Showing posts with label Labrador. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labrador. Show all posts

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Heritage Update 085 - September 2021: Root Cellars, Research, and Rita Remembers Labrador!

In this edition of the Heritage Update newsletter: our new intern Sarah Roberts brings you up to date on our Digital Museums of Canada project tracking the history and evolution of root cellars in the province; Michael Philpott shares a summary of the research we've been doing on St. George's Anglican Church in Brigus; Lara Maynard has a report on our workshops and training program; Andrea O'Brien documents the work we've been doing with the Town of Fortune to reimagine a purpose for the old Victoria Hall Masonic Lodge #1378; Terra Barrett visits with  Rita Fitzgerald in North River (photo above) and reminisces about life on the Labrador; while Dale Jarvis fanboys about a historic potato. 

Download the pdf here:

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A scene from Emily Harbour, Labrador. #FolklorePhoto

Hello 2019! Our first Folklore Photo for the year is of Emily Harbour, Labrador, and comes to us from Alice Elizabeth (Betty) Neil, who in turn got the photo from her late sister, Louise Vallis (née Barrett), (September 06, 1933 - February 07, 2015). 

Louise's father had a fishing room at Emily Harbour, and as a young girl, she was sent off to work as a cook for the fishing crew. Date of photo unknown, but shows the home of a Mr. Apsey (sp?).  Any information you have on the individuals shown, or about the house, would be greatly appreciated!

Photo collected as part of the "Lassy Days Photo Scanning Pary" held Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 at the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum. If this photo elicits memories for you, or if you'd like to arrange a photo scanning party for your community, contact Dale Jarvis at

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Ghost of the White Elephant, Makkovik. #ShareNunatsiavut

(photo: Dale Jarvis and Joan Andersen, standing on the White Elephant's famous staircase)

I'm currently fogged in, in Makkovik, where I just overheard a man at the hotel say, "Man, the fog is thicker than day-old pea soup!" He isn't wrong, but the fact I'm likely to be stuck here for a few more days is actually just fine! I'm here for the annual Nunatsiavut Heritage Forum, the first time I have been to the forum for several years. I always love it when I get a chance to come to Labrador, and I was delighted to be invited to come talk about intangible cultural heritage and oral history.

I was doubly delighted to come to Makkovik. I've been to a few places in Labrador over the past 21 years, but this was my first trip to Makkovik.  It is a town I've always wanted visit, and I got a great tour today of the White Elephant Museum, which has been a highlight of the trip for me so far.

The White Elephant is a building which was constructed by the Moravian Church in the early part of the twentieth century. The building was used for many purposes over the years. It served as a boarding school, nursing home, and as a clinic. In 1959, about 30 families were resettled in Makkovik from Hebron.

The carpenters involved in the resettlement project were Newfoundlanders, brought in to build new houses. They lodged in the White Elephant. The same year, it also served as the residence for the first full-time nurse. Since it was rarely used for its original purpose but still required maintenance, the building was often referred to as the "White Elephant." The name stuck, and remains to this day.

Back in December 2000, the White Elephant was officially designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the community began the work of restoring the building back to its original condition. Today it houses over 200 artifacts, including fishing and hunting gear, old photos, kitchen utensils, tools, family Bibles, traditional clothing, mission diaries, and much more. I was the registrar for historic places at the Heritage Foundation when the building was designated, an although I've known of the place for 16 years, today was the first day I got to step inside, with Joan Andersen as guide.

Joan is one of the Heritage Foundation of NL's board members, and has been one of the key people involved with the White Elephant Museum Committee for decades.  She is also the one who first told me about the building's resident ghost.  I went back through my files today, and dug up my old notes on the White Elephant's ghost story, and will share some of them here.

The ghost of the White Elephant is a somewhat shy creature, and has never actually been seen. The origins of the spook are also a bit of a mystery, but stories about the ghost have circulated for well over 30 years. In the 1960s the building served as a teachers’ residence, until a new teachers’ home was constructed in 1971. While no one is certain exactly when the ghost arrived, by that point the spirit was already a firm part of the local folklore.
Joan was one of the teachers who stayed in the building. Even though she lived there, she did not meet the ghost personally.  When I interviewed her years ago for an article on the ghost, she told me, “I used to live there when it was a teachers’ residence, and never blinked an eye. But other people who have lived in there said ‘oh yeah we could hear footsteps on the stairs’ and things like that.”

