Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Equipment suggestions for doing oral history fieldwork in Newfoundland

A couple people have recently asked for information about what equipment to get for doing oral history interviews in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve got a couple recommendations which I’ll present here, which are intended primarily for community groups doing basic interviews. I’ll stick to equipment that I think is easy to use, available in the province, and affordable for small groups working with small budgets. I’m also going to focus on audio interviews, primarily. If you are collecting people’s memories, family stories, or community history, audio might be all you need. If you are documenting a craft skill, or a performance tradition like dancing, video might be better.

For basic oral history interviews, we’ve used a couple different digital audio recorders here in the ICH office. We’ve bought most of our equipment locally through Long and McQuade and have had good service from them. They also rent equipment, fairly affordably, if you are looking at a short term project.

Two simple recorders we’ve used from them are the Zoom H2n and Roland R-05 recorders. Both those are in the $180-$200 range, and are easy to use and set up. The work a lot like a digital camera, with a memory card you can pop out and into a card reader on your computer. They also sell a Tascam recorder, slightly cheaper, which has decent reviews, but which I’ve never used.

We’ve also just purchased a new slightly higher-end Roland - 6-channel Digital Field Audio Recorder, which retails for around $500. It is still easy to use, and has the large XLR jacks for more serious external microphones. If you are going to be doing a lot of recording, and have a budget for a better recorder with more options, it is a good, locally-available machine. If you are just starting out, and have a smaller budget, you will still get good recordings with the Zoom and Roland R-05’s built-in mics.

If you are going to be embarking on a project with our ICH office, and want your information shared on Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative (DAI), we’d recommend that you purchase an external USB harddrive to backup your media and data files. This will make it a lot easier when the time comes for us to help you upload your community collection. We have a variety of them in our office, most of them purchased through Staples or Costco. The prices of these are always changing, and I don’t have a particular recommendation for brand, but expect to pay anywhere from $100-$200 for a 1 or 2 TB drive. If you are doing a lot of photos, audio interviews, or video, pay a bit more and get larger than you think you’ll need. The prices are always coming down, and now 2 and 3 TB drives are pretty available at reasonable prices.

So, for $300-$500 you can get a good audio recorder and external harddrive. If you are looking at buying something for a project, call me at 1-888-739-1892 ext 2, or email and I’ll help you out as much as I can. We love seeing community oral history projects done right, and want to help communities get their collections online. We can help you get your project set up, and help you sort out what information you will need to collect along with your photos and audio, and even get you started with a spreadsheet to track it all and get it ready for upload to the DAI.

If you are REALLY into audio, I’d highly recommend you check out the website maintained by Andy Kolovos at the Vermont Folklife Centre. It has great reviews of a lot of different equipment. And I’m dying to know what he thinks of his wife's new Tascam iM2 mic for iPhone! Tascam, anytime you want me to do a product review, let me know!

- Dale Jarvis

Battery Voices – We Need Your Stories!

Do you have a story about the Battery? Or a memory you'd like to share linked specifically to that place? We'd love to hear anything and everything about the Battery for an audio project that combines storytelling, audio art, and location-based narrative.

We need contemporary voices speaking about what's happening in the Battery today as well as older memories, legends, tales, jokes...

Perhaps you stopped in to one of the twine stores down by the water, or had an interesting interaction during a solo sunrise walk. Perhaps you jog down Battery Road every morning on your way to the trail, or remember a time when the Battery was considered a rougher area of town.

Your story could be woven into a multi-layered acoustic documentary composition accessible through a gps-triggered smartphone app free for all users. Listeners will explore an immersive, user-controlled interactive experience while walking through the landscape. Cool, eh?

