Friday, June 2, 2023

Living Heritage Podcast Ep231 Mentor-Apprentice Program: Birch Broom Making with Richard and Michelle Park

Michelle and Richard holding two birch brooms at the Gilliams History Society Museum in Gilliams, NL. Photo courtesy of Heritage NL.

In this episode we talk with mentor Richard Park, and apprentice Michelle Park who are two participants of Heritage NL’s Mentor-Apprentice Program.

Richard Park is a retired teacher who was first exposed to the birch broom in 1957 while teaching in the community of Fox Roost-Margaree. Later in 1979 in Francois, he learned the skills to make birch brooms from a fisherman in the community. He has been making birch brooms since, and has made several brooms including many as gifts.

Richard demonstrating how to "run" a birch broom.
Photo courtesy of Richard Park and Michelle Park.

Michelle is a history teacher with an interest in local history and folklore. Since the age of 10 she has watched her father make birch brooms as gifts for family and friends, as well as for the family’s own use. Michelle’s experience was admittedly limited; she helped make brooms in the past and was looking to refine the skill.

The pair offered a Build Your Own Birch Broom (BYOBB) program at the Gillams Historical Society Museum on Wednesdays in August of 2022.

Richard Park holding a spruce root basket, Eileen Murphy holding a birch broom.
Eileen was a mentor in spruce root basketry and she stopped by Richard and Michelle's BYOBB program this summer. 
Photo courtesy of Richard Park and Michelle Park.

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