Thursday, January 7, 2021

Living Heritage on the Baccalieu Trail

It may have been "Stay Home Year" here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but that didn't stop the Living Heritage Podcast from exploring! In "Hidden Gems of the Baccalieu Trail," host Natalie Dignam takes you on an audio tour of the Baccalieu Trail region on the island of Newfoundland. Explore all the episodes in the series by clicking the pinpoints on the map.

Listen to Living Heritage Episode 198: Make Your Own Podcast. Natalie walks your through creating your first podcast!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Living Heritage Podcast Ep197 The Bowring Park Footbridge and Blanche Lemco Van Ginkel

In 2020, Heritage NL designated a concrete footbridge in Bowring Park as a Registered Heritage Structure, one of the first modernist structures in NL to be recognized as such. The bridge was designed in part by influential architect Blanche Lemco Van Ginkel, and it has been an object of fascination and study for Newfoundland architecture student Sarah Reid. Folklorist Dale Jarvis chats with Sarah about her interest in the footbridge, and shares some of the audio she recorded in conversation with Blanche Van Ginkel herself.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum
professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the
community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.
Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Quick Reads in NL Vernacular Architecture: What is a Trunnel?


The photo above was taken underneath the Fisherman’s Museum in Salvage, Bonavista Bay, and shows the sill of the building, with a protruding trunnel. But what is a trunnel? 

A trunnel (also spelled treenail, trenail, or trennel) is a remnant of ancient building technologies which you can still see in some Newfoundland and Labrador historic buildings. A “treenail” is essentially that, a nail made from a tree: a peg or tenon.  Devine’s Folklore of Newfoundland defines it as “Corruption of trenail: a wooden peg, a foot or so long, used for fastening ships' timber, wharf sticks, etc.”

The use of wood as a fastener can be traced back over 7,000 years, and archaeologists have found traces of wood nails in the excavation of early European sites. When settlers arrived in Newfoundland, they brought their knowledge of trunnels with them, and used them in both house and ship building.  The Slade and Kelson Diaries, Trinity, for Monday 16th, April 1832, reports that a leak in the Caroline was found to have been caused by a “trunnel vacuum” - a hole left where a trunnel should have been driven in. 

Treenails are cut from a single piece of wood, and used so that the grain of the treenail runs perpendicular to the grain of the receiving wood. This adds structural strength to the joint. Hardwoods were preferred, and when they couldn't be found in Newfoundland, they were imported, as the P. & L. Tessier advertisement below, from the Evening Herald of 1892-06-22, demonstrates:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Salvage Fisherman's Museum - the mystery of the missing chimney


Photo shows the remains of the back wall of what was once a stone chimney

We've been doing some research in Salvage, helping out the volunteers at the Fisherman's Museum (the old Lane/Heffern House) to better understand the history of their structure.

Pictured above is the remains of what was once a large stone chimney/fireplace. What is visible is the back wall of the chimney, and if you look at the top of the photo, you can see hole where the fireplace used to be. There is a very heavy wooden beam that runs from wall to wall in front of the opening, which indicates how far out the fireplace once went. 

View of one of the small bedrooms upstairs in the museum, with the outline of the original chimney visible to the right.

Above is a view of the back small bedroom, where you can see the outline of the original chimney, intruding into the floorspace of the room. It tapers upwards toward the ceiling.

Last week, we were able to explore the building more fully, and I was able to get up into the attic of the building. There, one can see the remains of the top of the original chimney:

Shows the stone remains of the top of the chimney, with the more modern roof built around it.

In the photo above, you can see the remaining back wall of the chimney. A blower vent had been installed at one point, and is no longer connected.

We were also able to crawl under the house, where the remains of the original chimney foundation are still visible. These are large stones, measuring about 1.5m from the back wall of the house, and about 2m wide. 

Looking at the remains of the chimney help us better understand the history of the Lane/Heffern House. We suspect the building was rebuilt/expanded in the 1880s or early 1890s, and the chimney may have been removed at that point. The height of the chimney suggests that the roofline was much lower at one point, possibly with the house being only 1.5 storeys high. Other physical evidence in the building suggests it also occupied a small footprint, and would have been a roughly square building, likely with one room centred around the large gable-end walk-in or "inglenook" chimney.  Originally, it may have looked something like the image below, taken from D.C. Beard's "Shelters, Shacks, & Shanties" published in 1914:

There are still a lot of questions to answer about the history of the house, including when and how it was originally constructed, and when it was modified and why. Stay tuned! If you have any information about the building, or memories of it before it was a turned into a museum in the 1960s, email or comment below. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Living Heritage Podcast Ep196 - Roger Tinney, furniture maker


Roger Tinney is a furniture maker based in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Roger inherited some of his skill as a carpenter from his father and grandfather, and then expanded his knowledge of furniture-making after moving to British Columbia. We chat about family origins, working with wood, finishes, and the importance of whimsey!


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum
professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the
community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.
Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Report on the 2020 Salvage People, Places, and Culture Workshop

hands holding a pen, making notes on a map of the town of Salvage, Newfoundland

Monday, 2 November 2020, the Town of Salvage hosted a “People, Places & Culture “Workshop, facilitated by Heritage NL. The event was attended by approximately 15-20 individuals from the community on the first night and 20-25 the following day, Tuesday, 3 November 2020, including some partner and governmental organizations.  

