Showing posts with label Heart's Delight - Islington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heart's Delight - Islington. Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2020

I Guess I Was a Fighter: Growing Up in Heart's Delight-Islington with Sadie Rowe

Sadie Rowe, originally of Heart's Delight-Islington, is a natural storyteller. She says she grew up in a time before smart phones and tablets, and found joy in buying candy for a penny and catching connors on the wharf, and playing hide and seek in the barrels inside Mr Aaron Rowe's cooper shop.

Here are some of her reminiscences about growing up in Heart's Delight-Islington!

When I was born, I was only a pound and a half, and they could set me in a teacup. And people came from all over to see me. There was a gentleman from Heart's Delight who was from the Southeast side and he was home from Boston, and he came to see me and to take a picture because he said, "If I tell somebody this, they won't believe it." So, he said, "I just hope the picture comes out!" When I was born the midwife said that she placed me in a dresser drawer and told mom that she would come down in the morning and bury me, because, she said, "there's no way she's going to live." So, mom said, "Well, if she dies, it won't be in a dresser drawer." And she took me and placed me inside her nightdress and kept me there for about two months, you know, off and on. Wrapped me in flannel, and she used to feed me with an eye dropper with a tiny drop of milk with a little tiny drop of cod liver oil and boiling water, and they would sterilize everything. And that's how I survived. I guess I was a fighter because I wasn't going to reach the finish line and not win the race! So mom said I just came ahead and everything was fine.

We weren't allowed to do anything on Sundays, and I remember once Sunday my mother and father had taken my younger sister and they went to visit, and Mabel and I had been in Sunday School. So, when we came home, out in our garden there was a real steep hill, and it had a really good sheet of ice. And Mabel and I thought, well, we'd take our sleighs and go out and slide. I came out over the hill flying and almost went through the fence, and I realised that Mabel was coming. She was younger than me. So, I realised she was coming down behind me. So, I said, "I have to stop her because she's going to be hurt!" Well, when she came down the hill, she slid off her sleigh, came down the hill on her belly, and the buttons off her coat came down ahead of her, and they were rolling down the hill! And I just rolled with laughter! I managed to catch her when she got to the bottom, and all the front of her coat was torn where the buttons were. Well, we knew we were in trouble. And we went into the house and waited for mom and dad to come home, and when they came home they looked at us and knew that there was something. And Mabel showed mom her coat. Well, we never ever got spanked anyway but mom took Mabel up in her arms and dad took me, and I saw both of them cry because the tears were rolling off of their face, not because her coat was torn but because they realised that we could have gotten seriously hurt that day. And we got a good talking to and we were told that we were never to do it again. And I don't think Mabel and I went out in that garden to slide after. It really sank in that what we did was wrong.

The teachers always went home to lunch, but the basement door was always left open in case it rained. When we'd come back to go to school we were allowed to go in there and wait for school to open at 2 o'clock. So, I guess one day the boys decided to play a trick on us girls and decided to lock us out and we got wet. So, me and a few more girls decided that we would tie them in the basement. So, we found some twine and we tied them in, and the teacher came, and we all went in school but a lot of the older boys was missing. The teacher kept looking and listening and finally asked, "What's going on here today?" No one said a word, so they kept asking. Then we finally had to tell him what happened. He said, "Well! We have to let them out sometime!" So, seeing it was my idea, he said, "You go and let them out." When I opened the door, of course, they looked at me and they were very sheepish and very ashamed of theirselves. So, they all walked in school, and the teacher said, "I guess a lesson was learned here today. You boys, you'll think twice before you mess with the girls again!"
Do you have memories of growing up in Heart's Delight-Islington? We'd love to hear them. Get in touch at!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Heart’s Delight - Islington Christmas Carols, live at The Rooms this Thursday!

“The Moon Shines Bright, And The Stars Give Light”
The Heart’s Delight - Islington Christmas Carols
The Rooms, St. John's
2:30pm, Thursday, Dec 12th

If you grew up in Heart’s Delight - Islington, your Christmas memories might include waking up late at night to the sound of community men reverently singing two ancient carols, passed down for over a century, in the darkened porch of your home. Other communities in the area, such as Cavendish and Green's Harbour, also once practiced a version of this house-to-house caroling, but today the tradition remains strongest in Heart’s Delight-Islington. Join folklorist Dale Jarvis (and a busload of carolers) in conversation with the local tradition bearers who are working, and singing, to keep this old Christmas custom shining bright.

