Thursday, March 10, 2022

Municipal Designation of Cemeteries - a How-To session with Heritage NL


Thursday, March 24, 2022
2:00 PM

Cemeteries throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are generally revered as special, sacred places. They occupy both emotional and physical space in our communities. Cemeteries are also expressions of our spiritual beliefs and cultural values, as well as rich repositories of genealogical and community history. 

Under the Municipalities Act, incorporated Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities can create Heritage Advisory Committees and designate locally important heritage buildings, structures and lands. In this free webinar, Heritage NL outreach officer Andrea O’Brien will walk you through the steps of how municipalities can designate cemeteries that fall within their town limits, and will explain what that means in terms of the protection of cemeteries as a historic resource. 

Register at:

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Heritage NL celebrates Outport Girls and Women in Domestic Service as Exceptional People from the Past.

Unknown woman and Monica Rice Rossiter, Nunnery Hill, St. John's, circa 1930s.

The newest addition to our Provincial Historic Commemorations Program (PHCP) honours Outport Girls and Women in Domestic Service as Exceptional People from the Past. 

The PHCP (administered by Heritage NL) commemorates provincially significant aspects of our history and culture. It is unique in that it also recognizes intangible aspects of our culture and heritage – the customs, cultural practices, traditional skills and knowledge that define our province and our people.

Joan Ritcey, chair of the Commemorations selection committee, says, "the Provincial Historic Commemorations Program is an important element for the recognition and appreciation of our past. By recognizing our cultural traditions and history we honour our heritage and pass it on to future generations."

Since the Program's inception in 2010, 38 designations have been made, including the designation being recognized on March 8th:  Outport Girls and Women in Domestic Service (Exceptional People from the Past).

The economic history of Newfoundland and Labrador is dominated by prominent merchants, politicians and businessmen. But merchant and fishing households alike could not have operated without the help of “the girl”: that is, the domestic servant. These girls and young women, usually from rural outports, represented the largest sector of waged women’s work from the late 19th century right up to Confederation. Their often invisible labour was essential to the operation of households of all classes. The migratory workforce of outport women in this province was a key part of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy up until the 1950s, and an important part of its social history. 

Follow this link to the official Commemoration listing

Heritage NL is a provincial crown agency with a mandate to stimulate an understanding of and an appreciation for the architectural heritage and intangible cultural heritage of the province. For more information visit

For Further Information Contact:

Andrea O’Brien                                                                                                                                     
1-888-739-1892 ext 4 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

If you've ever wanted to learn how to make traditional barrels, this is your big opportunity!

Constructing an oak wine barrel at French cooperage


are being sought for a

Seasonal - Continuing Employment Opportunity with

Trinity Historical Society Inc.


for up to sixteen weeks (potentially longer) at 35 hrs/wk.

Trinity Historical Society is seeking expressions of interest from individuals who are interested in becoming the Cooper/Museum Supervisor at our Cooperage in Trinity.

Trinity Historical Society will provide orientation and training to the position in Trinity and potentially out of province (possibility of Ross Farms, Nova Scotia).

You will be expected to sign a contract of seasonal employment with the Society for a minimum of three years; provide demonstrations in barrel making and making a barrel and other products made of wood at the historic site for sale for the Historical Society; provide interpretation on the trade and history of the Cooperage to visitors; supervise one or two students during the summer and oversee the day-to-day operations of the historic site.

Education, Experience and Training:

You are a mature individual with graduation from high school and some carpentry and/or woodworking experience; you have excellent communication skills and are comfortable in communicating with individuals and groups; you are highly organized, self motivated and creative and possess a knowledge of and interest in the history of Trinity and area, of Newfoundland and Labrador and of coopering (wood work); you must be pleasant and outgoing, capable of working on your own as well as with others and have some prior experience in dealing with the public.

A valid driver’s license, use of a private motor vehicle and First Aid would also be an asset but not necessary. Any prior experience with general or heritage carpentry will be considered an asset but not necessary for application. Should you have any wood working experience the provision of some pictures of our work would be appreciated with your submission.

Salary and Benefits:

Starting salary to be determined based on work experience and negotiable. Benefits include vacation allowance to 4% of bi-weekly pay, Workplace, NL premium and payment of the employer’s share of Mandatory Employment Related Costs for Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance Premiums.

Additional information or any questions please contact us 464-3599 or e-mail:

Applications will be screened and successful applicants will be interviewed prior to selection. Please mail or e-mail your cover letter, resume and references to:

Trinity Historical Society Inc.

P.O. Box 8 Trinity, NL A0C 2S0

Fax: (709) 464-3599 e-mail:

Deadline: 4 PM Friday, March 18, 2022


Monday, March 7, 2022

Intangible Cultural Heritage - the Laurentic Forum on Sustainable Tourism Webinar, March 15th.

