Showing posts with label bonfire night. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bonfire night. Show all posts

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Traditional Bonfire Night in Heart's Content - by Claude Rockwood

A Traditional Bonfire Fire

About a month or so before bonfire night a crowd of us, boys and girls ages 8-10, from the Northern Point would rush home from school every day and head for the woods. While the boys cut trees and boughs, the girls would drag them to the wide open field located up behind Uncle Albert and Aunt Lydia’s house (no relation). Believe it or not, but all this was done without grown-up supervision. Then we would pile them as high as we could pile them.

Bonfires could be seen all over the Harbour - Southern Cove, Rockwood’s Room, Rowe’s Bank, and Up the Backway. Now the big thing was to gather up as many boughs and trees as you could so you would have the biggest bonfire in the Harbour.

After the bonfire was over, we would all go to Uncle Albert and Aunt Lydia’s house  for a big scoff of pork and cabbage. For the scoff, we would all bring along some vegetables- cabbage, potatoes, carrot and, of course, each of us would have their own piece of salt meat. Aunt Lydia would supply scoff  vegetables from her own garden, as well. Everyone would sit around and have a fine old feed and chat about anything that came to mind. And you know, the smell of smoke from our clothes didn’t seem to bother them at all. I think Uncle Albert and Aunt Lydia were only too glad to be able to take part in the bonfire night with us children.

Bonfire night went on for several years until Aunt Lydia died in 1947.

This story was related to me, Claude Rockwood, by Mary (Mame) Burrage ( nee Piercey ) who grew up on the Northern Point, Heart's Content. Albert and Lydia Langer were my maternal grandparents.

Photo:  Bonfire Night, Porterville, Newfoundland, 2010, courtesy of Barry Porter. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bonfire Night and the Mysterious Barn Vandals of Salmon Cove

Photo courtesy

On this the day of Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night, I am reminded of a story Arthur Kelloway of Salmon Cove shared with me in a recent interview.

“This gentleman boasted that he had a barn full of barrels and tires, and he had his barn secured so that he’d never ever been stolen from. Well three of us heard about this boast and we figured you’re going to regret saying that. So we went and checked his barn one evening, and it was locked up like Fort Knox. But what he failed to see was that he had a flag pole on the front of his barn and a door that he put the hay in on the loft, it was up about eight feet. So I climbed the flagpole, opened the door, went inside and he had a pile of old tires and so on in there. The barrels we couldn’t get out unless we would take them up through the hatch and lower them down on the rope from the flagpole. We cleaned the barn out. The way that we got the tires out in the beginning was we took his horse's reins and we squat the tires together so that they would go out through the manure shutter which was only about a foot and a half by a foot and a half wide - 18’’ x 18’’ wide. In order to get the tire out through we just tied the rope around, collapsed the tire and put it out through. Three of us worked there for about an hour and a half. He, or his wife, just as I came down the flagpole came out on their doorstep to get some water out of the bucket, and they were talking back and forth. And I lid down beside the barn, and the other two guys were still in the barn. They came out eventually, locked up all the doors, closed all the doors, put everything back, hung up everything, straightened away the barn so it looked immaculate, went out through the manure shutter, closed it and closed the door for me on the inside and I came down the flagpole or flag rope again on the side of the barn after closing the outside door. Up until I’d say six or eight months before he died, I told him, because he had always wondered how they got into his barn. The locks weren’t broken, there was no sign of entry, but the barn was completely cleaned out. And I told him about it, and, you know, I think he held it against me even though it was fifty years later [laughs]."

It was common in Salmon Cove, and assuredly other parts of NL, for people to steal barrels and tires for Bonfire Night, and it was simply accepted by locals that kids would do this. It's interesting to hear about the lengths to which kids would go in order to have the biggest fire. Will you be celebrating Guy Fawkes night with a bonfire?  

-Katie Harvey 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Windsor Bonfire Night Memories

In celebration of bonfire night I am sharing two clips from the Merchants of Main Street Project. This project was a part of the Collective Memories Project and focused on Main Street in Windsor, NL.  Although the interviews focused on the memories surrounding Main Street during the interviews we also discussed how holidays were celebrated in the community.

The following clip comes from Elizabeth Munch Power whose father was a cobbler on Main Street in the 1950s and 1960s. In this clip Elizabeth explains what their family would do with the slips from all the shoes her father would repair.

Frank Beson grew up in Windsor and we discussed his memories of Main Street but also what it was like to grow up in Windsor, NL. He shared his memory of torch night which was celebrated on November the sixth the night after bonfire night.

If you would like learn more about bonfire night check out the collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives which has audio, video, and photographs.

~Terra Barrett

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Living Heritage Podcast Ep020 Upper Island Cove memories with Ralph Barrett

Ralph Barrett was born in Upper Island Cove and is founding member of the Avalon Sail Squadron who served as the Commander of the Avalon for 4 years and was inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame as a result of his work with numerous organizations. Ralph is also a painter and has an avid love of fossils. We discuss Ralph’s memories of growing up in Upper Island Cove, Conception Bay North, including chores, children’s games and activities, nicknames to distinguish families with the same surnames, and folk beliefs. Ralph also explains Teak (Taig) Day, and describes Bonfire Night.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bonfire Night in Paradise

If you are in St. John's and are looking to celebrate Guy Fawke's Night this year, here's an option close to the city:

Bonfire Night celebrations will be held in Paradise on November 5th, 2013.  
Wed, November 6th will be the alternate date in case of inclement weather.
Location: Octagon Pond Parking lot, Paradise
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm

Note: Due to construction at the Community Centre the small roasting fires that are usually set up for families will be moved to the pond, and there won't be a large bonfire. There will still be free wieners, marshmallows and beverages given out.   
If you would like more information please call the Recreation & Leisure Services Department at 782-6290 or email
For more information on Bonfire Night in general, please check out this previous post. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Persian bonfire for a grey Newfoundland day

I'm in Corner Brook for a meeting sponsored by the Qalipu First Nation, and it is a dreary, grey day here on the west coast. I was delighted therefore to open my mailbox and find a note and photo from Shabnam Inanloo Dailoo, the Heritage and Community Engagement Adviser with Western Heritage in St. Albert, Alberta.

