Showing posts with label St. John's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St. John's. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How old is the name Chain Rock? Older than you might think. #askafolklorist

The approach to St. John's in 1813, by Chappell.

Dale Jarvis, Heritage NL

I love placenames, and over the past decade of intangible cultural heritage work, local names for places come up time and time again in our discussions of local history. Sometimes those discussions of toponymy pop up in unlikely contexts.

Earlier today, an online discussion of the word “lazaretto” - an isolation hospital for people with infectious diseases, especially leprosy or plague, or a building/ship used for quarantine - included a reference to quarantine procedures on Signal Hill in this quote from the Evening Telegram (St. John's, N.L.) of 1892-09-30:
There is access to it by water and on two sides by land, by a path from the lazaretto, which can be made good enough for a horse at the expense of ten dollars, and by a road from Chain Rock, which is not finished yet.
That quote raised the following question from Twitter user Rick Magill:
I always assumed chain rock got its name during WWII when they had torpedo/sub curtains across the narrows. Clearly much older. Anyone know how and why it got its name?
Historian Dr. Heidi Coombs was quick to respond, stating:
They referred to Chain Rock during the 1832 cholera quarantine, so it’s at least that old. Ships were not permitted to proceed into the harbour beyond Chain Rock.
She also shared the proclamation requiring ships to anchor at "the first Buoy within Chain Rock," from the Colonial Secretary's Office -- Quarantine Letters, 1832-26 (GN 2/17) at The Rooms.

Going back a bit further, we find a reference to Chain Rock in the long-titled work “Voyage of His Majesty's Ship Rosamond to Newfoundland and the Southern Coast of Labrador: Of which Countries No Account Has Been Published by Any British Traveller Since the Reign of Queen Elizabeth,” by Edward Chappell and published by J. Mawman in 1818.

In February of 1813, His Majesty's ship Rosamond, commanded by Captain Donald Campbell with Edward Chappell as his Lieutenant, received orders from the Admiralty. They were to repair forthwith to Cork, Ireland, in order to collect the first spring convoy bound for Newfoundland, Halifax, and the St. Lawrence River. This, they did, arriving first at Cape Broyle, and then heading to St. John’s.  Of their entrance into the port, Chappell wrote,
At about two-thirds of the distance between the entrance and what may properly be termed the harbour itself, there lies a dangerous shelf called Chain Rock; so named from a chain which extends across the street at that place, to prevent the admission of any hostile fleet. Mariners, on entering this place, ought to be aware of approaching too near the rocks beneath the light-house point. At the time we sailed by them, the masts of a large ship were still visible above the water, that had a short time before been forced by the swell upon those rocks, where she immediately foundered.
By 1813, the name Chain Rock was already well-established Historian Paul O’Neill summarized one version of history of the Rock in his book The Oldest City, published in 1975. He writes,
About 1770 a heavy chain was stretched across the Narrows from Chain Rock to Pancake Rock, and it was the duty of the troops to raise this chain each evening so that an enemy vessel or privateer could not sneak into the harbour under cover of darkness. During World War I a chain boom was again put into use. In World War II the Narrows were protected by a series of metal mesh anti-submarine nets.
1770, however, is not the oldest reference to Chain Rock. Former Parks Canada historian James Candow, in his book “The Lookout: A History of Signal Hill,” notes that a plan of St. John’s Harbour from 1751 includes the placename. He writes,
The same 1751 plan includes an early use of ‘Chain Rock’ to denote the navigational hazzard in front of the old North Battery site, and to which the chain of the Narrows boom had been affixed earlier in the century. [emphasis mine]

Archaeologist Steve Hull of the Provincial Archaeology Office pointed out an even earlier possible date. This map, "Plan du port et du fort de Saint Jean en l'Isle de Terreneuve, 1726"  shows a chain across at least part of the mouth of the Harbour (see detail below).

The map key in the upper-right records R as follows:

"la chaîne qui empêche l'entrée aux vaisseaux" - the chain that prevents entry to vessels.