If you've got a story and would like your voice to be a part of this audio cartography, you can contact either myself, Annie McEwen (, or Chris Brookes (

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: All Towns Great and Small

When I moved to Newfoundland last summer, I arrived with the hope of many wonderful adventures to come.  That said, I did not expect to feel as though I had stepped into the pages of Gulliver’s Travels.  In my first week on the island, though, while driving The Irish Loop, I encountered settlements that were decidedly Lilliputian.  I came across this diminutive but active wharf by the side of the road near Mobile.  Later that day, I found a town within a town – a tiny recreation of the resettled community of Oderin, on a small pond in St. Mary’s.  These works of art, so full of love and life, captured my imagination.  I would love to know if there are more communities of this nature around the island.  If you have any stories or pictures you’d like to share please send them to

-Claire McDougall

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bay Roberts Event: 100 Years of Cable Avenue

On Friday afternoon, August 2nd, 2013, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) will be helping to celebrate the 100th birthday of Cable Avenue in Bay Roberts. The ceremony will include speeches to recognize Cable Avenue as a Registered Heritage District, the presentation of a Registered Heritage Structure plaque to the Western Union Cable Station, and a cake cutting to celebrate the Avenue’s birthday. 

According to Frank Crews, Chairperson for the HFNL, "Historic districts are geographically defined areas which create a special sense of time and place." They also must have provincial heritage significance and demonstrate minimal modern intrusion. 

The Cable Avenue Heritage District dates back to 1913, when construction of staff housing by Western Union Telegraph Company began along the street. The designation includes the houses on the east and west sides of Cable Avenue, the house on the corner of Cable Avenue and Water Street, Western Union Cable Building on Water Street and the grounds associated with these structures. Other principal physical elements of the district include the set-back sidewalks, curbs, original streetlights and the chestnut trees which line the street. 

This event will also serve as the launch of our “Celebrating 100 Years of Cable Avenue” exhibit in the Road to Yesterday Museum. The display will feature material gathered during an oral history project about life on the Avenue and for employees of the Western Union. 

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place at 3:30 pm, Friday, August 2nd, at the Road to Yesterday Museum in the Western Union Cable Station.  Hope to see you there!

Photograph of Western Union employees, provided by Jack Hambling.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wells and Springs along the Southern Shore

On Wednesday I spent the day with Andrea along the Southern shore, meeting some interesting people and visiting and recording some excellent wells and springs. We had a really busy day planned, and started out meeting with Jim Foley, a local man who took me down to the shore and showed me a natural spring he had been using for years to drink from. The spring comes right out of the rocks, and is used predominantly in the summer and fall, as during the winter it gets covered with rocks and ice. He said occasionally some sea water will get into the spring, but there is such a consistent water flow that it never effects the taste or clarity of the water. He said that fishermen used to stop and use it years ago to drink from.

The cement enclosure around the spring was an addition added in recent years by Al Roche, who Jim was kind enough to introduce us to. Al told us that he tried to make it safer to get down there by adding rock steps as well, however the last couple years has seen some deterioration along the shore, and the steps have since let go. There used to be a “spring” sign to show visitors where they could get a cool drink, but has been taken down for safety reasons.

We then met up with Tony Dunn, who had a lot to both tell and show us. He first took us to his own well, which shares space with several other large wellhouses. He told us that at one time there were over 13 houses being served by these wells, which equaled up to 50 people! His well was one of the shallower ones we've seen so far, and he said that he's never seen it run low. There was over three feet of water on Wednesday, and it was also incredibly cold and fresh. He then took us to his brothers well, which was rock lined and protected by heavy plastic siding. Tony also has a hidden talent - he can find underground water with wire! He showed us how it worked, and let us try it ourselves. We both had success, and below you can see Andrea finding some water with wires!

Finally we went and spoke to Andrea's family, Andrew and Dot O'Brien. Over tea and banana bread they shared some great water and well memories with me, including carrying water to the house with hoops, a barrel well in their front yard, cleaning wells, and communal tin mugs left at a community water source for everyone to enjoy. Andrew then took me up to his well, which was by far the biggest one yet, and is shared between several homes in the neighbourhood. It was a great day out in the field!

We are still looking to hear any memories people have about wells, springs, water dowsing, and I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at 1 (709) 739-1892 ext 7, or email 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Heart's Content Plaquing Ceremony

On July 20th, 2013, community members of Heart's Content, alongside the HFNL, the Town, and the Mizzen Heritage Society, gathered to celebrate the newly designated Heart's Content Registered Heritage District. We started the event with a series of speeches that featured Mayor Don Blundon,  Frank Crews (Chairman of the HFNL), MHA Charlene Johnson, and author Ted Rowe, who aimed to highlight local heritage and commemorate the district. We then watched as Blundon and Johnson officially unveiled the bronze plaque, which now stands proudly on the Mizzen Community Museum property. It was a very exciting day for those involved with local heritage!

Community members gather in the SUF Hall.
Mayor Don Blundon and MHA Charlene Johnson unveil the new HFNL heritage district plaque.
Members of Mizzen Heritage Society pose with the new plaque.

At this event we also had an opportunity to launch our new booklet of oral historical material from Heart's Content entitled, "So Many Stories, So Many Traditions: The Heart's Content Registered Heritage District."  Please visit the following link to view a copy of this booklet and help us to celebrate this new heritage district:

Congratulations to Heart's Content and thanks for coming out to celebrate heritage!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Memories of Quidi Vidi

Just a short post today as a follow up from my last. The following is an audio clip excerpt from my interview with Agnes Bragg. Part of the finished product for this project will be a Google map with landmarks highlighted in the Quidi Vidi area. My hope is that for each landmark a short audio clip will demonstrate the importance of these places in the lives of the people of Quidi Vidi Village. 



Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Carrying Water

I recently visited the Logger's Life Provincial Museum in Grand Falls-Windsor to work with their staff to develop public programming around pillow tops. While there I spotted this piece of folk art on display in the bunkhouse. This little, wooden, hand carved figure depicts a logger using a square shaped hoop to carry two pails of water. The hoop was used to balance the pails of water and keep them from hitting your legs and spilling. The hoops were made of wood, sometimes alder branches, and were either square or round. They were an invaluable tool for those who had to walk great distances for water.

This water carrier ties in well with another project being worked on here at the ICH Office, which is a study of traditional water supplies in St. John's and surrounding areas.  For the next few months, archaeologist Sarah Ingram will be talking to people about wells and springs to learn where the traditional water supplies where in the area and how they were used and maintained. Sarah will also be collecting stories about why particular water sources were valued over others. Finally, all these materials will be made available on Memorial University of Newfoundland's Digital Archive Initiative. Stay tuned for updates on that project and many others!


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Call for the Brokenhearted - guest post by Annie McEwen

It will be two years this August since I had my heart broken. My boyfriend came home from a summer away and without warning told me he was through, packed up all his things, including the bed we shared, and drove away from an exceptionally solid, three-year relationship. I remember the first thing I did after he left was hurl a heavy roll of duct tape as hard as I could across the room, making a giant dent in the wall. Our wall. No, wait. 

I had never been so confused, so lost. In the preceding three years I had often been soothed by the firm belief that even if I had no idea where my career was going, or where I wanted to live, or who I wanted to be, at least I could count on the fact that he would be there. He had been my anchor, and when he cut free, I felt the great violent heave of the world around me. And I was terrified.

My instinct was to armour myself so no one would ever be able to hurt me like that again. For months I worked to add layers to a thick shell I could curl up inside to keep myself safe. I saw no way out and wanted no way out.

But slowly, somehow without me even noticing, one of the worst things that had ever happened to me started to become one of the most interesting, the most life-giving. I began to connect more deeply with those around me who had had similar experiences. I began to recognize how extraordinarily brave it was to have one's heart open enough to be damaged by another. And I began to realize that losing my anchor and having my heart broken might just be a precious gift.

