Showing posts with label fishery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fishery. Show all posts

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Quick Reads in NL Vernacular Architecture: What is a Side Span?

The sheer weight of curing fish could cause the outer walls of a fish stage to bulge outwards, or even collapse over time. This necessitated an architectural innovation called a side span. A side span is similar in function to a buttress on a stone building and consisted of a wooden exterior brace on the side of a stage. Regarding the stages of Tilting, Fogo Island, folklorist Gerald Pocius writes,

According to Dan Greene, many stages in the past had a "side span" for support. This brace kept the side of the stage from breaking out when a large amount of salted fish was stored inside. These were essentially timbers that spanned out past the normal plane of the flooring, and braced diagonally on the wallplate to counteract any pressure. According to Dan, the typical sixty foot stage had three of these spans on each side. 

Above is a Tilting example, showing the side span on the Michael Greene Stage (photo credit: Heritage NL). 

For more on side spans, read the full article in our November 2020 "Heritage Update" newsletter


Friday, April 5, 2019

Reddin' lines and ochre boxes - how many of you have one of these in your shed?

photo courtesy David Boyd, Twillingate 

The primary use of red ochre by settlers to Newfoundland and Labrador was as a paint or stain colourant. One small example of its use as a colourant can be found in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, which includes the compound word “ochre-box” meaning a “container in which ochre and water are mixed and a length of string dipped to mark timber for sawing,” also called a reddening box (Story et al. 355). In July 1964, Dorman Miles of Herring Neck described the use of such a box for researchers John Widdowson and Fred Earle:

They’d have the reddin’ lines, the used to call it. They used to strike the [log] with a marking line, with red ochre on it. That would leave the mark on the log where he wanted to come along and saw (Story et al. 408).

In July 1967, Raymond Morey, a resident of La Scie, described the box for the same researchers:

A red’ning box, you know, but some people call it a ochre box. This is a old red’ning line I was telling about lining the sticks. You use ochre in there and a drop of water (Story et al. 408).
Carpenters today are familiar with the more modern chalk lines that work in a very similar way. The handmade example in the photo above comes from the collection of Mr David Boyd, Twillingate, who runs the Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre ( If you drop by this summer, I'm sure he'll show it to you!

Work cited

Story, George, et al. Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Second Edition. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1990. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Looking for people who remember making red ochre paint.

Restoring a stage in St. Julien's. Photo Heritage NL.  

Heritage NL is in the process of rejigging our historic paint colours chart and we would love your help. In particular, the Intangible Cultural Heritage office is doing some additional research on the historic and more recent use of red ochre as a paint pigment.

Back in 2016, we posted an interview on the blog with the late Mr. Gerald Quinton, of Red Cliffe, Bonavista Bay, talking about the use of red ochre and lime whitewash. You can go back and listen to that interview here:

People have been using variations on red (or yellow, or brown) ochre for pigments for hundreds if not thousands of years. Finland and Sweden have a long history of using Falu or Falun Red Ochre for paint, which you can still buy commercially, or you can look here for 20 recipes for traditional types of paints from Denmark (including fish and whale oil based paints) or download this Finnish red ochre paint DIY sheet.

A traditional Finnish falu red log house in √Ą√§nekoski, Central Finland. Photo Wikipedia.

Many of these paints use some type of linseed oil, and we know that historically, linseed oil was used for the production of some types of paints here in Newfoundland and Labrador as well. In 1843, the St. John's newspaper "The Star And Newfoundland Advocate," (1843-11-23, vol. 03, no. 158 p3) included an advertisement from W & H Thomas and Co, noting the arrival of goods from London, Liverpool, and Hamburg, including red ochre along with other paints. The Morning Courier, (1849-01-04 p3) noted that Richard O’Dwyer at his new stone premises had, from Liverpool, London and from Greenock, Scotland, a variety of goods including paint, oil (type not specified), "spirits turpentine," varnish, and red ochre.