So, the name Chain Rock goes back at least to the early 18th century. An earlier map of the harbour, drawn by David Southwood in 1675, notes the locations of both North Fort and South Fort, but not Chain Rock. Any use of the name earlier than the 1700s would, for now, be based on speculation. A research project for a future placenames researcher!

Local folklore aside, the name is definitely, and dramatically, older than the submarine nets of WWII.

Want to know more about NL archaeology and history? You can read Dr. Amanda Crompton's report on her 2008 fieldwork around Signal Hill, which included work near Chain Rock, starting on page 21 of the PAO Report

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Southside Memories with Helen Fogwill Porter

Helen Fogwill Porter. Photo courtesy of CBC NL:
Do you have memories of growing up in St. John's? Have you heard stories of the longshoremen of the southside?

Join us this Sunday, July 14, at the community room in the St. John's Farmer's Market for a discussion with Helen Fogwill Porter. Folklorist, Dale Jarvis, will led the discussion with Porter, a local writer, and activist on growing up on the Southside Road in St. Johns, Newfoundland, during the 1930s and 1940s.

This Memory Mug Up is a partnership between Heritage NL, the St. John’s Farmer’s Market, and the St. John’s Storytelling Festival. The event will take place on Sunday July 14th from 2-3 p.m. at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market, 245 Freshwater Road.

Southside Memories is a free and informal story sharing session, where people gather, have a cup of tea, and share memories. Bring a memory from growing up, or come out to listen to Helen's stories of the Southside of St. John's.

For more information please contact Terra Barrett with the Heritage NL toll free at 1-888-739-1892 ext. 5 or email

Helen Fogwill Porter. Photo courtesy of CBC NL:
More on Helen Fogwill Porter:
Helen Fogwill Porter was born in 1930, on the Southside of St. John's, Newfoundland. Porter began writing in the 1960s, starting with articles, short stories, and poetry. Her memoir Below the Bridge, published in 1980, is based on her youth growing up on the south side of St. John's. She still resides in St. John's, Newfoundland, today.

Her first novel January, February, June or July won the Young Adult Canadian Book Award from the Canadian Library Association in 1989. She was given the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's lifetime achievement award in 1993. Memorial University of Newfoundland granted her an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 1997. She was awarded the Order of Canada in December 2015, and the same year a footbridge spanning the Waterford River was dedicated to her.

Porter is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada, and served on the boards of PEN Canada and the Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador. Porter was also a founding member of the Newfoundland Writer's Guild. Porter taught creative writing with Memorial University Extension Arts and worked with the Visiting Artists' Program of the Newfoundland Teachers' Association. Porter was heavily involved in the women's movement in the early 1970s. She was also a founding member of the Newfoundland Status of Women Council and ran for election to the Canadian Parliament as a New Democratic Party representative four times. In 2003 The Helen Porter Fund was established to help women NDP candidates.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Did you work at 275 Duckworth Street, St. John's? Researcher looking for memories!

Hi! It’s me again, Rachael, Craft Researcher for the Craft Council and Heritage NL!

In my last post I mentioned a little about the Craft Council’s current home, 275 Duckworth Street. My hopes for this post is to uncover more information on this historic building!

One of my projects for this summer is to create a historical report on the structure. So far, my potential occupied dates are:

1911 - 195? The Newfoundland Clothing Factory
195? - 1981 The Evening Telegram
1985  The Dallas Lounge
Mid 1980s - 2010 Compu College
2018-present The Craft Council of NL

I have done some research myself, but I need your help! If you or anyone you know has worked in this building, and has any memories regarding their time here please contact me. You can reach me by email:, or telephone: 739-1892 ext. 6. Any information helps!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Joe Moore remembers the newspaper boys of Solomon's Lane.

Solomon's Lane, 2009. Photo by Alex Pierson/The Scope.
Last week, my friend Karen's father,  Dr. Joseph A. "Joe" Moore passed away. His funeral is today, and I'm on the other side of the province, so I'm sharing this as my way of saying farewell.

