Showing posts with label folklife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label folklife. Show all posts

Monday, June 16, 2014

Introducing the New ICH Intern

ICH Intern mummering through the years.

Hi all my name is Terra Barrett and I am a St. John’s native who has just completed the requirements for a BA with a major in Folklore and a minor in French from Memorial University of Newfoundland. I am returning to Memorial in the fall to complete my MA in Folklore with a focus on public/applied folklore. My interests include foodways, customs, material culture and public folklore.

This summer I am joining the Heritage Foundation as a summer works intern. This position will include a combination of fieldwork and office work. The fieldwork will include interviews with community members of the town of Petty Harbour. This interviews will focus on the community’s vibrant social life and activities such as community concerts, singing and recitations. The other project I will be working on will involve developing a survey for museums and community groups. This survey will assess which traditions and customs are important to the communities and how they would like them to be preserved. I will also be assisting Dale and Lisa whenever they need a hand such as the upcoming cemetery workshop for Anthropology students as part of Memorial’s Make Midterm Matter or the interview techniques workshop in Trinity.

Today is my first day on the job and I’ve been working on compiling a list of oral history questions to use in the field. I’m looking forward to heading to Petty Harbour on Wednesday and to a great summer in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office with the Heritage Foundation. If you have any memories of growing up in Petty Harbour or the social life within the community please contact me at or (709)739-1892 extension 5.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rest in Peace Mr. Greenland

Cecil Greenland, posing in his home, six months before his 107th birthday, 2013.
On November 5th, 2013, Spaniard's Bay lost an incredible centenarian: 107 year old Cecil Greenland. I had the opportunity to meet and interview Cecil this past spring, and it's a visit I won't soon forget. He was an active, friendly man with a wonderful sense of humor. As a tribute to Cecil, I'd like to post an article that I wrote about our visit for an issue of the ICH Update:


One of the things that I love about being a folklorist is that I frequently get to seek out elders in a community. In everyday life I rarely have the chance to meet people from older generations, but when collecting oral histories for work, it comes with the territory. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a centenarian who, at 106, is the oldest person I’ve ever spoken with. Interviews like this are not ones that can easily be forgotten. Cecil Greenland is personable, active, humourous and has an unbelievable memory. During our visit, he recalled for me some of his family history, and then talked about the busy life he has lead. Originally from Coley’s Point, Cecil now lives with his daughter Linda in Spaniard’s Bay. While not serving as a full-time caregiver (Cecil has someone come in for that), Linda helps ensure that he remains mentally and physically active. Cecil is special for reaching such an old age, but many members of his family have lived long, productive lives too. 

Cecil's father and grandfather, both of whom lived long, productive lives.
He thinks he has good genes, but also cites staying active as a reason behind his longevity. Here is some of his life’s story: 

“My full name is Cecil Llewellyn Greenland. Now, you wonder where I got the name Llewellyn? Well, I was called after the Bishop. The Bishop baptized me, Bishop Llewellyn Jones baptized me over in St. John’s Evangelist Church in 1906. I was born on Coley’s Point--years ago you’d say Coley’s Point and they’d take it for granted it was Bay Roberts because it has always been a part of the community. I’m one of eight boys. My mother had three boys in one birth, and twins in one birth, and the only sister we had, Ethel, she died of blood poisoning when she was 12 years old. The only sister we had--the rest was all boys. Jim, my oldest brother, he’s dead. He was 98. And Arthur, he was the youngest of the boys, he was 89. And George was the school teacher--a school teacher all his lifetime--he was 99 when he died. And Isaac was 97 when he died, and I’m 106 and almost 6 months. I’m going to to try for 107 anyway, but maybe I might change my mind and go for 110."

"I was 7 years old when I went to school first. You had to be 7 in order to get ins school. We had soccer, and we had a game called cricket, we had football, and we had hockey. Oh yes, I played a lot of hockey in my day, you know. I played on Bell Island, played in Carbonear, played in St. John's, Harbour Grace, Brigus. I also have four trades. I was a school teacher one time. I taught in a little settlement down in Bonavista Bay, a place called St. Chad's. An epidemic struck the little town and the department of health closed the school. ... I have been around. I've fished the Labrador--three years cod fishing and one year salmon catching. And I'm a carpenter by trade. I have my certificate as a full-fledged carpenter."

