Friday, July 22, 2016

Collective Memories Roadtrip: Bonavista Peninsula Part One

Pei and Michael measuring and drawing the inside of the Salvation Army Citadel.
Last week from July 12th to the 15th Built Heritage Officer Michael Philpott, Heritage Intern Pei Xing Li, and myself, Terra Barrett travelled to the Bonavista Peninsula for a #NLHeritage Roadtrip. The main goals for this work road trip were to measure, and draw the Salvation Army Citadel in Elliston and the spar in Champney’s West, gather as much information about the Citadel and spar, and to photograph the Foundation’s designated buildings.
Sign inside the Salvation Army Citadel.
We left the office early Tuesday morning and hit the highway. Our first stop after a quick lunch at Two Whales in Port Rexton was the Tourism Elliston Office. We talked with Don Johnson about the Citadel and asked about who we should talk with in the area. He also showed us the Salvation Army instruments which were found in the citadel and were being stored in the Tourism Elliston storage room. Don then let us in the building and found a ladder for us to use.
The Salvation Army Citadel which was recently designated.
The weather outside was pretty dreadful so we mainly focused on photographing, measuring, and drawing the inside of the citadel. The equipment we used was very straight forward – a couple of measuring tapes, graph paper, a clipboard, pencils and pens, line level and string, a drafting triangle, and a molding comb. If you would like to learn more about field documentation there is a fantastic PDF guide from the United States’ National Park Service here.
Mortuary Chapel, Trinity, NL.
After measuring and drawing the interior of the building we had a dinner of fish cakes and fish and brewis at Nanny’s Root Cellar and then headed out to take some photographs. One major part of the Heritage Foundation’s mandate is to designate buildings and offer information, support, and grants for the restoration of buildings. We have an online listing of our properties and have photographs of each building. Some of these photographs are quite old so we decided to use the trip to take photographs of as many of the buildings as possible in order to update our website. If you want to check out some of our registered structures click here!
Pei and I turnipped in Champney's West.
Wednesday we spent most of our time in Champney’s West. If you follow the blog you will remember Dale and I took a trip to Champney’s last summer did a few workshops and a couple of oral history interviews. This summer our team did a couple more interviews about the spar which rests outside the Heritage House in Champney’s West. This spar (which is basically the mast off of a ship) is a piece of the Hazel Pearl which was wrecked near the community. Two local fisherman accidentally caught it in their net and so they’ve displayed it outside their community museum. There are several people in the community with vivid memories of when the Hazel Pearl sank and so we did a couple of interviews on its sinking and hope to do another one next week with the man who accidentally retrieved the spar.
Sarah Hiscock who was interview about the sinking of the Hazel Pearl.
The Hookey house which was framed and finished in the 1930s.
In the early evening we were invited to an old house built in the 1930s which quite sadly is falling down. The woman who lived in the house until recently is 106 and both she and her husband were incredibly crafty. Amy Hookey is a beautiful quilter, and rug hooker who left in her home an incredible collection of mats and quilts both finished an unfinished.
Bj who purchased the home has contacted the local crafting groups in the area about reusing the scraps and materials remaining in the home for new projects. Amy’s husband Alonzo was also a craftsperson – most all of the furniture found in the house was handmade. There were handmade rocking chairs, dressers, and built in cabinets. It was an incredible house to explore. It will be sad to see the house go however it hasn’t been lived in for some time and it is starting to really deteriorate quickly. I’m glad Michael, Pei and myself had a brief opportunity to explore the home and photograph some of it’s stories. I would love to talk with Amy in the near future and hear some of her personal memories and stories about the home and about crafting.
Details of Alonzo's work.
Pile of Amy's quilts.
Later Wednesday evening we returned to Trinity to finish photographing the area and we even ventured to the abandoned Trinity Loop for a couple of photographs. One interesting thing about talking to folks in small communities is their willingness to invite you into their homes. P.J. allowed us to walk through Amy’s home, we were invited in to Karl Hobb’s home in Elliston for a chat about the Salvation Army, carpenter Aiden Duff showed us around the Trinity schoolhouse, and we enjoyed a cup of tea with house owner Robert Cuff.
View from St. Paul's Anglican School in Trinity, NL.
The designation of the Loop is confined to the railroad tracks but it is pretty amazing to explore the abandoned park.
Following a late supper in Trinity we returned to Port Rexton to see if the Kitchen Party was still happening. We stopped by after nine for an event that started at seven expecting it to be almost finished. Instead we arrived just in time for a lunch of tea, sandwiches, and cookies and another couple of hours of music. There were locals who sang original songs, played instrument from keyboard and guitar to accordion and bass, a couple of ladies got up and stepped along with the jigs and reels, and there was a special appearance by a fiddle player from Newfoundland and Labrador tourism who is touring the coast and playing at community events. It was a lovely ending to a full day!

