Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Memory Store: A safe haven for the crown jewels...

The video for this week's the Memory Store was filmed in the stairwell of the Anna Templeton Centre. Executive director Beverly Barbour tells two of her favourite stories about the Anna Templeton Centre building. The first is a story about the building being a possible safe haven for the crown jewels and the second about the building being used by a forensic team.

Watch the video below or click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Click here for more information about the building's history and architectural style.
If you missed our initial post explaining the concept of the Memory Store clip here to go back to our first blog post with the introduction video or check out our YouTube channel at ICH NL.

Stay tuned for more short stories about historic places in the province, in the form of short oral history interviews conducted with the people who care about those places and if you have a personal memory about a historic place in Newfoundland and Labrador, and want to add your voice to the Memory Store project, let us know at


Friday, October 2, 2015

ICH @UVic Day 5 - Indigenous Language and Culture

Today was our second-last day on the intangible cultural heritage course at UVic. We started off with a visit to the First Peoples House. Pamela Clermont and her co-workers showed us around the building, created as a social, cultural and academic centre for Indigenous students on campus. It is a gorgeous space, which you can read more about here, packed full of local, amazing, indigenous art.

Outside is an ongoing totem pole carving project. The artist, Hjalmer Wenstob, has posted the artist's statement on site:

"I see the totem as a means of bringing together and strengthening connections between cultures, both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous. It creates a space to come together where we are all equal, to create a future where we can walk side by side on the same path. To bring together academic and traditional Indigenous teaching for a common goal of unity, understanding and respect. - Hjalmer Wenstob"

After our visit to the First Peoples House, we had a conversation with Janna Wilson, Program Coordinator with the Cultural Management Programs at UVic, who has been working on their Indigenous languages retention programs. Then we went off to the Royal BC Museum for a behind-the scenes look at the Our Living Languages exhibit, with Michael Barnes, Head of Exhibitions, and Dr Martha Black. Curator of Ethnology.

Thanks to all who gave of their time today, and for freely sharing all their expertise and experience!

ICH @UVic Day 4 - Newfoundland Hobby Horses on Vancouver Island for #FolkloreThursday

Today's class was all about revitalizing traditions, using the Mummers Festival as a case study. We started the day with a talk on mummering (which some of the students had never heard of) and then we had a visit from Doretta Hollett of Burin, who came and shared her memories of Christmastime in Burin. Doretta even brought in a bottle of Purity Syrup, so everyone got to have a taste.

In the afternoon, I introduced people to the Newfoundland hobby horse, like the one above, one of the Mummers Troupe's horses, made in the early 1970s by Chris Brookes and company.  And then it was time to put their new knowledge to use. Using the template from the Mummers Festival in St. John's, I walked everyone through the process of creating their own hobby horses.  Here is a peek at how the workshop went, from start to finished ponies:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#LivingHeritage #Podcast - Exploring the Crow’s Nest Officers Club with Gary Green

Gary Green is a past president of both the Crow's Nest Officers Club and the Crow's Nest Military Artifacts Association which jointly administer the Crow's Nest National Historic Site of Canada. He has written journal articles on the Crow's Nest and has contributed to books on the role of St. John's and the Royal Canadian Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1945. Gary and his wife Ruth, Collections Manager for the Crow's Nest Military Artifacts Association, conduct research in both national and provincial archives and museums. We talk about the history of the Crow’s Nest, its collection of WWII-era gunshield art, the club’s U-boat periscope, the preservation challenges of maintaining the collection, and stories from the club’s colourful past.

ICH @UVic Day 3 - Falcons, Fairies, and Layered Places

Today was Day 3 of the intangible cultural heritage class I'm teaching at UVic, and we had a treat for students today. After a talk about public program options ICH-related events, we focussed in on one of the elements listed on UNESCO's intangible heritage list -- Falconry, a living human heritage -- a trans-national element which was nominated by United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Falconers Kristine and Alan Marshall paid us a visit (with gyrfalcons Khaleesi and Solstice) and they gave us an overview of the 4000 year living heritage of falconry, and how the tradition of falconry is faring today.

After lunch, we had a talk about Newfoundland fairy traditions, and I shared the Irish story of the Fairy Frog (a version of which is included in this recording).

Then it was back to work (with some colouring thrown in) with a asset map making exercise designed to show how one location could have multiple levels of meaning or be home to various intangible cultural heritage elements.

Tomorrow: it's a downhome Newfoundland Christmas (in Victoria BC, in September).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More on Cowichan Sweaters - Dief the Chief, Steve McQueen, and Mrs. Johnny Bear

Yesterday, my intangible cultural heritage class at UVic met Alice Trueman, a knitter from Salt Spring Island, who talked about Cowichan sweaters (you can read about that here). Alice mentioned in her interview a photo of John Diefenbaker wearing a Cowichan sweater. A quick internet search later, here he is, in his sweatered glory. The first is from 1967, the second from 1958.

