Showing posts with label children's games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children's games. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2022

Traditional Games scheduled for the Change Islands Squidathlon

The Change Islands Squidathlon is scheduled for Sunday, Aug 21, 2022. This annual event includes afternoon events that are reviving games played in the past on the island. This includes Change Islands style ball, piddly, and skittles. For more information check out the Squidathlon of Change Islands Facebook Page

Change Islands style Ball (1:30pm) : A popular island game played more regularly in the past with local aspects such as no second base and no foul balls with the ball pictured below.

Change Islands style ball

Change Islands style bat and ball

Piddly (3pm) : Piddly, also known as Tiddly in some communities, will be back.

Skittles (3:45pm) : Peter Porter, Olde Shoppe Museum, as a young boy recalls seeing Skittles being played behind the SUF Hall. Rules in the old country vary however and we plan to reintroduce a version by a local replicating nine skittle pins similar to the one on display in the museum. As the ball aka cheese we have officially adopted the use of turnips.

Skittle pin from the Olde Shoppe Museum.
Recreated skittles pins, and a turnip for ball or cheese.

If you are interested in learning more about Piddly (also known as Tiddly) you can check out this short video from the 2017 Carbonear World Cup of Tiddly:

If you want to learn more about children's games in Newfoundland and Labrador check out the Provincial Historic Commemorations Designation page all about Traditional Games of Newfoundland and Labrador. You can read through two commemorations research papers, and read the booklet Looking Back: Games We Played. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - The Childhood of Janet Story

In September of 2013, I had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Story at her home in St.John's on the topic of growing up in St.John's.

Janet Story was born in 1924 and grew up in St. John's, NL. The interview begins with her providing background information about herself and her family, and then reminiscing about the children's game "Hoist your Sails and Run", ice skating, hockey, tube skates, street cars on Water Street, attending Holloway's School, playing marbles in the spring and sliding in the winter, and summer activities such as swimming and catching tadpoles.

Janet also shares her memories of being a young girl in St. John's during WWII, the blackouts of the 1940s and the Air Raid Precaution Group, playing field hockey and basketball as a teenager, and other memories of her early life.

Janet passed away three months after our recording session, but the full interview is available on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative.

You can listen to more of Janet's memories of her life in sports here.

Friday, December 30, 2016

8mm Films of Grand Falls-Windsor Families, C.L.B, and Community

The following four films are the final batch of reels I have digitized for the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society. They show various aspects of life in the area, with a mix of spliced together clips alternating colour film with black and white. The children and families shown in the reels are likely relatives of the photographer, Albert Hillier who had 4 siblings, and 19 nieces and nephews. I also wonder if his wife Enid is in the footage. Hopefully those who knew Albert will be able to identify some of these people in his life.

This first film starts by showing one of the Church Lads Brigade camps. Like one of our previous C.L.B reels, it shows some sort of silly parade with the adult C.L.B. members marching while wearing paper hats and carrying a flag made from a pair of white pants. Again, I am wonder if this was a tradition C.L.B. camps in general, or was it specific to this camp. The reel then changes to black and white (the scenes have been spliced together) and we see two women, a baby, and a young boy on a beach, and then in the back seat of a car. The next scene shows the young boy, and another older boy eating bread while sitting on the rocky beach, they are joined by a man who poses with the boy in front of the camera.

The next reel is a similar mix of colour film and black and white, what looks to be from different years. It starts showing a group of shirtless men outside drinking from a jug. Do you recognize the house in the background? We then see one of these men holding a puppy. The reel cuts to a game of football in front of the same house, likely with the same group of men. Then there is a scene showing a C.L.B event near a church. This clip is not very clear but you can see some of the buildings in the area. The reel then changes to colour, and appears to be much later footage. A young girl with brunette braids is on a boat and sticks her tongue out to the camera. Is she one of Hillier's nieces? The film cuts again to a man outside carrying a sack and a truck carries lumber in the background. A baby in a yellow beret sits in a pram looking at the camera. The last scene is black and white, very briefly showing a man standing next to a tripod setup, and what looks like a large pot over a fire.

Next is a short 30 second reel that shows men in a grassy area surrounded by trees, playing football and tackling each other. The same house that was in the background of the last film, can be seen in this one.

The final film of this collection, begins with a child in a red coat playing in the snow. In the background there is writing in the snow, most of which I cannot read but I do see the date 1945. The same child is then seen being walked in a stroller along a paved road. The reel cuts to a dark scene indoors, possibly with the same child, along with some adults. The child looks like they maybe playing with a camera. The reel then shows men outside in the winter, and various scenes of the Grand Falls-Windsor Mill and the dam.

