Showing posts with label water. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water. Show all posts

Friday, May 30, 2014

Calling all iceberg experts - research help wanted!

Guest post by Alexa Kanbergs

Dr. Mark Carey of the Robert D. Clark Honors College in Eugene, Oregon has spent a great amount of time researching icebergs, specifically in the Northern Hemisphere and he now needs your help! In his most recent project he is trying to understand people's historical relations and interactions with icebergs. This could include: cultural importance of icebergs in songs, art, literature, etc.; traditional and/or local knowledge about icebergs; fishermen's interactions with icebergs.

In addition to cultural information, Dr. Carey is interested in learning more about major iceberg events; iceberg eradication; iceberg water harvesting; the International Ice Patrol; and other things related to icebergs over the last century or so.

He is hoping someone might be able to help identify any resources that might have information relating to these topics, specifically resources that are unique to your location and may not be available anywhere else. Also, if any one could suggest organizations or individuals that might be experts on the topics that would be incredibly helpful as well.

Please email information or suggestions to

For more information about Dr. Carey's work you can also visit his website:

Thank you for your help!

Photo: "Iceberg" by Brad Saunders (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Clean Your Well

Last summer I did a lot of work on wells and springs here in Newfoundland, and one question that I asking myself in the beginning was how people managed to clean their wells over the years. It's something that I had no previous knowledge about prior to beginning the project, and something that I found zero information about online. It seemed weird to me, because I thought I would find tons of resources and methods for cleaning wells, considering so many people use them*.

However, once I started asking people in my interviews how wells were cleaned, I heard the same method, or variations of it, time and time again. It seemed to me that although I couldn't find it online, it was a practice that had been long done across the province in a very similar fashion, and a tradition that was passed by word of mouth, through transmission, or through generations of learned behaviour.

I wanted to take what I learned and make it easily accessible to the public, so that in the future anyone needing to clean an old forgotten well would have a place to start, with an easy to follow step by step guide!

I first recommend getting the water tested, both before and after the cleaning. Water test kits can be picked up and dropped off at the Public Health Laboratory at the Dr. L.A. Miller Centre in St. John's, or the Service NL Centre in your area if you are outside the city. Specimens can't be older than 30 hours, so make sure you get these samples in ASAP. Once submitted, you will get both a phone call and mailed results, with a detailed explanation of what that means.

In order to clean your well you first need to drain it. Depending on the depth of your well and how quickly it fills, this can either be done by hand or with a pump. Once the water has been drained, you can begin cleaning. In the past, lime was used to scrub the sides, but a switch to Javex is more contemporary, and what is currently used today. Scrub the sides with a Javex and water solution thoroughly with a scrub or loofah, and then let the well fill back up with water.

Once the first scrub has been done and the well has filled, you need to drain and fill the well once or twice more. Many people suggested pouring a bottle of Javex into one of these refills - if you do decide to do that, then make sure you drain and fill the well at least once more to make sure that the bleach has worked its way out. Some well owners recommended running taps for a few hours afterwards as well, in order to both clear out the Javex as well as clean the pipes that lead into the house. Some also recommended dumping some Javex into the well at the end and leaving it in - but this is really up to you.

A second test is an important step, to make sure that the water is indeed cleaned and ready to drink, especially if the first test was questionable, or the well hasn't been cleaned or used in a while. Make sure to wait 48 hours after cleaning before you test, though!

It's a pretty straightforward process:

1. Test
2. Drain
3. Scrub
4. Rinse (and repeat as needed)
5. Test again!

If you use this guide to clean your well, or have a different method you would love to share, please feel free to contact me at, or by calling 1 (709) 739-1892 ext 5.

*After publishing this article, I was contacted by a couple people telling me that this process is called 'shock chlorination' or 'shocking a well' - a term that never came up in my interviews! However, once I knew the term I found some info on the internet, including a great guide found here. Thanks for the tips Andrea and Jane!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo - Fancy Water Feet

For the past couple of weeks Dale has been overseas attending workshops, telling stories, teaching, and eating some delicious looking foods, but still has managed to spot folklore treasures for me on the other side of the pond. Dale spotted this repurposed horse watering trough on the harbour in Stromness, Orkney, which now serves as a lamppost/ plant holder with fabulous feet! A close up of the hooves:

Watering troughs made specifically for horses are something you can find in Canada as well as overseas - in fact, there's one in Bowring Park that used to be on Water Street, which was featured as a folklore photo back in July. Having accessible public water was important for people and animals alike, especially considering horses would have been working hard downtown as transportation for both people and goods. Having a (separate, of course) place for workhorses to grab a drink was an important element to the downtown scene. This one, however, is especially great looking; tailor made with hooves to handsomely hydrate horses. I'm in love with this!

