Friday, May 14, 2010

Gravel Pit Camping and Newfoundland Culture?

It's the 24th of May and we likes to get away
Up in the woods or going out the bay
There's all kinds of places but the place we likes to get
Is up on the highway in the gravel pits

Recorded by: Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers
Written by: Wayne Chaulk

The May long weekend is fast approaching, which means the ongoing debate over the legality of gravel pit camping is back in the news. I woke this morning to CBC radio’s interview with one MHA, and the idea was mentioned, again, that camping in a gravel pit is part of Newfoundland’s culture.

Well, a quick internet search reveals gravel pit camping aficionados in Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Russia, Sweden and Venezuela! So while it may be part of local culture, it seems it is something that is not unique to here. I’m not sure how readily available Vienna sausages are in Venezuela, however…

Sound like a thesis topic for a future folklore graduate student? Here are a few articles to get you started:

Bates, Wanda
Summer in the pits [re gravel pit camping]
Canadian Geographic, July/August 2003, Vol. 123(4), pp. 100-101.

Collins, David N.
Foe, Friend and Fragility: Evolving Settler Interactions with the Newfoundland Wilderness
British Journal of Canadian Studies, May 2008, Vol 21(1), pp. 35-62.

Furlong, Jim
Rain, fog and Vienna sausages
Newfoundland Herald, May 18-24 2003, Vol. 58(20), p. 36

Ruby, Winston
Gravel pit camping Labour Day weekend, Sept. 3, 1984
TickleAce, Spring - Summer 1986, (12), pp. 55-57.

Young, Ron
Gravel pit camping [and gov't. policy]
Downhomer, April 1997, Vol. 9(11), pp. 29-30.

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