Whether or not you have connections with the area, I hope you have enjoyed viewing these films. If you recognize any of the locations or people in these films, please email

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Traditional Games of Newfoundland and Labrador designated a Cultural Tradition and Practice

Today was the annual designation ceremony for the Provincial Historic Commemorations Program. This year, following a nomination made by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Traditional Games of Newfoundland and Labrador was designated as a Cultural Tradition and Practice!

You can read a bit more about the designation here

The photo above is courtesy of The Rooms Provincial Archives Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (photo A 7-12). It shows 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."

Thanks to Sharon King-Campbell for her work preparing the nomination files, and to Joy Barfoot and Laurie Roche Lawrence at the The Rooms, Judy Cameron with The Town of Carbonear's World Cup of Tiddly, Peter Laracy at Cupids Legacy Centre, and Jordan Brown,  President of The Labrador   Heritage Society Height of Land Branch, for their letters of support for this nomination!

Photographer: Holloway Studio [1913]

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sailing in the Boat Till the Tide Runs High

Children Playing Circle Games VA 93-50
International Grenfell Association photograph collection
Photo: Courtesy of The Rooms
While researching children’s ring games last week I came across a game which I had never heard before.  The game “Sailing in the Boat (Ship) Till the Tide Runs High” is found in three sources on Memorial University’s DAI.  It is first found in a fictional short story written in 1950 and published in the Atlantic Guardian in which the youth of the community Come Again Harbour play a ring game to the tune:
Sailing in the ship ‘til the tide runs high,
Waiting for the pretty girls to come by and by, […] 
Choose your partner now today,
Give her a kiss and send her on her way.  
The other two sources mention the game being played in a community hall in Lumsden and the song being sung at the third annual Newfoundland picnic in Lynwood City Park, California in 1956.

I did a quick google search to see what I could come up with and I came across a couple of references to the ring game with more complete versions of the song.  The following version is from Otto Tucker and is found in Newfoundland author Robin McGrath’s book All In Together:
Sailing in the boat ’til the tide runs high, 
Sailing in the boat ’til the collar flags fly, 
Sailing in the boat ’til the tide runs high, 
Waiting for the pretty girls to come by and by. 
Choose your partner now today, 
Choose, oh choose her right away, 
I don’t care what the old folks say. 
Oh what a horrible choice you’ve made, 
And she can no longer stay. 
Since she can no longer stay, 
Give her a kiss and send her away.

There are a number of versions with different lyrics.  Here is William Wells Newell’s version from his book Games and Songs of American Children:
Sailing in the boat when the tide runs high,[x3]
Waiting for the pretty girl to come by'm by.

Here she comes, so fresh and fair,
Sky-blue eyes and curly hair,
Rosy in cheek, dimple in her chin,
Say, young man, but you can't come in.

Rose in the garden for you young, man,[x2]
Rose in the garden, get it if you can,
But take care not a frost-bitten one.

Choose your partner, stay till day, [x3]
And don't never mind what the old folks say!

Old folks say 'tis the very best way, [x3]
To court all night and sleep all day.

Folklorist Emelyn E. Gardner references the following version from the Michigan area in her article Some Play-party Games in Michigan written in 1920:
Sailing in the boat when the tide runs high, [x3]
Waiting for a pretty girl to come by and by.

Oars in the boat, and it won't go round [x3]
Till you kiss the pretty girl that you just found.

Do you have memory of this song?  Have you ever played the game yourself? Which version did you sing? Let us know where you are from, what song you sung or game you played.  Send an email to

I’ll leave you with the following YouTube clip I found of “Sailing in the Boat” sung by Elizabeth Austin and a group of women in Old Bight, Cat Island, Bahamas recorded by Alan Lomax and Mary Barnicle in 1935.  


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Come play! 16th annual Sharing Our Cultures event this Sunday

You are invited to Sharing Our Cultures, a fun-filled family event, at The Rooms, Sunday March 22, at 2-4 pm. Learn to play Shadow Puppets from China, Ludo from India, La Rana from Colombia, and many other games from around the world. Interact with school youth from diverse cultural backgrounds residing in St. John's and learn about their cultures. Admission to Sharing Our Cultures is FREE (fees apply for The Rooms exhibits). Contact Dr. Lloydetta Quaicoe at or

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

King William was King George’s son

I wrote an article in The Telegram a while back about traditional Newfoundland children's singing games.  It included a version of "King William was King George’s son." 

Colin Burke, now of Port au Port, sent me his version, which was sung in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, circa 1950-1952.