Cost is free, In partnership with the Mummers Festival

photo courtesy Geraldine Legge.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Rehearsing the Heart's Delight-Islington Christmas Carols (and some archival audio).

We've been doing some work to document and share the two traditional Christmas carols that were traditionally sung by men door-to-door on Christmas Eve in the community of Heart's Delight-Islington. The group above will be performing at The Rooms as part of the the afternoon Coffee and Culture session on December 12th.

We have a couple archival recordings of the carols, none of which are of exceptional audio quality, but they will give you an idea of the tune.

First up are two recordings from an audio tape entitled "Ht's. Delight-Is. Carolers 1970-1971" from the collection of Edwin Bishop.   Edwin writes,

"As far as I can recall I recorded it myself at my sister's house (Harry and Elva Morgan) on Northeast Side. I can’t recall most of the names but pretty sure Lewis Legge or Clayton Reid was the leader. My brother James and Jim Reid, Hedley Fost and Gilbert were most likely there."

Download version one as MP3
Download version two as MP3

Next up, in this recording, Joe Crocker, Jim Reid, Fred Fost of Heart's Delight-Islington sing the carols. Recorded early 1980s. Thanks to Shirley Crocker Rockwood for the copy of the recording.
Download the MP3 here

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Living Heritage Podcast Ep162 Revitalizing the Heart's Delight-Islington Christmas Carols

In days past, Christmas Eve in Heart’s Delight-Islington would ring with the singing of  their own special Christmas carols. The tradition involved the door-to-door singing of two specific carols which had been passed down over the past century. Originally, they were sung by men, who would travel to every house in the community. Other communities in the area, such as Cavendish and Green's Harbour, also once sang a version of the carols, but the tradition remains strongest in Heart’s Delight-Islington.

The custom continues with some changes over time, but more work is needed to safeguard this very special local tradition.  In this podcast, we chat with Stan Reid and Howard Sooley, two long-time carolers who are working to ensure this tradition is carried on to the next generation.  We talk about the past and present of the tradition, and where they would like to see it in the future.

Note: On Dec 12th, as part of this year's Mummers Festival, The Rooms will be hosting an afternoon Coffee and Culture with participants from Heart's Delight-Islington. Facebook event here. Photo courtesy Geraldine Legge.


The Living Heritage Podcast is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio. Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Virgin Most Pure: A look at the Heart's Delight-Islington Christmas Carol tradition

Over the past year, I’ve met a couple times with the new heritage committee in Heart’s Delight-Islington, Trinity Bay. At our last meeting, we had a chat about how the heritage committee might work with the Town and the Recreation Committee to revitalize the Heart’s Delight-Islington Christmas Carol tradition.

The tradition involved the door-to-door singing of two specific carols which have been passed down over the past century. Other communities in the area, such as Cavendish and Green's Harbour, also once did a version of the carols, but the tradition remains strongest in Heart’s Delight-Islington. You can read more about the tradition in Chapter 7 of the book “Heart’s Delight - Islington: From Isolated Communities… To A Growing Town” Printed by Full Circle Printing for The Town of Heart’s Delight - Islington, circa 1990.

What the book identifies as Carol #1 is a variant of what is known historically as “A Virgin Most Pure” or “A Virgin Unspotted.” A few online sources suggest that the earliest known version of the text is in "New Carolls for this Merry Time of Christmas" (London, 1661).

The first verse was included in the fabulously-titled “Wyeth's repository of sacred music. Part second. : Original and selected from the most eminent and approved authors in that  science; for the use of Christian churches, singing-schools &  private societies. : Together with a copious and plain introduction to the grounds of music, and rules for learners” by John Wyeth, circa 1813-1820.

Below, you can see the Heart’s Delight-Islington version, and compare it with Wyeth’s first verse, and remaining verses which were included in a Maryland shape note song book published between 1800 and 1830. This combined version comes from The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols, by Elizabeth Poston, 1970. The Heart's Delight-Islington version is one verse longer;  the "Virgin Most Pure" version has a refrain which is repeated between each verse, which goes: "Then let us be merry, cast sorrows away; / Our saviour, Christ Jesus, was born on this day."

