Showing posts with label fences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fences. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2021

Living Heritage Podcast Ep207 Traditional Fence Building in NL


In Newfoundland and Labrador, fences were built for a number of reasons including keeping animals out of gardens and delineating property lines. In this episode of the podcast we learn about traditional fence types, the importance of fences in the cultural landscape of the province, and in particular the way to build a traditional wriggle fence.

We talk with Andrea O’Brien and Dale Jarvis of Heritage NL, and hear audio clips from Kevin Andrews of New Perlican. Andrea O’Brien is the Municipal Outreach Officer and Provincial Registrar, and Dale Jarvis is the Executive Director of Heritage NL. Kevin Andrews of New Perlican learned how to make wriggle fence by helping his uncles and grandfather make their own. He and George Burrage of New Perlican will be leading a wriggle fence making workshop on July 17, 2021. This workshop is a partnership between Heritage NL and Heritage New Perlican and is offered with support of the Labour Market Partnerships program, Department of Immigration, Skills and Labour, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.    

Learn more about the wriggle fence – also known as a wiggling, wriggling, wiggle, or riddle fence – by watching this 1977
Wrigglin' Fence video. This short film, directed by Newfoundland artist Don Wright, follows the Paddy Brothers of Port Kirwan, Newfoundland, as they build a traditional 'wrigglin' fence around their garden. Often built without nails, they are one of the most unique of NL fence types and useful in your garden to support climbing plants, to keep animals out, or for a bit of a wind block.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Monday, July 27, 2020

There Would Be None Left Around to See: Wriggle Fences with Kevin Andrews #MakerMonday

For #MakerMonday we'll be profiling some of the people practicing traditional skills on the Baccalieu Trail.

Kevin Andrews of New Perlican learned how to make wriggle fence by helping his uncles and grandfather make their own. Eight years ago, he and his wife Bonnie made one of their own to show their kids how it was done.

I just wanted to show the kids the type of fences that were around the community 40 and 50 years ago because there's none left here now. So I just made an 8 foot section, that's all. Just for them to have a look at it and just see the work that was involved.

He says that there is a fair bit of work involved in constructing a wriggle fence, but that it is worth it to preserve this knowledge for future generations. It is also what he calls a "long time fence." A wriggle fence will last up to 20 years.

Kevin Andrews' wriggle fence. Photo by Dale Jarvis.

Kevin likes that the wriggle fence is cost effective. The wood is harvested locally. He uses spruce or var for the wriggles and rails, but he says whatever wood bends easiest is a good choice. It also only uses four tools, so it does not require a lot of specialized equipment. He says all you need is an axe or power saw for cutting the wriggles, a hammer or wooden mallet for driving in the posts and wooden dowels used to secure the rails in place, an auger or drill for making holes in the rails for the wooden dowels, and a pocket knife for sharpening the wooden dowels so they can be used as nails.

If you're curious on the steps to making a wriggle fence yourself, listen to Kevin describe how he built his own.

We took the wriggles and we come out and you need some rails too for to weave the wriggles in around. You need one on top, one in the centre, and one on the bottom. So you take the wriggle and you bend it, and you go in through the centre one from the top and come out through the bottom one, and that applies the wriggle out facing you. Then the next one you put in, you put it in on the opposite side of the centre piece and the three rail fence, and you weave it the opposite way and put it in through the centre and come down and come out through the bottom. So, each one, every second one goes the same way. There's no nails involved because, well, years ago they had no nails, so they used to make wooden dowels and they'd nail the rails onto the fence, drive the wooden dowel in through the rail and into the stake and weave the wriggles in the way I just told you, and you end up with the wriggle fence. But now, in the beginning you got to put the stakes down in the ground first. 6 or 8 feet apart, however wide you want it. And then you start from there after you get the stakes down in the ground. You drive them down through with a wooden mallet. And then you start from there and put your rails on and then after the rails on then come with the wriggle fences which you weave in through. I done 8 feet and it took me 8 hours, so it was roughly an hour a foot for to build the fence.

Do you live on the Baccalieu Trail and practice a traditional skill or know someone who does? Fill out our survey!