During his time as a carpenter, Cecil built 18 or 19 homes, including the one he is living in now. He build his present house from start to finish when he was 80 years old. Linda was quick to acknowledge this accomplishment--when he said that he had hammered in every single nail for the house, she nodded and told me that he was speaking the truth. Even though he can no longer build houses, Cecil always takes on smaller projects and likes to spend time "puttering around" in his workshop. He seemed very pleased with his daily routine and let it be known that he won't be slowing down anytime soon. In the meantime, I look forward to helping him celebrate his 107th birthday in October of this year.

Cecil talks with me about his family and the lives that they lead.

Cecil's obituary can be viewed here, in the St. John's Telegram. Thank you Cecil for sharing your stories and inspiring us all to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Quidi Vidi Village Oral History and Folklore Project Launch

Memorial's Department of Folklore, Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and City of St. John's, in cooperation with The Quidi Vidi Village Foundation, invite you to the launch of the

Quidi Vidi Village Oral History and Folklore Project
Wednesday, May 8th, 7pm
The Plantation

Starting this summer, MUN Folklore and the Heritage Foundation will be researching the folklore and oral history of the Village. On Wednesday night, folklorists Jerry Pocius and Dale Jarvis will be presenting on this exciting project, and who will be involved.

Hope to see you there!

Coffee, tea and conversation to follow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Riddle of the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Stage

The Newfoundland Historic Trust is holding its Annual General Meeting
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
7:00 pm
Hava Java Upstairs, Water Street

Followed by a presentation by Dr. Gerald Pocius
"The Riddle of the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Stage"

Dr. Pocius is University Research Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he has taught since 1977. Among his many accomplishments, he has recently been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. By looking at how everyday things are used Dr. Pocius has produced studies both sensitive and rigorous, earning him international standing as a scholar. His publications include A Place to Belong, Textile Traditions of Eastern Newfoundland, and A Field Guide to the Vernacular Architecture of St-Pierre et Miquelon.

All are welcome to attend - Please feel free to circulate

Deborah O'Rielly
Executive Director, Newfoundland Historic Trust
709.739.7870 Tel. 709.739.5413 Fax

Photo of Pete Porter's Stage, Change Islands, courtesy HFNL

Friday, November 25, 2011

Newfoundland trout basket from Tors Cove

Thanks to Anne Manuel at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, I've got more photos for my current obsession project on traditional basket making in the province.

This one is a woven trout basket, made by Gladys Linegar, who I believe now lives in Tors Cove. When I put out the original call for names of people who are making baskets, several people mentioned the Linegars who sell baskets along the road in Tors Cove.

I like the blending here of tradition and modernity, with the basket being made of traditional materials with the shoulder strap being made of seat belt material. A few more pictures of the basket below.

If you know of a basket maker in the province, or have a basket I can photograph, give me a call at 1-888-739-1892 ext 2, or email

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baskets, Belbin's, The Battery, and more.

In this month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, we go looking for traditional basket makers; Mel Squarey interviews Chris Belbin about the history of Belbin's Grocery; a new cell phone oral history project is launched in The Battery; and Tales of Town returns to The Rooms Theatre, with memories of Christmas past.

Download the newsletter in pdf format

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Folk Art, Compliments of Vic

I'm not sure exactly how old this photo is, but I know I snapped it, on slide film, in Bay de Verde, possibly about 2001.  I love how much is crammed into this little display: fishing boats, dorries, part of what looks like an old make-and-break engine.

If you know anything about Vic, or about the objects in the photo, email me 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, August 19, 2011

What is a Hay Barrack, you ask? A Newfoundland-wide photo hunt

I'm hoping that someone out there in Newfoundland has a photo (or memories) of a hay barrack. I'm working on a little article on hay barracks for a future newsletter, and would love a good illustration.

Here is what the Dictionary of Newfoundland English says:

barrack n Cp DAE hay barrack (1807-). Structure consisting of four posts and a movable roof, designed to protect hay from rain and snow (P 245-56). M 71-39 A barrack is composed of a square base of criss-crossed poles, to keep the hay from the ground, and at each corner a large upright pole. In each pole there are holes through which a large bolt can be passed. Resting on four large bolts, one in each pole, is a four-faced cone-shaped roof. These barracks are usually boarded in for about four feet from the ground. 1974 MANNION 176 ~ A roof sliding on four posts, under which hay is kept.

