Monday, September 24, 2018

Folklorist looking to interview Lebanese Newfoundlanders.

Tooton's The Kodak Store, Water Street, St. John's. Photo from Facebook via Anthony M. Tooton.
The company was founded in 1905 as the "Parisian Photographic Studio"
by his great-grandfather Anthony Maurice Tooton (1886–1971) in St. John's.
Tooton immigrated from Damascus in 1903 after studying photography in Paris.

Newfoundland is home to an over century-old Lebanese community, representing some of the earliest non-European immigrants to settle on the island. Many of the descendants of these immigrants, who arrived in Newfoundland between the late 1800s and early 1900s, still live in the Province and identify with their Lebanese heritage.

Despite this, there is relatively little public visibility of this diaspora in Newfoundland today. Privately, however, many members of the Lebanese diaspora still practice elements of the folk culture of their ancestors.

Folklore graduate student, and third-generation Lebanese-American, Wyatt Hirschfeld Shibley is working on a project called “Cedar Roots on Pine Clad Hills: the folklore of Lebanese Newfoundlanders." His project focuses on the ways in which Lebanese Newfoundlanders use folklore to construct and/or maintain their ethnic identity.

"As this research pertains to a group that has been living in Newfoundland for several generations," says Shibley, "a further focus will be placed on the narratives Lebanese Newfoundlanders tell about themselves, and the way they remember their collective past. My goal is to understand and present the lives of Lebanese Newfoundlanders from an insider’s perspective, in hopes of deepening the understanding of this diaspora and Newfoundland’s ethnic history."

If you have family memories you are willing to share as part of the project, or if you know someone who might be a good interview candidate, you can contact the researcher directly at or call (709)-770-6800.

1 comment:

Ayse said...

Many years ago, when I tried the small eatery formerly know as Big Bite Pizza on Churchill Square, I remember having inquired about the origins of their unique Middle Eastern style donair. The staff told me that they inherited the recipe of their donair from the former (Lebanese) owner of the eatery. I was also told that the same Lebanese man was also the former owner of the jewelry store next door. So, it may be worth inquiring about the whereabouts of that Lebanese man and his family as I believe they may have had a long history in NL.