In 2009, Joe was one of the participants in the HereSay project started by myself and audio documentary producer Chris Brookes.  The project shared short stories about Water Street via an online map and a series of signposts along the street, each sign with a phone number and a code you could punch in to listen to the tale for that spot.

In this short clip, Joe remembers Solomon's Lane, and his days as a newspaper delivery boy for the Evening Telegram. He describes his route, and finding people to buy his newspapers.

For more on the history of Solomon's Lane, you can read an article about the laneway on the old website for The Scope.

 - Dale Jarvis

Monday, December 4, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Memories of McMurdo's with Claudia Earle and Nancy Knight

Claudia Earle and Nancy Knight
On October 23, 2017, as part of the Collective Memories project, I interviewed Nancy Knight and Claudia Earle. Nancy attended our Townie Childhood Memory Mug Up with the Marjorie Mews Library and was interested in being interviewed about her memories of growing up in St. John’s. Nancy invited her longtime friend and schoolmate Claudia to join in on the interview. The two discuss growing up in different neighbourhoods in St. John’s, attending Bishop Spencer School, celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s, and Easter, and playing children’s games. The pair also describe some of the changes they have seen over the years and remember the shops of downtown St. John’s.

Listen to the clip below to hear more about McMurdo’s Drug Store on Water Street or click here to listen to the full interview on Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative.

~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

St. John's harbourfront before Harbour Drive #Folklorephoto

View of the St. John's Court House from wharf [1954]. Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove St. Philip's Archives (Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds)
These two photographs were taken by Allen and Pearl Squires in 1954 and show downtown St. John's before the addition of Harbour Drive. Do you remember the change to the harbourfront?

View of St. John's harbourfront and wharves [1954]. Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove St. Philip's Archives. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Queen Victoria's Grave #FolklorePhoto

Photo by Kelly Drover.
Today's folklore photo comes from the General Protestant Cemetery which is located between Waterford Bridge Road and Old Topsail Road in St. John's. A couple of months back I interviewed Roberta Bugden about growing up in St. John's. Along with her own stories she told several stories from her mother Queen Victoria (Ross) Young. If you want to learn more about Queen Victoria's memories of the great fire click here for a previous blog post.

When Queen Victoria Ross was born in 1885 the reigning Queen offered a bounty for multiple births above twins. While she didn't qualify for the bounty as a single birth where she was the eighth girl in the family it was suggested that she was named after the Queen. Pictured above is Queen Victoria's grave in St. John's.

~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Water Street, St. John's, 1962 #Folklorephoto

Photograph of Water Street in downtown St. John's in 1962. Shows the Bank of Montreal, VOCM, Ayres, Royal Bank of Canada, and a St. John's Transportation System bus. This image is part of the Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds at the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

#FoodwaysFriday - When Historic Places Meet Food: Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House

Exterior of Yellowbelly. Photo by Katie Harvey. 2017.

Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House is located on the corner of Water Street and George Street in downtown St. John's. It is a three-and-a-half storey brick and masonry building with a mid-pitch gable roof.

Constructed circa 1847, just after the fire of 1846, this is one of the few buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1892. Known as Yellow Belly Corner, this building has much historical significance in the area. It was traditionally a commercial premises, with the main floor being used as a business, and the second floor as a residence.

Main floor of restaurant. Photo by Katie Harvey. 2017.

According to local folklore and oral history, Yellow Belly Corner was named for the "Yellowbellies", who famously tied strips of yellow cloth around their waists. The "Yellowbellies" were one of the various Irish factions, including the "Wheybellies" from County Waterford, the "Clear-Airs" from County Tipperary, the "Doones" from County Kilkenny, and the "Dadyeens" from County Cork, who would meet and fight on this site. Following their victory, King George III cried, "Well done Yellowbellies."

Yellowbelly is a place that I frequent often. A group of friends and I went for happy hour last Friday. The place was bustling, as summer fades and people attempt to drink in those final few days of sunshine. On this particular visit, we ate chicken wings, wood fire pizza, burgers, fries, and of course, beers.