I'm hoping that someone might have seen one in a photo, perhaps not really knowing what it might have been. If you've seen one, let me know at

Thanks to Philip Hiscock for pointing me towards this excellent photo of one in the Ukraine. The illustration above is of both a five and four pole barrack, the four pole barrack showing boarding similar to the description in the Dictionary. Illustration taken from the Dutch Barn Preservation Society website, which writes:  Five-pole hay barrack (left), published in van Berkhey, 1810 (Vol. IX). The Dutch wagon size suggests this barrack is about 24' wide and 33' high. Note the winding jack set in position to raise the roof using a long pole. Its form is similar to that of a cheese press. Its relative size, however, appears exaggerated for clarity. Four-pole barrack at right, also from van Berkhey.

See also:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Century Farms, Newfoundland ponies, a building floats to a new home, and more

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: the Seeds to Supper Festival gets underway with a workshop on culinary tourism, featuring Canada's Top Chef participant Todd Perrin; we celebrate our agricultural history with an evening of stories of farming past, present and future; a local woman keeps the tradition of Newfoundland ponies alive; news on the Culture, Place and Identity at the Heart of Regional Development conference coming this fall; a historic merchant's shop is hauled (and floated) to a new home; and, our root cellar roundup.

Download the pdf

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seeds to Supper Festival Poster

Here it is! The poster for our Seeds to Supper festival, running August 13-21! Download a pdf version of the poster here. Poster design by Graham Blair.

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Call for Volunteers: Summer Folklore Fieldwork Opportunity

The West End Oral History and Folklife Festival is being offered as part of the ICH office’s 3rd Annual Folklife Festival and will be held in two sessions: during the day on Wednesday, August 17th and on Saturday afternoon, evening and night, August 20th.

The theme of this year’s ICH Festival is “Seeds to Supper” an homage to agri-culture and education in food sustainability in Newfoundland Labrador. The West End festival seeks to present agricultural history in urban neighbourhoods in St. John’s. The geographic focus is from the Memorial to Tommy Ricketts on Water Street west to the ‘Crossroad’s, the location where Water Street west, Waterford bridge Road and Topsail Roads converge. The site goes north primarily from the bottom of Patrick Street to Wesleyan United Church on Hamilton Avenue (at Patrick St.), west past Victoria Park, Hamilton Hall (the CEI Club) and then to the Laurier Club at the top of the street. This neighbourhood was once the industrial heartland of the city as well as a farming region prior to that. Currently there are about 30 businesses in the area including a music store, lettuce farm, Pennecon, the Labatt’s Brewery and one of the oldest businesses in the city, not to mention the lovely Victoria Park, perhaps best known currently as the home of the Lantern Festival, held every year in the summer.

All Folklore graduate students and upper classmen who require practical ethnographic experience for their degree and diploma programs are welcome to participate in a volunteer capacity to carry out original fieldwork in a supervised community setting. Students may also volunteer to become festival administrators, presenters and programmers. A ‘buddy system’ and team structure will be engaged.

Options for fieldwork include occupational and labour folklife, the dockyards, the rail yards, folk art and music; old farms once right off Water Street; food sustainability for urban residents; river management in Victoria Park; and the history of the CEI Club. This building is turning into condominiums so opportunities abound for the analysis of the gentrification of the neighbourhood. Interest in children’s folklore past and present is welcome, as is the contemporary impact of the lack of children in the locale. Anyone interested in working with senior citizens on any topic should consider this opportunity to carry out original, independent field work. Finally, histories of Victoria Park, along with folklore of the park are also welcome.

Field work will officially start after Canada Day and will conclude with the festival dates. Students who wish to volunteer to conduct festival programming are welcome as well. Ultimately, the festival will be a place where students can, if they choose, apply their fieldwork for common good. If you wish, you can do as much fieldwork as you can fit into July month. Technical equipment is not necessary to participate in this project. The only requirement for the project is a brief essay summarizing your fieldwork and suggestions for additional fieldwork (4-5 pages). This essay must be completed by the festival date (August 17th).

