How many people do you know who can run a birch broom, weave a basket, or make a tea doll? At one point, makers of these types of objects were commonplace in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, the practitioners of these heritage crafts seem to fewer in number, with fewer people having the knowledge of how to make the tools, objects, and crafts of yesteryear.
Heritage NL and the Craft Council of NL are concerned about this loss of traditional know-how, and are working together to compile a list of makers, craft producers, and skills in decline.
The Heritage Craft at Risk survey is a joint project of the two organizations, which aims to assess the current viability of traditional heritage crafts in NL, and to identify those crafts which are most at risk of disappearing. The project also aims to create a list of heritage crafts in NL, accompanied by information about each craft and whom may practice it.
"Living in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean our craft producers have spent years using their heritage of English, Irish, French, and Indigenous ancestors to grow their creativity and developed a true sense of place that is one of a kind,” says Rowena House, Executive Director of the Craft Council of NL.
“Newfoundland and Labrador has such a unique and diverse range of craft skills that supports some of the best craftspeople in the world,” she adds. “These skills will only survive if they continue to be taught through each generation. They provide a tangible link to our roots, and they are part of our shared heritage.”
With the survey, organizers are asking craft producers, makers, and builders to provide feedback on the current state of the heritage craft form they are most familiar with in Newfoundland and Labrador. The survey covers topics such as the number of makers currently practising specific skills, and issues limiting the health of craft in NL.
Organizers hope that the future Heritage Craft at Risk List will help safeguard, document, and stimulate production of contemporary, traditional, and Indigenous craft. They are looking for feedback from anyone at any level of practise, from professional or amateur craft producers, and from traditional makers of objects ranging from snowshoes to dry stone walls.
“When people think of craft, they often think of things like knitting or rug-making,” says Heritage NL folklorist Dale Jarvis. “We certainly want information on the health of those traditions, but we are just as concerned with things like tinsmithing, fly tying, or making komatiks and slides.”
Interested makers and craft producers can take the survey online at www.heritagecraft.ca, at one of the public sessions to be held over the summer, or by calling Rachael at the Heritage Craft At Risk toll-free hotline at 1-888-739-1892 ext 6.
Monday, August 12th
7pm Anna Templeton Centre, Duckworth Street, St. John’s
Wednesday, August 14th
7pm SUF Hall, Winterton
Register for the public sessions online at: