Friday, January 23, 2015

Making an indoors in the outdoors

In December, I asked Vida Edwards about indoor games she played when she was growing up in Trout River. This was her answer:

 “Let’s face it, when you’re growing up in Newfoundland and you have a little small house and it’s six and seven kids and the house is probably I’m thinking maybe 900 sq feet, you don’t have a lot of space, (…) you don’t want to be inside.”

She has a point: indoor space was at a premium. So some children built themselves some outdoor space that still provided a bit of shelter from our fine Newfoundland weather.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English has an entry for just such a structure; “copy house” is defined as “a little house built by children.” Paula Roberts remembers one in particular in Clarenville:

“We built a fort up behind Randy’s house and I remember he was nailing from the top and I was nailing from in the fort, and I stood up and one of the nails wasn’t driven in and I drove the nail into my head.”

Aside from that memorable incident, Paula and her friends spent most of their time pretending to be baking, making mud cakes and serving them to guests on plates made of wooden planks.

Photo provided by PANL

In the winter, of course, the building materials changed, but the idea was the same. Paula recalls digging out from mounds of snow left in their yard by the plow. She says,

“Building snow forts was mostly what we would spend our time at. In the same area that you’d be making up the mud cakes and everything in the summer, you’d be building snow forts, and creating benches, and everything.”

Winston Fiander’s snow houses in Coomb’s Cove were even more sophisticated.

“We used to make the walls perpendicular, and then we’d get pieces of lumber and put across the top, and put snow on top of the lumber,” he said. They’d care for and maintain their houses all winter long, and hope that it stayed cold.

“Of course you had to be careful now when you got a mild spell because the thing would collapse on ya. Weren’t allowed to go in there.”

If you built a play or copy house, or a snow house, and would like to share your memories, please consider participating in the Hoist your Sails and Run project (see here), filling out our online survey (here), or contacting me at 739-1892 ext 3 or by email here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PSA: Youth Heritage Forum, March 7th

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Intangible Cultural Heritage office is looking for youth representatives from local heritage organizations and community groups to attend our upcoming Youth Heritage Forum. We hope to bring together youth, ages 18-35, from various backgrounds to discuss heritage and what they would like to see happen in this field in the future.

Heritage organizations and community groups in the Avalon Region are invited to nominate 1-2 youth representatives to attend.

If you are a youth passionate about heritage and would like to become involved please contact Alanna Wicks at 1-888-739-1892 [Ex 5] or email to

Listen to Alanna speak with VOCM's Paddy Daly:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bringing Together Youth and Heritage

Hello out there!

My name is Alanna Wicks and I’ve just come on with the ICH Office as the Youth Heritage Forum Coordinator. My background is in Anthropology and Folklore and since finishing up my MA in Public Folklore in 2012 I have spent my time working and volunteering with archives and community groups in St. John’s, NL and Halifax, NS.

I’ll be hanging out around the ICH Office for the next couple of months organizing an exciting new forum for the youth of our community to come together and talk about heritage and what that word means to them. Being a youth in this community myself (30 is just around the corner!) I know that there are many more individuals like myself that have a great interest in what’s happening in and around our community and would love a place to talk to like minded folks about just that.

The Youth Heritage forum will bring together individuals, aged 18 to 35, from various backgrounds to hear from their peers who are working and involved in the field of heritage, and to engage in an informal discussion about heritage and their place in the community. We want to hear what young people think and feel about heritage and what they would like to see happen within this area in the future. Participants of the forum will also be invited to discuss the creation of a new youth heritage committee that would meet in the future to discuss what’s happening in the field of heritage and to stay informed about opportunities, projects, events, and so on.

The Youth Heritage Forum will take place March 7th, 2015 at The Lantern, 10am to 2pm.
Entertainment and lunch will be provided.

If you’re interested in join the forum or would like more information please contact me at 739-1892 or

Research question: Esquimaux murdered at Keatulik Island

I had an interesting research question this week. A colleague came across this entry, on the Newfoundland's Grand Banks webpage "1926 News and Events of the Year from The St. John's Daily News"

The page lists a short death notice from May 11, 1926.  The item reads, simply, "An Esquimaux Tuite murdered at Keatulik Island."

The Daily News for 1926 is not yet scanned on Memorial University's Digital Archives Collection, and I've not verified that the spelling on the website is a correct transcription.  

Does anyone have suggestions about the location of Keatulik Island? Somewhere in Labrador, perhaps? Or do you have some thoughts on the word "Tuite"? Is it a person's name, or does it refer to a group of people? 

If you have thoughts or theories, email me at

- Dale Jarvis

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Building your own fun

Have you ever made yourself a toy?

I bet you have. I bet you've made a kite, or a spinning top, or a model boat. I bet you've tied a loop of string for Cat's Cradle, or picked out a good stick for a bat before playing ball.

I made a top out of paper this morning. 
See? It spins and everything!

A few decades ago, in most of this province, toys weren't available in stores year round, if ever. Kids had to make their own.

Winston Fiander grew up in Coomb's Cove, Fortune Bay, and he had a few tricks up his sleeve when it came to making his own fun.