Friday, June 9, 2017

#FoodwaysFriday - How do you fence your garden?

Beach and gardens in Oliver's Cove, Tilting.
Photo by Gerald Pocius, 1989.
When we discuss foodways of Newfoundland and Labrador the first food that often comes to mind is the codfish. Cod has played a major role in everything from the province’s economy to its culture. It is featured in many traditional dishes however it is not the only food tradition in the province. Seafood and fish, caribou, seal, sea birds, berries, root vegetables, and imported products such as molasses and tin milk all play a part in the province’s food traditions. In celebration of the diverse foods harvested, grown, cooked, and eaten in Newfoundland and Labrador we will be doing a #FoodwaysFriday feature on the ICH Blog.

This week we are featuring a series of photos taken by Dr. Gerald Pocius in Oliver’s Cove, Tilting in 1989. The photos are of the gardens and picket fences found in the now abandoned community. Oliver’s Cove was once inhabited by William and James Hurley and their families but no houses exist there today, instead, you will find fenced gardens, root cellars, and a hay house (Mellin, Robert. 2008. Tilting.).

Looking over these photos of these fenced-in potato and cabbage gardens reminded me of this great video titled Wrigglin’ fence done by the MUN extension service in 1977. In the short film the Paddy Brothers of Port Kirwan build a traditional wrigglin' or riddle fence around their garden.

If you want to learn more about fence styles in Newfoundland and Labrador check out this document from the Heritage Foundation which features paling, longer, picket, wriggle/riddle, and wattle fences. Or if you want to see the full photo collection from Dr. Pocius on Memorial's Digital Archives click here!

Let us know how you fence your garden!

Share your stories and knowledge of food with the hashtag #FoodwaysFriday.
Cabbage growing in Oliver's Cove, Tilting.
Photo by Gerald Pocius, 1989.
~Terra Barrett

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Old gates in historic Harbour Grace, Newfoundland

I spent a couple hours this morning, walking around the heritage district and surrounding neighbourhood of Harbour Grace, Conception Bay. I'm giving a presentation to the town tomorrow on cultural mapping and inventorying of heritage resources, so I just wanted to see what I could see.

One of the things that jumped out at me was how many properties still maintain their old gates, some of which are of a very similar style. Some of these were possibly constructed by Art Tapp, a blacksmith who "fashioned many of the iron gates and fences in the district" (Harbour Grace Heritage District Report, HFNL, 1992).

A very preliminary walk-around revealed a large number of wrought iron gates and fences standing, some possibly Tapp's work, others of later periods. To give you a sense of numbers and variety of styles, a selection of photographs follows, taken today, 6 May 2015.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo - Dan Snow's Stone Wall

Dan Snow, a traditional stone wall maker and artisan from Vermont, has been visiting English Harbour on the Bonavista Peninsula for several years. He is a regular instructor with the English Harbour Arts Centre, and teaches dry stone wall techniques.

This is one of the walls he worked on in English Harbour in 2010. You can check out his website at

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roadside Gardens, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland

I'm back in the office from our HFNL/ANLA workshop in Plum Point. Along the way, I took a few photos of one of my favourite "roadside attractions" on the Great Northern Peninsula: roadside gardens.  In conversation with David Adams in Cape Onion, he explained that when the highway was put through, the existing peat had to be moved to the side of the road to make room for laying a new roadbed.  That resulted in thick layers of peat on the sides of the road.

In a region with thin topsoil, it is perfect location with gardening, as long as you build the requisite moose fence and scarecrows. A few shots:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wrigglin' Riddlin' Pickets and Palings - Newfoundland Fences

After a chat with Kim Paddon with the English Harbour Arts Centre last night at the Crow's Nest Storytelling Circle, I'm posting a few things related to traditional Newfoundland fences.

First, check out the 1977 Wrigglin' Fence video. This short film, directed by Newfoundland artist Don Wright, follows the Paddy Brothers of Port Kirwan, Newfoundland, as they build a traditional 'wrigglin' or riddle fence around their garden patch.

You can download our traditional fence brochure here in pdf.

And there are articles on wriggle fences in our past newsletters here and here.