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.)
Yesterday evening Tolson Rendell of Heart's Content invited me to observe him shearing one of his sheep. It is a tradition that only two people in the town still practice, the other being his good friend Jack Smith. Tolson will be putting his animals out to pasture for the summer this coming weekend, so has lots of work to do before then. It usually takes him just over 2 hours to fully shear a sheep, and he uses scissors rather than electric shears because he believes them to be safer for the animal. He takes his time and makes sure to do a thorough job. Tolson clearly loves his animals and exclaimed "Isn't nature wonderful!" more than once during my visit. There were many newborns animals around the yard, and I couldn't help but notice how happy Tolson was to see them running around. This photo shows the mother sheep named Black being watched by her new lamb, who wasn't very patient about waiting for this whole shearing thing to be done.
It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's treasures, Mrs Alice Lannon. Alice passed away this morning at the Palliative Care Unit of the Miller Centre here in St. John's.
Pat, Alice's daughter, emailed me today with the news. Pat writes, "She had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall. In the past few months all the medical people who have treated her were exposed to a few stories along the way. A week ago today she was admitted to the Miller Centre with her health deteriorating rapidly. She amazed everyone on Friday and Saturday and was obviously delighted to tell stories to everyone."
Alice was one of the last great tellers of traditional Newfoundland fairytales in the province, who learned many of her stories orally from her grandmother. In 2010, when Newfoundland hosted the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada national conference, Alice was one of the gems of storytelling we chose to highlight. She was a regular performer at the St. John's Storytelling Festival, and someone we all loved. We were fortunate enough to have recorded her session at the SC-CC conference, and the stories she told that day are part of the permanent collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative.
To better understand her important place in the oral traditions of the province, listen to her introduction by the Department of Folklore's Dr. Martin Lovelace.
Or, better yet, stop what you are doing for the next 17 minutes, and listen to Alice tell one of my favourite Newfoundland folktales, "Open, Open, Green House."
We've lost a treasure today. I'll miss you Alice, very much.
Alice will be waked on Fri. Sat. and Sun. at Maher's Funeral Home in Placentia with her funeral on Monday morning @ 11:00 am from the Our Lady of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Placentia.