Have a water folklore photo to share? Please email me at - I would love to see it!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An interview with CBC Central!

Yesterday, I was contacted and interviewed by Leigh Anne Power from CBC Central on the wells and springs project I've been working on here at the Heritage Foundation. Have a listen!

Also, if you have any stories, wells and springs, photos, or memories you would like to share with us, please contact me - I would love to hear more from you!

Contact me here: or 1 (709) 739-1892 ext. 7

Friday, September 20, 2013

Water Sources Closer to Home

When the wells and springs project first began, I was getting contacted from all over the province, and planning amazing day trips to different communities to be shown sometimes upwards of 10 wells in a day, and chatting with multiple people. Over the last several weeks, I have started reaching out to contacts that are a little more local. Although I live in St. John’s, it has been a little more difficult to find wells, springs, and people to meet that remember a time when you didn’t just turn on a tap. But I’ve made some new friends, with some great stories to share from a little closer to home.

A few weeks ago I made a trek out to the MUN Botanical Gardens, and met with Christine, who showed me around their property. This area of the city has gone through multiple changes over the years, and has hidden within it several wells and springs. The wishing well, closest to the main building, used to service a house owned by Wilt Butler. It was used for water until the pipes were crushed and it became unusable, and after serving as a wishing well for a while it was eventually was covered over due to vandalism. Christine also showed me an open spring along a 200 year-old section of Oxen Pond road originally used for carts that has been integrated into the Botanical Gardens pathways. This spring was across the road from Albert Clarke’s cottage, and he and his wife accessed this spring with a bucket. There are two more wells belonging to cottages now gone on the property that are slightly more hidden from view, and so I plan on going back to the gardens soon to find them.

Last week, I made a short trip out to Portugal Cove St. Philips. I first met up with Michael Murray, who owns and operates Murray’s Gardening Centre on family land. He told me an amazing story about his ancestors, who were some of the first people to settle in the area, and showed me a spring that they found in a hillside and dug out to create a wellhouse. Michael told me he believes the well is from the early 1800’s, and was discovered by his family – and with the few landmarks in the vicinity named after the Murray family, it isn’t hard to believe. It has since been sealed up for safety reasons, and is no longer in use.

I also went to meet up with Edna and Edgar Spurrell in St. Philip’s. The house they live in is close to a century old, and has always been a part of Edgar’s family – he has lived there since he was born in the late 1930s. Edgar dug the well 40 years ago on his own, about 240 feet away from the house up the hill, and the well itself is about 6 feet deep, which feeds into the house via gravity. Up until last year they have never had a problem with the water, and both Edna and Edgar describe it as being both cold and clear. Unfortunately, some nearby construction seems to have affected the water table that feeds their well, and they have been relying on rainwater and water supplies from Edna’s sister since May. Hopefully the city can provide them with some help, and Edna has promised to keep me updated as to what is going on with them.

Just this past Wednesday I went up to Shea Heights to meet with a wonderfully cheery woman named Shirley Holden. Shirley had a great well tradition to share with me that I had not heard about yet – taking special occasion photos around their well. She even shared a great family photo from 1961 with me, and even though I used it a few days ago for the Tuesday Folklore Photo, I have to share it again. Shirley told me how the well outside of Vicker’s general store was a popular place for Christmas ad Easter picture taking, because they would decorate the front window to fit the holiday, and it made the perfect backdrop for the pictures. You can read a little more about our meeting here.

Having more opportunities to do interviews and talk to people has been a great learning and growing experience. For me, it’s a way to understand research and history from a different perspective than I’m used to as an archaeologist; for the project, it’s a way to give meaning and life to the wells and springs we’ve visited; and for the men and women I’ve had the privilege to be able to speak with, it’s a way to make sure their memories and traditions are preserved for future generations to enjoy, remember, and continue.

If you have any stories to share about sharing wells, drinking from springs, or taking photos with wells as the centrepiece, please let us at the Heritage Foundation know! You can email me at, or call 739-1892 ext 7.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday Folklore Photo: Posing Pretty on a Well

So yes, technically it's Wednesday, but I had to slightly delay the folklore photo this week because of a really exciting meeting I had this morning. I went out to Shea Heights to meet Shirley Holden, who contacted the Folklore office about a tradition she remembers surrounding taking special occasion photos.