Intangible cultural heritage refers to the traditions or expressions we practise inherited from our ancestors and passed onto our descendants, such as ceremonies and oral traditions. In other words, it is a living form of heritage that is continuously recreated by communities as part of their cultural identity. From storytelling to dancing, traditional crafts to how we live our lives there are many elements of our culture that are of interest to visitors to our regions. By presenting them to the visitor we not only provide opportunities to make a living from tourism but in sharing it, we may be able to preserve it.  

Keynote by folklorist Dale Jarvis, Executive Director of Heritage NL, with presentations from: the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador; Lofotr Vikingmuseum; and Hasselberg Husky dog tours.

To register for this free webinar, go to:

Friday, March 4, 2022

Living Heritage Podcast Ep215 Dress Making, Millinery and More with Ellen Reid

Phyllis Reid, and Irene Reid. Photo features embroidery by Phyllis, and hats by Irene.
Image courtesy of Ellen Reid.

In this episode we talk about Ellen’s grandmother Irene Reid along with several other family members' experience with millinery, dress making, knitting, embroidery, and other textile work. We also touch on Ellen's experience with the wool stall at the Anglican Cathedral, and some of the work of the St. John's Guild of Embroiderers.

Ellen Reid has been contributing to the local arts scene for over 30 years. A poet, playwright, visual artist, a blogger and an arts patroness! She is a grateful and frequent contributor to the Cosmic Show! She has been an early childhood educator for 20 years.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Heritage Properties, Exceptional Women, Ice Cutting, and more! The March 2022 Heritage Update

In the March 2022 Heritage Update: Heritage NL designates four properties as Registered Heritage Structures; Outport Girls and Women in Domestic Service to be recognized as Exceptional People from the Past; the hunt for a mill basket maker; Ice Cutting and Salmon Fishing; and the New Perlican Scanning and Technology Party!

Download the pdf 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Living Heritage Podcast Ep214 Repair and Restoration with Rex Passion


Participants of wooden window workshop led by Rex Passion. 
Rex is the fourth person from the right standing up. 
Photo by Harnum Photography.
In this episode of the Living Heritage Podcast we talk with Rex Passion about historic restorations and repairs. Rex describes his background, what brought him to Newfoundland, his work on Kent Cottage, and leading workshops and demonstrations to teach traditional skills. Rex apprenticed as a cabinetmaker and carpenter in California and Boston in the 1970s. In 2006 he sold his construction company and architecture firm, Classic Restorations, and subsequently moved to Torbay. His vocation of restoring old houses became his avocation, heritage preservation. He currently sits on the Landfall Trust Board of Directors, and recently taught a wooden window repair and restoration workshop with Heritage NL.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Ice Cutting and Salmon Fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador

In the twentieth century, the salmon fishing industry was intertwined with many other industries. It was common practice for fishermen to cut blocks of ice from frozen ponds in the winter using various types of saws (Figure 1) and store them in sawdust to later use in transporting their freshly caught salmon to merchants when the fishing season opened. Sawdust was an abundant byproduct from sawmills and acted as an insulating layer for ice which prolonged the use of ice well beyond the cold winter months. This made ice cut from ponds in the winter accessible in May and June when the salmon fishery opened.

Figure 1: Image reads: a "double bit" axe is referred to an axe with two blades, the handle was usually short. My father had one in his household when he was a boy. Often people would have one side sharp for cutting wood, and a dull side for cutting ice in the winter when they would take a load of wood from the woods and carry it home over. Image courtesy of Memorial University Digital Archives Initiative.

Once the ponds froze over, ice would be cut into large 18-20 inch square blocks using a pit saw and hauled by horse and sleigh to ice houses and sawmills to be unloaded into piles of sawdust (Figure 2, Figure 3). In Harbour Breton, ice from Beaver Pond was being cut out at nearly 20 dory loads per ice house. These ice houses were filled with sawdust and protected from sun exposure to ensure the preservation of ice for several months.

Figure 2: Ice cutting in Cape Broyle on Beaver Pond circa 1950s. Image courtesy of Andrea O’Brien taken from Mr. Ronald O’Brien’s collection.

Figure 3: Ice cutting in Gaultois, Newfoundland circa 1887 (Wells 2014).

In Whiteway, a community in Trinity Bay, several families such as the Burgess’, George’s, Legge’s, and Jackson’s, were operating sawmills while also salmon fishing in the summer and ice cutting in the winter.

Albert Legge has many memories of his family’s sawmill and their salmon fishing. Albert recalls an ice house located in New Harbour operated by a fish merchant named Ernest Woodman. Woodman, likely with the help of his sons, would also cut ice in the winter time and store it at his ice house until local fishermen had fish to sell which was then packed in ice and sent to markets. Likewise, Clifford George remembers an ice house in New Harbour that was built of boards into a large square area filled with sawdust where ice blocks were buried.

