Monday, August 29, 2016

The Mews Centre Volunteers: Kat de Metz

Kat de Metz volunteering with one of the horses
Originally from Newfoundland, Kat de Metz is an animal lover who grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She credits her family for instilling in her the desire to care for creatures big and small.

“I think I was born into it. My grandmother Metz and Uncle Ed homesteaded in Alberta, where she was in charge of the two big draft horses. I look like her and I’m petite and strong also. I’ve never had a fear of animals, only respect.”

Kat told us all about her experiences caring for animals in B.C. She has rehabilitated family pets, livestock, and wild animals alike. Her wards have included everything from cats and dogs to horses, toads, and birds of all kinds. She told us what it was like to work with raccoons:

“They’ve got little, almost human-like hands with little opposable thumbs, and they are quite grabby! They’re very intelligent, and we had double locked entrances, because if they saw how you got in they would know how to get in and get out - they’re very smart! They would remember it and go ‘Ah, I can do that!’ Little hands, you know…”

Kat is presently working on a related novel, The Dragon of Tessier Place. It’s a story about Peter Easton, a certain dragon, and modern day domestic violence.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Commemorating Carbonear's German History

I was in Carbonear today for the unveiling of a new plaque marking the history of German settlement and industry in the town. Early in the 1950s, nine craftspeople arrived in Carbonear as part of a plan to stimulate industrial growth in rural Newfoundland. Those nine would be followed by families and workers, who opened three leather-related businesses in Carbonear. While the businesses were short-lived, they had a great impact on the town and on its people. Many of the Germans left, but some married, and stayed, and the names Reiss, Reichel, Shaefer, and Stoeterau can still be found here to this day.  The plaque unveiled today commemorates that history and their contribution to Newfoundland. Congratulations to the Carbonear Heritage Society and especially to Ron Howell for their fine work. 



Lassy Wall, Crackie Road, and the Unmarked Graves – Stories from Spaniard’s Bay

Workshop participants.
On Wednesday August 24, 2016 Dale and I drove out to Spaniard’s Bay for a short #NLHeritage roadtrip for a People Places and Traditions workshop. The local heritage society invited us out to do a workshop with the community and engage local people with their heritage.
Discussing what to put on the cards for people, places, and traditions.
The People, Places, and Traditions is the first step for communities who want to map out what heritage means to local people. It is a way to get people thinking about the resources in the area. All the people who make the best toutons, build boats, farm strawberries, tell great stories, or have knowledge particular to the area. It makes people think about the places where they swim, berry pick, trout, and about the old names for neighbourhoods and trails, community gathering places, and historic buildings. People remember traditions around bonfire night, Santa Claus parades, hauling wood, mummering, fairies, and local festivals and events.
Brandon and Dale discussing the location of a local sliding hill.
Several great stories came out of last night’s discussion of community heritage including the story of the Lassy Wall. The Lassy Wall below the Holy Redeemer Church was built in 1830 as a retaining wall to shore up the hill from the main road. The people who built the wall were paid in molasses so the wall became known as the Lassy Wall.
The Lassy Wall in Spaniard's Bay.  Photo by Cathy Kleinwort, 2005.  Courtesy of the Town of Spaniard's Bay.
Another story about a place name was about Anthony’s Road which is locally known as Crackie Road. There were two stories about where the name came from. Several of the older community members said the road was called Crackie Road because the people that lived there were “saucy as crackies” while a younger summer student with the heritage society who lived on the street was told it was just because there were a lot of crackies or small saucy dogs on the street.
Plotting the cards on the map.
One story which was not well known in the community was about the unmarked graves on a marshy island in Shearstown Pond. The story that was told was of a family who died of a contagious disease and the people of the community were so worried about catching the disease that they buried the family on the island rather than in the community’s cemetery.
People, places. and traditions.
There were a number of important local characters mentioned such E.H. Vokey who was a teacher, local historian, writer, and photographer. Another woman put down her grandfather who would always bake molasses raisin bread just for her (without the raisins) and would be sure to heat up rocks to send her to bed with at night!
Reviewing the story about the Spaniard's Bay Riot in 1932.
Did you grown up in Spaniard’s Bay? If you have memories of other people, places, and traditions in the area let us know in the comments!
Traditions practiced at the Loyal Orange Lodge.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Skeets, b'ys, and other bits of Newfoundland folklore, with Philip Hiscock. #podcast

Philip Hiscock has been studying Newfoundland and Labrador language and folklore for four decades. These days, he teaches Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and is the coordinator of the MA and PhD programmes in that department. We discuss Philip’s interest in dialectology, folklore, radio, and popular culture, Newfoundland folklore and language including the terms skeet and b’y, Newfoundland language and YouTube, children’s folklore, and digital folklore.