Shirley told me this morning that when she was growing up in Shea Heights wells represented a gathering place - kids would hang out on the well and meet up to decide where to play, and workmen would eat sitting on the general store well while waiting for a ride back to work. One really interesting tradition she told me about was taking photos on a well for a special occasion. The photo above is of Shirley (bottom) with her older sister Rita (top left) and her mother Anne (top right) sitting on their family well for a photo, which was taken around 1961.

Shirley remembers always gathering to take photos on the well for anything special: birthdays, Easter, or even Christmas, especially outside of the Vicker's general store window on their well out front of the property. "They put all the decorations and the lights and the little houses [in the window] and so that was your big background; everybody would go and sit on the Vicker's well and get their picture taken ... and it wasn't only us, it was a lot of people that went and sat on the well and got their pictures taken".

Later this week there will be a more detailed recap of some interesting people I have been lucky enough to meet the last couple weeks, including Shirley!

If you have any wells or springs stories to share, please contact me at either or 739-1892 ext. 7

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Archaeology and Wells

Archaeologists thrive on finding the refuse of the past. By uncovering the remnants of meals, household items, clothing and daily life, we can try and better understand the culture we are studying, which is done through document research, surveying, excavation, and analysis. For an archaeologist, the less disturbed a site is when we arrive to do an analysis, the better the information we can collect. Excavation is all about relationships: how the different artifacts relate to the site, and how they relate to each other. 

Water has always been an important resource, and any archaeological excavation will either find a place where water was found and collected nearby, or where a well was dug or a spring was used. As a historical archaeologist, I know several 16th and 17th century sites in Newfoundland had wells, or have documentation associated with them that comments on how clean and pure the local water was. Wells hold the opportunity to not only hide within them a rich collection of archaeological artifacts, but the majority also have these artifacts still layered in the order they were deposited, allowing the archaeologist to understand changes through time much more clearly.

Ferryland, Newfoundland has at least two wells associated with the site: one that dates to the late 17th century, and one that was uncovered a few field seasons ago. While only preliminary reports are available on the newest find, Dr. Barry Gaulton from the MUN Archaeology department, the lead archaeologist at Ferryland, was able to share details about the Ferryland well.

“It was stone lined, 25 feet deep, built upon a wooden curb (found at the base of the well), and dates to the late 17th century. An elderly man from the community (Wilfred Costello, now deceased) who told Jim [Tuck] in 1994 about the location of the well … Wilfred’s grandfather told him about the well when Wilfred was only a young boy. Even at this time (about 80 years ago) the well was no longer visible, and there was certainly no trace of it on the landscape in the 1990’s”.

Photo from the Colony of Avalon Foundation (website
Wilfred came to Jim Tuck, the then lead archaeologist on the site, with a story that he had been told by his grandfather of an abandoned well on the Downs; “how a young boy had accidentally [fallen] into this old abandoned well and drowned. The residents of Ferryland at the time (probably late 1800’s) retrieved the boy and filled in the well with large rocks so no one else would be hurt. The archaeological evidence certainly corroborates this story. The well was [rapidly] filled from top to bottom with rocks and some 19th century debris”.

The Ford’s well in Cupids, Newfoundland, was once a simple spring coming out of the rocks, but now is surrounded with a cement base and has a recycled stop sign fashioned as a cover. William Gilbert, the head archaeologist on the Cupids plantation, believed that the brewhouse of John Guy was in close proximity to it, and although past survey work did not reveal its location, it could still be hidden closer to the shore for future excavations to uncover. Future excavations could be dictated based on interpreting this spring as an important element of the early site layout.

There is also a wellhouse in behind the current Cupids archaeological dig, where the plantation house sits. It has been sealed for safety reasons, and has not been excavated yet, though Bill does hope he can get to it in the future. An untouched well is a great situation for refuse. For one, once a well has served its purpose and is no longer used, it is likely that a community will use it to get rid of garbage, and so many wells have layers of preserved refuse from past residents. Secondly, the layers are less disturbed than those on the surface, as the natural processes and human activity that affect surface artifacts do not affect the artifacts preserved in a well. Unfortunately, Bill has yet to find the time or the funding to schedule the well excavation, and so it remains untouched for the future.

