Friday, May 26, 2017

#FoodwaysFriday - Sealing Vessel Memories

Unidentified sealing vessel in ice. PF-323.048. Donor: John Connors, 1998.
Maritime History Archive - International Grenfell Association Lantern Slides.
When we discuss foodways of Newfoundland and Labrador the first food that often comes to mind is the codfish. Cod has played a major role in everything from the province’s economy to its culture. It is featured in many traditional dishes however it is not the only food tradition in the province. Seafood and fish, caribou, seal, sea birds, berries, root vegetables, and imported products such as molasses and tin milk all play a part in the province’s food traditions. In celebration of the diverse foods harvested, grown, cooked, and eaten in Newfoundland and Labrador we will be doing a #FoodwaysFriday feature on the ICH Blog.

This week we are featuring an interview with Mr. Mark Johnson of Little Catalina. It was recorded in 1999 in Port Union for the Sir William F. Coaker Heritage Foundation and digitized by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. The interview focuses on Mr. Johnson’s work experience and his time in the seal fishery.

Mr. Johnson shares stories about his time as a wheel master on several sealing vessels, memories of hunting on the ice, and the conditions of the sealing vessels as well as stories about William Coaker and Port Union, boat building, cod fishing on the Labrador, sailing, and World War Two. This audio interview also includes a full transcript which is key word searchable.

If you want to learn more about Mr. Mark Johnson’s working life click here to listen the full interview and read the transcript!

Share your stories and knowledge of food with the hashtag #FoodwaysFriday.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

You're invited! Historic Places & Folklore of Bay Roberts, June 8th

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial University Folklore Department, and the heritage and culture groups of Bay Roberts are working on a project to identify places that hold special meanings, stories, and memories in the different neighbourhoods of Bay Roberts. We’d love your help in making a list of possible places for university folklore students to research this September. Share your knowledge and memories with us! We’ll have the kettle on!

Shearstown Community Centre
(Old Lion’s Club)
Thursday, June 8th, 2017, 7pm

For more info, contact Dale Jarvis at:
1-888-739-1892 x2 

"Some Thousand Miles Apart, and a War On." The WWII Letters of Allen Squires and Pearl Morcombe, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

Allen Squires in uniform (028.02.02).  Detail of one of the many letters he wrote to Pearl Morcombe.

In April I had the pleasure to work on a collection for the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, organizing the Allen and Pearl Squires fonds. The couple made a financial donation to the town in the 1980's to establish the community library, and with that donation came a box with some of the couples possessions, 35mm slides, war medals, and stacks of letters written during the second world war. When I first opened up the box, the stacks of beautifully handwritten letters, immediately peaked my interests.

Stacks of correspondence from the Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

The letters were all sent to Pearl Morcombe of Melrose, Massachusetts during the Second World War. Pearl corresponded with fifteen different people, family and friends who talked about their own lives and life during WW2. A large portion of the correspondence is from Allen Squires of St. Philip's, who had known Pearl years before, and had reconnected as penpals when Allen's sister Edna Tucker sent Pearl his address. Pearls mother was from St. Philip's, so Pearl already had some connection with the area, and Allan often wrote about the area, telling Pearl she should visit. They wrote about the war and their homes and families. He often talks about everyday life at war, the food they ate, where they slept, and their entertainment. While stationed in England, Allen wrote in a letter on March 13th 1941:

Souvenir sent by Allen to Pearl, Sept. 15, 1940 
"If Hitler thinks he will brake the moral of the British people, he is making a big mistake. There's a little girl drives a van in every morning about 10 o'clock, with coffee and buns for the boys. The other morning she came in and told me she was up all night. I asked her what the trouble was, and she said there was about thirty fire bombs dropped in her back yard that night. So she said she worked on them all night with the men and helped to put them out, and still she was on the job at nine in the morning with her little van, with buns and coffee for the boys. I told her she ought to get a medal and she just laughed about it. I never saw people with such wonderful pluck. They are really marvelous. If there is any holes in our socks, they will take them and darn them, or if we want anything done, they are quiet willing to do it. They post all our letters. I don't think I shall ever forget them."
Through out his letters, Allen often talks about the women he meets at war, and tells Pearl she should find herself a boyfriend. As they continue to write to each other, and their relationship grows, Allen's writing becomes more romantic and he talks of their future together. On April 24th 1942 Allen wrote:
"I am living in hopes that some day I will be able to make you my little wife and we can live happy for the remainder of our life. That may sound funny. Some thousand miles apart, and a war on, but such things can happen." 
028.02.01 Allen and Emma Squires. Courtesy of
the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
Pearl also receives letters from other people, including those related to Allen and from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. She writes to Allen's sister Edna Tucker, and his brother Leslie Squires who moved to the USA for work. There are letters from Edna's son Jacob J. Tucker who first writes when he is 16 and a member of the 1st St. Philip's Troop Boy Scouts and leader of the Boy Scouts orchestra in St. Philip's. He eventually goes to live with Pearl in Massachusetts for his health and seeking opportunity. Allen's mother Emma Squires writes to Pearl, primarily when she has not heard from her son and to ask if Pearl has received any letters. Emma Squires emotional letters are those of a worried mother, wondering if the war will ever end, and her sadness over the death of her husband Gus Squires. Most of her letters are steeped in melancholy, including one letter from September 26th 1944:

"Just as I am writing this I look [through] my window at such a lovely sunset, I never saw before. Just like a picture as it shined on the church just by my house, its red roof and all white. It made me feel so sad. And when I see anything looking so lovely it makes me think of things very sad. Well Dear, what do you think of the dread full time is going on now. I suppose this is the finishing of most of our Dear ones. I am thinking there isn't many of them going to be left by the time it's finished. I guess they will be most all thru with it all. I was in hopes of my Dear boy coming some time, but since this hard time have started I am feeling pretty bad at it all."

In one of the last letters, a August 14th 1945 letter forwarded to Pearl from Leslie Squires, Emma Squires writes about the end of the war and news that Allen is returning home to Newfoundland. She once again describes the view out her window, but this time with the joy and relief:
"The church bell is ringing now and Bell Island is all a light guns firing." 
028.03.201 View of St. Philip's Church and Bell Island. Taken by Allen and Pearl Squires August 10th 1962
Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
For more information on the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives, contact the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Heritage Programs and Services Coordinator Julie Pomeroy.

~ Kelly

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"We never did go hungry on Saturdays" - Interview with Clarence "Mac" Miller

Clarence (Mac) Miller Interviewed by Nataliya Bezborodova

Clarence (Mac) Miller is a lifelong resident of Portugal Cove – St. Philips, NL. He was born September 19, 1943. Mac Miller is the only son in a family of five children. As a child, he often accompanied his father who worked as a truck driver supplying goods to boats for Bell Island. He married in 1968, having growing up in the same community as his wife. He has two daughters and is “waiting for grandchildren, still waiting.” Mac Miller worked in public utilities for 35 years, and is now retired. His interest in history and geography started as a schoolchild, and he began his own research in his family genealogy which led him to become a local Heritage Committee member.

“Saturdays when there would be no school, myself and another friend of mine, we used to go with my father to Bell Island to help deliver the produce. We would be in the back of the truck. Now of course, at that time everything was sort of in, not cardboard boxes but in small wooden crates. I can remember, we would be in the back of the truck, we would be passing the stuff out to my father and he would be bringing it in but from going to one place to another if we were hungry we would open a box and have a banana, an orange, or an apple or anything. Flick the peels out of the truck so my father wouldn’t see as he was driving. We were in the back of the truck with a big tarpaulin over the truck. So, we never did go hungry on Saturdays. All the rest of the week we were hungry, waiting for Saturdays, and get paid a dollar for doing that too.”

Mac described the work associated with growing up in a family of girls:
“Otherwise there wasn’t much time for entertainment so to speak, because when my father worked on Bell Island, I had to come home from school and get all the supplies for the night, I had to get splits, small pieces of kindling for lighting the fire in the morning. I never had too much time for sports. When I did, that was mostly at school, playing baseball, soccer. Some Saturdays when my father wouldn’t be at home, when he would go to Bell Island on a Monday and wouldn’t be back until Friday night, and I being the only boy, I had to do all the work. Sometimes coming home from school I used to have to go in the woods, which was about a mile hike cut a few sticks of wood, haul them back, physically haul them back to the house about another mile, and cut them up for a day. Some Saturdays we had to cut up enough wood for the fire for the whole week, which didn’t leave much time for anything else: stealing vegetables out of the gardens or anything else like that, right? That’s about it for me.”

Mac: “I didn’t like my siblings, they were all girls. They didn’t like me either!
Nataliya : You had a hard time!
Mac: I did have hard time! [laughter] They got away from everything. That is why I had to do all this hard work, go to get firewood,and so on. Girls didn’t do that stuff. They would be stuck inside the house, while I was outside in the cold at everything else. Well, my five sisters, we all went to school here in Portugal Cove. Finished high school there. I was the only one who did, as they say, post-education. I had one year at the University, but I didn’t like that. And at about nineteen years old I went to work, and I stayed at that job for 35 years until I retired.”