Stay tuned for part two of our trip and for some short video clips of Sarah Hiscock and Albert Hiscock's interviews!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg with Nolan Reilly #podcast

Nolan Reilly has a long-standing interest in community history. He is a professor of history and former chair of the Department of History at the University of Winnipeg, as well as being the the co-founder and Co-Director of the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg. The Oral History Centre was established in 2012, and develops and offers training in advanced digital recording technologies, digital storage, strategies for oral history research, archiving, and dissemination. It offers a program of local and international conferences, lecture series, workshops, and other events. We talk about Nolan’s trip to Newfoundland, genealogical research, the Oral History Centre, several of their projects, as well as how he started working with oral history.

Pics from Youth Heritage Night in Spaniard's Bay

Courtney, Emily, Thomas, and Stewart pose after a successful Youth Heritage Night at the Wes Gosse Heritage Museum in Spaniard's Bay. Local youth talked about their heritage projects, with a focus on local oral history, museum work, and involvement in the First World War Commemorations. Congrats to all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Heart's Content Graveyard Mapping Workshop and Cemetery Clean Up

Guest blog post by Celeste Billung-Meyer a Folklore student working with the Heritage Foundation this summer:

Last Saturday (July 16 th , 2016), I attended the Graveyard Mapping Workshop and Clean Up in Heart’s Content. It was an event co-organized by the Heritage Foundation and Youth Heritage in order to help Heart’s Content get ready for their 150th anniversary of the first successful landing of a trans Atlantic cable.

We had a fantastic turn out! The majority of our volunteers gathered at the Heritage Foundation for 9 am, where we got on a bus and drove to Heart’s Content. When we arrived and met up with the rest of the volunteers, the weather looked dubious; however, much to our delight, within the hour the sun came out and the day ended up being gorgeous and warm!
Practising gravestone rubbing.
For the morning, the group was split between two activities. One group started cleaning up the cemetery and the other group went with Terra who led a workshop about grave rubbing. As it happened, there was no tracing paper to be bought anywhere in St. John’s during the days leading up to the workshop and so Terra resolved to use exam table paper (found in doctor’s offices) as a substitute.  However, the substitute paper combined with the windy morning (making it hard tape the paper tightly to the stone) lead to mixed grave rubbing results. Nonetheless, everyone came away with a working knowledge of the process and an solid understanding of the value of grave rubbing.
Cemetery cleanup.
Around noon, we were invited to a lunch provided by the Mizzen Heritage Society. Hotdogs for all! After lunch, we had the graveyard mapping workshop lead by Dale and Michael. While this type of mapping is quite a slow and painstaking process, it can be used by anyone with just a couple of tools that are cheap and easily accessible (two stakes, two tape measures, a plumb bob, graph paper, a large clip board, a geometry kit, a scale ruler and a pencil). After the demonstration, the group was split in two again and anyone who wanted to try the mapping first hand stayed with Michael and was given a chance to do so.
Dale and Sarah demonstrating how to map the graveyard.
Michael drawing out the map.

The rest of the group followed Dale on a walk around the cemetery and he explained the meaning behind the symbols on some of the graves!
Dale giving a tour of the cemetery symbols.
Once the tour ended, everyone came together to finish cleaning up the cemetery.
Photo of our wonderful volunteers and the progress of the graveyard!
We finished the day with a walk over to the Mizzen Heritage Society and then the newly renovated Heyfield Memorial United Church and Cemetery. Along the way, we learned a bit about the history of Heart’s Content, some of the ghost lore of the area and a bit about what the Heritage Foundation and Youth Heritage are up to in the next couple of months!

Learning about Heart's Content's history.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"That was hard on us" - Remembrances from 20th-century Grand Falls-Windsor

I came across a little gem today while reading oral interview transcripts about growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor in the 20th century. In this excerpt, Obadiah Gill describes the trouble with getting to see a dentist in the town, and recalls one man who went to the blacksmith to have his tooth pulled:

“You know, he’d put the needle in and it would deaden it a little bit you know. But then you had the pain in your tooth...I heard of a fellow up in the lumber woods one time, got the blacksmith to take his pliers and tickle his tooth, horse pliers.” (Obadiah was interviewed on April 6, 1999)

Some of the excerpts from these interviews are just great - funny, interesting, old-timey stuff that is charming and affirming in its simplicity - but these moments are at times juxtaposed against stories of heartbreak. Most of the senior interviewees have something to say about life in GFW during the second world war. Beatrice Healey describes what it was like to live in town with soldiers everywhere:

“I was living in Windsor then. It was pretty bad. You had to put down your dark green blinds nighttime, we had blackouts. Soldiers everywhere. I was stopped on the street several times when I was bringing water from...the next door neighbour had a well and he said, “I’ll take your buckets!” and I said, “No, you won’t.” Ah...anyway a couple soldiers took the buckets from me cause I just lived down the road on Main Street. It was very tough for a while.”

“A fellow by the name of Mr. Gill, he went away to the war. He came in the house that morning he was leaving and he said to my husband, Phil. “Phil I’m leaving this evening, I wants ya to have a drink with me.” He sat down and had a drink. He went...he went away and he was killed. He was gone about three months, I guess when we got word that he was killed, he was only about 26 years old, he wasn’t very old. That was hard on us.” (Beatrice was interviewed on July 22nd, 1999)

A glimmer of light in a dark remembrance is Beatrice Healey’s stubborn insistence on carrying the buckets herself. She knew she could be stopped at any time, but she wasn’t going to let that keep her off the streets. She was going to haul that water.

