over forty years. He has worked along the entire British Columbia coast, in the Canadian Arctic, and from Sable Island to Hudson's Bay on the east coast. For Jim, the Wooden Boat Museum has provided a chance to realize a dream to build wooden boats. This experience has been enhanced by the people he has met, the places he has visited, and the stories he has heard. In this interview we talk all about the wooden boat museum, their past conferences, the work of conserving boatbuilding skills, and their current educational and outreach programs.

Download the mp3 here

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Curious Historical Tradition of Funeral Photography. #FolkloreThursday

Modern photos taken at funerals and posted to social media often result in comments of shock and disgust, but photographs commemorating these sad but important events were once a fairly common practice. The following two images are from the funeral of Fanny Noel, my great aunt, who was born in 1907 and died of tuberculosis June 30th 1921. Fanny was the eldest child of Sarah Jane Moores and William Henry Noel, whose home in Freshwater, Carbonear is still in the family and can be seen in the second photograph.

Fanny Noel's funeral procession with "The Tolt" in the background. 1921. Courtesy of Barbara Noel Drover

Fanny was part of a local Methodist girls group, and the young women seen dressed in white in both of these photographs would have been members of that group. Surrounded by those in attendance is Fanny Noel's coffin, drawn by a horse and white to symbolize her young age. The first photo also shows farmland, and the prominent natural feature of Freshwater known as "The Tolt."

Fanny Noel's funeral procession leaving her home in Freshwater Carbonear. 1921. Courtesy of  Barbara Noel Drover 
Funeral photos are not that rare in Newfoundland and Labrador. In September 2016 Terra Barrett interviewed Cindy Snow about growing up on Signal Hill and the relocation of the community (listen to the interview on the MUN DAI.) Included in that collection was the following photograph of the casket of Mildred Whiteway outside her home.

Mildred Whiteway waking in home. Signal Hill. February 25th 1953. Courtesy of Bill Whiteway via Cindy Snow. 

Similar funeral photographs are also found throughout the various archives of Newfoundland and Labrador. The following scene is found at The Rooms Provincial Archives in the series "Views of Newfoundland" by Stanley Truman Brooks and Betty Watt Brooks for The Newfoundland Tourist Development Board.

VA 6-59 Funeral Procession through Ferryland [1935]. Courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives.
Another example from the Provincial Archives, this time from the George W. Bailey fonds, shows a casket being carried to a waiting horse and wagon. The location is a St. John's wharf near Harvey and Company Pier 2. In the background are the warehouse and barrels on the wharf, as well as what looks to be parts of Water and Duckworth streets.

B 22-6. Men Carrying Coffin, St. John's Wharf [1931]. Courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives
While these photographs are often considered taboo today, they were once an important part of the funeral process. They commemorated the dead and a significant event for the family and community, showed who was in attendance, and could be shared with those who were not able to be there. In researching funeral practices, they are a wonderful resource to identify some of the important aspects of the particular event, and death practices in an era and community. They can also be used in research on the community in general. The image of Mildred Whiteway's wake documents a house and community which was once located where the Geo Centre is situated today. The image of a coffin on a St. John's wharf also shows an important business and what the St. John's harbour looked at the time.The photographs of Fanny Noels funeral show how the landscape of Freshwater in 1921, and how the Noel home has changed in the nearly 100 years since the funeral.

In addition to funeral processions, photographers also took post-mortem photos of the deceased. These often misunderstood images were a loving way to preserve the memory of a family member. A good example from the City of St. John's Archive is the mortuary portrait of Eng Wing Kit, also known as Charlie Wing Kit or Check Yen, who died on the night of 3 July 1938. He was found the next morning in the kitchen of his restaurant, the Regal CafĂ©, in St. John’s. He was hanging from a rope that had been tied to an iron bar, suspended between the stove and a counter. The police investigation resulted in a mass questioning of the entire Chinese community, but due to the belief that Eng Wing Kit had been killed by a Chinese secret society, or “tong”, many members of the community were uncooperative.

Eng Wing Kit in his coffin. Photo # 01-21-003. A2002-030. Jack Fitzgerald Collection. City of St. John’s Archives.
These are all important images that deserve to be identified and preserved for the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. If you are interested in this topic, check out the previous blog post by Nicole Penney Postmortem Photographs: a long standing misconception

If you have funeral photographs from Newfoundland and Labrador, and would like to share, please email

~ Kelly