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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Successful Forum with the Baccalieu Trail

This past Monday the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation, with some help from us here at the Heritage Foundation, held a forum for representatives from the 70 communities around the Baccalieu Trail. The aim of the forum, subtitled "Preserving the Past and Looking to the Future", was focused on discussing matters related to community heritage, future plans and how best to realize them, and opportunities for communication and collaboration within the region.

We had 50 participants for the forum, which consisted of a morning of presentations and an afternoon of open discussion. Speakers in the morning included Charlie Adams and William Gilbert from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation, Jerry Dick from Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Dale Jarvis from the ICH office at the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Beverly King from the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Jim Prowse from Canadian Heritage.

The afternoon was formatted as a conversation cafe-styled cafe, where the participants table hopped while answering questions related to the heritage in their area, what struggles they have, and how the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation can help. The afternoon concluded with everyone returning to their original tables, and sharing the most interesting things they heard or learned that day. Each table narrowed that down to a top three, which was shared with the full forum during the final wrap up.

In the near future a report will be compiled of all of the information that was gathered during the forum; a preview of the results will be available in the March issue of the ICH newsletter!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Folklore Photo - Heritage Lighthouse in Heart's Content

I wrote the other day about how we took a group of public folklore grad students out to Heart's Content.  Today is folklore photo day, so here is that group of students, in front of the Heart's Content Lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed in 1901, and is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building.

You can read more about the lighthouse here and on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

- photos by Dale Jarvis

Friday, February 7, 2014

Well, Well, Well, a Google Map

Last summer when I was doing wells and springs work, I not only measured wells and photographed them, but I also recorded their GPS coordinates. I though it would be neat to look back after the fact at the distribution of some of the wells I'd seen. I was able to record the location of 35 wells over my summer of fieldwork, and have finally had the time to do something interesting with the information.
Google maps works really great for this, because you can create your own personalized maps, and store them either privately or publicly. Creating a map is incredibly simple - you can type either the address or the GPS coordinates to the points you want into the search bar, and then add a pin to mark that space on your map. Pins are customizable, so you can pin multiple types of spots onto a map, and then hide or show layers, depending on what you want to see.

If you want to take a look at the interactive Wells, Springs, and Folklore Google map you can find it here! Some of the points have links to videos or other information - and of course, all the wells and springs photos and information can be found on the DAI.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snowy Days Gone By: St. John's Winter Scenes

With a blizzard on the way and rolling blackouts effecting the province, I thought I'd share some pictures of past snowy days, when snow clearing was not what it is today. We'll get though this together, like we have so many times before. Just remember to shut off those Christmas lights, drive safe, stay warm, bring in your pets and hug your babies!

Courtesy of: Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative
East End, St. John's. Temperance Street and Battery Road in winter.
Print developed from glass negative in the Geography Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland Geography Collection, Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador. Original repository Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives and Special Collections Division 
Courtesy of: Memorial university's Digital Archives Initiative 
Winter, Waterford Bridge Road, ca. 1905
John Job Collection, Maritime History Archive
Courtesy of: Memorial University's Digital Archive
Government House, St. John's. "New Willys Car". Car with chains on wheels, ready for winter. 1932
Print developed from glass negative in the Geography Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland Geography Collection, Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador. Original repository Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives and Special Collections Division

New Gower Street, St. John's. View looking east; snow covered street with horse and cart, ca. 1925
Print developed from glass negative in the Geography Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland Geography Collection, Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador. Original repository Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives and Special Collections Division

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: A Game of Pitch and Toss

Courtesy of: The Rooms Provincial Archives Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador
 A 7-12. "Pitch and Toss": Children playing pitch and toss, Grey River. There is a description of the game in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: "You stand away so far, an' you pitch your button. The handiest to the peg, after so many pitches [would win]. C 70-15 The object of the game was to pitch a button from the hole [where you stood] so that the button touched the 'nag' (or stick). C 71-22 Make a mot in the ground with your heel. Stand at a distance from the hole and pitch the buttons."
Photographer: Holloway Studio [1913]
Games and play allow children to develop important social skills and negotiate their world through competition, role-playing, and power hierarchies. Children's games/play evolve over time and reflect how communities respond to social and economic changes. The introduction of electricity, telephones, movies, television, radio and internet has had a strong influence on the game and play repertoire of children. As these technologies grew in popularity, children spent less time outdoors playing traditional games such as Rounders, Hoist your Sails and Run, Pitch and Toss, Duck on the Rock and Bandy Ball. Subsequently, the rules of many of these games have been nearly lost. We would like to document these games and play before that happens. 