Though there is a great disparity in the gravity of these remembrances - a trip to the blacksmith to have a tooth out and the reality of war - both speak to the strength of the people of Grand Falls-Windsor. The oral history transcripts and tapes will be added to the community collection on Memorial University’s Digital Archive Initiative, as part of our ongoing Collective Memories Project.

The Collective Memories Project is an initiative which will invite seniors to record their stories and memories for archiving and sharing. It is a project of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Aging and Seniors, and is funded through the Department of Seniors Wellness and Social Development. Collective Memories is looking for community partners to help make existing oral history collections more accessible to the general public, and can help communities start up new oral history projects to interview local seniors. For more information on how you or your community organization can get involved, email or call (709) 739-1892, ext. 5.

Link to GFW oral history collection:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Youth Heritage Night at the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum, Spaniard's Bay, July 20th.

I got an email last week from Emily Welsh, one of the interpreters at the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum in Spaniard's Bay. The Museum is organizing a Youth heritage Night for Wednesday, July 20th. Emily asked to share this message with the readers of the blog:
Head out to the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum for our Youth Heritage Night. You will hear from our museum interpreter, Thomas who will be sharing some interviews from the past year with some members from the community, Stewart Brazil, who will be sharing stories about filming the documentary Newfoundland in Armageddon, Jenna Lee Ralph who will be telling us about her trip to Beaumont Hamel, and more! What a terrific opportunity to show our support and pride for Spaniard’s Bay youth!
The event is at 7pm at the Wesley Gosse Heritage Museum, located in the former United Church, 6 Church Hill across from Harold Gosse Park & Gazebo. See you there!

- Dale

Thursday, July 14, 2016

People Places and Traditions Workshop

As a part of the Culturalis Borealis Summer Institute, myself, Terra, Andrea and Dale hosted a People, Places and Traditions Workshop with a fantastic group of 7-12 teachers at the District Conference Center on Strawberry Marsh Road last Wednesday. I started work with Dale on July 4th as a Cultural Conservation intern with the Conservation Corps ECHO program, and over the Summer I’ll be helping to do research, conduct oral interviews, participate in and learn to conduct workshops like this one.
Andrea, Terra and Dale discussing the workshop
We met with the teachers participating in the Summer Institute to get them started thinking about how our intangible cultural heritage is reflected in the important people, places and traditions of our communities.

Ready to get started!
Equipped with two large-scale maps of Newfoundland (and one of Labrador!), some ribbon, craft glue, and pens, our participants were ready to get started on the workshop! We divided everyone up into three groups - one each for People, Places and Traditions. Our first group brainstormed about people with special cultural knowledge or skills in their communities. Rather than listing 'famous' figures or officials, we asked them to think about things a little closer to home. Who among your friends and family might have special localized knowledge or skills? who are some 'unofficial' but well-known tradition-bearers in your town?

Our workshop participants glued index cards with people, places and traditions on them to the maps.
One of our participants from St. John's wrote about Joe Planchet of Canary Cycles here in St. John’s, while another wrote about the schooner fishermen in Bay Roberts who brought back their stories about trips to Labrador. One participant from Cape St. Georges wrote about a favourite teacher with a wealth of historical knowledge about the area.

Once they finished writing their stories, the participants attached their cards to a map of Newfoundland (and one of Labrador!) and used ribbon to link each card to the right community.

Our Labrador team with their map
A closer look!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Collective Memories Roadtrip: Clarenville Heritage Society

I'm in Clarenville today, meeting with the Clarenville Heritage Society about setting up a Collective Memories project. Above are three of the people I met with today,  Megan Vardy, Stephen Bonnell, and Sam Adey.

We had a good conversation about the work they are doing to preserve the history of Clarenville and surrounding area, and where they might fit in to our new Collective Memories project. After our preliminary discussions, I think we'll be assisting them with two small pilot projects: we'll be helping them sort out the metadata and descriptions for their existing oral history collection and adding it to Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative; and we'll return soon to help them with some new oral history interviews, specifically on the railway history of Clarenville and area.

You can check out some of the interviews they've done in the past here.

We'll post more on the project as it chugs on down the track!

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is looking for community partners to help make existing oral history collections more accessible to the general public, and can help communities start up new oral history projects to interview local seniors. For more information on the Collective Memories Project or how you or your community organization can get involved, email or call (709) 739-1892, ext. 5.

- Dale

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Traditional Bread and Jam making workshop in Pasadena, July 23, 2016

Strawberry jam, fresh made bread, and heritage: a perfect combination!

Our friends at the Pasadena Heritage Society are starting up a series of traditional skills workshops, and their first one is happening on July 23rd, as part of the the Humber Valley Strawberry Festival.

You'll learn how to make bread and strawberry jam from scratch! The workshop is only $5 and is open to all ages. For more information, and to register, contact