Teachers living in the building in the 1970s heard ghostly goings-on from time to time. They would be in the kitchen or living room, and hear someone come in and go up the stairs. They would go upstairs to see if there was anyone there, and there was never anyone to be seen. No one ever caught sight of the mysterious visitor. All that was heard was the sound of someone going up the stairs.

“I asked some of the older people and they said they think it was because the building was left dark, especially in the time when there were no street lights around, and it was empty a lot of the time,” Joan told me in that old interview.

“The people, especially kids, didn’t like to go by it. And you know how stories get told, and kids think it is haunted.”
There is one theory on where the ghost story may have come from. In the years before Confederation, the Moravian Church missionaries played the roles of ministers, traders, social workers, and medical personnel. “They would give you salves, give you the occasional needle, pull teeth and whatnot, deliver babies,” Joan told me.

In the 1930s or 1940s one of the missionaries attempted an emergency surgery. The operation failed and a teenage girl died in the building. Could this be the source of the rumour that the White Elephant is haunted?

In 2002 the museum started off their summer season with a student who quickly realized that she could not work in a haunted building. As Joan told me, “there was just one student working down there at a time, and I guess she just could not stand the quiet and stillness and the talk of ghosts that she had heard... and so she only lasted a week!” 

Today, I got to meet that same former employee, who was participating in the heritage forum. I met her in the museum, so she must have gotten over her initial fear of the ghost!

The White Elephant Museum is open to tourists from July to August, or by appointment. If you visit, listen carefully. If you hear the front door open, and the sounds of footsteps climbing the stairs, you might be in the presence of Makkovik’s famous ghost.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Living Heritage Podcast Ep011 Labrador Memories with Dave Paddon

Dave Paddon is a writer and performer of recitations. He is originally from Northwest River, Labrador and is descended from two generations of pioneer doctors and nurses who lived and worked in Labrador. He currently lives in St.John’s and makes his living as a pilot for Air Canada. We discuss Dave’s childhood in Northwest River, his family’s history in Labrador as doctors and nurses, his parents’ involvement in World War II, and his involvement with recitations and the Stage to Stage performances. Dave recites The Twelve which is a recitation he wrote himself about a small snowmobile of twelve horsepower.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Logo revealed for first-ever Indigenous Arts Symposium to be held in Newfoundland and Labrador

ArtsNL, in conjunction with steering committee members comprised of representatives from Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut, Miawpukek, Qalipu First Nation, and the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, launched a website ( and unveiled a logo for the province’s first-ever Indigenous Arts Symposium today.

The symposium, which is being called To Light The Fire, will take place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay from November 19-22, 2015. The logo features reference to the titular ‘fire’ and visuals of a drum, which are often heated over a flame prior to being played. The imagery was chosen by the steering committee as fire and drums were universally present in each of the involved indigenous cultures, and Camille Usher created the logo. The event is part of a series of initiatives that ArtsNL is undertaking to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

“The strong interest to have a provincial symposium focused on indigenous artists and art practices was heard loud and clear at the Atlantic indigenous arts symposium planned by the Atlantic Public Arts Funders called Petapan, which was held in August 2014 in Millbrook, NS,” said Reg Winsor, ArtsNL executive director. “We’re following a similar model for our provincial event that will include demonstrations, workshops, showcases, a film festival show case, exhibition, and pop-up shops.”

The symposium will also include a number of forum discussions where registered participants will have the opportunity to freely discuss challenges they’ve faced as artists, the business of being an artist, while sharing creative solutions and strategies that have worked for them. A full itinerary of events is available on the symposium’s website, and biographies for those leading workshops, demonstrations, and speakers will be added in the near future.