Folklorist Kathryn Foley, MA (Memorial Folklore 1987), has experience in the public sector from 1987-1994 in New York State and Pennsylvania. She has edited and written curricula, managed the field office for a graduate student institute in oral history; taught ethnography and oral history to ninth graders and has extensive communication and networking skills. Folk art is a specialization. Additional information is available on her profile on the website, Linked In. Students will be provided with a Certificate of Participation as well as a reference letter upon request.

email only:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Root Cellar Typology for Newfoundland and Labrador

We are digging away on our root cellar project, documenting different root cellars, taking photographs, making measurements, and interviewing people about root cellar traditions.

One idea we've come up with is to create a map of root cellars across the province, to see what kind of root cellars are most common where. So, I've taken a first stab at creating a root cellar typology, listing out the different kinds of root cellars we've found to date.

If you know of a different kind, or have a suggestion for a root cellar for us to look at, or root cellar owner to interview, contact Crystal Braye, our down-to-earth folklore co-op student, at

Dual Entrance Cellar - set into the ground and lined with rocks/concrete. A shed is built over top of the cellar, with its own door. Access to the cellar is through a ground-level door into the cellar, and through a hatch door incorporated into the floor of the shed.

Hatch and Shed Cellar - set into the ground and lined with rocks/concrete. Beams and planks are laid over the hole, with a hatch door incorporated into the ceiling/floor, along with a ladder for access. A shed is then built over the top of the cellar.

Hillside Cellar - dug out of a hillside, lined with rocks or concrete, and then a ceiling is attached to overhead beams. Access through a ground-level door on the front.

Above Ground Cellar - freestanding cellar, covered thickly with sod on the outside, lined inside with rocks/concrete, with access through a ground-level door on the front.

Above Ground Hatch – like the Above Ground Cellar, but with access from a hatch at the top.

Walk-in Cool Room – Insulated room, part of a house or outbuilding.

Barrel Cellar – A small root cellar made of a converted barrel or drum.

Unidentified Ruin


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Digital Root Cellar storing memories as part of Memorial's Digital Archives Initiative

This abandoned root cellar, located on Thorpe's Road, St. Phillip's, is one of the root cellars that will be documented as part of this summer's Seeds to Supper Festival.  This year, the province's third annual folklife festival will celebrate agricultural traditions past and present.

The root cellar research project is being conducted by Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) folklore coop student Crystal Braye, and Agricultural History Society intern Julie Pomeroy.  The pair will be photographing, measuring, and drawing cellars wherever they can root them out, as well as conducting interviews with root cellar owners and farming families.

All collected photographs, drawings and audio interviews will be stored, nice and cool, in our digital root cellar, as part of Memorial's Digital Archives Initiative and HFNL's ongoing Intangible Cultural Heritage inventory.  The research is funded in part with grants through the Department of Tourism's Cultural Economic Development Program, and the Helen Creighton Folklore Society.

If you have a root cellar and are interested in participating, or for more information, please contact Crystal Braye via email or telephone at 709-739-1892 ext. 5

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Seeds to Supper Festival logo launched

Here it is, the logo for the 3rd Annual Folklife Festival of Newfoundland and Labrador - Seeds to Supper! Design by Graham Blair.

Seeds to Supper Community Meeting 7pm, Sobeys, Merrymeeting Rd

HFNL to host Agricultural Heritage Festival Community Meeting

For the past 3 years the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador has supported a local folklife festival in the province. This year we hope to coordinate events with a number of the groups in the greater St. John’s area to promote the historical background of agriculture, and the contemporary movements that are active in the area. We wish to highlight the agri-culture that comes from the past but remains contemporary.

Participation as a part of the 2011 Folklife Festival, Seeds to Supper, will be of no cost to any groups wishing to hold an event however, all participating groups are responsible for their individual event. If you are a group, or individual, who would be willing to host an event during our Seeds to Supper festival we would like you to come to our community planning meeting on Wednesday June 15th, 2011 at 7pm at Sobey’s on Merrymeeting Rd., St. John’s.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Root cellars, young folklorists, and Seeds to Supper Festival launch

In this edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, we turn the sod on our Seeds to Supper Festival, the province's third annual folklife festival; young folklorists hit Water Street and work on heritage fairs projects; we explore the tradition of root cellars; and the Heritage Foundation takes on a new public folklore co-op student.

