Monday, August 25, 2014

My Woody Point Summer Excursion

Woody Point is a registered heritage district located within Gros Morne National Park. The community is near the tablelands, which offer the region a different kind of physical landscape than other place in Newfoundland. It is a popular tourist destination in the summer, particularly around the time of the Woody Point Writer's Festival, but many people might not know that it has heritage district status. To help promote the district, I recently visited Woody Point to get to know its history, its historic buildings, and some of its residents.

It was a fruitful trip: I returned with 500 archival photographs as well as 100 pages of handwritten local stories, all of which were collected by local heritage enthusiast Charlie Payne. I also gained access to 52 archival interviews (belonging to Parks Canada) from the 80s and early 90s,  and did a number of interviews with residents on my own. Over the next few months, I will slowly be cataloguing all of this data for permanent storage in MUN's online digital archives. As this work is completed, I will be posting links so that it can be viewed by anyone interested.

The Tales of Gros Morne storytelling event at Lobster Cove Head.
 One other thing that came out of my time in Woody Point was a storytelling event held in collaboration with the HFNL and Parks Canada at the Lobster Cove Head lighthouse. This event was a celebration and discussion of some of the superstitions and ghost/fairy stories from the region. We had a good turn out, with lots of stories shared and exchanged -- I hope to do similar collaborations in the future. Thanks to Parks Canada for helping to make this event happen.

Some Parks Canada employees and a few parks visitors sitting around the campfire.

 Please scroll down to see a number of photographs from this field excursion: look at all of the amazing and generous people that I was lucky enough to spend time with and learn from in Woody Point!
Nicky and Mackenzie give amazing tours of the historic Roberts house.

Margarete Sheppard, long time resident of Woody Point, shared with me her life story.

Charlie Payne, a member of the HFNL board of directors, showed me the root cellar he recently made.

Ella Moores, Woody Point's oldest living resident (almost 100!), with Shelley Roberts.

Jack and Sue Parsons in their home near the lighthouse, after sharing their knowledge of the local history.

Brenda Young telling me tales about working at Aunt Jane's Bed and Breakfast in the heritage district.

Robert and Jeanette Rowsell after a wonderful tour of the Prebble house, a municipally designated building.
Thanks for viewing this and please stay tuned for more of what I learned and experienced in Woody Point.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Flying Cloud - a recitation by Patrick O'Neill, Conche

The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the Needles, Isle of Wight, by James E. Buttersworth, 1859-60. 
Source: Wikimedia Commons.  
While they share the same name, this is a different vessel from the one in the recitation below.

In June of 2000, I was in the community of Conche on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, doing work on heritage buildings for the Heritage Foundation of NL. I had the luck to meet Mr. Patrick "Uncle Paddy" O'Neill. He was introduced to me by his niece, Joan Woodrow, and while we were talking, he started to do a recitation of an old ballad called "The Flying Cloud", which he had learned from a man named Pat Bromley around 1941.

Using spare tape and an old tape player Mr. O'Neill had, I made a very rough recording of the traditional ballad, which I've transcribed below.  Uncle Paddy is no longer with us, but his version of the lyrics live on! I've seen it described as an anti-piracy ballad. If you have comments, leave them below, or email me at

The Flying Cloud

as remembered by Patrick O'Neill, Conche
June 2000
recorded and transcribed by Dale Jarvis

My name is Edward Anderson,
As you might understand,
I belong to the county Waterford
In Ireland’s heavenly land.

My parents raised me tenderly,
And taught me to be wise.
'Twas little they thought I’d die in scorn
In Cuba's sunny skies.

My father bound me to a trade
In Waterford's fair town,
He bound me to a cooper there
By the name of William Brown;

I served my master faithfully
For eighteen months or more,
Then took a voyage on the Ocean Queen,
To Valparaiso's shore.

It happened in Valparaiso,
I met with Captain Moore,
Commander of the clipper Flying Cloud,
Sailing out of Baltimore;

He asked me for to join him
On a slaving trip to go,
To the western shores of Africa
Where the sugar cane do grow.

The Flying Cloud was a clipper barque,
Five hundred tons or more,
Could easily sail with any ship,
Sailing out of Baltimore.

Her sails were white as the driven snow,
And on them showed no speck,
Seventy-five brass cannon guns
Were mounted on her deck.

Her medicine chest and magazine
Were stored away below,
And a Long Tom between her spars,
On a swivel used to go.

I often saw that clipper barque
With the wind abaft the beam,
---------- set,
Take sixteen from the reel.

After three weeks sailing
We arrived on Africa’s shore
Fifteen hundred of those slaves
From their native land we bore.

We forced those slaves to walk our deck
And stowed them down below,
With eighteen inches to each one
Was all allowed to go.

Your heart would ache all for their sake
You could see those slaves
Better far for those poor souls,
If they were in their graves.

The plague and fever came on board,
Swept half of them away,
We dragged their bodies out on deck
And threw them in the sea.

Another three weeks sailing
We arrived on Cuba’s shore.-
We sold them to a planter,
To be slaves forevermore;

The rice and coffee fields to hoe
Beneath the burning sun,
To wear away their wretched lives
Till their sad career was run.