The website features online registration for the symposium, which is open as of today. Interested individuals from all indigenous backgrounds are welcome to register and attend, though spaces will be limited so people are encouraged to register at their earliest convenience. There is no fee to attend the symposium, and limited accommodations assistance is available. Registration closes October 9, 2015. Individuals with limited internet access are encouraged to contact Donna Roberts, ArtsNL’s Cultural Outreach Officer in Labrador to register by phone at 896-9565 or 1-888-896-9565.

As details continue to become available, they will be shared through future releases, on the ArtsNL social media profiles, or at or

Monday, March 2, 2015

Youth Heritage Forum 2015 Guest Speaker - Aimee Chaulk

 Guest Speaker: Aimee Chaulk

Aimee Chaulk is the editor of Them Days magazine, an oral history quarterly about Labrador, and the de-facto archivist at Them Days Archives. She received her Hon.B.A. from the University of Toronto, in English and Medieval Studies. She also attended Ryerson University’s Magazine Publishing program. Aimee is on the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives Executive, is a co-founder of the Tamarack Camera Club, and organizes community events in her spare time. You may have seen her breastfeeding and canoeing at the same time in Metrobus shelter ads.  

Why are you passionate about heritage?
Looking back, my love of (obsession with) Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books was probably an indication that I would be editor of Them Days someday—they’re basically an extended Them Days story about the American Midwest. I’ve always been interested in people’s stories and the way things were done, in how those things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same. On a personal level, working in heritage has been a way to explore and deepen my appreciation for my roots. I love the way it has also widened my social circle—despite my youth, I’m practically an honorary member of the Friendship Centre’s 55+ club! Learning traditional skills is a great way to close the generation gap.
Want to hear more from Aimee? Join us for Youth Heritage Forum 2015!

Keep up to date, join our Youth Heritage Forum Facebook Event!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Research question: Esquimaux murdered at Keatulik Island

I had an interesting research question this week. A colleague came across this entry, on the Newfoundland's Grand Banks webpage "1926 News and Events of the Year from The St. John's Daily News"

The page lists a short death notice from May 11, 1926.  The item reads, simply, "An Esquimaux Tuite murdered at Keatulik Island."

The Daily News for 1926 is not yet scanned on Memorial University's Digital Archives Collection, and I've not verified that the spelling on the website is a correct transcription.  

Does anyone have suggestions about the location of Keatulik Island? Somewhere in Labrador, perhaps? Or do you have some thoughts on the word "Tuite"? Is it a person's name, or does it refer to a group of people? 

If you have thoughts or theories, email me at

- Dale Jarvis

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mobilizing Culture - The ICH Update for July 2014

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: we outline our plans for the Petty Harbour Memory store, a public recording booth which will be set up to archive memories of growing up in Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove; the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador announces a $5000 grant for research on the historic fishery in the province; heritage intern Terra Barrett reports on community celebrations in Petty Harbour; Lisa Wilson gives an update on a recent tombstone rubbing workshop held in Cupids; Heather Igloliorte gives insight into two projects around mobilizing Inuit cultural heritage in Labrador; you all get an invite to the unveiling of the commemorative plaque for the Cable Avenue Registered Heritage District in Bay Roberts; and a reminder about our upcoming four-day "Fishing for Folklore" workshop in Petty Harbour, this September.

Download the newsletter in PDF and other formats from

photo: Grass basket, base 11.3 cm in diameter. Grass, red and black thread. Collected in Aillik Bay, near Tornavik, south of Hopedale. Received from F.G. Speck, July 4th, 1914. Collection of the Canadian Museum for Civilization.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Call Out: Memories of Labrador

From the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre:

The quarterly magazine, Them Days, would like to interview people about personal experiences growing up in Labrador.  We've invited them to come talk to people at Tea & Sharing (2pm-4pmthis Thursday (May 8th).  All are welcome - men and women - to share their memories. 

The St. John’s Native Friendship Centre is located at 716 Water Street, St. John’s.

Bringing Fish ashore in Forteau [A 51-31]
International Grenfell Association fonds
Grenfell Association of Great Britain and Ireland
Specimens of postcards by Tucks: Courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Did Labrador have the first Christmas tree in North America?