By 1890,  P. & L. Tessier in St. John's was selling kegs of Dry Yellow Ochre Paint, and a variety of linseed oils, including: 30-gallon barrels of "Pale Boiled Linseed Oil"; 30-gallon barrels of "Pale Raw Linseed Oil"; and 1-gal. drums of "No. 1 Boiled linseed Oil" (The Colonist, vol. 05, no. 117, 23 May 1890, p2)

Red Ochre on a building in Jackson's Arm. Photo HFNL.

In the early to mid twentieth century, a lot of outbuildings and fishing stages were painted using a mixture of powdered red ochre and some type of oil, often cod liver oil or seal oil. We'd love to track down anyone with memories of making this type of paint, especially anyone who might remember a recipe similar (or different!) from Mr. Quinton's Red Cliffe version.

If you know of someone who might be good to chat with, you can get in touch with Dale Jarvis at 1-888-739-1892 x2 or email 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Newfoundland word of the day: Linkum (and where it comes from) #heritageNL

This fabulous shot of a gentleman identified as Uncle Abe Mercer is from the International Grenfell Association photograph collection of lantern slides in the holdings of The Rooms (Item IGA 13-58). The original photograph was taken in 1931 by Fred Coleman Sears, and shows a man wearing rain gear, with sou'wester hat, or what in Newfoundland English one might call a "lincoln" or "linkum."

Here is what the Dictionary of Newfoundland English says about the word:

lincoln n also linkum. A fisherman's oilskin hat with elongated flap at the back; CAPE ANN, SOU'WESTER.

1936 DEVINE 115 He sold. . .oil clothing, which was a specialty and included south-westers, Cape Anns and 'Lincolns.' 1937 ibid 31 Linkum. An oiled hat (sou'-wester) worn by fishermen. 1970 Wooden Boats 20 Those three shipwrecked men clung to the rock from Saturday to Tuesday, without food and the only water they had to drink was rain water they caught in a lincoln. 1971 NOSEWORTHY 217 Linkum. A large water-proof hat worn by fishermen with a strap under the chin, a small rim in front, and a flap on the back to keep the neck dry. 1978 Evening Telegram 9 Sep. p. 14 A linkum is an oil hat with a long back on it to protect your shoulders.

Waterproofed cloth garments were used in the North Atlantic from the late 1700s, and what we think of today as the oilskins worn by sailors and fishermen were originally made from sailcloth coated with tar. Traditional black or "tarred" Sou'Wester hats were developed in the 1800s, but replaced the tar with linseed oil and lampblack. 

Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh patented a method in 1823 for binding two pieces of material together with rubber dissolved in naphtha, and the Mackintosh was born (the K was added later, apparently). But the rubber Mackintosh didn’t breathe, which made it unsuitable for certain types of work, and it stiffened when cold.

Gabardine was invented in 1879 by Englishman Thomas Burberry (founder of the Burberry fashion house) The original fabric was waterproofed using lanolin (and Burberry coats were worn by polar explorers such as Amundsen and Shackleton). It was a New Zealander, Edward Le Roy, however, who is said to have developed a more commercially-available (and yellow) material circa 1898, using worn-out sailcloth painted with a mixture of linseed oil and wax. This produced a waterproof, yet still breathable garment able to be worn in foul-weather conditions. 

Scientific American (Vol. 79, No. 11, September 10, 1898, p. 172) notes:
When a sailor's oilskins crack or get worn so that they are not waterproof, he oils them. They may need oiling two or three times a year. There are prepared oil dressings made for this use and pnt up in little tin cans. Some sailors use oils of one sort and another,and some sailors make a mixture of their own for a dressing. The sailor is likely to have a preference for some one brand of clothing and to stick to it. And he has his own ideas as to the best dressing for it, but he carries always with him a dressing of some sort. It is put on with a brush, the garments being hung up and painted with it.
But what of our linkums? Where did that particular word come from?

The catalogue and price list for Joseph H. Rowe & Company, manufacturers of genuine Cape Ann oiled clothing, horse and wagon covers, sou'westers and oiled hats, out of Gloucester, Massachusetts (circa 1892) note that their Lincoln Sou’ Wester retailed for $8 a dozen, though the catalogue advised that one could write in for discounts. The image below is taken from the catalogue:

It seems likely that the Newfoundland word “lincoln” and its derivative “linkum” comes from the Lincoln Sou’ Wester, though why that particular style of Sou’ Wester was called a Lincoln is yet (by me at least) undetermined. The catalogue also offered for sale "Rowe's Prepared Oil" (at $3.50/doz) to keep your lincoln in tip-top shape, which was warranted to dry, soft and pliable, and free from tact. It came in pint cans with a patent screw top, for your convenience.