Recorded 23 June 2016

Download the mp3

Photo of Philip Hiscock by David Press.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Harbour Grace, circa 1949-1951.

We have a gem of a historic photograph for Tuesday's Folklore Photo this week!

The Heritage Foundation of NL has been working with a committee in Harbour Grace to find a new life for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (read about that here) and it has unearthed this great photo of the building, taken sometime between 1949 and 1951.

The photo comes from Bill Brooks, and was taken by his father, William Brooks (who was at the time a Captain in the US Air Force). I asked Bill what his father had been doing in Harbour Grace, and this is his response:
I’m guessing that he played some role in decommissioning the signal intelligence facility that was located at Harbour Grace – perhaps for reinstallation at Ft McAndrews, but it’s pure speculation. He was stationed at Ft McAndrew AFB in Argentia from 1949 through 1951 (where I was born). He was a Signal Officer. From his orders: “Commanding Officer of Signal Company Aviation responsible for training, administration, supply, personnel.” Responsibilities included “supervising installation, maintenance, operation of telephone, telegraph, and radio equipment.” I don’t think he was in Harbour Grace on vacation – not to dismiss it as a cold war period USAF personnel vacation destination, but his service record shows he had 58 days of unused vacation when he concluded service in Newfoundland, so he probably wasn’t taking much time off.
If you have any old photos of the Cathedral (or a memory of Captain William Brooks) email me at

Read more about the Cathedral itself here

Monday, August 22, 2016

Collective Memories Roadtrip to Humber Valley - People, Places and Traditions

Discussing people, places, and traditions.
On Wednesday Dale and I headed back to Reidville, the community where we interviewed Clifford Reid, in order to do a second People, Places, and Traditions workshop. We ended up with a smaller crowd due to the size of the town.  This meant that the sixteen of us were able to sit around one big table and have a discussion about some of the town’s history and stories.
Writing on their index cards.
After discussing the people, places, and traditions in the community we handed out index cards for everyone to fill out. Everyone took a couple of cards and wrote out someone, some place, or some tradition which is important to the community. We then mapped the cards on the large map of the community.
The story of Dead Man's Woods.
What was great about this workshop was that the size of the group and the close-knit community meant it turned into a story telling session with people taking turns telling stories from their childhood. Russ Reid told many stories about Mr. Oxford and himself growing up and the trouble they would get into.  The stories ranged from antagonizing the bull in his pen to sneaking up to the lumber camps, there were stories about a child who fell into a well and survived, a woman who gave birth in a canoe on her way to Deer Lake, and almost everyone had a story about stealing apples or fruit from their neighbours’ yards.
Adding stories and memories to the map.
Impromptu story telling around the Reidville map.
Reidville is located on a river and the islands of the river were named as well as the beaches which served as swimming holes or trouting spots. One of the islands, named Grandmother’s Island, was where Mr. Oxford would collect the long grass which would be used in their psalm Sunday services in the school which doubled as a church.
Discussing the future of heritage in the Humber Valley region.
After the session in Reidville Dale and I headed to Deer Lake where we had quick supper, and a poke around the community and two of the local cemeteries before heading to the Grand Lake Centre of Economic Development for a meeting with the Humber Valley Heritage society. We met with four members of the heritage society to talk about the future of heritage in Humber Valley. These women were the people who invited us out to lead the workshops and do some interviews and they are interested in how they can use the information collected at workshops like these. The heritage society is interested in holding similar events around the Humber Valley region in order to work together to promote the heritage of the region. The first thing they plan to do is take the information located on the physical maps and store it digitally. The committee is very interested in using Google My Maps to make this material accessible to and also editable by community members. They want to create a map of the region in order to showcase the agricultural heritage of the region and increase the tourism to all the communities.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Look at Heritage Foundation NL Programs with Andrea O’Brien. #podcast