Download the pdf.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Intangible cultural heritage alive and well in Scotland - a review

Alright, this is it, my last report from the Measures of Support for Intangible
 Cultural Heritage conference in Quebec City!

On Sunday morning, the Scots were up bright and early after a night of dancing to Quebecois folk music, ready with “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland: developing appropriate methodologies” presented by Alison McCleery, Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), and Joanne Orr, Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS) (

Orr, who isn’t half bad at a fast polka, by the way, started off by explaining how MGS represents over 350 museums and galleries in Scotland. 50% of the workforce are volunteers (which will sound familiar to the museum community in Newfoundland and Labrador). The sector contributes over 800 million pounds in value to the Scottish economy. The members are widespread geographically, and many serve as cultural hubs for their communities, a theme which was repeated in the presentation.

McCleery gave a history of their ICH work. A research team from ENU was commissioned to scope ICH activities in Scotland, map support mechanisms in place to safeguard ICH, review, evaluate and make recommendations. They decided that an inclusive definition of ICH should be used in terms of level of participation, diffusion and ethnicity (i.e. ICH in Scotland, rather than Scottish ICH). The study noted that recording ICH is an inventory is the first step towards ensuring that ICH is safeguarded, and that safeguarding of ICH should take the form of supporting education channels and community groups.

In Scotland, the emphasis has been on living practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills, that communities, groups and individuals themselves recognize as part of their own ICH. Ideal approaches to safeguarding should be community centred and owned, unforced, uncontrived, and authentic. McCleery, admirably, also made the point that celebrating diversity promotes social cohesion.

Scotland is developing a very open inventory, that anyone can contribute to, which is in an easily edited wiki format: McCleery gave the Heart of Midlothian as an example of a cultural space and practise that is recorded on the inventory.

Orr presented on a few projects that member organizations have undertaken with an ICH focus. One was a knitted fish project, where traditional knitting techniques were used to knit fabric fish which including local sayings. The project has resulted in regular groups meeting to knit, which has moved the tradition forward in terms of subject matter.

Another project was conducted by a local fisheries museum – a boatbuilding project which included rowing clubs that compete against each other. In this way, skills are maintained, and the tradition moved forward to fit people’s lives today, and to involve people who never would have considered themselves part of the tradition.

Orr argued that the local memory of family and village histories is the heart of community collections. There is a strong wish in villages to hold on to traditions, a sentiment that certainly, again, sounds familiar here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

McCleery noted that ICH in Scotland faces two problems. There is what she called the “authenticy/ownership challenge” - for whose benefit is cultural tourism? Should it be outward facing for tourists, or inward facing for locals? She also noted a generational mismatch challenge – older people have knowledge of ICH, while the younger generation has technology and virtual knowledge to share it, but not the interest the material. She argued that we must find a compromise between doing nothing and doing something, and that we need to find a way to bridge gap. She suggested that education in schools is one important approach to this question.

Orr then described an online “Remembering Scotland at War” project, which contains curated exhibitions by museums in one part, and user generated content in another part. People can post their own material, which can then be moved into the curated section.

“When people engage and share their knowledge, we are richer,” Orr said.

Orr also argued that we need to combine the tangible and intangible, with less focus on materiality, and more on meaning. Museums can be cultural meeting places, where the process of ICH can be witnessed daily. She referenced the Festival of Museums, which encourages museums to share tangible and intangible in creative ways.

You can check out one example, a fishtastic festival. Other museums developed projects around basket weaving and peat cutting.

“ICH is dynamic, about living processes,” said Orr. “We’ve got to move the perception of heritage to something that is dynamic.” Right on!

Overall, ICH is alive and well in Scotland, embedded at community level. People are comfortable with the concept of ICH, and ICH benefits from the gentle support of the museums network. Inspiring work, Scotland!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Help spread the word about the 2010 Mummers Festival and hashtag #mummerfest

The 2010 Mummers Festival is fast approaching, and we'd like your help in spreading the word as much as possible. In particular, we want to make sure people know about the Mummers Parade on December 18th, so we get many mummers madly marching!

You can help online in a couple ways:

There is a Mummers Parade Event Listing at:
RSVP and invite your friends

If you tweet anything about the festival or the workshops, use the new twitter hashtag #mummerfest

Looking for info on the festival workshops, films, and lectures? Visit the website for full info at