In the new year the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office hopes to collect memories from tradition bearers across the province. Our goal is to explore the folklore of children's games/play through contextual information, such as rules of play, gender and age requirements, type of equipment used and when and where each game was played.

If you have memories of playing these games or know a tradition bearer who does, please feel free to get in touch with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office, we'd love to hear from you! 

For more on traditional games and play in Newfoundland and Labrador check out our collection on MUN's Digital Archive.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Stories and Superstitions of Bay Roberts

Throughout the month of October I spent a great deal of time working on our current collection project on the folk culture and beliefs of the Bay Roberts area. This involved traveling to and from Bay Roberts to visit and interview long-time community residents. During these visits I queried them on everything from what it was like to live there in the old days, the remedies they used when doctors were scarce, and some of the unusual or ghostly stories they were told as children. Needless to say, while the project is not yet complete, the people of Bay Roberts have been so enthusiastic and welcoming that our growing body of material is already richer than I could've expected.
Mr. Gerald French of Bay Roberts, in his home behind Cable Ave.
My most recent visit was with a man named Gerald French who was born and raised on a property just behind Cable Avenue (which is now a registered heritage district). His father was a caretaker for the Western Union Company, so Gerald had many memories to share about what life in and around the cable office was like. He is also a great storyteller and recalled a few ghostly tales he was told as a child. One of which took place on the dark streets of Bay Roberts, Barnes' Road to be exact, before the days of the street lamp. A man was out walking and it was very dark, so he cursed out-loud, wishing for a jack o'lantern to appear and light his path. All of a sudden, a large light appeared in front of him. It gave him such a fright, that he ran the rest of the way home. I've now heard many such stories, most taking place in the days before the street lamp came to town. As Wilbur Sparke's explained, "A man once said to me: 'I'll tell you about the ghosts. All the ghosts left when the electric lights came.' Now that's an interesting bit of psychology."

Despite the apparent demise of the ghost story telling tradition (due to the proliferation of the street lamp), a recent trip to Ascension High School offered us many a spooky tale. Indeed, of 35 students in Mrs. Welsh's grade 10 English class, most had a ghost story to share with us that they had heard from friends or family. Below is a story told by Jesse Rideout about a ghost-fisherman giving his friend a helping hand from a watery grave. 

I've also been interested in collecting superstitions from the people I visit. Mr. French offered this one, which he still believes in to this day: "You didn't like a black cat crossing in front of you. And the crows, even now if we're driving, we'll cross at the crows. Just put your finger like this..." He then took a finger and crossed the air in front of him. "Lots of time when we're out I'll say, 'They'll say we're nuts, b'y!' " His wife Eliza assured me that it's true. When he's driving in traffic he'll say to her, "Eliza, cross out that crow will you?" He says it every time, he doesn't miss a crow.

Another superstition that involves making a cross with your finger came from Greta Hussey's book "Our Life in Lear's Room, Labrador." Greta is another person that I interviewed for this project and her book is filled with old superstitions, remedies, and traditions. The one I found most fascinating is that in the Hussey family, when a hand or foot would fall asleep, they would make the sign of the cross on the bottom of the foot or the palm of the hand. I suppose it was meant as a cure for numb appendages.

A few other good luck/bad luck superstitions were offered by Olivia Bradbury from Ascension High. She said: "Cross your socks when you take them off before going to bed to prevent bad dreams."  And: "Exit through the same door you entered from on Fridays, or bad luck ensues." Olivia also reiterated Mr. French's belief that crows are indeed, very bad luck to see.

This project is going very well, and I hope to find more stories, cures, remedies and superstitions before the fall season is up. Please feel free to be in touch with your own, no matter where you are from in the province:


 Paula Roberts wrote in and said that she too crosses out single crows. It seems if just one crow crosses your path it's considered bad luck, but two or more have a whole different meaning. Here is a rhyme she learned as a child about crows and luck:
"One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a kiss,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a story that's never been told." 