I'm sharing my story with you because I would like to hear yours. I have recently been awarded a grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to make a radio documentary about broken hearts. I'm interested in your stories about the rotten end of love, the death of desire, the loss of a loved one—and how these experiences changed you. What is your life like post-heartbreak? Who have you become? What happens when a soul loses that by which it is defined? What do we do with the energy we once invested so heavily in another?

I am looking for willing participants, those ready to speak honestly and bravely about their experiences with heartbreak. Your experience does not have to, like mine, have been a life-giving one. Perhaps you are still curled up in your hard shell. Or perhaps you never felt the need to build a shell in the first place.

Jonathan Goldstein, writer and producer of the CBC Radio show Wiretap, once wrote (here—, “The eyes are not the window to the soul. The radio is.” I've chosen the medium of radio to explore this topic because I have learned that stories matter, indeed, they are at the heart of all things, and that nothing captures human life more intimately than the voice.

If this sounds like something you'd like to be a part of, please send me an email at I look forward to hearing your stories.

-Annie McEwen

Sunday, July 21, 2013

More on abandoned mines, including one at Blow Me Down Bluff

On Friday, I posted about a trip to an abandoned 19th century copper mine in Avondale. I concluded that post by asking if anyone had information about that mine or other abandoned mines in the area.

Several people responded, including Mr Craig Moore, who had done some research on the Avondale mineshaft in the mid 1990s. At that point, Moore had been told by the property owner, Greg Deveraux, that the shaft was the remains of an exploration site for a copper mine, dating to 1899. He corroborated that local knowledge holds that the offshore sand bar was the remains of the excavation, and concluded his note with a bit of a mystery. Apparently, a ship left the area in 1899 headed to Wales with a load of ore samples from the exploration site, but the ship never reached its destination.

Other people responded with information about different abandoned mines. Some told me about abandoned mines in Tilt Cove, Marysvale and Brigus. Susan Furneaux wrote,

"When I lived in Colliers I was told about an abondoned mine that was there...which kind of makes sense considering the name. Not sure if it exists. It was supposed to be on the Northside of the harbour a ways out. There was an old path that went along the shore, beyond where the old settlement was. I have wondered about it often over the years."

In addition to these emails, Linda Lewis sent me the above photo, with this note:

"At Blow Me Down Bluff between Holyrood Bay & Chapel’s Cove is an abandoned mine. The attached pic of of Ed Fahey back in the 50s who was trying to attract attention to the mine at that time. It was mined back in the 1800s and is mentioned in the will of Msgr. Wm Veitch of Holyrood"

You can read Mr Veitch's will online here.

If you have heard a story about any of these mines, email me at I'd be particularly interested in knowing the exact location of the Marysvale/Colliers/Brigus mines, if you've seen them in your own explorations, or in other old photos of mining activity in Newfoundland and Labrador.

- Dale

Friday, July 19, 2013

Abandoned 19th century copper mine in Avondale

Yesterday, part of the ICH team was in the Salmonier Line/Colliers/Holyrood area conducting fieldwork research for our traditional wells and springs project. We had a little bit of time between interviews, so we went exploring an abandoned copper mine in Avondale. Above, Joelle Carey (left) and Claire McDougall (right) are shown reaching the end of the shaft, about 100m in.

I first learned about the mine through local kayaking websites (read here and here) and had only ever been to the site by kayak. We luckily arrived as low tide was starting to turn, so were able to walk to the site of the old mine shaft by parking at the Avondale wharf, and following the shoreline to the south side. It isn't a long walk to the site, but you'll need to time it correctly to be able to walk there, and wear rubber boots.

The mine shaft is dug directly into the rock face, just above the high water mark. It is fairly clear of debris, but a bit wet with pooled water for the first section of the shaft. The shaft runs more or less straight into the rock, with a few very short side passages, which looks like the miners were attempting to follow a vein of ore which petered out before they got too far in.

I'm 5'10", and except for a section at the entrance, the shaft is high enough so that I can walk most of the way in without bending over.