If you have an old linkum in your collections, we'd love to see it, and if there are people who remember the process of making oilskin, please get in touch! You can call me at 1-888-739-1892 x2, or email

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fishing Stage in Freshwater. Conception Bay, 1995

Fishing stages in Freshwater, Conception Bay. This photograph was taken in 1995 and is part of the slide collection of the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Custard Head Fishing Premises Before and After. Hant's Harbour, 1995. #Folklorephoto

In looking through images I recently scanned at the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation, there are many buildings that were on the verge of demolition. The 35mm slides taken from 1993-1996 include many boarded up homes, stores, stages, and sheds that are no longer part of the Baccalieu Trail landscape. This building in Hant's Harbour is an exception.

In 1999 the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador designated the Custard Head Fishing Premises as a Registered Heritage Structure. Built by Joseph Francis in 1909, it is a perfect example of traditional, vernacular outbuilding construction.

To see what the fishing premises looks like today, and read more about the structure, visit the Heritage Foundation website.


Monday, May 8, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Occupation Folklore of the Fishery

Gordy Doyle. 2014. Photo by Terra Barrett.
In 2014, as part of the Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove Oral History project, I did an interview with fisherman Gordy Doyle of Petty Harbour.  In this interview, Gordy discusses growing up in the community, and his life as a fisherman including folk beliefs and occupational folklore such as pranks.

Listen to the interview here on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative.

Location and names of some of the traditional fishing berths in Petty Harbour.
~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#Folklorephoto The American Man of Spaniard's Bay

Gerald Crane stands next to a remaining American Man at Spider Pond near Spaniard's Bay, 2008
This photo shows a pile of rocks, called "The American Man" located at Spider Pond near Spaniard's Bay. Reminiscent of an inukshuk, the rocks were used as markers for direction when traveling across Spider Pond and Long Pond in stormy weather. Originally there were two markers at Spider Pond and one at Long Pond, though only the one pictured remains.

According to an article in The Compass written by Gerald Crane, in the early 1900s, fisherman from the area would travel along the Labrador coast. On the shore, they would see piles of rocks set up by Americans to mark good fishing ground. When the fishermen came back to the Spaniard's Bay area and set up the markers, they named these piles of rocks after their American friends.

Do you know of any similar land markers? Have you heard an other stories of the origin of The American Man? Have you visited The American Man at Spider Pond?

Source: "The American Man and Some Spots in Tilton" by Gerald Crane, The Compass, 17th March 2009

~ Kelly

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pierce’s Fish Store - Saved from Demolition. #NLheritage

Pierce’s Store on the north side of Harbour Breton, 1990s. (Doug Wells photo)
Special report by Doug Wells.

Seeing it is Heritage Week in NL, I visited the Elementary classes (Grade 4,5,6) at St. Joseph’s Elementary in Harbour Breton. We discussed the history of Pierce’s Fish Store and how the building was saved from demolition, relocated and restored. This community landmark is more than 100 years old and has changed hands three times in its history. It was built by a local sea captain, Mr. George Rose who needed a store for curing fish and storing fishing supplies, etc. In 1944 it was sold to another local fishing Captain, Pius Augot who used the store for 20 years. The last owner was the Pierce family of Hr. Breton, a fishing family. It has been known as Pierce’s store since 1964. However, its purpose had diminished after the construction of the new fresh-fishplant in Hr. Breton during the 1960s and time was started to show its effects on the old wooden structure. With limited use and showing signs of deterioration, the Town of Hr. Breton offered to purchase the building and make it a part of the Elliott Premises on the other side of the harbour. The Town wanted to preserve the heritage of this community landmark. Its present location was not suitable for restoration work or accessibility. After the fishplant (FPI) closed down in 2004, displaced workers were employed in the project of relocating it and restoring it. The photos will show the steps in the relocation. All work was done by local workers who had knowledge of tides, boats, and floating platforms, etc. They were very proud of their successful effort as the photo shows. In 30 minutes it was floated, transported across the harbour and put on the new foundation.