The workshop comprised two parts: I) a cultural mapping activity that considered the community’s tangible and intangible cultural assets and; II) a session to explore opportunities for protecting, safeguarding and developing these assets that included representation from stakeholders.  The latter activity involved the ranking of themes and clusters of cultural assets that emerged from the mapping session. 

This report is a summary of what was discussed, and includes a number of recommendations, resources, and links from HeritageNL.

You can view the full report here

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Visiting the Burgess Property, Whiteway, Trinity Bay.

Burgess Fishing Stage

The Burgess Property is a collection of 6 buildings in Whiteway, NL, dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2020. Built and operated by an unbroken line of Burgess family members over six generations, the cluster of closely spaced buildings are part of a single family enterprise. Their continuity helps to imbue a sense of how the property was inhabited and operated for more than 100 years, and the diversity of buildings speaks to the variety of functions and income sources of outport family premises.

We visited the site yesterday, and are working with the Burgess family to document and better understand the history of the premises. Stay tuned for more info and photos on this group of structures in the weeks to come!

Burgess Dwelling House

Burgess Stable/Store (left) and sawmill (right)

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Researcher looking for stories and memories of Nish Rumboldt, Newfoundland’s Pied Piper of song.

 Music has always been central to everyday life in Newfoundland and Labrador. From work songs to hymns, fiddle tunes to symphonies—music expression plays an important part in the cultural life of this province. Choral director Ignatius Rumboldt proved that folk and classical singing alike could be enjoyable and accessible for people across the province. Through his role as a choirmaster and music educator in the 1930s-1970s, he was essential to the creation of a choral music community that flourished in communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.


By Ellen Power

Ignatius “Nish” Rumboldt was born in 1916, one of seven children in a fishing family from Curling. Upon his mother’s death in 1921, the family split up and six year old Nish was sent with his brothers to the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s. Despite the upheaval, Nish thrived in the arts and music classes offered at the orphanage. His talent caught the eye of Basilica organist and local businessman Charles Hutton. Hutton mentored young Nish and helped him get advanced lessons in voice and music theory. Nish was only 15 years old when Hutton offered him the position of assistant organist at the Basilica in 1931. Hutton retired 5 years later and Nish took over his position as the chief organist and choirmaster. He held the post for the next 16 years. During this time, Nish organized choral and orchestral concerts for St. John’s audiences, to great acclaim. He also taught choirs at Catholic schools across the city and was an early supporter of the Kiwanis Music Festival competition.

Image: Nish Rumboldt (front row, far left) with the other MUN Extension Faculty, 1961. Photo courtesy of MUN Digital Archives Initiative

Nish Rumboldt is probably best known for his work in establishing choirs across the province in the 1950s and 1960s.  He was one of the first musical directors to add Newfoundland folk songs to the choral repertoire, first with the CJON Glee Club and then with MUN Extension choirs across Newfoundland and Labrador. His spirited interpretations of traditional Newfoundland songs were popular with choristers and audiences alike. Nish hoped hearing the music would inspire people to learn more about the province’s folk music traditions. “I used every opportunity I could,” he later recalled. “[I]f we were asked to sing at a government banquet and we had distinguished visitors, we’d sing a little of every type of music, but I’d be sure to finish up with Newfoundland music.”

Nish believed anyone could join a choir, as long as they were eager to learn. “I met a few people who couldn’t sing at the time but I never discouraged them,” he once said. “One chap came, give him a note and he’d sing anything but. And he became one of my soloists later.” One former soloist in a choir of Nish’s remembered his kindness to choir members. “He was so gentle with his singers,” she recalled.  “Even if they couldn't sing that well, he never put anybody down, he kind of lifted you up”.


Image: Nish Rumboldt conducts the MUN Glee Club in concert, c. 1960s-1970s. Photo courtesy of MUN Digital Archives Initiative

Nish Rumboldt was admired across the province for what one writer described as "the ability to transfer his verve and love of life to a choir and on to an audience." His work with choirs eventually resulted in his 1975 recognition as a Member of the Order of Canada. Nish retired in 1980, the same year he was awarded a honourary doctorate from Memorial University in recognition of his tireless work to promote choral music in the province. This work lives on, despite his death in 1994. The Department of Music, which owes its creation in part to Nish’s advocacy, now carries a scholarship in his name. And the active choral community in this province today certainly owes a debt to the lifelong efforts of Nish Rumboldt.


Were you in one of Nish Rumboldt’s choirs, or did you work with him in the choral community? Share your stories, memories, and photos with us at


Dunsmore, Douglas. "Nish Rumboldt: Newfoundland’s beloved Pied Piper of song." In Sharing The Voices: The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium I, St. John’s, NL, June 1997, 107-114. St. John’s, NL:  Memorial University.

Morgan, Bernice. “Ignatius Rumboldt—Mr. Music.” MUN Gazette, August 28, 1978.

Pathways. "Ignatius Rumboldt." Produced by MUN Extension Services. Aired 1983, on MUN Education Television Centre.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, s.v. "Ignatius Rumboldt," by Paul Woodford and Betty Nygaard King, accessed Nov. 6, 2020,

Woodford, Paul G. “Nish” Rumboldt: the life and contributions of Ignatius Rumboldt to music in Newfoundland. St. John’s, NL: Creative Publishers, 1984.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Help us out with this quick cemetery training survey!

Newfoundland and Labrador: Help us out with this quick 3-second survey - What part of cemetery conservation do you need to know more about?