Stories like how the location of the Ferryland well was found, or how interest was sparked in the Ford’s well in Cupids that lead archaeologists to a potential feature no longer visible on the ground surface really demonstrate how important and valuable oral histories can be as a contribution to archaeology. These passed on stories and legends show how both folklore and archaeology can work hand in hand to understand and preserve the past. It’s something that I love about archaeology; combining the past and the present together to gain a better understanding of the landscape, and incorporating the community and the local tradition into my analysis to find something not readily visible from the surface. Wells especially are a great resource, and one that can easily become hidden from the ground; sometimes these types of stories are the only way they can be found!

If you have any wells, springs or water memories that you would like to share, please reach out! You can email me at, or call me at 739-1892 ext. 7

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A day of water in Cupids, Newfoundland

Last week Dale, Claire, Nicole and myself travelled out to Cupids, Newfoundland to meet up with some friends and talk about water sources. We left Nicole for the morning at the Cupids Legacy Centre to teach her Pillow Top Workshop, and the rest of us met up with Peter Laracy, the General Manager of the Legacy Centre. He showed us around Cupids for the majority of the day, and we started our tour with his own well. His property has had a well on it since 1918, and the well went through several facelifts, first in 1965 and then in 1978. It is now expertly housed, and includes insulation and a pump for a year round water guarantee! Peter even invited me back at the end of the summer to help him clean his well - I can't wait!

We then went to meet Vernon 'Bucky' Whelan, and he had quite a few stories to share. Bucky first showed us an old spring that had been cemented in near his property. This spring has been around for as long as anyone in the community can remember, and in fact was once thought to have been a source of water for John Guy and a brewhouse in the seventeenth century. Bucky also showed us where a barrel well used to be on his property, and told us about a spring that filled near the back of his property and used to be used for horses. He also had some great memories to share, about how important water is, the cold and pure taste of springs, and carrying water with hoops in turns. It was a treat!

We next went to meet Christine Fowler, a relative of Peter, who had an amazing traditional, almost kitschy looking well house with some delicious well water hidden underneath. We've seen quite a few of these around Newfoundland as lawn art pieces, but this is the first well I've seen actually housed underneath one. I love the traditional, simple design to these wellhouses - these are what I think of when I think wells! We also went and saw her brother's well next door, which was one of the deepest I've seen so far (242 inches!) and more modern, with PVC lining and a metal pitched roof. Before leaving we got to pet his pony in the backyard - adorable.

We then went on a bit of a hike out into Greenland, where Peter knew of a long forgotten spring. Peter told us that there were once houses out in this area, but in the 1940's the last few households moved into where the modern town now is. This round well looks to be like a closed in spring, shallow and completely lined with rocks. It was great to see such a secluded spot for a well, and really made me think about how many more were hiding out in the Greenland woodlands.

On our way back to the Legacy Centre, Peter ran into his friend Ross Dawe, who had a great old car and three different water sources on his property, including two wells and one spring that he used in dry times. We also stopped and chatted with Lloyd Kane, who had an old well nestled behind a gorgeous honeysuckle tree that hadn't been used in decades. While the well was nothing spectacular, the tree hanging over it, nestled in a green backyard, really seemed almost magical.

Once back at the Legacy Centre, we said goodbye to Peter, grabbed Nicole, and went to the Cupids archaeological site to have a chat with William Gilbert, the lead archaeologist. He told us about an attempt at an archaeological dig near the spring we had been shown  earlier by Bucky, and that even though nothing was found, Bill still believes that the brewhouse that John Guy had in his colony was over there. He also showed us a well in the back of the Cupids plantation house that has yet to be excavated. There are busy up there on the dig in Cupids, so we were very thankful for the tour!

After a delicious lunch we headed out to see one final spring, out along the Bay Roberts heritage trail. This spring has been closed in with rocks, and is right off the trail path. While I probably wouldn't recommend drinking from it, it's a great spot for Fido to get a sip while out on the trails. As you can tell, it was a great spot with an incredible view.

We got to see a lot of wells, and talk to a lot of people - it really put a spring in my step!

I am still looking to hear from people about their wells, springs, and water memories: what does water mean to you, how have you sued it, and what do you remember about it? I would love to have a chat with you!