"We used to make these slingshots. (...) you'd take a piece of line (...) looped, and in the base of that loop would be a couple of pieces of line where you could support a rock. And so we would have it rigged so that you put your finger through a loop in the end of the line, and you caught a hold of the line with your finger and thumb, and you just put a rock in it, and you'd wind it round and round and round and then you'd let it go. (...) And it would go, geez, it's amazing how far the rock would go."

When we got to talking about hockey, he told me he and his friends had a puck to play with, but they made their own sticks.

"We used to make them out of wood. Well, you know how they used to make timbers for boats (...) you just go into the woods and you find a stick that looked like a hockey stick (...) bent already and you chop it off and bring it home and shave it down a bit and there you are, you got a hockey stick."

Paula Roberts, from Clarenville, did some quite ambitious building with her friends:

"Somebody threw out a baby buggy once, and I remember... we took the wheels off of that and made the wickedest go-carts."

And then, they hit the jackpot of scavenged building (and bouncing) materials.

"Somebody had thrown out a mattress, and we tore the mattress apart, and all the springs that were inside the mattress, we took and attached them to our feet, and made like bungee, springy things. (...) I'd say for about two weeks we were occupied by tearing up that mattress. But the wood that was inside the mattress we used for the go-carts."

If you'd like to take part in ICH's Hoist your Sails and Run project, or talk to us about toys or game equipment that you once made, please drop me a line here or by phone at 739-1892 ext 3.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Starting the New Year with play and games!

It's a snowy old day here in St. John's, and as I watch the snow blow in diagonals from the warm side of the windows in the quiet ICH office (Dale is being an Intangible Cultural Heritage rock star in ASIA, and I'm sure he'll tell you all about it when he gets home), I am thinking about how much I used to love weather like this. You remember: back when the snow meant sliding and snowmen and forts and snowball fights, instead of shoveling the driveway 3 times in a 24-hour period and falling down twice (TWICE!) on your way in to work.

The view from ICH today. Good luck out there, City of St. John's truck.
But then I got excited, because I realized that the good old days I was just thinking of are some of the same days that we get to talk about in the Hoist your Sails and Run project, and that project is just ramping up!

I've been doing some interviews with the folks who have already filled out our survey about play and games (you can too! Click here), and I haven't had one yet where we didn't talk about sliding. Everyone seems to remember sliding on the perfect hill, whether they were on a wood slide borrowed from their father, or a discarded plastic bag, or a pilfered pizza pan.

We're going to be meeting on Tuesday mornings in February at MacMorran Community Centre, and talking about sliding and any number of other ways we used to play!

If you're interested in becoming a part of this project, please email me or be in touch by phone at 709-739-1892 ext 3, and tell me your sliding memories!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hauling Pinkston's Forge: Heritage Building On the Move in Brigus

I've written before about the Pinkston's Forge in Brigus, Conception Bay. The Brigus Historical Society has been working to document it's oral history and stories. The photo above, from July 28th, 2014, shows Muriel Pinkston Wells, John Pinkston, and interviewer Dale Russell Fitzpatrick --  you can read and listen to their interview on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative (DAI).

It has been important to the Brigus Historical Society to document what they can about the forge, because the building had to be removed from its original location. Yesterday, December 15th, was moving day. The building had been covered in plywood to keep it together during the move, and hoisted up onto a sledge made of long wooden poles. A local company was hired to facilitate the move, and a crowd gathered to watch the old blacksmith shop be hauled to its new home near the Brigus Stone Barn museum. The old forge squeaked over the little bridge near Hawthorne Cottage, with only inches to spare on either side, and was then dragged to the new concrete pad that had been erected to receive the forge.

CBC has story on the move, and you can check out some photos on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Exploring placemaking, the fishery, and traditional games

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.)

contributors: Dale Jarvis, Sharon King-Campbell

Photo: Children playing “World” in Southern Harbour, Placentia Bay, 1987.
Photo courtesy Delf Maria Hohmann.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What was your favourite childhood game?

ICH has a new project, and it's all about fun!

Not quite two weeks ago, Dale was kind enough to bring me on board as coordinator for Hoist your Sails and Run, a project linking up senior citizens with young people to get them talking about play and games in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The young people in question are on loan to us from Dr. Jillian Gould and the Department of Folklore at MUN, and we'll introduce them to the folks who volunteer to have a yarn about the fun they had as youngsters. We have some help recruiting volunteers from MacMorran Community Centre, who are also offering us space to meet, eat and chat. We'll get together a few times in February to talk and share a meal, and then the students will put together a booklet about traditional games using the stories, photos and quotes that they collect from their interviews.

If you, dear reader, have some stories about your favourite childhood pastimes that you'd like to share, please consider filling out this questionnaire about play and games!

Watch this space for updates on the project, send me an email if you have any questions or want to get involved, and keep an eye on the horizon for the latest Heritage Foundation publication, coming out in March 2015!


Sharon King-Campbell
Project Co-ordinator, Hoist Your Sails and Run Project