Yellowbelly is unique in that it is one of the few craft breweries that exist in St. John's. They have a variety of beers that they are well-known for including: Wexford Wheat, St. John's Stout,  Fighting Irish Red, and Yellowbelly Pale Ale. They also typically brew a seasonal beer that is available for a limited time.

Yellowbelly is a lovely place to visit when exploring the heritage district of downtown St. John's. It's great to be able to sit in a building that has such a rich history, while eating some tasty food and sipping locally brewed beer.  

-Katie Harvey

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What Is Your Earliest or Favourite Memory from the Royal St. John's Regatta? #Folklorephoto

People at the 1962 St. John's Regatta. Identified (l to r): Theresa, Edna Tucker, Delcie, Jake Tucker, Jimmy King, Al Squires, and Syl. Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives (Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds). 

1962 St. John's Regatta. Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives (Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds)

1962 St. John's Archives. Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives (Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds)
What's your earliest or favourite memory of the St. John's Regatta? Do you compete, watch the races, play the games, eat the food, or take in every aspect?

~ Kelly

Monday, July 31, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Tonic Wine, Rescued Kettles and Wooden Skates at W.J. Murphy's Store

On July 12, I interviewed Ed Murphy about the W.J. Murphy store in St. John’s, which operated from 1895-2000 on Rawlin’s Cross (in the space now occupied by Hungry Heart Café). As the third-generation owner and operator of the store, Ed had a wealth of stories to share about the history and legacy of the business. Over the years, W.J. Murphy’s sold many local products, including rabbit, moose, salmon, halibut, fish (cod), partridgeberries, blueberries, bakeapples and locally grown vegetables. The store also imported a few fancy items from England, Scotland and Ireland. In the early days, the store delivered their wares using bicycles and horse and cart, before making the obligatory shift towards car deliveries. Many customers entrusted W.J. Murphy’s with keys to their homes, even in the years leading up to the business’s close. As Ed explained it:

"Like I said, it was family. And we used to go around delivering, and we had keys to their houses, and if the driver went there and they weren’t home, we just opened the doors and went in. If there was ice cream or anything frozen, we’d put that in the fridge, leave the rest of the stuff there and go on. It was just a different atmosphere altogether, you know.”

After our interview, Ed showed me several intriguing artefacts that he’s held onto over the years:

This is a bottle of pre-confederate tonic wine, which Ed estimates as being “80, 90 years old now, it’s got to be.” Before confederation, W.J. Murphy’s was permitted to sell wine, but the Canadians opted to outlaw such practices “because the liquor store took over.” As Ed remembers it, “The liquor store went around to all the stores and collected these bottles of wine and liquor that weren’t already sold, but Dad said to himself, ‘They’re not getting that liquor.’ So we took all the cases.” Ed drinks the tonic wine very sporadically, and has kept many bottles since that time. He opened up a bottle on his 60th birthday, thinking it might taste like vinegar, but instead found that “Harvey’s Bristol Cream has nothing on it. A little shot of it like that, and you can feel the blood in your body starting to curl.”

Here, Ed is holding a pair of wooden skates that his grandmother used to skate across the St. John’s harbour. At first, I registered this fact with some astonishment—could people have truly skated across the Narrows?—but Ed appeared unswervingly confident:

Ed: And I’m going to show you now a pair of wooden skates that my grandmother used to skate on the harbour. And you might say this, “Now, how can you use a pair of wooden skates on the harbour?” It was homemade, they were homemade here in Newfoundland, and she’d hook them onto her boots. Whichever way the wind was going, you’d give her a push and the wind would take her, and she’d go down the harbour. So then she had to come back on her own, but these were used on the harbour.
Andrea: So was that considered a risky thing to do?
Ed: No, no, they walked across the harbour, oh yes—back then at the time, loads of them. Even when I was going to school, I can remember ice in the harbour. And you could, if you wanted to, jump the ice and so on.
Andrea: Could you skate to Fort Amherst?
Ed: Oh yes. Like I said, because back then it froze. Later on we more or less got slab ice, you know, because things warmed up.

