Friday, July 12, 2013

Memories of Quidi Vidi

So often in our line of work people tell us, "I don't know if I have anything to tell you," or "I don't know anything about that." People tend to underestimate their knowledge of the topics we are interested in until we begin to talk. Sitting down with someone, like I did earlier this week with Agnes Bragg, you soon realize that they are a wealth of knowledge on exactly what they said they were not sure about.

Agnes Bragg moved to St. John's when she was 18 years old. It was here that she met her husband, and Quidi Vidi native, Jim Bragg. She spent many days in Quidi Vidi Village in the years leading up to their marriage, when she was 21 years old, in 1949. She then moved to the Village, raised a family of seven children, and continues to live there to this day. "If I won the lottery tomorrow," she told me during our interview, "I wouldn't move. I wouldn't change a thing." 

She reminisced about her time spent at Landrock, a jutting piece of land, that separates what Villagers know as The Gut, that is the outer harbour, and the Atlantic Ocean.  She said "We spent a lot of time down there. Just sitting around and talking. Any pictures I have of myself was taken down there."

Agnes Bragg, age 18, at Landrock. (Photo courtesy of Agnes Bragg)

This was a dating ritual in Quidi Vidi, where courting couples would spend the days hanging out at Landrock, sometimes crossing the narrow ocean passage in a rodney, to spend a day walking on "The Hills" on the northside of the harbour. Often times, couples would have a boil up dinner as part of their day on The Hills.

Jim Bragg, age 25, on the northside of Quidi Vidi Harbour, also known as "The Hills." (Photo courtesy of Agnes Bragg)

Having raised seven children in Quidi Vidi Village, Anges recalls her children sliding on the hills that surround the valley of the Village. "On the hill there, it's all grown over now because there's no kids anymore," she said as she pointed to the rolling hills below what is now Regiment Road, "if you got something, like a television or something, and you had a big box, the kids would take that and would be sliding there in the summer! With their slides in the winter, but with cardboard in the summer!"

It is moments like these that I live for as a folklorist. That moment when a persons face lights up in remembering the particular occasions that make up the memories of their lives. Agnes' children are all living in the St. John's area, and I will be speaking to each of them in the coming weeks. Their stories will add to their mother's memories and show the changes in the Village throughout the generations.

Check back next week for more interview excerpts and pictures from the Village!

- Joelle

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