Monday, April 24, 2017

Collective Memories - Preparing Turrs with Sarah Hiscock

Sarah Hiscock of Champney's West.
On July 7, 2016, as part of the Collective Memories project, I interviewed Sarah Hiscock of Champney’s West. In this short interview Sarah describes growing up in Champney’s West, shares her memories of the wreck of the Hazel Pearl, and explains how to prepare turr to eat. I’ve included a short audio clip below about cleaning and eating turr.

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


~Terra Barrett

Friday, April 21, 2017

Riddle Me This! Riddle Night at The Crow's Nest Photos


Terra Barrett and Dale Jarvis hosting Riddle Me This!
Photo by Kelly Drover.

Riddle:
We hurt without moving, we poison without touching. 
We bare the truth and the lies. 
We are not to be judged by our size. 
What are we?
(Answer below)

This week our office hosted Riddle Me This an open mic night of traditional riddles at the Crow's Nest. Dale and I came prepped with a selection of riddles from online sources, friends and family, and Memorial University's Folklore and Language Archives. Several audience members also brought riddles to puzzle the audience. It was a great evening of brain work outs and we had requests for a repeat session. We even had one audience member who came decked out in a riddler inspired outfit.

We recorded the riddling session and are working on a list of the traditional and contemporary riddles rhymed off  on Tuesday night. Stay tuned to the blog updates where we will post the completed list and let us know if you would like to see this event again!

Sara Anne Johnson, in her riddler dress, and Dale Jarvis at Riddle Me This!
Photo by Terra Barrett.
Answer: Words

Thursday, April 20, 2017

From Pliny to Placentia Bay: The Folklore of Vinegar. #folklorethursday



Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot
Fast as he could caper,
He went to bed to mend his head,
With vinegar and brown paper.


The traditional “Jack and Jill” rhyme we learned as children dates back at least to the 1700s, and exists with a number of different verses and variations. What we are focussing on today is that second verse, with the reference to the vinegar plaster. An earlier version, noted in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, goes:


Up Jack got, and home did trot
As fast as he could caper;
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.


The idea of patching your nob with a vinegar plaster goes back a long way. Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40 – 90 AD) included vinegar in a cure for headaches in his five-volume De Materia Medica. Dioscorides was employed as a medic in the Roman army, so I suspect he knew a thing or two about bumps on the head (and hangovers, for that matter). The idea was supported by Pliny the Elder, who encouraged the use of a vinegar plaster as a cure for snakebite and scorpion stings. Vinegar as a headache cure persisted for a couple thousand years, ending up in children’s rhymes. Well into the modern era it was a common practice in areas without sophisticated medical care, and still survives as a home remedy today. In a 1946 article in Decks Awash, Victor Butler writes,
Many years ago when people lived in the harbours and coves of Placentia Bay, they were without medical assistance in time of sickness and accident. This was one of the prices liveyers had to pay for living in isolation. However, in all the communities first settled, there resided from one to three middle aged mothers who were skilled in administering to the needs of the sick and suffering. Some were more skilled than others in using the limited amount of available remedies to cope with the different ailments. In later years I have given much thought to how those very intelligent, although illiterate women, acquired the skill to use the different roots, leaves, barks and buds of trees and plants in a suitable manner to ease the pain and discomfort of people suffering from so many different ailments. The majority of settlers in the Bays and Harbours migrated to Newfoundland from England, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands. They must have been aware of the different remedies mentioned and then passed the information along to their descendants.
Butler then goes on to list various traditional healing concoctions. Two of those involve vinegar:
7. White liniment —- Equal parts of spirits turpentine and white vinegar were combined with the whites and the shells of two eggs. 
8. Brown paper and vinegar — Brown paper saturated with cold vinegar was placed on foreheads for headaches.
Dame-Dob-of-the-nursery-rhyme was, apparently, of the same school of traditional medicine as Butler’s three middle-aged Placentia Bay mothers.

Today, we are more likely to use vinegar on our fish and chips. Even that custom has its own traditions and folklore.