Legge remembers that in the 1950s there was an ice house owned by his family located on a pile of sawdust from their mill. The Legge’s did not cut ice themselves, instead they filled their ice house with ice from Woodman’s ice house in New Harbour. The ice from Woodman was delivered to their ice house by truck rather than horse. The ice was stored in the house in piles of sawdust (Figure 4) until May when the salmon fishery opened. Albert remembers that salmon were caught on a berth along the shore at a point called Salmon Point, which was the perfect spot to place a salmon trap. After catching their salmon, the fish would be cleaned and packed into wooden boxes filled with broken ice blocks before being shipped to New Harbour where it was then sent off to market.

Figure 4: Image reads: … they cut it and _ in _ in square blocks about two feet by two feet. They had ice-grips and they would stick the grips into the ice and _ and bring it through the ice house an' put sawdust on it. … They would have a rope over their shoulders an' they would haul it over the ice to the ice house which was near the pond.Ice house was made of wood; it was usually....just thick wood, an' sometimes not - just clapboard, not _ not even thick woods. .... Oh it was probably about forty feet long and about thirty feet wide an' as high as _ 'bout thirty feet high. .... It was in the open _ an open place right at the foot of the pond. Image courtesy of Memorial University Digital Archives Initiative.

Members of the Burgess family also have many memories of the family sawmill constructed in 1916, and their involvement with the salmon fishery. Robert Burgess recalls that his family would cut ice from Jimmy Rowe’s pond and then bury it in piles of sawdust at their sawmill. The Burgess’ sawmill is still intact on the property and the saws used to cut ice remain there. Robert recalled that:

Once the ponds froze over, the horse and sled would be driven across the pond in the morning, logs would be hauled out before lunch time, lunch was eaten and our uncles would change out the sweat-filled clothes, then head back across the pond to bring out more wood. This continued until the pond ice broke up in the spring.

When salmon was caught in the bay months later, the ice blocks would be dug up and used to transport salmon to keep it fresh. The family also manufactured the boxes that they were shipping the iced salmon in. There are many memories of the family catching and selling salmon. In 1912, a letter from Great Aunt Nellie to Henry Burgess, Bob’s great-grandfather, sent in advance of her travels back home to Whiteway from the United States: “I hope you will get a salmon after I get home. I suppose you got all the potatoes in the ground by this time. I am so glad that Rich is going to stay at home this summer” (Figure 5). The Burgess family also used the ice they cut and preserved in sawdust to transport freshly caught salmon to merchant families such as the Harnum’s in Hearts Delight, Cramm’s in Green’s Harbour and the Moores in Carbonear, and many others (Figure 6,7).

Figure 5: Part of Great Aunt Nellie’s handwritten letter to Henry Burgess in June 1912. June was the prime month to catch salmon. Image courtesy of Robert Burgess.

Figure 6,7: Receipts of salmon transactions between Richard Burgess, Robert’s grandfather, and Hedley Harnum, a merchant in Hearts Delight have been saved, recording that in June 1933, Harnum had purchased salmon from Burgess. Image courtesy of Robert Burgess.

Ice cutting also had domestic purposes. In Central Newfoundland, Corduroy Ponds was an excellent location to cut ice in the winter. Leonard Young, a Mi’kmaq man who grew up near the ponds, kept a dog team and horses in the late 1930s and 1940s (Figure 8). Young would cut timber in the area and his horse would haul sleighs full of wood to the sawmill Young operated on his property. In the winter, Young cut ice blocks from the pond and his horse hauled them back to the sawmill where they were stored in sawdust. Ice blocks were stored here until the summer where they were dug out of the sawdust and delivered to customers in Grand Falls Windsor. Young supplied ice blocks to households as some families in town were still using ice chests.

Figure 8: Leonard Young with his horse, unknown date. Image courtesy of Corey Sharpe.

Special thanks to Andrea O’Brien, Robert Burgess, Clifford George, Albert Legge, Corey Sharpe, and Doug Wells for providing us with many memories, details, and photographs about ice cutting and salmon fishing in Newfoundland.


Barras, Maryssa., and Dale Gilbert Jarvis
2021 Burgess Property, Whiteway, NL: Site and Building Survey. Heritage NL Fieldnotes Series, 015, February 2021.

The ICH Blog 
2021 What Did You Do with Sawdust in Whiteway?

Wells, Doug
2014 Putting Up Ice: Beaver Pond: A Municipal Heritage SIte in Harbour Breton. Intangible Cultural Heritage Update, Number 053 August-November 2014.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Living Heritage Podcast Ep213 Millinery with Mad Hatter Sara Anne Meyer

Sara Anne Meyer modelling a tricorn fascinator she created.  

In this episode of the Living Heritage Podcast we talk with Sara Anne Meyer about all things millinery! This includes the history of millinery, her interest and background with the craft, and some of the hats and fascinators she has created over the years.

Sara Anne Meyer is a multi-faceted performer, costumer, maker and poet born and raised in the St. John's arts community. She is an avid observer of intangible history and a folklore enthusiast. But above all things, she is mad as a hatter.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.