Larry Dohey, the local archivist who runs the fabulous Archival Moments blog, posted this photo today, from The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 118-48.2: Grenfell Mission Staff Photograph Album, of a miniature Christmas tree.

Larry argues that while the oldest documented Christmas tree in North America is from 1781 in Sorel, Quebec, the Moravian settlements in Labrador date to 1771, and that they quite possibly had the tradition there first.

Read the full blog post here.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: English Picnic Baskets

A woven basket owned by Neal Wells of Grand Falls-Windsor
A woven basket owned by Patricia Mchuge of Grand Falls-Windsor
Last year the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office undertook a collection project focused on basket making in this province. We documented several basket styles, including what we believe to be two English picnic baskets. Beyond that we know very little about these baskets and would like to figure out exactly what they are woven from. We suspect the baskets to be made of willow, as this is a very common material used by English basket makers. Also, both these baskets seem to constructed using the randing weave, which is a common style of English willow weaving.

If you happen to have any idea what these baskets are made of  please get in touch with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office, we'd love to hear from you! Contact Nicole at 1-888-739-1892 ex.6 or email at 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bread, boats, papers and pillow tops: The ICH Update for August

In this month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, we present a review of the ICH workshop held in North West River, Labrador; our summer intern Joelle Carey reviews the Make and Break Festival in Bonavista; we introduce our occasional papers publication series; and Nicole Penney discusses the sewing of pillow tops by men working in the lumber woods, and how it served as a means of group socialization.

The occasional papers in ICH referenced in the newsletter can be downloaded from

Contributors: Dale Jarvis, Joelle Carey, Nicole Penney.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tea, baskets, and the community conservation of intangible cultural heritage

In this month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, we invite people to our "Tea and Baskets" events in Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor; ICH intern Nicole Penney shares some of her research on mill lunch baskets; and we nominate inukshuk building as an item of provincial historical significance. Download the newsletter in pdf form.

I have been corresponding a bit lately with Misako Ohnuki, Deputy Director of the International Research Centre for ICH in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) based in Osaka, Japan. Curious about the work we are doing in Newfoundland and Labrador, she asked me about some of the difficulties and hurdles that we have have faced so far in documenting intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in communities in this province. Read my short report on "Challenges in the community conservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador."

And finally, Memorial University has published an article about our current Public Folklore Intern Nicole Penney's work placement with Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and her work cataloguing baskets and baskets makers in Newfoundland.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Moravian architecture slides added to Memorial's Digital Archives Initiative

We are in the process of adding a series of scanned photographic slides to the ICH Inventory on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. The Moravian Architecture of Labrador collection is from folklore thesis fieldwork I did along Labrador's north coast in the summer of 1995. At the moment, there are photos from Hopedale, North West River, and Happy Valley, with more photos to be added shortly from Nain, OKaK, Hebron, and beyond. All photos were digitized by DAI staffer Chris Mouland.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Labrador kayaks old and new, and adventures with polar bears.

This morning, Peter Cowan, reporter and video journalist for CBC in Labrador, tweeted a link to this story, about Noah Nochasak's journey to Hebron in a handmade, traditional style kayak. It is well worth a listen, particularly the part about Nochasak's run-in with a polar bear.

As a sometimes kayaker, I was interested in Nochasak's construction of the kayak, which is built along traditional Inuit lines, but using nylon instead of skin as the covering. It is a good example of one of the basic tenets of intangible cultural heritage: that ICH comes from the past but is in a constant state of evolution.

Give the interview a listen here.

A few years ago, I got a "backstage" tour of the collection vaults at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. In a darkened room full of boats from all across Canada, there was one treasure that stood out for me: a traditional Inuit skin kayak from Labrador. A few pics below:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Root Cellars, Repatriation of Remains, and Heritage Windows - ICH Update

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: notes on the 3rd Annual Folklife Festival, Seeds to Supper; Crystal Braye digs in to the Root Cellar Project; we learn why the Food Security Network thinks that Root Cellars Rock; Torngâsok Cultural Centre archaeologist Jamie Brake documents a 1927 incident involving anthropologist William Duncan Strong and the second Rawson-MacMillan Subarctic Expedition, and the 2011 repatriation of the remains of 22 Inuit from the Field Museum in Chicago; and Melissa Squarey reports on tradition bearer James "Jim" Youden, a heritage carpenter and window maker who is the recipient of the Newfoundland Historic Trust’s 2011 Southcott Award for Heritage Craftsperson.