A native of Iran, Shabnam was one of the many people I had the pleasure of meeting at the Alberta Museums Association conference last week. She was intrigued by my mention of Bonfire Night traditions in Newfoundland, and asked me if I knew of the end-of-year bonfire traditions in Iran.

Happily, I was! A few years ago, as part of our Festival on Fire, we organized a talk between Dr. Philip Hiscock and Ebrahim Monajemi, comparing bonfire traditions in Newfoundland and Iran. You can listen to that interview on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Shabnam, who has done research on traditional Persian gardens, describes the photo as a "Persian fresco on the walls of Chehel Sotun Garden (40-column garden) from 17th century depicting the bonfire ceremony.... clearly an intangible cultural heritage associated with a cultural place in an artistic way."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Remember, Remember: Bonfire Night Memories at The Rooms

Coffee and Culture at The Rooms
November 3, 2011 @ 2:30pm

Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, was a tradition looked forward to with great anticipation in many communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly by young people. Faced with concerns about fire safety and vandalism, the tradition faded, though it is now seeing a bit of a revival. At this special Coffee and Culture, graduate students in Dr. Jillian Gould's Public Folklore course at Memorial University present oral histories with some of the people they've interviewed who have warm memories of Bonfire Night from years past.

Coffee and Culture programs are included with the cost of admission to The Rooms.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Bonfire Night!

One of my favourite Newfoundland holiday's is fast approaching: Bonfire Night! Celebrated on November 5th, Bonfire Night is one of those traditions that has faded somewhat in recent years, with concerns about vandalism and fire safety. In 2010, however, over forty communities across Newfoundland and Labrador hosted official town bonfires, indicating rather clearly that the tradition is far from moribund.

The photo above was taken on Bonfire Night in Carbonear in 2010. Carbonear is one of the communities participating again in this year's Festival on Fire, and their community bonfire will start at 6:30 PM at the community Recreation Complex. Hot chocolate and marshmallows will be served!

To learn more about Bonfire Night, listen to some of the interviews on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Playing with Fire! Celebrate Bonfire Night at Bitters Nov 1.

1 November · 8pm
Bitter Grad Pub @ MUN
Field Hall, 216 Prince Philip Dr.

The Public Folklore graduate class at MUN and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador are hosting a variety show celebrating Bonfire Night and fire traditions, featuring music, storytelling, spoken word.

Come enjoy our line-up of fiery entertainers and if you feeling the burning urge to share your own fire stories, songs or memories we warmly invite you to take part in the open mic portion of the night.

Admission is pay-what-you-can and all proceeds will go to support Shriners Hospitals.

There will also be FREE barbecued hot dogs/veggie dogs available.

So come watch the sparks fly in celebration of Bonfire Night. It's guaranteed to be a sizzling time!

For full list of events and community bonfires, see:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Folklore 6740 Looking for Community Bonfires

Register Your Bonfire Night Event
Living in Newfoundland and Labrador has historically involved fire, from kitchen woodstoves to “mug ups” to community bonfires. One of the most important fire-related events is the November 5th bonfire celebrations, which have been a long standing, province-wide tradition.

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Folklore 6740: Public Folklore graduate level class, is organising a list of community events surrounding this lively and interesting tradition, as well as hosting celebratory events for the Second Annual Festival on Fire: Bonfire Night.

The Second Annual Festival on Fire: Bonfire Night will take place during the beginning of November. The project is a part of both HFNL’s goal to maintain the intangible cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, and of the graduate students’ education in public sector folklore, preparing them to have a part in preserving such traditions and helping communities to do so as well.

Dr. Jillian Gould, the professor of the Folklore 6740: Public Folklore graduate class, asserts: “The project is a unique opportunity for our students — to experience the entire range of public folklore fieldwork: from planning and interviewing, to presenting and celebrating. And most importantly, it’s a chance for students to tap into a significant cultural and historic event, giving them a greater sense of place, while strengthening relations between MUN and the larger community.”

To begin, organizers are asking communities to contact them about any Bonfire Night events they have already planned.

Communities or local fire departments wishing to register supervised, official town bonfires should send the following information by Friday, October 21st, 2011:

1. Name of community
2. Location of bonfire in the community
3. Start time and date
4. Backup bad weather date if applicable
5. Name/Contact information of official contact person.

Send information to:
Festival On Fire
Telephone: 709-739-1892 ext 3
Toll Free: 1-888-739-1892 ext 3
Fax: 709-739-5413

Along with registering your event you can also mark it on our Bonfire Map!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Folklore students on fire, hookers, townies, and the #sjtweetup

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, a group of folklore students under the direction of Dr. Jillian Gould is on fire; we celebrate Culture Days in St. John's with a tweetup and panel on social media and culture; Melissa Squarey talks rug hooking with Betty White; and we launch a new public oral history interview program, Tales of Town, in partnership with The Rooms.

Download the pdf here.