Thanks Paula!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: St. Anthony Hospital Staff with Skeleton

Keeping with my spooky theme for the month of October, here's a photo of the St. Anthony medical staff posed with a skeleton!
[VA 129-5.2] St. Anthony Hospital Staff with Skeleton, 1911:
St. Anthony Hospital Lab end, 1911. Miss Clarke, Miss Ruth Keyes [sic] Miss Eperingon [sic], Dr. Katherine [sic], skeleton, John M. Little. Names should read: Ruth Keese (teacher), Miss Etherington (nurse), Robert Catheron (physician), John Mason Little (physician). Ruth Keese later married John M. Little.

The International Grenfell Association (IGA) was incorporated in Canada on January 10, 1914, under the Companies Act of 1899. Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the founder of IGA, came to Newfoundland to attend to the needs of fishermen in northern Newfoundland and on the coast of Labrador. In its earliest years, the IGA had four functions in serving the needs of these people. They were health care, education, religious services; and rehabilitation and other social activities

To learn more about the International Grenfell Association, visit their website.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Pumpkins!

[799. Family] Boys Holding Pumpkin
circa 1920-1950
Courtesy of: United Church Archives - H.M. Dawe Photograph Collection

To celebrate the first day of October I focused on pumpkins for this Tuesday's folklore photo. At first I wanted to share an archival image of Newfoundlanders celebrating Halloween, but it seems these are few and far between. When I searched "pumpkins" on Memorial University's Digital Archive and came across these cute little guys, I couldn't resist sharing. These boys are absolutely beside themselves with excitement over this pumpkin!

Interestingly, it was once tradition in Newfoundland to carve turnips for Halloween rather than pumpkins. This is said to be a carry over from Celtic tradition. Pumpkins carved as jack-o-lanterns would not have been part of traditional Halloween festivals in Celtic Europe, since pumpkins are New World plants, but large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits.

If you happen to be growing your own pumpkins, you may find this advice from Ross Traverse helpful. This was originally published in Decks Awash, 1987.

Courtesy of:  Decks Awash, Vol. 16, no.01 (Jan-Feb 1897)

If you have an archival images of Newfoundlander's celebrating Halloween, please email Nicole at We'd love to share them on the blog at the end of the month! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: This is Mr. TB Germ

Educational booklet published by the Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association.
Ca. 1950 
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Newfoundland had a very high rate of tuberculosis infection and death, much higher than that of Canada, Great Britain or the United States. Several factors contributed to the spread of  TB in Newfoundland and Labrador. One was the custom of large families spending a lot of time in the kitchen, especially in winter, when all would gather to socialize and stay warm. A person with active TB would then expose their family and visitors to the disease.  A monotonous diet that lacked fresh food and important nutrients also weakened immune systems and left Newfoundlanders vulnerable to the disease. Tuberculosis was also difficult to detect until it became active and at this point was much more difficult to treat. Also, severe isolation in Newfoundland and Labrador meant there was little or no access to medical services and to top it off,  there was little understanding of the causes and prevention of TB. 

Educational booklet published by the Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association.
Ca. 1950 
The Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association, a dedicated anti-TB group founded in 1944 by Ted Meany, released publications to educate the community about the spread and prevention of the disease. The booklet featured in today's folklore photo was published by the association ca. 1950. 

Educational booklet published by the Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association.
Ca. 1950 
Tuberculosis continued to be a leading cause of death in Newfoundland and Labrador well into the 20th century, only being overtaken by heart disease and cancer in the 1950s. From 1901-1975, just under 32,000 people died of TB in Newfoundland. Often the victims were males aged 15 to 45, the wage earners of their families, so the social and economic costs of TB were great. It wasn't until the 1970s, with advances in pharmaceuticals, living conditions and through the efforts of the Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association, that Tuberculosis was defeated.

Click here to read the full booklet! 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Berry Combs

Update: I was informed that the item below is not a berry comb but actually a dory bailer, used to scoop out water from a boat. The bailer is also known as a a piggin, peggin, spudgel, spudget, spudgin or spudgy.  It looks a lot like a berry comb, but that's what I love about this job, you learn something new all the time! :D  

Around this time every year I love to go berry picking. I pick mostly blueberries and find something very satisfying about gathering my own food, especially when it's free. Don't get me wrong, I love a good strawberry U-Pick, but around here you don't have to go far to find a barren or boggy area full of blueberries. Berry picking can be hard on the back, so to make the work faster people have used berry combs, like the one pictured below.