Finally, Ed showed me this set of silver kettles, which his family rescued from the Great Fire of 1892, and kept safe in their Bannerman Park makeshift lodgings. According to Ed, many people grabbed ahold of their kettles when the fire first broke out.

Monday, July 24, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Valentine's Day

Daphne Gillingham. 2017. Photo by Terra Barrett.
On May 29, 2017 as part of the Collective Memories project, I interviewed Daphne Gillingham about growing up in St. John's including her memories of her time in school, her first job at as a cook at cub camp, and her memories of the holidays.

Daphne Gillingham was born in St. John's in August 1938 and grew up in St. John's. She shared her memories of growing up in St. John's in the 1940s and 1950s. One of the things which stood out in Daphne's memory was Valentine's Day. In this clip Daphne describes the difference between Valentine's day when she was a child and how it is celebrated today. If you would like to listen to the full interview you can head to Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative.

~Terra Barrett

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

St. John's Memories with Melanie Tucker

(01 02 004) Water Street, St. John's. View looking east with Ayre and Sons to the right.
Photo courtesy of Geography Collection of Historical Photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Last week Dale and I presented at The Rooms' Research Workshop on Collecting Community History. In the morning there were presentations from The Rooms' staff on how to use their collections for researching community history. The participants also got a tour of the archives.
Dale Jarvis interviewing Melanie Tucker.
In the afternoon session Dale gave an overview of how to do an oral history project including planning in advance, focusing the project, and support and funding that is available. He also did a mock interview, and explained the process of memory mapping or the People, Places, and Culture workshops we run at the Heritage Foundation. I also gave a brief presentation on what to do with the material once you have completed the oral interviews and how to present the material back to the community. If you want more information on how to complete oral history projects please visit our Oral History Project Guide.
Participants of The Rooms' Research Workshop on Collecting Community History.
Melanie Tucker, an archivist with The Rooms, was interviewed by Dale about her memories of growing up in St. John's, going to school, working with the Provincial Archives, and in particular her memories of Water Street, St. John's. If you want to hear more about buying seal flippers, riding the bus, Woolworth's Department Store and the taste of their donuts, buying shoes at the Arcade, or the sights and sounds of the Mount Cashel Christmas raffle listen to the short interview below!

After the mock interview Dale explained the benefits of having community members think about and map out the important people, places, and traditions found in the community. He explained how you can print large community maps at the Provincial Government's Land Management Division Office. Dale brought a large map of St. John's and gave each of the workshop participants a couple of recipe/index cards to fill out with memories. Once everyone had a chance to fill out a memory they were placed on the map. The participants glued their cards to their map and taped a ribbon to the corresponding building in which the memories took place.. If you want to start an oral history project or run a people, place, and culture workshop give us a call at 739-1892 ex. 5 or email
If you want to know more about People, Places, and Culture Workshops click here!
A recipe card with  Water Street memory.
Recipe card with Water Street memory.
~Terra Barrett

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Merchants and Memories Mug Up at Marjorie Mews Library

Yesterday, we went to the Marjorie Mews Public Library for our Merchants and Memories Mug Up. As it was our third Mug Up event at the library we decided to have a theme, the Merchants of St. John's. This topic triggered memories and sparked the interest of many people who grew up in St. John's or visited the area. As people arrived at the library, we had to keep adding chairs to the space, widening our circle of chairs to eventually accommodate 56 people. While we were all crowded into the room, the event was a great success and we heard many marvelous stories! In anticipation of the popularity of the event, we decided to implement the use of a talking stick, which was passed around the room in order to give each participant a chance to tell their stories and hold the attention of the crowd. With such a large group, this was a wise choice!

A participant holds up the talking stick as she shares her story 
Participants shared stories about shopping in the downtown area of St. John's, both as St. John's residents and people who made trips to town with a specific list of items to buy and places to visit. As well as the main streets of Water and Duckworth, there were memories of the early days of the Avalon Mall, and the taxis and businesses of Brazil Square. People also shared stories of being employees of many of the well known shops and businesses of the area. They talked about their first job experiences, and shared stories about working in the area. One story was told of a bull accidentally being set loose on Water street, and a woman talked about working at the Newfoundland Savings Bank when a hold-up took place.