King William was King George’s son,
Of all the royal race he’d won.
Upon his breast a star he wore
Pointing to the government’s door *
Come choose you east, come choose you west,
Come choose the one that you love best.
Down on this carpet you must kneel
As the grass grows in the field,
Kiss your partner if you please
Now you may rise up off your knees.

Burke notes: 
* (or maybe government store, which is what I seemed to hear)I was about six or seven years old, and there was a “government store” at the government wharf.

The King William in question is probably William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) - King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death, the third son of George III. The image above is William in dress uniform painted by Sir Martin Archer Shee, c.1800, from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson

UPDATE: 6 March 2015

Gloria Marguerite Bobbitt from Harrington Harbour, on Quebec's Lower North Shore, writes:

The people from Newfoundland must have brought the song/game over to Harrington Harbour when they came over here. We always played it in the summer time. Here is our version. 

King William was King George's son,
Upon the royal racy run,
Upon his breast he wore a star,
In the kissing time of war.
Come choose to the east,
Come choose to the west,
Choose the very one you love best.
Upon this carpet you must kneel,
As sure as the grass grows in the field,
Kiss your partner as your sweet,
Now you may stand upon your feet.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Help find the missing words to "Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown"

I recently wrote an article for The Telegram on singing games we used to play, about three traditional games: "Little Sally Saucer," "King William was King George's Son," and "Ring Around the Rosie." You can read more on "Little Sally" on author Leslie Lindsay's blog.

This morning, I received a response from Rosemary Thorne. Thorne now lives in St. John's, but was born in the early 1960s in Thornlea, Trinity Bay. She remembers playing Little Sally Saucer and Ring Around the Rosie.

Another song game she remembered was "Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown," but she could not remember all the lyrics to the first verse of the song. Here is what Thorne remembers:

Here we go down, Sir Johnny Brown
This is the way to London town
.... here
.... by
Don't you hear your true love cry

On the carpet (carver?) here she stands
Take your true love by the hand
[Take] the one that you love best
Pick her out from all the rest

What a heck of a choice you made
You better be home and in your bed
Since you can no longer stay
Give her a kiss and send her away.

A quick internet search reveals little on "Sir Johnny Brown," but does turn up this fabulous query to the "Correct Manners" section on Page 13 of the Ottawa Citizen, for Monday, 1 February 1926:

Is the letter in question addressed to a real child named John Brown, or would Sir Johnny Brown be a name known to a child, presumably through some version of the rhyme related by Thorne? Does anyone have a memory of this rhyme or song? Any thoughts on the missing words? And who exactly is Sir Johnny Brown, Esq? 

Email me at if you have a lead! And I'll have none of your "monkey-shining," please.

update 9 Feb 2015:

I found this counting-out rhyme, from Indiana, printed in 1888 in "The Counting-Out Rhymes of Children: Their Antiquity, Origin, and Wide Distribution - a study in Folk Lore" by Henry Carrington Bolton (noted American chemist, bibliographer of science, lecturer, folklorist, photographer, and one of the founders of the American Folklore Society):

Oh! Johnny Brown
He went to town
Three score miles and ten;
He went at night
By candle light
And never got home again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Youth Forum News, Memories of Childhood, and Fisheries Architecture

In the January 2015 edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update newsletter: Alanna Wicks invites youth aged 18-35 to the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador's first Youth Heritage Forum, set for March 7th, 2015 in St. John's; Sharon King-Campbell interviews Berkley Reynolds about his memories of growing up in Salmon Cove, as part of the Hoist Your Sails and Run games research project (including a fabulous story about cheating time in order to squeeze in an extra hour of cards); Memorial University of Newfoundland is seeking organizations who would be willing to host interns through the Department of Folklore's public folklore co-op MA programme; and Dale Jarvis provides an overview of the Fisheries Heritage Preservation Program and its work to safeguard the vernacular architecture of the traditional fishery in the province.

Contributors: Dale Jarvis, Sharon King-Campbell, Rebecca Newhook, Alanna Wicks.

Photo: Berkley Reynolds, circa 1955. Courtesy Berkley Reynolds.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Exploring placemaking, the fishery, and traditional games

In the December 2014 edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) explores membership with the Inter-City Intangible Cultural Cooperation Network (ICCN); some thoughts on placemaking; the Outer Battery’s Charles Pearcey is designated as a Provincial Tradition Bearer; HFNL Announces Three Fisheries ICH Projects in Cupids, Pouch Cove, and Labrador; and Sharon King-Campbell declares war! (Don't worry, it is just a game.)

contributors: Dale Jarvis, Sharon King-Campbell

Photo: Children playing “World” in Southern Harbour, Placentia Bay, 1987.
Photo courtesy Delf Maria Hohmann.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Playing games, putting up ice, and a trip to Paris

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: the ICH office heads to Paris for UNESCO meetings; more from our Petty Harbour oral history project with memories from twins Gussie and Jimmy Kieley; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador board member Doug Wells shares memories of cutting ice in Harbour Breton; the fall 2014 overview of ICH activities; introducing our "Hoist Your Sails And Run" project bringing together youth and seniors to talk about games; and the schedule for the 2014 Mummers Festival.