Andrea O’Brien is the municipal outreach officer and provincial registrar for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. She comes from a background in folklore, history and Newfoundland Studies. She has been involved in the province’s heritage sector, both academically and professionally, for 20 years. We discuss how Andrea got her start in folklore and heritage, provincial and municipal heritage designations, interesting municipal designations, Andrea’s favourite designation, cultural landscapes, graveyards, fisheries heritage preservation program, and the links between tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Download the MP3

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Workshops and Interviews on the West Coast

Sandra Wheeler, Crystal Braye, Terra Barrett, and Dale Jarvis.
Dale and I are out on the west coast of the province as part of the Collective Memories Project. Tuesday afternoon after a breakfast with folklorists Crystal Braye and Sandra Wheeler we headed to Reidville in the Humber Valley. We met with another folklorist Amanda-Marie Hillyard who is from the community and set up an interview with Clifford Reid, a local history buff and a descendant of the original Reid’s of Reidville. Following the interview Clifford took us on a tour of the town pointing out how the land was originally parceled out, the location of the old tram system, and where people would the leave the community to paddle their canoes to Deer Lake.
Dale Jarvis and Clifford Reid.
Clifford described how the community was settled by his grandfather and his uncles in the 1930s following one uncle’s move to Junction’s Brook across the river from the land that became Reidville. Clifford’s uncles and his grandfather moved to the area in order to work as loggers and farmers. The main work in the area was at the lumber camps feeding logs into the river system bound for the mill in Corner Brook. Clifford described the 20 mile tramway system which ran from Reidville to the lumber camps near Adie’s Lake (locally spelled Aides and pronounced Eddys) where the Humber River starts. This tramway was built by Bowater in order to bring supplies to the logging camps.
Adies Lake Tramway about 1940. Courtesy of Bowater's Wood Department.
Clifford also added his own memories of growing up in the community such as the best spots for swimming and trouting, going to school in the small community, and riding the horses that ran wild in the community in the summers. He also mentioned that with no church or graveyard no one died the community! Listen to the clip below to hear a story Clifford told about some mystery snoring heard by his uncle and friends at a woods camp in the winter.

In the evening we headed to Pasadena for a People, Places, and Traditions workshop where there were over 30 people in attendance. We had the group separate into smaller groups and cluster around three tables. One focused on people, one on places, and one on traditions. Each group wrote their thoughts and memories on index cards which they then placed on large maps of the community. They connected their index cards with a ribbon to the location where the people discussed live/lived, the important places in the community, and where traditions took place.
Dale telling a story.
There were business owners, principles, farmers, crafters, heritage society members, and active church members were placed on the map while parks, community centres, and the concrete rock were mapped out. The concrete bottom is where locals would go swimming and it got its name for a rock on the bottom of the pond which is flat almost like poured concrete. There were traditions such as heading to the dump to watch the bears play, trapping rabbits, and taking part in festivals such as the winter carnival, the strawberry festival, and the Santa Claus parade.
Mapping memories.
Reviewing the maps.
After the mapping a couple of community members shared stories and memories stirred up by the session and one gentleman told of how his mother and him were planting potatoes in the field where the community centre now lies and she gave him her wedding ring to wear while she planted. He put the ring on, watered the potatoes and when they finished planting the garden went for a swim at concrete rock. He came home after swimming only to find he had lost the ring. His mother told him to tell all the boys who went trouting if they came across a ring in the belly of a fish it was her wedding band. Unfortunately to this day the ring is still missing. If you ever come across a ring while trouting in the area be sure to call the local heritage society to ask about this story!
The story of the ring and the trout.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

People, Places, and Traditions Tea

Dale and I are out on the West Coast this week doing some interviews, workshops, and meetings in Corner Brook, Pasadena, Reidville, and Deer Lake.  We are hosting a couple of People, Places and Traditions Workshops and invite everyone in the area to come out and talk about your community.

Tonight we will be in Pasadena from 6:30-9:30pm at Pasadena Hall and tomorrow afternoon we will be in Reidville in the Community Hall from 1:30-4:30pm. Drop by, have a cup of tea, and share some memories of your community!