According to a 1980 article by Susan Coen, the 1953 Avalon Telephone Company phone book had one listing under "Chip Service" for St. John’s -- Ron's Snack Bar, Lime Street. In an interview with Ron Martin, son of the original owner, Martin noted this about vinegar:
The vinegar, fast foods don't even think about vinegar. But vinegar is a very important thing to fish 'n chips. It's got to be brown and it's got to be mixed vinegar. Little packages of that white vinegar, we just don't even use on fish 'n chips. It sounds foolish, but it's a fact. Brown vinegar. I drink it. I actually drink it. Yeah. Every hour I usually have a handful of brown vinegar.
Today in St. John’s, a new generation of vinegar-makers is emerging. Janet Harron is the proprietress of Wild Mother Provisions, a food company specializing in artisanal vinegar and the traditional baked goods of Britain and Ireland. Harron currently sells at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market and her beer-based vinegar (technically alegar) is also available at Rocket Bakery and other retailers in downtown St. John’s.



“We are looking for stories about the use of vinegar in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Harron says. “For example, do you remember a vinegar plant in your house when you were growing up, a home-fermented vinegar made from toasted bread, molasses, yeast and water? What was it used for? Do you remember eating vinegar pie? Or a vinegar drink sweetened with molasses?”

Harron notes that this vinegar drink dates from the 18th century and is called “switchel” or "Haymakers’ Punch" in United States, not to be confused with Newfoundland and Labrador switchel, which refers to tea left boiling on the stove all day.

What are your vinegar memories, or pieces of vinegar folklore from your community? Did you have a vinegar plant? Let us know! Comment below or email ich@heritagefoundation.ca


Works Cited:

Butler, Victor. Angels of Mercy. Decks Awash, vol. 05, no. 05 (October 1976): 14.

Cohen, Susan. “Fish ‘n Chips” in St. John’s. Culture & Tradition, vol. 05 (1980): 43-54.

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

Exploring first-person interpretation with Chris Driedzic. #podcast



Chris Driedzic is an interpreter with Parks Canada. You can find him dressed as the lighthouse keeper and immersed in the 19th century at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. He also develops interpretive programs for Provincial Historic Sites of Newfoundland and Labrador and has created work for Heart’s Content Cable Station, Mockbeggar Plantation, Point Amour Lighthouse, Cupids Cove Plantation and The Commissariat. In this podcast, we explore the world of first-person interpretation, and get Chris’s inside scoop on working as a parks interpreter.

Download the MP3



photo: courtesy Chris Driedzic Facebook

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Heritage Update: Grants, Conferences, & Red Cliff and Random Head Memories



In Heritage Update Number 070 for March-April 2017: we introduce some changes to our Designation and Grant Programs; share memories from the former Red Cliff Base; announce the grant deadline for the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Program 2017; meet the Coopers, the lighthouse family of Random Head in a special article from the Clarenville Heritage Society; and ask you to save the date for the "Adapting our Heritage Conference" in St. John’s, October 25 – 28, 2017. We also take a trip to look at the archival material of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, seek your help with our survey of historical churches, and announce the Greenspond Courthouse Call for Expressions of Interest!

Contributors: Lucy Alway, Terra Barrett, Stephen Bonnell, Jerry Dick, and Kelly Drover.

Download the pdf

photo: "Home Sweet Home" - The Lighthouse - Random Head. Courtesy Clarenville Heritage Society.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Collective Memories Monday - Easter Buns with Betty Rumbolt



On March 31st, 2011,  Melissa Squarey interviewed Betty Rumbolt about her tradition of Easter Buns. Rumbolt is originally from Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland.

In this interview she talks about her first memories of the baked good, Easter celebrations in Upper Island Cove, the tools used in making Easter Buns, when they are prepared, and some specific memories tied to the tradition. Rumbolt goes into detail about how to make the buns as well as referencing differences in recipes and alterations made within the family. Rumbolt speaks to the tradition of baking goods among the women in her family, and concludes by speaking about the importance of traditions in families.