Download the pdf

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Merry Old Christmas and Happy Nalujuk Night!

This is it, the last day of the Christmas season in Newfoundland and Labrador.  After today you can take down your tree and stop mummering. But chances are there is still one big party left to go to tonight, somewhere (I'll be at one!)

One of my favourite Old Christmas Day customs is from the north coast of Labrador, where today is the day the Nalujuit come out to see who has been good, and punish those who haven't. For those of you who don't know what a Nalujuk is, they are related to mummers and janneys, but slightly more bad-ass! Like mummering on the island, the tradition seems to be enjoying something of a revival. You can learn a bit more about nalujuit below:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Metis artisan Albert Biles

Metis artisan Albert Biles will be the artist-in-residence at the Labrador Gallery in Wild Things for the summer and fall of 2009.

Albert is renowned for his work in whale bone and antler, and almost every major gallery and collection in Newfoundland and Labrador includes some of his work. Albert will be hosting a small exhibition featuring some of his latest and most innovative pieces at a reception at Wild Things on June 25 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Following the reception, Albert will be taking up the position of Artist-in-Residence at the Labrador Gallery in Wild Things. On select days during the summer and fall, folks will be able to meet Albert as he works on ivory, baleen, whale bone, soapstone, antler, and other natural media of Newfoundland and Labrador.

For a cultural adventure celebrating ancient art and form in the 21st century visit Albert at The Labrador Gallery in Wild Things, 124 Water Street (709) 722-3123. Better yet, meet Albert at our reception (June 25 from 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) and have a glass of wine and sample some pitsik from Northern Labrador.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sharing Community Oral History Workshop – West St. Modeste, Labrador

On Thursday, 7 May 2009, a group of eleven women from communities along the Labrador Straits gathered at the Oceanview Resort in West St. Modeste to take part in a day-long workshop on sharing community oral history. The group included business owners, tourism operators, heritage volunteers and workers, oral history researchers and community development officers, all of whom shared an interest in preserving the oral traditions of the Labrador Straits.

The event was organized by SmartLabrador, an organization founded in 1997 to ensure effective utilization of information technologies (IT) in business, human resources and community economic development in Labrador. The goals of SmartLabrador include:

- Increased awareness of the benefits and potential of information technology;
- Equal access to the information highway, for all communities;
- Skilled population to meet the demands of the knowledge economy;
- Increased development of IT business opportunities and partnerships.

Facilitated by Dale Jarvis, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the day started with a discussion of local community memories and the material being collected as part of the Smart Labrador oral history project. Part of the goal of the overall project is to return the stories to the community, and to develop programs that see the collected stories shared and performed by community members.

Participants talked about personal memories and the link between place and oral history. The group worked on a short individual mapping project, drawing personal maps of the communities of their childhoods, then guiding other participants through their map, eliciting stories and memories of those locations.

The afternoon saw the participants work with some of the primary research material collected by the SmartLabrador workers. It also utilized material collected along the Straits as part of earlier oral history projects, particularly those related to adult literacy projects, such as the publication “Crooked Top of a Safety Pin” published by Partners in Learning. Using a basic six-frame storyboard process, the participants took the historical source material and shaped it into stories that followed a more narrative, rather than purely descriptive or anecdotal, format.

The day concluded with a group discussion on next steps, returning to the issues raised at the beginning of the day. The group decided that they would hold a further organizational meeting by the end of the May, with the goal of holding a public oral history sharing event, or storytelling circle in June, possibly based on the community “Mug Up” model developed by the Labrador Institute. The “Mug Up” sees a theme or topic of discussion set, and then community members gather over a lunch to share traditional knowledge, stories and memories about that topic.

Stay tuned for more news on the project as it progresses!