Heart's Delight-Islington Carol #1

A virgin most pure, most pure behold
Brought forth our dear Saviour, as we have been told 
For to be our Redeemer from death, hell and sin 
From Satan's transgressions, the ruler of sin. 

Near Bethelem City of Judah so fair, 
Great multitudes of people together were there, 
And they to be taxed as the custom ran so 
Twas Caesar commanded that it should be so. 

And when they had entered that city so fair, 
Both Mary and Joseph together were there. 
Their lodgings were simple; they beheld it no scorn. 
By the very next morning our Saviour was born. 

The King of all glory to this world now has come. 
Small stores of fine linen to wrap him so warm. 
Where Mary had a swaddling of a young son so sweet, 
Down in the ox manger where she laid him to sleep. 

Then God sent an Angel from Heaven so high 
To give shepherds warning in fields where they lie. 
Bidding them to be merry; drive sorrow away. 
For our Saviour, Christ Jesus, was born that same day 

Then shortly after a shepherd did spy 
Great multitudes of Angels appeared in the sky. 
And so merrily they were talking, and so sweetly did sing 
All praise be glory to our Heavenly king.

A Virgin Most Pure

A virgin most pure, as prophets foretold,
Should bring forth a Saviour which now we behold,
To be our Redeemer from death, hell and sin,
Which Adam's transgression involved us all in.

Through Bethlehem City in Jewry it was,
That Joseph and Mary together did pass;
And for to be taxed when thither they came,
Since Caesar Augustus commanded the same.

But Mary's full time being come, as we find,
That brought forth her first born to serve all mankind;
The inn being full, for this heavenly guest,
No place there was found for to lay him to rest.

But Mary, blest Mary, so meek and so mild,
Soon wrapped in swaddlings this heavenly child;
Contented she laid him where oxen did feed,
The great God of nature approved of the deed.

Then presently after, the shepherds did spy
Vast numbers of angels to stand in the sky;
So merrily talking, so sweet did they sing;
All glory and praise to our heavenly King. 

The book "88 Favourite Carols and Hymns for Christmas" printed circa 1830 includes the "A Virgin Unspotted" first line, and a different final verse:
To teach us humility all this was done
And learn us from hence haughty pride to shun;
A manger his cradle though He came from above!
The great God of Mercy, of Peace, and of Love. 
If you have a memory of this tradition (or photos!) comment below or email 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Tying knots in trees, and randying on coasters - notes from Heart's Delight - Islington

Heart's Delight 1955 aerial photograph by Lee Wulff, photo A 14-77.2 at The Rooms.

Happy Friday, ICH fans!

We had a really positive workshop last night in Heart's Delight - Islington. They have a new town Heritage Committee, and seem to be really keen on doing some work documenting and safeguarding living heritage.   We chatted about what makes up “Living Heritage” and introduced the five categories of Intangible Cultural Heritage as defined by UNESCO.  From there, community members came up with a long list of local traditions, skills, crafts, customs, and knowledge.  One of the best parts of my job is that I'm always learning new things (and new words) and last night was no exception. People talked about fishing skills and berth names, bean suppers, candy-making, tying knots in young tree branches and letting them grow to make things like gavels, and "randying the girls home" - which isn't as rude as you might think.  Locally, "randying" means sliding (sledding, or what a mainlander might call "tobogganing") down a hill, or pulling someone on a sled/cat/slide. "Randy" gets its own entry in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

Prioritizing our list of possible living heritage themes.
After MUCH discussion, there was a general consensus that the best place to start would be to do some further work documenting, recording, and promoting the knowledge and practice of the traditional Heart's Delight - Islington Christmas Carols. These are two very old traditional carols, which exist in modified versions in some of the nearby communities, but which are still widely sung in Heart's Delight - Islington. Traditionally, they were sung by men, who would travel to every house in the community. The custom continues with some changes over time, but more work is needed to safeguard this very special local tradition. There were other recommendations which you can peruse here.

Want a "Where is our Living Heritage?" workshop in your town? Drop me a line at

Mayor Clayton Branton, Dale Jarvis, and Wayne Ford. Photo by Allan Boyce