Contributions by: Dale Jarvis, Terra Barrett, Doug Wells, and Sharon King-Campbell.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tiddly On The Lawn - This Sunday at The Rooms


Tiddly, also known as piddly, pippy, snig, or puss, was once a very popular game that was played all over Newfoundland and Labrador. While the rules changed from community to community, the game pieces were usually the same – two rocks or bricks and two sticks. Come and join us on the lawn of The Rooms for a fun-filled day of Tiddly and other traditional games.

We're bringing in the experts! Participants from Carbonear's World Cup of Tiddly will be in St. John's to show the Townies how it is done! Come watch, and learn how to play yourself.

The event will be happening from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday September 28.

1pm – 2pm Various races (sack races, egg and spoon races, three legged race)

2pm – 2:45pm Tiddly demonstration game

3pm – 3:40pm Visitors can try the game, various races

For more information, contact:

Jena Mitchell
Marketing Manager
Phone: 709-757-8144


Dale Jarvis
Heritage Foundation of NL
709-739-1892 x2

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Games We Played - A Coffee and Culture Presentation

Thursday, February 27, 2:30 pm., The Rooms Provincial Museum

Hoist Your Sails and Run, Spotlight and kite flying are just a few ways that children traditionally entertained themselves in outport Newfoundland. Join folkorist Lisa Wilson as she explores these and other types of childhood play that have an important place in our living memories.

This is a multi-media presentation, but there will be a chance at the end to share some of your own memories and experiences around childhood games and experiences. Hope to see you there!

Children of Cable Ave., Bay Roberts, courtesy of Linda Sesk.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Grey Socks, Pidley Stick, and Traditional Food

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: we introduce the Grey Sock Project, linking the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War with traditional knitting skills; the Food Security Network on their "All Around The Table" seniors' oral history project; and researching tiddly, hoist your sails and run, and other children's games and pastimes.

Download the newsletter in PDF and other formats

Photo: The Williams children in front of their family home on Cable Avenue, Bay Roberts, undated photo.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday's Folklore Photo - Playing Tiddly

photo courtesy of Margaret Ayad

Recently the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador has begun to do research into different traditional games in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one very popular game we've come across is Tiddly. Also called Tiddly Stick, Piddly/Pidley or Scat, this game has been played for years here in the province. The equipment was simple: all you needed to play was two rocks or bricks, a short stick and a longer stick. 

The rules vary from community to community, but typically consist of hitting the short stick off of the rocks or bricks with the long stick. If the other team catches the short stick, you were out. If they didn't catch it, you were awarded points based on the distance it travelled.

The photo above comes from Margaret Ayad, and was taken at the Carbonear 2012 World Cup of Tiddly. Since 2008 Carbonear has hosted a Tiddly World Cup, which has grown in popularity and size each year since. The tournament was meant to bring back a game that was popular up until the mid 1960s in the province. 

If you have any memories of playing Tiddly, or any other traditional games in Newfoundland, we would love to hear them! I am actively looking for people who played Tiddly, variations on the rules, and different names, as well as any stories about any other traditional children's games!

Feel free to call me at 739-1892 ext. 5, or email me at

Monday, January 27, 2014

Calling all Conception Bay girls! Do you know a tradition about dolls and candy?

I got an interesting message today from textile artist Susan Furneaux, an instructor at the Anna Templeton Centre for Craft Art and Design. She has taught textile workshops for various professional craft and art organizations throughout Newfoundland Labrador, Canada and the United States. Today, she wanted to talk dolls.

Susan is looking for information on a tradition in Conception Bay Centre, and possibly other places, where girls went around with their dolls, all dressed up,  and knocked on doors, asking for candy. 

Susan believes it may have been attached to a saint's day. She writes,
"Someone from Avondale told me that they did it as girls, like the boys did with the wren. The woman who told me was still bitter because the boys got money (for the wren) but the girls just got sweets... Not sure what time of the year it was."
Does anyone have any idea what this is called, or have any memories about this tradition? 

If it rings a bell, leave a comment, or email Susan directly at

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.