You can reach me at, or call 1 (709) 739-1892 ext. 7

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wells and Springs along the Southern Shore

On Wednesday I spent the day with Andrea along the Southern shore, meeting some interesting people and visiting and recording some excellent wells and springs. We had a really busy day planned, and started out meeting with Jim Foley, a local man who took me down to the shore and showed me a natural spring he had been using for years to drink from. The spring comes right out of the rocks, and is used predominantly in the summer and fall, as during the winter it gets covered with rocks and ice. He said occasionally some sea water will get into the spring, but there is such a consistent water flow that it never effects the taste or clarity of the water. He said that fishermen used to stop and use it years ago to drink from.

The cement enclosure around the spring was an addition added in recent years by Al Roche, who Jim was kind enough to introduce us to. Al told us that he tried to make it safer to get down there by adding rock steps as well, however the last couple years has seen some deterioration along the shore, and the steps have since let go. There used to be a “spring” sign to show visitors where they could get a cool drink, but has been taken down for safety reasons.

We then met up with Tony Dunn, who had a lot to both tell and show us. He first took us to his own well, which shares space with several other large wellhouses. He told us that at one time there were over 13 houses being served by these wells, which equaled up to 50 people! His well was one of the shallower ones we've seen so far, and he said that he's never seen it run low. There was over three feet of water on Wednesday, and it was also incredibly cold and fresh. He then took us to his brothers well, which was rock lined and protected by heavy plastic siding. Tony also has a hidden talent - he can find underground water with wire! He showed us how it worked, and let us try it ourselves. We both had success, and below you can see Andrea finding some water with wires!

Finally we went and spoke to Andrea's family, Andrew and Dot O'Brien. Over tea and banana bread they shared some great water and well memories with me, including carrying water to the house with hoops, a barrel well in their front yard, cleaning wells, and communal tin mugs left at a community water source for everyone to enjoy. Andrew then took me up to his well, which was by far the biggest one yet, and is shared between several homes in the neighbourhood. It was a great day out in the field!

We are still looking to hear any memories people have about wells, springs, water dowsing, and I would love to hear from you! You can contact me at 1 (709) 739-1892 ext 7, or email 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Carrying Water

I recently visited the Logger's Life Provincial Museum in Grand Falls-Windsor to work with their staff to develop public programming around pillow tops. While there I spotted this piece of folk art on display in the bunkhouse. This little, wooden, hand carved figure depicts a logger using a square shaped hoop to carry two pails of water. The hoop was used to balance the pails of water and keep them from hitting your legs and spilling. The hoops were made of wood, sometimes alder branches, and were either square or round. They were an invaluable tool for those who had to walk great distances for water.

This water carrier ties in well with another project being worked on here at the ICH Office, which is a study of traditional water supplies in St. John's and surrounding areas.  For the next few months, archaeologist Sarah Ingram will be talking to people about wells and springs to learn where the traditional water supplies where in the area and how they were used and maintained. Sarah will also be collecting stories about why particular water sources were valued over others. Finally, all these materials will be made available on Memorial University of Newfoundland's Digital Archive Initiative. Stay tuned for updates on that project and many others!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Folklore Photo - Ocean Pond Well

This week's folklore photo is courtesy of Jessica Cahill, who gave us a tour of her property in Ocean Pond last Friday. Jess contacted us via Facebook when she heard we were working on a wells and springs project, and had a great example of a hand dug well to show us. Jess had a lot of stories surrounding the property and the well that came from the previous owners, and was informed that it was dug by the grandfather of the last owner in the 1930's. When she first bought the property, there was a wellhouse covering it, but was too deteriorated to be left standing. The well is circular, hand dug and rock lined, and is incredibly well preserved despite its age. The well itself is just over 13 feet deep, and the water is clear enough to see all the way to the bottom.

Jess has a cover over the well right now in case nighttime explorers come across it without realizing it's there, but would like to eventually see if it could be used again. Jess said she would like to incorporate it into the cabin water lines when construction begins, as long as the well would still be intact. "We want to use it if we can, but if it would damage it then we'd rather just preserve it, because it's so fantastic" she told us. Until then, it's a gorgeous example of old hand dug wells from one of the original properties in Ocean Pond.

We here at the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage office will be drilling the community for water stories all summer, so if you have any memories, photos, stories or know of any old wells and springs, we would love to hear from you! Please contact me at the heritage office here.

- Sarah

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Folklore Photo - Bowring Park Horse Trough

This week's folklore photo is of the Bowring Park horse trough, sent to us courtesy of Gayna Rowe, Office Administrator with the Bowring Park Foundation. The horse trough once stood on Water Street, to service the working horses of the day. Over time, as the use of horses declined, the trough was used less and less, and eventually was moved to Bowring Park, where is today. Currently, the park has plans to revitalize the trough, and may convert it as a drinking fountain for thirsty dogs out for walks with their owners.