No longer is it a fish store but rather a modern facility on the interior and restoration work done to the exterior. It is well equipped and suitable for various group gatherings and performances.


Moving Day – August 16, 2005

On August 16, 2005, after 8 weeks of preparation, floating docks were slid under Pierce’s Store waiting for the tides that would lift it from its foundation.

After many attempts, and while time and tide wait for no one, it was freed from its shores with a resounding crack. Settling back in the water many wondered whether or not it would stay afloat.

A short 30 minutes later the Moving Crew celebrates with the rest of the community for the successful relocation.

With its move came a complete makeover and is now a part of the Elliott Premises in Harbour Breton.

Class photo: Grade 4 and 5 students, St. Joseph’s Elementary, Hr. Breton. It was anti-bulling day.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Living Heritage Podcast Ep017 Fishing for Success with Kimberly Orren

Kimberly Orren is one of the founding directors of Fishing For Success, Inc. at Island Rooms of Petty Harbour, and currently serves as its Executive Director. Fishing For Success is a not-for-profit that aims to teach youth and tourists about the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador through the establishment of a traditional family inshore fishing premises. We talk about her first memories of fishing, science education, getting kids interested in fishing, and everything from capelin and sharks to traditional fishing marks.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New on the Digital Archives: Purse Seines to Lobster Pots (1952)

Our colleagues over at Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative are constantly uploading new documents to their already impressive collection of archival material.

Recently added was a fabulous short pamphlet entitled "Purse Seines to Lobster Pots" by F.H. Wooding, published in 1952 by the Department of Fisheries of Canada, and printed by the fabulously-named Edmond Cloutier, King's Printer and Controller of Stationery.

The booklet is from the Marine Institute Collections, 20 pages long, and provides an introduction to everything from British Columbia herring, to ice-fishing on the Prairies, to the fisheries of the Atlantic Coast. It includes some great photos of the era, including the Newfoundlanders with the cod trap, above, and the scene of men launching dories somewhere off the Atlantic coast, below.

The booklet also includes a series of great line drawings, such as the illustration of an Atlantic coast sardine weir, shown below.

The publication can be viewed online, or downloaded as a pdf document. Happy fishing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Join us for "The Fishing Grounds of Cupids" sharing session

On Wednesday February 11th at 7 pm, the Cupids Legacy Centre will be hosting a sharing session on "The Fishing Grounds of Cupids". Please join us and bring along your stories and knowledge of traditional fishing in the Cupids area.

We look forward to seeing you and hearing about your fishing experiences!

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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mayday Mayday!

Chart image from:
For a new and upcoming exhibit at the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse in Gros Morne National Park, Parks Canada is hoping to hear your memories and stories about the use of traditional distress signals in emergency situations. Have there been any shipwrecks or other emergencies in your community? How did people communicate that their boats were in distress? What local stories are attached? 

Shirley Alyward from Parks Canada provided this quote as an example:   
"Mr Gordon Caines of Norris Point put out a sweater with its arms halfway up his ship pole that indicated to the Young family on shore that a boat was in distress."

Shirley would love to hear from you. She can be contacted by email at:

Thank you, and as always, stay safe!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Petty Harbour Folk Beliefs - Whistling up the Wind

Petty Harbour
During my interviews in Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove I have come across several folk beliefs particularly beliefs about being on the water. From whistling up a wind to not being able to turn your boat against the sun there have been a number of interesting folk beliefs shared. 

As previously mentioned on the blog Petty Harbour resident Ann Payne described being warned not to cross the river at night when it was easiest to be fairy led. Ann and her mother Annie Lee explained a story about Ann’s uncle whose leg was broken by fairies and who was held in the water of the Petty Harbour river for four hours. Other members of the community have also mentioned fairy beliefs such as being warned to keep a piece of bread in their pocket for the fairies when walking through the woods.