Many people came with fond memories of family businesses, and insider stories that started with "maybe I shouldn't say this but..." We heard about shops that had been passed down through generations, and the early days of well known businesses like Mary Browns.
Carol Ann Smith showing a Goobies Christmas Toyland advertisement
Carol Ann Smith talked about her families store, W. R. Goobie Ltd, and brought along a framed advertisement which referred to the store as "Santa's first stop." The ad lists the names and prices for Christmas gifts and decorations that would have been familiar sites in the participants childhood. There were many other stories shared of downtown St. John's which took place at Christmas. Any mention of the Christmas Raffle brought about smiles, and the magic that the window displays in downtown shops brought to families picking up their Christmas gifts.

Overall it was a wonderful event and we could have shared more stories well into the night.

Do you have any memories of the important shops when you were growing up? Did you win something at the Christmas raffle? What was your favorite place to eat? Do you remember your first shopping trip downtown?

~ Kelly

Monday, February 20, 2017

Notice: Marjorie Mews Memory Mug Up - Wednesday, February 22nd

Marjorie Mews Public Library.
Share Your Stories at the Memory Mug Up!

Which of your memories would you like to preserve for future generations? What are your dearest childhood memories? What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? If you have answers to these questions, you are invited to attend the Memory Mug Up!

The Memory Mug Up is an informal story sharing session for seniors, where people gather, have a cup of tea, and share memories. The Heritage Foundation of NL will be hosting three Memory Mug Up events for seniors this February.

The goal of the program is to help participants share and preserve their stories. Whatever story is important to you, whether it a personal story, a story about a family member, or a story about your community, the Memory Mug Up program can help you to preserve and share it.

The event is free! You bring a memory of growing up, we’ll supply the tea and biscuits, and we will all have a chat. Following the sessions, those who are interested can set up a time to have their stories recorded and archived by one of our story collectors.

Marjorie Mews Memory Mug Up
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2:30pm
Marjorie Mews Public Library
12 Highland Drive, St. John’s

The Memory Mug Ups are part of the Collective Memories Project, an oral history initiative which invites seniors to record their stories and memories for archiving and sharing. It is a project of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Aging and Seniors, and is funded through the Department of Seniors Wellness and Social Development.

For more information on how you or your community organization can get involved, email Dale Jarvis at or call (709) 739-1892 x2.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#Folklorephoto Collection of Tools in Charlie Pearcey's Twine Store. How Do You Display Your Collection?

A collection of tools from the 1900's to 1950's is displayed on shelves in Charlie Pearcey's Twine Store. The photograph was taken in 2006 by Rita Colavincenzo while visiting Mr. Pearcey and the Twine Store in The Battery in St. John's. The visit included the collection of many other photographs as well as an interview with Charlie Pearcey about the twine store, his family, and the area.

Are you a collector? How do you display your collection?

Monday, January 23, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Life on the O'Brien Family Farm

Photo of young Aloysius with two puppies in 1921

Many people in St. John's will have memories of Aly O'Brien and the O'Brien brothers, and their fabulous heritage farm and farmhouse, Thimble Cottage.  The O’Brien Farm is situated within the City of St. John’s between Mount Scio Road and Oxen Pond Road. The thirty-two acre property is located within Pippy Park and is adjacent to the MUN Botanical Gardens.

The O’Brien family immigrated to St. John’s from southeastern Ireland. John O’Brien (1791-1857) established a farm in Freshwater, two miles west of St. John’s, in or around 1818. From its establishment, this farm was operated by O’Brien family for 190 years until the family’s last descendant, Aloysius Patrick O’Brien, passed away in October 2008.