Dory Bailer: Located in the Woody Island Museum
That berry comb above is actually missing the comb part, so I borrowed a picture of a complete one, featured below.This one is similar to the one used in Newfoundland, but was used by a man who lived on the southern shore of Lake Washington in Seattle.

Here are a few terms used in Newfoundland and Labrador related to berry picking:

berry box: wooden box used by pickers to carry harvest of partridge- and blueberries.
T 1-631 We used to go berry picking and take berry boxes, forty or fifty, a couple of us together. We'd fill them.

berry duff: a boiled or steamed pudding with wild berries as an ingredient.
1966 HORWOOD 19 Blueberry pudding, loaded with luscious fruit, boiled in a cloth, and popped open, fresh from the pot and dripping with purple juice, on the kitchen table. 

berry crop: the harvest of wild berries: 1976 Daily News 14 July, p. 2 Berry crops are blooming early this year and the director of the soils and crops division with the department of forestry and agriculture, is expecting a good season. 'Blueberries, partridge berries and bakeapples are already in bloom,' he said.
Va 94-36.1; Berry Picking: Women and Children Berry Picking on a Hill [193-]
Courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives  

berry ocky: home-made drink of wild berries, esp partridge berries, or jam and water; cp OCKY. 

berry ground: elevated, unwooded stretch of land or 'barren' producing wild berries. See also GROUND.

berry note: buyer's receipt issued to picker for quantity of berries received.
1972 MURRAY 261 Those who sold berries were given a 'berry note' indicating the amount of berries 'shipped' and the price per gallon. The value of the note had to be 'taken up' in goods in the store where the berries were shipped.
VA 15D-20.2. Man Berry-Picking, Portland Creek, NL [ca 1940-49]
Courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Carrying Water

I recently visited the Logger's Life Provincial Museum in Grand Falls-Windsor to work with their staff to develop public programming around pillow tops. While there I spotted this piece of folk art on display in the bunkhouse. This little, wooden, hand carved figure depicts a logger using a square shaped hoop to carry two pails of water. The hoop was used to balance the pails of water and keep them from hitting your legs and spilling. The hoops were made of wood, sometimes alder branches, and were either square or round. They were an invaluable tool for those who had to walk great distances for water.

This water carrier ties in well with another project being worked on here at the ICH Office, which is a study of traditional water supplies in St. John's and surrounding areas.  For the next few months, archaeologist Sarah Ingram will be talking to people about wells and springs to learn where the traditional water supplies where in the area and how they were used and maintained. Sarah will also be collecting stories about why particular water sources were valued over others. Finally, all these materials will be made available on Memorial University of Newfoundland's Digital Archive Initiative. Stay tuned for updates on that project and many others!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo

Have you ever wondered what the oldest structure is St. John's is? Anderson House, built circa 1804-1805, is most likely the oldest in the city. The structure was built for James Anderson who was a sergeant in the militia at the time. Anderson House was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador on March 23, 1996. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weaving Pillow Tops in Cupids

Yesterday I was invited out to Cupids to instruct a pillow top workshop. Dale came along and we had a great time at The Cupids Legacy Centre teaching a lovely group how to weave this interesting textile. 

Pillow tops are square-shaped textiles woven from wool using a wooden frame, made by Newfoundland women and men. Women would make these in various sizes and used them around the house as pillow covers, table toppers, and backs for chairs. Pillow tops were also made by men working in the lumber camps. Cutting and collecting lumber was arduous work and the only day the men in the camps had off was Sunday. To pass the time some men would make pillow tops to give to girlfriends, wives and mothers.

For more information on pillow tops check out the Intangible Cultural Heritage Pillow Top Collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. 

And here's some of the finished pillow tops. One thing I love about these is they all look different, I've yet to see two pillow tops that look the same. 

For more information on the tradition of Newfoundland lumber camp workers weaving pillow tops, check out this issue of the ICH newsletter

If you're interested in making your own pillow top frame, check out this blog entry which includes instructions and lots of pictures.

And if you'd like to have us out to your community to teach a pillow top workshop, you can reach Nicole Penney at 1-888-739-1892 ex.6 or via email at

Happy Weaving!