Although there was a lot of hard work Mac also recalled some of the games and activities he would play as a child:
“In summer when we had holidays, we used to play soccer. we played baseball a lot. We used to grow our own vegetables too, fish every now and then. We weren’t a fishing family but every now and then you would get out with someone in a boat, jig a few codfish for the week. We used to play some games. One game we used to play is tiddly. Different places you go in Newfoundland, they call it by a different name, right. We called it tiddly; we played with a couple of sticks. I actually had a real ball to play soccer with. Can you believe that? A real ball. We went swimming. We would walk over hills from Portugal Cove about a mile hike to go swimming in the ponds. […] So, we used to hike over hills almost every day in summer or on our holidays. Go for a swim, then come back home again. We used to spend a lot of time around the rocks, we used to call them rocks, or a shoreline. Jigging connors, sometimes you would get a small codfish that used to be in around the rocks, fry that on the rocks. One thing I remember that we used to do. Do you know what conk is? Seashell that grows on a rock. We call them conk, right. They are males and females. We used to go down on the shoreline and pick those off the rocks. Pick the male ones off the rocks, because the male ones are bigger and fatter. We put them in an old tin can, and make a little fire. We boiled them and ate them. They were lovely! They were actually really lovely!”

“My friend had a horse. Of course late in spring of the year and late in fall of the year you had to cut a grass, let it dry, put it to a barn for the horse in the winter. That used to be good because once we got the barn full of hay we started jumping in the hay. If you were warm at all, if you were sweating at all, you itch like anything. It was fun, but at the end of it you almost wanted to walk another ¾ of a mile to the pond to go for a swim. We used to swim in the salt water too. Saltwater is a lot better to swim in because saltwater is heavy and fresh water is not. We used to get in saltwater, and just float. We get on our backs and float. Saltwater will keep you up. In fresh water you have to move your hands and feet just to keep in that same position. I remember one place called Claire’s beach. It used to be a beach of a family Claire's that lived there. I remember myself and this other guy were swimming once and we were out twenty feet in the water, and we saw this tail come up in the air, out of the water. It was a shark about thirty feet from us. That was closer than I’ve ever been in all the time I spent swimming in saltwater to something chasing us so to speak. Here was this shark. We got out of water pretty fast.”

“I live more in the past than in the future or the present. I always did. When I was going to school, history and geography were my two passions. Especially history. For some reason, I don’t know why you get hooked on something […] I think it was just about how the things were back that then, what they did and so on. […] I don’t know, just an interest I had… why someone becomes a hockey player, what made you become a soccer player. It was just something I was interested in, it was just in me for some reason. Then I just kept at it, and at it, and at it, it just got more and more challenging. Then I got into family history, and it was fine, doing genealogy. Not even one thing in particular, but the overall thing, history, how did this come about.”

This interview was conducted as part of a Collective Memories Mug Up project conducted by Memorial University students enrolled in FOLK 6740: Public Folklore, Winter 2017. If you would like to listen to the full interview click here

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What Do You Remember About the Community Post Office? #Folklorephoto

028.03.126 "Mrs. Dine Haynes." August 17th 1962. From the Allen and Pearl Squires fonds. Courtesy of the Portugal Cove St. Philip's Archives.  
Do you recognize the above post office? or Mrs, Dine Haynes?

The image is part of a collection of slides taken by Allen and Pearl Squires in 1962. Allen Squires grew up in St. Philip's and while home for a visit for the summer of 1962, Allen and Pearl traveled around the Avalon Peninsula taking photographs in various communities including Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Pouch Cove, Torbay, St. John's, Holyrood, Brigus and others. This slide was labeled "Mrs. Dine Haynes" August 17th 1962, though there are no other photographs from that day to give other clues to where this might be.

The left side of the photograph shows a cemetery, which appears to only be next to the Post Office because of a partial double exposure, and not part of the actual location. In the window is a Players cigarette advertisement and a Brookfield dairy ad "For a treat try a Polar [Bar]", indicating that the Post Office also served as a store. Do you know which community this Post Office was in?

What do you remember about your local post office? Was it part of a store? Was it in someone's house? Who worked there?