Gertrude Walsh of Petty Harbour explained that if a bird pecked at the window it was an omen of a death to come. Another warning of upcoming death is three knocks at the window. Gertrude explained that she heard three knocks at a second floor window and when she woke the next morning she received a phone call that her brother had died in the night.

A couple of people have mentioned having to have the gang boards facing the right direction while in a fishing boat. Gordy Doyle explains this belief:

The boards, the pound boards that you have right? To cover up your fish, to put your fish in pounds according to the size of the boat. You would never have them up right? You would have them painted and the opposite side would be painted a different colour. You would never have them turned over in the boat. You just don’t do that. And I’m not superstitious at all but it’s just something that I don’t do and I if I see it turned over [I’ll say] “No b’ys turn the gang board back over”.
Gertrude and Jack Walsh
Another belief about being on the water was not cursing in a boat and not whistling in a boat. It has been said if you whistled in a boat you could whistle up a storm. Jack Walsh described why he will never forget why people are not allowed to whistle in a boat:

I can remember one time this man, and myself and his son we used to knock around together. So we were going out to the cod trap this evening in the boat. Two of us were sat down and we were only young, you know. Not old enough to go fishing or anything but just going for a run with the men and we were sat down in the boat and we were going along. It was a make and break motor then they called it and I don’t remember which one of us started to whistle and we knew nothing until down came the big stick and hit the boards between the two of us and he shouted don’t dare whistle in this boat he said, whistle up a storm.

Mike Hearn explained a number of folk beliefs including fishermen being sure to follow the sun with their boats rather than turn against the sun and people being wary of walking under a ladder as these actions would bring about bad luck. Mike explains what a fisherman’s beliefs about jinkers and what a jinker is:

If he had a small fish, a tomcod, one got left in the boat and all the fish is out of her. And he got up the next morning to go fishing and saw one of them there it would be a job to get him to go out. That was a jinker. They called leaving a fish in the boat like that a jinker. Bad, bad thing to do.

Mike also went on to explain he didn’t share this belief about jinkers and described an incident where his fishing crew had a jinker left in the boat for days and were hauling in loads of fish every day. They only noticed the jinker because of the smell but the crew joked that they should put one on the other side as they were getting such large loads of fish with the jinker in the boat.

Do you have any folk beliefs? Beliefs about being on the water? What are they? Share your stories below – we’d love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday’s Folklore Photo - Food Fishery

Courtesy of MUN`s Digital Archives Initiative
Today’s folklore photo is a photo of freshly caught cod being processed in Quidi Vidi during the food fishery. This picture was taken by folklore student Christine Blythe during the folklore field school in the fall of 2013.

I managed to get out on the water over the weekend and I figured this would be an appropriate photo given the ongoing food fishery. The fishery is open until August 10 and opens again September 20 to the 28.

Do you participate in the food fishery? Have you been out yet the year? Did you catch anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Bonus photo:
Breakfast is served!
Here is a picture of the lovely breakfast I was graciously served – including the freshly caught cod tongues and britches seen in the upper left hand corner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Heritage grant announced for documenting the historic NL fishery

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is announcing a $5000 grant program for projects that document, record, present or safeguard the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of the fishery in the province. Possible projects could focus on the intangible cultural heritage associated with boats, their builders and those who went to sea, net making and mending, crab or lobster pot repair, knot-tying and ropework, cod traps, make-and-break engines, knowledge associated with marks and berths, the architecture of fishing stages and associated material culture (splitting tables, etc), the business of making fish, or oral histories related to the fishery.

“This new program will give communities an opportunity to record some of the important stories and information about the fishery and its role in the daily life of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Dale Jarvis, folklorist and development officer with the foundation. “A lot of this information is fragile, and needs to be collected before it vanishes.”

The Fisheries ICH Grants are open to town councils, museums, archives or incorporated non-profit cultural and/or heritage organizations.