Kayaking folklore maintains that the sandbar in the bay is the spoil removed from the mine. I don't know much about the history of the mine, but would be very curious to know more. If you know anything about it, or about other abandoned mines in the area, email me at

- Dale

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bronze, wood, water, and tobacco - the ICH Update for July 2013

In this month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: we announce the designation of Heart's Content as a Registered Heritage District, and commemorate it with the unveiling of a bronze plaque; Nicole Penney returns from the Loggers' Life Museum with news of a weaving workshop in the woods; archaeologist Sarah Ingram reports on our new wells, water and springs research; and, folklore graduate student researcher Claire McDougall reports on her preliminary findings regarding honoraria for aboriginal elders.

Download a copy of the newsletter, in various formats, at:

A trip to Mosquito Schoolhouse, Bristol's Hope, Newfoundland

On a fabulously sunny 16th of July, I travelled to Bristol’s Hope to meet with members of the heritage committee who are currently working on the restoration of the historic Mosquito Schoolhouse.

One of the last of its kind in Newfoundland, the building is a rare example of what wooden schools in outport communities looked like in the 1800s. A local minister by the name of Kingwell built the school, possibly between 1818 and 1828, to serve the needs of the 360 people inhabiting Mosquito, as Bristol’s Hope was then called. In June 1988 the building was recognized as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

We started at the school, where I met with Richard Johnson, Don Skinner and Cal Penney, who are all involved in different facets of the project. Richard gave me a tour of the building, and brought me up to date on the ongoing restoration work. Over the rest of the building season, work will continue on corner boards, clapboard, installing proper heritage windows, and replacing the wood shingle roof. One of the interesting interior features that the committee plans on restoring is an old cast iron kerosene lantern chandelier, which can be raised and lowered to light or extinguish.

After the tour, we all went back to Richard’s house, where we discussed plans to embark on an oral history project centred around the school. While the building has not been used as a school for some time, there are still people in the community, and those who have moved away, who remember going to school in the building, and who have stories and memories of teachers, classmates and pastimes.

As I said to the gentlemen of Bristol's Hope, it is a great project, as it is one where we can clearly show the link between the two facets of the work we do here at the Heritage Foundation: the conservation of historic structures, and the safeguarding and documentation of traditional knowledge. I'm looking forward to helping with the project as it unfolds.

As a first step, the committee is working to compile a list of possible people to interview. If you have a memory of the old Mosquito School, I’m sure the organizers would be interested in hearing about it! You can email me with your contact information at

- Dale Jarvis

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Folklore Photo - Ocean Pond Well

This week's folklore photo is courtesy of Jessica Cahill, who gave us a tour of her property in Ocean Pond last Friday. Jess contacted us via Facebook when she heard we were working on a wells and springs project, and had a great example of a hand dug well to show us. Jess had a lot of stories surrounding the property and the well that came from the previous owners, and was informed that it was dug by the grandfather of the last owner in the 1930's. When she first bought the property, there was a wellhouse covering it, but was too deteriorated to be left standing. The well is circular, hand dug and rock lined, and is incredibly well preserved despite its age. The well itself is just over 13 feet deep, and the water is clear enough to see all the way to the bottom.

Jess has a cover over the well right now in case nighttime explorers come across it without realizing it's there, but would like to eventually see if it could be used again. Jess said she would like to incorporate it into the cabin water lines when construction begins, as long as the well would still be intact. "We want to use it if we can, but if it would damage it then we'd rather just preserve it, because it's so fantastic" she told us. Until then, it's a gorgeous example of old hand dug wells from one of the original properties in Ocean Pond.

We here at the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage office will be drilling the community for water stories all summer, so if you have any memories, photos, stories or know of any old wells and springs, we would love to hear from you! Please contact me at the heritage office here.