Monday, May 22, 2017

Collective Memories Monday - Making and Reloading Shotgun Shells with Albert Hiscock

On July 13, 2016, as part of the Collective Memories project, I interviewed Albert Hiscock of Champney’s West. In this short interview Sarah describes growing up in Champney’s West, memories of the Hazel Pearl and Saladin shipwrecks, and gives an explanation of how to make and reload shotgun shells.

Listen to Albert's full interview here on the Memorial University’s Digital Archives.

And enjoy this short video of Albert demonstrating how to make and reload shotgun shells.

~Terra Barrett

Friday, May 19, 2017

#FoodwaysFriday - Goats Galore

Trinity. Goat cart. (30 01 078) Rev. Edwin Hunt Photographs - Trinity.
Geography Collection - Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador on DAI.
When we discuss foodways of Newfoundland and Labrador the first food that often comes to mind is the codfish. Cod has played a major role in everything from the province’s economy to its culture. It is featured in many traditional dishes however it is not the only food tradition in the province. Seafood and fish, caribou, seal, sea birds, berries, root vegetables, and imported products such as molasses and tin milk all play a part in the province’s food traditions. In celebration of the diverse foods harvested, grown, cooked, and eaten in Newfoundland and Labrador we will be doing a #FoodwaysFriday feature on the ICH Blog.

This week we are featuring an interview from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation interviews in 2005 with Mr. Carl Smith of Hant’s Harbour. In this video interview Mr. Smith talks about growing up in Hant’s Harbour, the games he played, going to school, and the traditional work in the area. He also discusses picking berries and growing vegetables. Tune in around 24:00 minutes to listen to Mr. Smith talk about keeping goats and telling the story of his sister’s surprise when she noticed the goats were missing only to be told they had eaten them!

If you want to learn more about Mr. Carl Smith’s life in Hant’s Harbour click here to watch the full interview!

Have you kept goats? What are you memories about keeping them?

If you are in the New Perlican area be sure to check out our Goat Tea and Other Animal Tales this evening at 7:00pm in the Veteran's Memorial Community Centre!

Share your stories and knowledge of food with the hashtag #FoodwaysFriday.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Launching the Oral History Roadshow... with goats, of course!

In the work that we’ve been doing to document NL’s living heritage, we often hear the same concern expressed by local seniors - that their stories are dying out in their communities. Inspired and led by this, the main objective of the Oral History Night Roadshow is to conserve those stories in a creative and innovative way.

The Oral History Night Roadshow is a project to capture the stories and memories of seniors, to empower and encourage seniors to showcase their memories through a series of public oral history night celebrations, and to share their knowledge and experience through the production of a booklet for each set of community stories.

Simply put, the Oral History Night Roadshow will see us travel from community to community, hosting a series of Oral History Nights, open-mic storytelling sessions led and inspired by seniors in that community. We will partner with seniors involved with local museums, cultural organizations, and 50+ clubs to bring together local seniors, create partnerships, and plan each event. Seniors in each town get to pick the stories important to them. People will come, have some food, mix with a broad selection of locals, and tell stories.

After the Oral History Night, we’ll linger around the community, meeting individually with the seniors, and doing one-on-one recordings of their stories. We’ll archive and share those online in partnership with Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative, and select specific stories to transcribe. We’ll be adding to our collection of community history booklets, then returning to our partner communities for a book launch party!

We are delighted that our first partner community is New Perlican, and we’ll be rolling into town Friday for our Goat Tea, sharing stories about the goats of New Perlican and other animal tales -- stories of animals raised for meat, milk, and eggs, family pets, work animals like goats, dogs, horses, cows, and ponies, hens and roosters.

Did your family have a goat? Got an animal story you want to share?

Join us at the Veteran’s Memorial Community Centre, Main Road, New Perlican on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 7:00pm.

The Oral History Roadshow is made possible with assistance from the New Horizons for Seniors program. Photo of New Perlican goats courtesy Louise Coombs. Know the people (or goats) in the photo? Let us know!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“I remember my first cup of tea" - Interview with Delores Susan Mitchell

Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Memory Mug Up
Delores Mitchell, interviewed by Ema Kibirkstis

Delores Susan Mitchell, nee Greeley, was born January 3rd, 1957, and has lived her entire life in Portugal Cove. Her mother, Annie Violet Roberts, was a “townie” from St. John’s and took care of the home and family, and her father, Leonard Greeley, was a labourer for Stokes. She lived with her grandparents Archibald and Suzy, nee Churchill, in North Point until the age of nine, when her parents built and moved to a new home further down the road. Mitchell fondly remembers her heavily tattooed grandfather that had a story for every mark and was in charge of local grave digging, and her grandmother who would always favour her as the only girl and often treat her when making a trip to “town.”