Deadline for applications is 22 August 2014.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposal with the ICH Development Officer before applying, by phone at 1-(888)-739-1892 ext 2, or email

(photo: the fish plant and boats, Twillingate, 1963)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday’s Folklore Photo - Flakes and Fish

Thomas Ruck fonds
VA 45-1; Petty Harbour in the 1860s
Photo: Courtesy of The Rooms
Today’s folklore photos are pictures of the flakes, stages and stores of Petty Harbour’s past. Throughout my interviews in Petty Harbour a major change that has been mentioned has been the change in the fishery.  The move from making fish to catching crab has meant a shift in the physical landscape of the harbour.  
Petty Cove [Petty Harbour]
VA 143-18 [between 1892 and 1904]
Photo: Courtesy of The Rooms
The loss of the fish flakes from the island rooms has been mentioned in a number of interviews as has the shift in the fishery.  Several of my informants have memories of the responsibilities of making fish and cutting tongues for the fishermen.  
Mike Hearn
Mike Hearn described walking into the Goulds to sell the cod tongues 10 a dozen as opposed to selling the tongues for 10 a pound in Petty Harbour.  He also mentioned making flickers out of his mother’s old cotton reels filled with lead in order to catch tom cods in the harbour.        

Petty Harbour VA 15a-43.1
Newfoundland Tourist Development Board photograph collection
Newfoundland Views Photographs
Photo: Courtesy of The Rooms
The lack of children involved with the fishery today has caught the attention of people in Petty Harbour and a non profit organization called Fishing for Success has been established.  Check out their website and facebook page as they reintroduce fishing knowledge to the children of Petty Harbour Maddox Cove and beyond.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bristol's Hope and the Salmon of Knowledge

There is an old Irish story about the Salmon of Knowledge. According to the legend, an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that fell into the Well of Wisdom from the nine hazel trees that surrounded the well. Because of this, the salmon gained all the world's knowledge, and it was said that the first person to eat its flesh would, in turn, gain this knowledge.

A young Finn McCool, destined to become a great leader and warrior, was sent to study under the wise man Finnegas, who had spent years trying to catch the salmon. Not long after Finn came to him, Finnegas caught the salmon, and ordered Finn to cook it, but not to eat any of it. As Finn cooked it, it burned his fingers, so he put his thumb into his mouth to ease the pain. In this way, Finn acquired all the wisdom of the world, and not old Finnegas.  In a story from Wales, the famed poet Taliesin received his wisdom in a similar way.

I drove home tonight from Bristol's Hope, thinking about those old tales, of Finn McCool, of Taliesin, and of Ida Skinner.

I was in Bristol's Hope to help out with the start of an oral history project. The local heritage committee is working on a few projects which I've mentioned here before. Tonight, I met with Richard Johnson and Don Skinner, to get them started on their interviewing techniques.

Don's mother, Mrs. Ida Skinner, was our "test subject" tonight, and I showed the men how to do a folklore interview by having a fabulous chat with Ida, which ranged from her early memories of growing up at the Point in Bristol's Hope, her family's fishing business, the raising of sheep, of carding and spinning, schooldays and recess games at the old one-room schoolhouse, and of holidays and charming away warts.

At the end of our conversation, Richard asked Mrs. Skinner to pick one thing she would bring back from her early years in the community if she could.

"We used to be as one," she said, without pausing to think. It was something she had mentioned at a few points throughout our conversation, noting that in her youth, the entire community, Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, had worked together for clearing snow along the road in winter, to provide education for the children of the community, and in making sure everyone had food to eat.

"We used to be as one," she said. And then she told a story.

Mrs. Skinner's father and her two older brothers had been successful fishermen, who had invested their earnings in a larger boat, and who sold their catch for export to the Moores family in Carbonear. 

During salmon season, her family, and other men in Bristol's Hope would set their traps and catch whatever salmon they could. As the salmon season progressed, the number of salmon turning up in the traps would decrease. It was then that her father and the other men did something that stuck in her memory. They would take that year's last catch of salmon, and distribute it to every household in the community that didn't have a salmon trap. Everyone got salmon, not just the men who had worked for it and who would profit from the selling of it, but every single family in Bristol's Hope. 

And it is that sense of fairness, compassion and community that Mrs. Skinner would pick to bring forward into today's world. It seems like a wise idea to me.

(Illustration by Wenceslas Hollar, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)