In 2010, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador acquired the farm to be developed as an historic site. In 2011, the O’Brien Farm Foundation was founded to manage, preserve and develop the property as a sustainable historic resource and visitor destination. The O’Brien Farm as an historic site focuses on a number of themes: Irish settlement in Newfoundland; Irish-Newfoundland culture and tradition; farming history in Newfoundland; sustainable farming practices; and the story of the O’Brien family.

Between 1992-1994, Dr. Jo Shawyer, Department of Geography, Memorial University, conducted a series of interviews with Aly O’Brien.

You can listen to the first of their chats here, where Aloysius talks about the farm and the life in the past. Topics include the acquisition of the land, the history of Irish immigrants, the neighbours, carts, horses, cows, and farm life.

The remainder of their conversations, along with photos and other documents about the farm, are all online on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers Booklet Launch

Lossie Trask, Linda Furey, Marie Ryall, Ruby Hann, Terra Barrett, Dale Jarvis, and Mayor Dennis O'Keefe at the booklet launch. 
On Tuesday the Heritage Foundation and the City of St. John’s Community Services Department launched the booklet A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers. The booklet launch took place in the Foran Green Room of City Hall at the Council Meeting. The five volunteers who were interviewed for the booklet came out and were treated to some snacks before being invited into the Council Meeting where the booklet and the women were recognized.

A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers is the first booklet in the Collective Memories Series produced by the Heritage Foundation. This booklet focuses on the experience of five City of St. John’s volunteers and their reflections and advice on volunteering in the community. The bulk of the work for this project was completed by Conservation Corps summer student Sarah Hannon who completed interviews, transcribed, and edited the booklet.

The volunteer booklet is part of the foundation’s Collective Memories Project. This project is an initiative of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, with funding provided by the Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development. The Collective Memories Project invites seniors to record their stories and memories for sharing.

If you want to learn more you can head to to hear the full interviews or you can check out PDF here!

~Terra Barrett

Friday, October 7, 2016

Booklet Launch - Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers

City of St. John's Volunteers and Heritage Foundation employees.
Booklet Launch - Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers
The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the City of St. John’s Community Services Department present a booklet launch at the Public Council Meeting in the Foran Green Room, St. John’s City Hall on Tuesday October 11, 2016 from 4:30-5:00pm.

A Life-Changing Experience: Memories of City of St. John’s Volunteers is the first booklet in the Collective Memories Series produced by the Heritage Foundation. This booklet focuses on the experience of five City of St. John’s volunteers and their reflections and advice on volunteering in the community.

“This is an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the City of St. John’s volunteers, and to learn from their experience,” says the foundation’s folklorist Dale Jarvis. “If you are interested in learning more about volunteering this booklet is a wonderful little resource.”

The volunteer booklet is part of the foundation’s Collective Memories Project. This project is an initiative of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, with funding provided by the Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development. The Collective Memories Project invites seniors to record their stories and memories for sharing.

The booklet launch is open to the public and there will be copies of the booklet available at the launch as well as a PDF version which will be placed online. For more information on the booklet launch or for information on how your community can get involved with the Collective Memories Project please go to or call Terra Barrett at 1-888-739-1892 ext. 5.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The City of St. John's Volunteers: Lossie Trask

Lossie Trask was born and raised in Port Blandford. She moved to Grand Falls at age 15, where she met her husband and started a family. Eventually they moved to St. John’s for work, where they lived together until her husband passed away. Shortly thereafter, Lossie began to receive brochures in the mail to volunteer for Senior’s Outreach. At first, she wasn’t sure.

“I said “I don’t want to do that!” But my daughter kept pushing me, and she said “Come on, let’s go!” So she got me out and before I knew it I was in it. And I never stopped.”

“It’ll maybe make your life a bit longer by being out around people. You almost have a lighter step. You feel good, you go into your house that you spend many days in, and you feel better about coming in and looking at your surroundings. I do, I know I did, because there was a time when I came in and said ‘I don’t want to be here’.”

Lossie is an upbeat, open person; it is hard to imagine her any other way. It is clear that she is the type of person to make the most of every day, and that she believes in the power of volunteering.