Listen their chat about Easter buns here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Memories of Wabana - Exploring Bell Island with Gail Weir



Gail (Hussey) Weir is the author of The Miners of Wabana, published by Breakwater Books in 1989 and 2006. Her latest publication is a chapter on the history of Company Housing on Bell Island in the book Company Houses, Company Towns: Heritage and Conservation, published by Cape Breton University Press in 2016. A former archivist with Memorial University Library’s Archives & Special Collections, she is spending her retirement years constructing a website on Bell Island’s history and culture at www.historic-wabana.com.

In this podcast, we talk about the history of mining on Bell Island, company housing and building styles, and Gail’s memories of growing up on the island.

The photo above is from Gail's website, and shows the building of the abutment at Scotia Pier c. 1950 at the time that Euclid trucks were replacing ore cars for transport of iron ore from the mines to the piers. The house in the left of the picture was the accountant's house. On the far right of the background can be seen the partial top storey of the Manager's House. Photo courtesy of Archives & Special Collections, MUN Library.

Download the MP3

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

St. John's Memories with Melanie Tucker

(01 02 004) Water Street, St. John's. View looking east with Ayre and Sons to the right.
Photo courtesy of Geography Collection of Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Last week Dale and I presented at The Rooms' Research Workshop on Collecting Community History. In the morning there were presentations from The Rooms' staff on how to use their collections for researching community history. The participants also got a tour of the archives.
Dale Jarvis interviewing Melanie Tucker.
In the afternoon session Dale gave an overview of how to do an oral history project including planning in advance, focusing the project, and support and funding that is available. He also did a mock interview, and explained the process of memory mapping or the People, Places, and Culture workshops we run at the Heritage Foundation. I also gave a brief presentation on what to do with the material once you have completed the oral interviews and how to present the material back to the community. If you want more information on how to complete oral history projects please visit our Oral History Project Guide.
Participants of The Rooms' Research Workshop on Collecting Community History.
Melanie Tucker, an archivist with The Rooms, was interviewed by Dale about her memories of growing up in St. John's, going to school, working with the Provincial Archives, and in particular her memories of Water Street, St. John's. If you want to hear more about buying seal flippers, riding the bus, Woolworth's Department Store and the taste of their donuts, buying shoes at the Arcade, or the sights and sounds of the Mount Cashel Christmas raffle listen to the short interview below!



After the mock interview Dale explained the benefits of having community members think about and map out the important people, places, and traditions found in the community. He explained how you can print large community maps at the Provincial Government's Land Management Division Office. Dale brought a large map of St. John's and gave each of the workshop participants a couple of recipe/index cards to fill out with memories. Once everyone had a chance to fill out a memory they were placed on the map. The participants glued their cards to their map and taped a ribbon to the corresponding building in which the memories took place.. If you want to start an oral history project or run a people, place, and culture workshop give us a call at 739-1892 ex. 5 or email ich@heritagefoundation.ca
If you want to know more about People, Places, and Culture Workshops click here!
A recipe card with  Water Street memory.
Recipe card with Water Street memory.
~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#Folklorephoto The American Man of Spaniard's Bay


Gerald Crane stands next to a remaining American Man at Spider Pond near Spaniard's Bay, 2008
This photo shows a pile of rocks, called "The American Man" located at Spider Pond near Spaniard's Bay. Reminiscent of an inukshuk, the rocks were used as markers for direction when traveling across Spider Pond and Long Pond in stormy weather. Originally there were two markers at Spider Pond and one at Long Pond, though only the one pictured remains.

According to an article in The Compass written by Gerald Crane, in the early 1900s, fisherman from the area would travel along the Labrador coast. On the shore, they would see piles of rocks set up by Americans to mark good fishing ground. When the fishermen came back to the Spaniard's Bay area and set up the markers, they named these piles of rocks after their American friends.

Do you know of any similar land markers? Have you heard an other stories of the origin of The American Man? Have you visited The American Man at Spider Pond?

Source: "The American Man and Some Spots in Tilton" by Gerald Crane, The Compass, 17th March 2009

~ Kelly