Showing posts with label storytelling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label storytelling. Show all posts

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hunting Hogboons and Detecting Trows: Kids search out the supernatural

I had two meetings today about future folklore projects in Conception Bay, one in Bay Roberts and the other in Cupids. Perhaps unsurprisingly, talk of the fairies came up in both. Conception Bay is rich in fairy lore, and there seems to be a growing interest in communities in the area in documenting and celebrating these traditions.

While in Cupids, I mentioned two fairylore projects from across the pond, one from Shetland and the other from Orkney. I first heard about the Shetland project from storyteller Davy Cooper when he visited Newfoundland a few years back. The Shetland Museum and Archives had created a Trowie Knowe, the house of a "trow" - a type of small, ugly supernatural creature like a troll. They had also created a "Trow Detector" - a steampunkish looking device for alerting museum goers to nearly trows.

The Orkney project allowed kids to search out evidence of a similar type of creature, a hogboon, a mound-dwelling creature tied to particular families. The hogboon hunt was part of a one day workshop where participants used newly learnt archaeological skills like surveying, map making, photography, and collecting and documenting artefacts. You can check out the video of the kids on their hunt on Vimeo. The story in the piece is told by Orkadian storyteller Tom Muir.

Rousay Summer Club Survey from Mark Jenkins on Vimeo.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Paranormal in Heart's Content

As a folklorist, it isn't every day that you get to hear a good ghost or fairy story, but then on some days, people will tell you two or three. Doing fieldwork for the Heart's Content heritage district this past Wednesday, a few residents shared some of what they know about the paranormal in Heart's Content. Art Cumby had a wonderful fairy story to share, along with a photograph of himself hanging out with the other boys he knew as a child. You'll find him standing up, wearing a striped shirt. He and his friend Art Button (also wearing a striped shirt) were just 11 years old when this happened to them:

Gina Balsom, on the other hand, has been working as an interpreter at the Cable Station historic site for several years. She explained that while she has never had any strange experiences or feelings in the old building, a few visitors certainly have. Here is what Gina had to say about working in a supposedly haunted space:

Thanks to Art and Gina for sharing their stories. In fact, I'm always looking for a good ghost or fairy story. If you know of any from the Heart's Content or Bay Roberts (my next heritage district destination), please drop me a line at


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Looking for supernatural stories, and poems and songs about Bay Roberts

Do you have a ghost story from the Bay Roberts area, or a memory of someone who was a wart charmer? The Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation is looking for stories, and would love to hear from you! We are interested in stories of the supernatural, as well as recitations, songs and poems about Bay Roberts. Call Cyndi toll free at; 1-888-739-1892 ext 3 or email her at

Friday, September 9, 2011

6-hour marathon telling of Jack Tales now online

Earlier this year, the St. John's Storytelling Festival hosted an event called "Jack Cycle" at The Ship Pub. That 6-hour marathon telling of Jack Tales is now online at, with full videos of each performer.

As the Cycle website relates, "Jack Tales encapsulate elements of the Newfoundland character that have evolved over five centuries: courage, cleverness, generosity, handiness, hardiness, honesty, humility, naïveté, wit, and a general belief in the impossible (amongst other traits). In the stories, Jack comes to represent the Newfoundland character."

And so, the stories include not only traditional Newfoundland folktales, told by the likes of Anita Best and Andy Jones, but also cultural commentary on Newfoundland identity by speakers including Richard Cashin, and Ryan Cleary.

"We hope this will be a resource," says organizer Chris Brookes, "so please pass on the URL to anyone interested."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exploring and learning about the oral tradition - Workshop July 16

Explore the skills needed to begin your own storytelling journey: story selection, rehearsal methods and visualization techniques, gestures and body language, stage presence and more! You will be encouraged to “put the book down,” and begin to tell!

No storytelling experience is required, just a willingness to learn and play in this supportive and fun environment. If you consider yourself to be an intermediate storyteller, please join us as well. An extensive handout will assist participants in continuing their work the class.

If you are an educator this workshop is for you as well. Storytelling increases self-esteem and self-confidence and enhances self-expression. It is an interdisciplinary tool, introducing them to literature and folklore of all cultures, promotes writing and provides a rich environment for different learning styles.

Please join Professional Storyteller Karen Chace for this fun and interactive workshop at Gower Street United Church Hall (downstairs) on Saturday, July 16th, 2011at 1 pm – 4 pm. Open the door and step into a world full of stories! Who knows, you just might share a tale before you leave!

The workshop will be conducted by Massachusetts storyteller Karen Chace. When she isn’t telling stories Karen is teaching others to share their own. A workshop leader and author she writes for Storytelling Magazine as well as her own blog and newsletter with resources for storytellers and educators. She is also a contributing author to the National Storytelling Network’s publications, A Beginner's Guide to Storytelling and Telling Stories to Children and offers her own publication, Story by Story – Building a School Storytelling Troupe. She is the recipient of the 2009 Brother Blue-Ruth Hill Award and the 2011 National Storytelling Networks Oracle Award for Service and Leadership in the Northeast (USA). Please visit her website at

Admission: $20 

Pre-register at:
Perfect For: Educators, Librarians, Students and Adults 
interested in exploring and learning the art of Oral Tradition

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ghost stories and legends from Cape Broyle, Bell Island and Grand Falls-Windsor

I posted a few of the stories recorded by participants in our Young Folklorists Program yesterday. Here are three more, with tales from Cape Broyle on the Southern Shore, Bell Island in Conception Bay, and Grand Falls-Windsor in Central Newfoundland.