We here at the Heritage Foundation's Intangible Cultural Heritage office are thirsty for memories, photos, stories and locations of old wells and springs. If you have a memory of a spring or well, let our researcher Sarah Ingram know.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wells and Springs in Eastern Newfoundland

Lion's Head Spout from The Battery, 1975

Last month’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador mentioned that the job search for a new project on traditional wells, springs and water sources had begun. Well, the hunt is over, and I will be the researcher for this very interesting project over the next few months!

My name is Sarah Ingram, and I am an archaeologist by trade, just finishing up my graduate degree in Historical Archaeology at Memorial University. Although I have focused my career on archaeology I have always had a passion for folklore, local traditions, and how the past influences and effects the present. Traditional water sources are one of these things that can carry into the present, and are surrounded with lots of stories of where they were, which ones were better for making tea, and how throwing trout down into the well would help to keep them clean. In fact, old stories of a well in Ferryland, Newfoundland, where I did my graduate research, helped the archaeologists’ years ago find the lost well on the site!

This project has a couple of goals. The first is to gain a better knowledge base of the water resources that we have around here, some of which may not have been in use for years, and many of which are not publically known about. The second is to learn about the use and management of these local water sources, how they both were used and still are used, and how people in the community care for, clean, and maintain their water. The third, and the most easily lost aspect of knowledge we want to uncover surrounding water resources, are what people value about the wells and springs they remember and used, and what the community feels their significance was and is. We hope that this information can help to inform governmental projects, folkloric research, and community use of these traditional places!

I’ve been in the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador offices for a week now, beginning some preliminary reading, Internet scouting, and making myself as familiar as possible with any stories, traditions, or uses for wells and springs that I can find. Already I have come across some really great stories and images initially collected by Dale Jarvis from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and Philip Hiscock from Memorial University.

Soon I will be contacting some people who have already expressed interest in sharing their stories with Dale and Philip, and hopefully learn much more than what is already recorded. Once I have gathered enough preliminary information, have spoken to some people about what they remember, and have some places in mind, I can get out in the field, look at these water sources, and hopefully get my hands dirty while recording them!

If you have any memories about using wells and springs, or know where there are some out in the community, I would love to have a chat with you! You can contact me at or give me a call at 739-1892 ext 7.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Job Posting: Traditional Water Sources Survey Fieldworker

Traditional Water Sources Survey Fieldworker

Memorial’s Department of Folklore and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador are hiring a researcher to work on their “Traditional Knowledge of Springs and Wells in the St. John's Area” project. The project is designed to map locational information and to collect oral histories about wells, springs and natural water sources within the St. John's Area. It will research the location and associated knowledge of springs, wells, water diviners, spouts, wishing wells, rag wells, traditional knowledge about water purity and cleanliness, techniques to prevent fouling of water sources, and traditional values around drinking water. This research will focus on three main concepts related to water sources and traditional management of those resources: geospatial knowledge about the resource; knowledge about use and management of the resources; and local values about those resources.

The applicant must have excellent oral and written communication skills; be curious, outgoing and willing to talk to property owners and local informants; have experience in conducting folklore or oral history interviews; and have training (preferably at the graduate level) in Folklore, Archaeology, Cultural Geography, History or another related field. Valid driver’s licence and use of automobile, and previous experience with a heritage organization is an asset. Someone willing to get wet and dirty is a bonus!

Work will be based out of the offices of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, and will begin as soon as possible after the closing date for applications, running approximately through July to October 2013.

Please send cv and cover letter to:

Philip Hiscock, Department of Folklore
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St John’s NL A1B 3X8

or by email to

Applications should be submitted before Friday 21 June 2013.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Old well on Mount Scio Road

This morning, Philip Hiscock with the Department of Folklore (left) and I met up with Sister Mary Tee (right), the Coordinator of the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice on Mount Scio Road. The centre is on land that once belonged to the Macdonald family. The property is home to an old well that they are interested in possibly restoring and using as part of their garden projects.

Over the next few months, Philip and I will be doing research around wells and springs in the St. John's area, and I would be particularly interested in tracking down people with knowledge about how wells were maintained, cleaned, restored, and used in the past. If you know anyone who has familiarity with wells, drop me an email at or call me at 1-888-739-1892 ext 2.

- Dale