North Point, or “The Geeze,” was isolated compared to the rest of Portugal Cove, and so they were often left “off to themselves”. Most of her memories growing up a tomboy, living with four brothers, or playing with some of her closest friends, Joselyn Churchill and Sylvia Greeley. When not in school, Mitchell recalls spending most of her time outdoors and “making their own fun.” During the warmer months, she recalls playing softball, skip rope, hopscotch, hide-and-seek, and spotlight. In the winter, they would go sledding in the meadow behind her house, and if there was freezing rain, skate down the hill. Everyone would get around by biking or walking, and if they were to go to “town”, St. John’s, they would have to take the bus.

Mitchell recalls holidays and special events amongst family and friends dearly. During Christmas time, she remembers her father and members of the community mummering, and on Christmas Day many people constantly stopping by. What was particularly exciting for her, was when Santa Claus visited on Old Christmas Day (January 6th). On New Years Eve, her family would wait in front of the television together until midnight struck, and her father and grandfather would go outside to shoot their guns with the rest of “the cove”. Amongst her friends, Halloween and Valentine’s Day were the most exciting. During the latter, children would leave anonymous valentines at each other’s doors. Amongst her family, Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) was particularly fun because her mother would hide coins, nails, needles, buttons, or her own wedding ring in the cakes, each granting their own prediction for the future.

In the neighbourhood, she recalls there being a woman who read tea leaves and ward off warts, a man who could stop blood, and the “cat man” who lived alone amongst an abundant amount of felines. Just up the road from her were two grocers, Hibbs’ and Churchill’s. For every other need, they would have to catch the bus to St. John’s.


“One Christmas, Santa had left me a beautiful walking doll. Let me tell you, she was a big doll and she looked real. She was beautiful. Well, the boys got their hands on it and glued her eyes shut. It broke my heart. I could never get her eyes open again – I was devastated. I kept her, of course. I could never have anything. I had a stroller, a doll, child’s stroller, and they took the wheels off of that to make a buggy for themselves, oh my… But no, I couldn’t have anything. Everything I had they destroyed.”


“I remember my first cup of tea I had as a child. My grandmother poured some in a saucer because it was hot, and I would blow on it to cool it down, and drink it from the saucer so I wouldn’t burn my lips. Loved it and I still drink tea today. She got me hooked on tea.”


“When we had a lot of freezing rain and it was really cold, we would put on our skates and we could skate down the mountain. And I remember one year, I lost total control coming down over the mountain, and I went through my neighbour’s fence. I was hurt, nothing broken thank god, but I did get hurt. I was in bed for a while. But we had no fear.”


“They do Valentine’s different now. We used to make out our valentines, and most of the time we wouldn’t sign our name, we’d say, “Guess who?” If I would send one to you, I would write your name and then I would say, “Guess who?” And what we did, we would put them underneath your door, or by your door, and we’d knock and run away. Whatever child was home inside that house was anxious, listening for the door or a knock on the door so that they can go get their valentine. It was fun… We would try to guess who it was, and that was all part of it trying to guess “Who was that one from?” And trying to catch someone trying to leave a valentine at your door to find out exactly who did it, that was fun too.”


“There were two stores: Churchill owned one, and Hibbs owned one. Two stores next door to each other. My mom always had an account. People had accounts at Hibbs’, and as they get paid - like my father got paid he’d pay so much on his account… They had bologna, tinned food, salt meat, and whatever, right? And of course, she [Mrs. Hibbs] would have her little book with my parents name on it, and she would write down everything that they put on their account. And then of course when they paid their bill, it would be marked paid. Then it would start again.”


“He lived down from me. He loved cats. Nat Pond was his name, that’s what we used to call him. He loved cats. One of my brother’s and a neighbour’s child went down there one day and drowned one his cats in his well. Oh, he was devastated… They were young, and you know them boys, up to their antics. So anyway, he came up to my parents and the parents next door, and of course my brother and my neighbour’s son were chastised, most definitely. There were cats everywhere. He loved cats. And he lived by himself – don’t know if he was ever married, he could have been, but when I was old enough to understand, he was on his own. And he loved cats, he just loved them.”

This interview was conducted as part of a Collective Memories Mug Up project conducted by Memorial University students enrolled in FOLK 6740: Public Folklore, Winter 2017. If you would like to listen to the full interview click here