Stacey Challinor, Baltimore School - The Legend of Peggy's Hollow

Nicole Doyle, St. Michael's Regional High - A Bell Island Ghost Story

Tayler French, St. Peter's Junior High - The Phantom of the Arts and Culture Centre

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Supernatural Stories from the Young Folklorist Program

Earlier this spring, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador hosted its first Young Folklorists Program. Students spent two days learning about local folklore, doing interviews along Water Street, and researching and learning local stories.

The students chose to work on superstitions and ghost stories, and each student recorded their story on the second day of the workshop.  All of them will be added to our oral traditions collection as part of the ICH Inventory. Here are the first three!  I'll put out a notice when the rest are uploaded to the Inventory.

Amanda Brace, St Peter's Junior High - A ghost story from Victoria Street

Ashley Brace, St. Peter's Junior High - Phantom fires in St. John's

Emma Burry, Leary's Brook Jr. High - The Sunshine Park Killer - An Urban Legend

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Alone Fair Maid? The stories of Newfoundland tradition bearer Alice Lannon

This past summer, the Storytellers of Canada-Conteurs du Canada held their 18th annual conference in St. John's, Newfoundland. As part of that conference, we wanted to feature one aspect of our intangible cultural heritage by showcasing tradition bearer Alice Lannon.

Alice is one of Newfoundland's storytelling gems, telling traditional stories she learned orally, folk tales and legends which have been passed down in her family for generations. We recorded Alice's stories to be included in the ICH inventory we are building as part of Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative, which means you get to listen to her tales as well!

You can listen to Dr. Martin Lovelace's introduction to Alice here.

Or you can select one of Alice's stories:

Image by storyteller and visual artist Karen Gummo, who presented on storytelling and peace at the conference.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dale Jarvis on the Voices of the Past Podcast

According to its website, "The purpose of the Voices of the Past netcast, podcast and accompanying website is to help inspire the advancement of heritage values in our society using the new form of communication called social media."

Director Jeff Guin writes: "With Voices of the Past, you will find a new type of journalism using the heritage preservation community as its focus. It retains the news gathering techniques and production values of traditional media as familiarized by six o’clock television news programs across the country. But it also integrates social media tools to help viewers understand how to communicate heritage values in the new Web 2.0 world."

This week, your friendly neighbourhood folklorist, Dale Jarvis, is the featured guest on the podcast, talking about how he uses social media for intangible culture heritage work and for storytelling.

Read the transcript at:

or go directly to the MP3 at:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sharing Community Oral History Workshop – West St. Modeste, Labrador

On Thursday, 7 May 2009, a group of eleven women from communities along the Labrador Straits gathered at the Oceanview Resort in West St. Modeste to take part in a day-long workshop on sharing community oral history. The group included business owners, tourism operators, heritage volunteers and workers, oral history researchers and community development officers, all of whom shared an interest in preserving the oral traditions of the Labrador Straits.

The event was organized by SmartLabrador, an organization founded in 1997 to ensure effective utilization of information technologies (IT) in business, human resources and community economic development in Labrador. The goals of SmartLabrador include:

- Increased awareness of the benefits and potential of information technology;
- Equal access to the information highway, for all communities;
- Skilled population to meet the demands of the knowledge economy;
- Increased development of IT business opportunities and partnerships.

Facilitated by Dale Jarvis, Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the day started with a discussion of local community memories and the material being collected as part of the Smart Labrador oral history project. Part of the goal of the overall project is to return the stories to the community, and to develop programs that see the collected stories shared and performed by community members.

Participants talked about personal memories and the link between place and oral history. The group worked on a short individual mapping project, drawing personal maps of the communities of their childhoods, then guiding other participants through their map, eliciting stories and memories of those locations.

The afternoon saw the participants work with some of the primary research material collected by the SmartLabrador workers. It also utilized material collected along the Straits as part of earlier oral history projects, particularly those related to adult literacy projects, such as the publication “Crooked Top of a Safety Pin” published by Partners in Learning. Using a basic six-frame storyboard process, the participants took the historical source material and shaped it into stories that followed a more narrative, rather than purely descriptive or anecdotal, format.

The day concluded with a group discussion on next steps, returning to the issues raised at the beginning of the day. The group decided that they would hold a further organizational meeting by the end of the May, with the goal of holding a public oral history sharing event, or storytelling circle in June, possibly based on the community “Mug Up” model developed by the Labrador Institute. The “Mug Up” sees a theme or topic of discussion set, and then community members gather over a lunch to share traditional knowledge, stories and memories about that topic.

Stay tuned for more news on the project as it progresses!