- Sarah

Great Finds in New Perlican

Last month, on the 22nd of June, I traveled to New Perlican to help out with a local cemetery clean-up project. This ongoing initiative, headed by the New Perlican heritage group,  aims to help preserve a historic cemetery that has been under threat from neglect and encroaching ATV trails. A great deal of research has already been done in the area, and before beginning the clean-up, it was believed that some previously unrecorded headstones may be buried throughout the site. The clean-up portion of the project, which accounts for the first phase, has been in the planning stages since last year. Next will come a post and chain fence that will provide further protection to the area.

Several community members turned up to help with the removal of the tall grass and shrubbery that had been hiding a cluster of  headstones. With so many hands busy at work, the area was cleared very quickly and the task of searching for fallen headstones could begin. Right away community members began making discoveries. In just a few short hours, around 13 headstones were unearthed, most of which were from the mid-19th century. Each were treated with care, and in time, a plan will be put into place where some will be put into the ground once again. While not all are in good enough condition to do so, it will be quite interesting to see some of these newly discovered headstones added back to this historic landscape.

Congratulations to New Perlican Heritage for your wonderful discoveries and good luck with the next phase of your preservation project. Special thanks to Eileen Matthews for inviting me to watch this project unfold, and for her unending dedication to heritage work in her community.


New Perlican Heritage, busy clearing the land.

Cemetery clean-up helpers read an epitaph on a newly discovered headstone.

A portion of one of the discovered headstones,  next to its footstone. Many burials in this cemetery had both a head and a footstone.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Heart's Content to receive provincial heritage district designation

On Saturday afternoon, July 20th, 2013, as part of Heart’s Content Heritage Day, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) will celebrate the designation of the Heart’s Content Provincial Registered Heritage District and will unveil a plaque recognizing this designation.

“Historic districts are geographically defined areas which create a special sense of time and place,” says Frank Crews, Chairperson, HFNL. “Above all, a historic district of provincial significance must have a ‘sense of history’, minimal intrusive elements, and the district's historic characteristics must predominate.”

The origins of the Heart’s Content heritage district date to 1866 when a transatlantic communications cable was successfully landed in the community. Included in the district are staff houses built by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company and Western Union Telegraph Company as well as buildings associated with the development of the community such as Heyfield Memorial United Church, the Methodist School and the Society of United Fishermen (SUF) Hall.

The application for the designation of the district by HFNL was made jointly by the Town of Heart’s Content and the Mizzen Heritage Society. The plaque will be unveiled on the grounds of the Mizzen Heritage Community Museum at 2 o’clock pm on July 20th.

The event will also serve as the launch of the “So Many Stories, So Many Traditions” oral history booklet that was compiled between fall 2012 and spring 2013. The booklet launch will take place at a reception at the SUF hall following the plaque unveiling.

The event is free and open to the public.

Photo: A vintage photograph of boys from the community including
Lloyd Smith, Art Button, and Art Cumby.

Folklore Photo - Bowring Park Horse Trough

This week's folklore photo is of the Bowring Park horse trough, sent to us courtesy of Gayna Rowe, Office Administrator with the Bowring Park Foundation. The horse trough once stood on Water Street, to service the working horses of the day. Over time, as the use of horses declined, the trough was used less and less, and eventually was moved to Bowring Park, where is today. Currently, the park has plans to revitalize the trough, and may convert it as a drinking fountain for thirsty dogs out for walks with their owners.

We here at the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage office are thirsty for memories, photos, stories and locations of old wells and springs. If you have a memory of a spring or well, let our researcher Sarah Ingram know.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Make and Break Engines at the Wooden Boat Museum

Charlie Donnelly (pictured far left) speaking two stroke marine engines to workshop participants.

On Saturday, June 29th, I drove to the Wooden Boat Museum to participate in a workshop on two stroke engines. My work last summer  focused exclusively on the make and break type of two stroke engine, but the Wooden Boat Museum has broadened their scope by including the jump-spark versions of these simplistic engines. 