The website "Ask Andy About Clothes" has some great photos of Cowichan sweaters, including one Steve McQueen sporting one featuring the "Greek Key" design Alice talked about, and a fabulous photo of Mrs. Johnny Bear, a Cowichan knitter, posing with her knitting needles.

ICH @UVic Day Two - From Chicken Feet to Cowichan Sweaters

Tuesday was day two of the course on Intangible Heritage I'm teaching at the University of Victoria. We started out this morning, bright and beautiful, at the Gates of Harmonious Interest, marking the entranceway to Victoria's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in Canada.

We had a busy morning, with the students starting off by doing quick sketch maps of the district, and then locating within the district examples of the five domains of intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO:  Oral Traditions and Expressions; Performing Arts; Social Practices, Rituals, and Festive Events; Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe; and Traditional Crafts.

We then met up with Chris Adams of, who gave us a great tour and talk about Victoria's Chinatown and the link between the tangible, built heritage of the district, and the intangible cultural heritage that permeates it.

It was my first time meeting Chris, but I've met his father and company founder John Adams before (we even were on a panel together about ghost tours, back in 2009). Chris was a fabulous guide and raconteur, and introduced us to some fabulous places, a highlight being the Tam Kung Temple on the top floor of the Yen Wo Society building.

It is an incredible gem of a space, and one I'd never seen before.

After that, we had a quick lesson in the game of Fan Tan, and a lecture on opium dens, and then we went to the famous Don Mee restaurant for Dim Sum, including my requisite feed of chicken feet and egg tarts.

After lunch, we rushed back to UVic, for a chat about ethnographic documentation, including my tips for oral history interviewing

Then we had another treat, a visit from the very charming Alice Trueman, a knitter from Salt Spring Island. Alice grew up on Vancouver Island, and doesn't remember a time when she didn't knit. I conducted an oral history interview with Alice while the class listened and watched.

Alice was another gem of the day; she was a font of knowledge about knitting. We talked about the tradition, her involvement, and how the tradition of knitting has shifted over the years, and the knitting retreats she runs on Salt Spring Island.   

Alice spoke knowledgeably about many aspects of knitting, but particularly interesting was the discussion we had about Cowichan sweaters, a very specific type of sweater made by First Nations knitters in one region of Vancouver Island.

You can download an mp3 of Alice describing Cowichan sweaters here, or in other formats here, or listen below. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Welcome to the world of intangible cultural heritage, here are your fish heads!

I am in Victoria BC this week, teaching a course on Intangible Cultural Heritage for UVic's Continuing Studies program. Today was our first day, and we had a series of great discussions around ICH in communities.

Before students arrived, I gave them all a pre-course assignment. And, because I love food, I made them all think about food experiences and the link to culture. We all eat, but we sometimes don’t think about the deeper meanings of food behaviour, and how the symbols and practices of food consumption are embedded in our daily lives.

Students were asked to prepare a short report on a food event, tradition, or event that has meaning to them, their family, community, or region.

I started them off with a discussion about the Mediterranean Diet, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. We talked about the link between food, community, and traditional skills, about Newfoundland cuisine, and then I showed them one of my favourite short foodlore videos, "Green Jell-O and Fry Sauce: Food Folklore at the Fair," with folklorist Eric Eliason of Brigham Young University.

Then it was their turn, and we were treated to an amazing array of food experiences. We talked about Iranian Nowruz food traditions, BC sport salmon fishing, NWT cranberry hooch, Starbucks rituals, cider and cured meats, two battling presentations on traditional vs vegan Tourtière, fish heads, potlatches and bum guts, Vietnamese Thit Kho - braised pork with eggs, Norwegian lefse, and Chinese dumplings.

Yum, b'y.

Tomorrow we are off to explore Chinatown, hopefully with some Dim Sum along the way.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#LivingHeritage #Podcast - Labrador Memories with Dave Paddon

Dave Paddon is a writer and performer of recitations. He is originally from Northwest River, Labrador and is descended from two generations of pioneer doctors and nurses who lived and worked in Labrador. He currently lives in St.John’s and makes his living as a pilot for Air Canada. We discuss Dave’s childhood in Northwest River, his family’s history in Labrador as doctors and nurses, his parents’ involvement in World War II, and his involvement with recitations and the Stage to Stage performances. Dave recites The Twelve which is a recitation he wrote himself about a small snowmobile of twelve horsepower.

Download the mp3