About thirteen participants attended this first workshop which was really just a starting point for workshops to come. The museum wanted to get a feel for who was interested in attending workshops on the repair, restoration, and maintenance of these antique engines. The Museum hopes to generate enough interest that they will be able to  put off a series of day long workshops over the next few months and into the fall. Topics pertaining to the restoration of these engines, including pouring babbitt bearings and installation methods, will be covered.

With these workshops participants would start with the very basics of the engines and begin to get their hands dirty in the workshop shed. The main model for these workshops would be the Barnes engine (pictured left) which has been donated for restoration to the Museum. Barnes engines were made in St. John's, Newfoundland, and are very difficult to come by - even more so in excellent condition with matching paper stickers and all! This great find will be restored through the series of workshops lead by Charlie Donnelly, who hopes to have the Barnes engine running smoothly again once the workshops conclude. 
For more information on these two stroke engine workshops contact the Wooden Boat Museum by phone at 1-709-583-2070. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wells and Springs in Eastern Newfoundland

Lion's Head Spout from The Battery, 1975

Last month’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador mentioned that the job search for a new project on traditional wells, springs and water sources had begun. Well, the hunt is over, and I will be the researcher for this very interesting project over the next few months!

My name is Sarah Ingram, and I am an archaeologist by trade, just finishing up my graduate degree in Historical Archaeology at Memorial University. Although I have focused my career on archaeology I have always had a passion for folklore, local traditions, and how the past influences and effects the present. Traditional water sources are one of these things that can carry into the present, and are surrounded with lots of stories of where they were, which ones were better for making tea, and how throwing trout down into the well would help to keep them clean. In fact, old stories of a well in Ferryland, Newfoundland, where I did my graduate research, helped the archaeologists’ years ago find the lost well on the site!

This project has a couple of goals. The first is to gain a better knowledge base of the water resources that we have around here, some of which may not have been in use for years, and many of which are not publically known about. The second is to learn about the use and management of these local water sources, how they both were used and still are used, and how people in the community care for, clean, and maintain their water. The third, and the most easily lost aspect of knowledge we want to uncover surrounding water resources, are what people value about the wells and springs they remember and used, and what the community feels their significance was and is. We hope that this information can help to inform governmental projects, folkloric research, and community use of these traditional places!

I’ve been in the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador offices for a week now, beginning some preliminary reading, Internet scouting, and making myself as familiar as possible with any stories, traditions, or uses for wells and springs that I can find. Already I have come across some really great stories and images initially collected by Dale Jarvis from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Philip Hiscock from Memorial University.

Soon I will be contacting some people who have already expressed interest in sharing their stories with Dale and Philip, and hopefully learn much more than what is already recorded. Once I have gathered enough preliminary information, have spoken to some people about what they remember, and have some places in mind, I can get out in the field, look at these water sources, and hopefully get my hands dirty while recording them!

If you have any memories about using wells and springs, or know where there are some out in the community, I would love to have a chat with you! You can contact me at or give me a call at 739-1892 ext 7.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Do you remember the Grenfell Mission?

Do you remember the Grenfell Mission? If so, Heidi Coombs-Thorne would like to talk to you. 

Heidi is a postdoctoral researcher with Memorial University, working on a history of the Grenfell Mission in Labrador. She is looking at the relationship between the Grenfell Mission and the Inuit-Metis of Southern Labrador (1939-81). 

"I'm particularly interested in the 'patient perspective' of the Mission and the experience of living under such an influential organization," she says.  "Through my own earlier research, I noticed that most (if not all!) of the histories of the Grenfell Mission focus on the Mission's perspective and use exclusively Mission documents and sources.  That approach omits the patients' voice and leaves a huge untold part of the history. So I'm hoping to find out what it was like to be patients of the Grenfell Mission and how the people felt about the Grenfell Mission in general."

Heidi will be conducting interviews with people who remember the Mission in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, July 3-7 2013. If you would like to participate, please contact her at or 709-763-4416

Photo: Dr. Hare at Harrington Hospital from the Vashti Bartlett Photograph Collection