And when our money was all spent,
We came on board again,
Captain Moore from his cabin came
And spoke to all his men:

"There's gold and plenty to be had
If you come with me again,
We’ll run the pirate flag aloft,
And scour the Spanish Main.

We have the fastest sailing ship
As ever skimmed the seas,
Or ever set her eye for a course
Before a lively breeze.”

We all agreed except five men;
He told those five to land:
Two of them were Boston boys
Two more from Newfoundland;

The other was an Irish chap
Belonging to Tramore,
I wish to God I’d joined those men
And went with them on shore.

We robbed and plundered many a ship
Down on the Spanish Main,
Caused many a widow and orphan
In sorrow to complain.

We forced their crews to walk a plank
That hung out over the rail,
The saying of our captain was,
The dead man tells no tales.

We were often chased by man-o'-wars
Both east, north, west, and south
But none of them, try how they would
Could catch the Flying Cloud.

We were often chased by man-o'-war
Who would try to round us to,
To overhaul the Flying Cloud
Was more than they could do.

Until a British man-o’-war
A frigate hove in view
He fired a shot across our bow
A signal to heave-to.

We faced our yards and crowded sail
And ran before the line
A chain-shot struck our mizzen mast
And soon we fell behind.

The deck was cleared for action
As she raced up alongside,
And soon across our snow-white deck,
There flowed a crimson tide.

We fought till Captain Moore was killed
And thirty of our men,
A bombshell struck our ship afire,
We had to surrender then.

The rest of us were brought to land
And into prison cast.
Tried and were found guilty,
To be hung at last.

Farewell to sweet Waterford,
And the girl that I loved dear,
No more will I kiss her ruby lips,
Her sweet voice no more will hear.

Farewell my aged parents,
I now must meet my doom.
I’ll swing aloft the yardarm high
Cut in my youth and bloom.

Monday, August 18, 2014

MUNFLA looking for a working BetaMax player

Has anyone in the St. John's area got an old, *still-working* BetaMax player to donate? MUN's Folklore and Language Archive needs one.

Beta was the Sony-developed competitor to VHS as a home-video format. Beta lost that war but many people kept using Beta machines for a decade or more, even after the whole videotape thing was washed to sea by DVDs.

The Archive has the opportunity to copy some important videos from the 1980s and they are on Beta. The Archive's old BetaCord machine died this very afternoon.

If you have a working one and are willing to donate it you can call Pauline Cox (Archivist) at 864-8401.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Questions from the Petty Harbour Memory Store

We had curious tourists and locals wandering by The Memory Store yesterday in Petty Harbour, wondering what it was all about. So here, in a nutshell, is what you can expect if you come visit us at some point between today and Sunday:

What is The Memory Store?
Remember those photo booths where you would sit with a friend, pose, and then leave with a few photos? The Memory Booth is like that! You come, sit down, have a chat, and you leave with a memento - a recording of your story that you can share with family and friends. We can mail you a CD, or we can email you a copy of the recording, whichever is easiest for you! The Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove museum will also get a copy, to preserve the stories of the community.

How does it work?
Come and sit down in our recording booth, we’ll give you a list of questions to read, and away you go! We handle the recording part.

What does it cost?
Nothing! The Memory Store is part of the Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove 6th Annual Arts and Heritage Festival, and is absolutely free.

Do I need to bring a friend or family member?
It’s more personal if you bring a friend or family member to interview, but if you want to come on your own, we’d be happy to sit with you and have a chat.

Where is it?
The Memory Store will be in the yellow shed, right on the harbourfront, three buildings up from the convenience store (Sam Lee’s old shed).

How long will it take?
You should allow yourself about half an hour for the conversation.

Is it just about Petty Harbour?
All memories are welcome! If you grew up somewhere else, let us know!

The Memory Store will be open from 11am to 4pm until Sunday August 17.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fishing for Folklore Youth Scholarship

This September, the Heritage Foundation of NL is running a four-day intensive introductory workshop on intangible cultural heritage in the historic fishing community of Petty Harbour Maddox Cove, and has a few select spots available for Newfoundland and Labrador youth who want to learn more about saving local heritage.

“The provincial intangible cultural strategy recognizes that the inclusion of youth is important in all work relating to ICH,” says foundation folklorist Dale Jarvis. “One of the key areas we must address is the participation of youth in our thinking, planning, and celebration of our living traditions. This scholarship is a way of encouraging people at the start of their heritage careers to gain a bit more practical experience in these areas.”

The workshop will run from Tuesday, September 2nd to Friday, September 5th, 2014 at the Petty Harbour Maddox Cove Community Centre. Participants will learn about planning an intangible cultural heritage project, writing field notes, oral history interviewing, safeguarding traditional crafts and skills, creating memory maps of communities, documenting traditional boatbuilding techniques, public folklore programming, and report writing.

The scholarship is open to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, who are between the ages of 19 and 35. Applicants can be students, recent graduates, or young professionals in any heritage field.

To apply, applicants must send a cover letter explaining their interest in the course, and copy of their resume to Dale Jarvis at Application deadline is Friday, August 22nd.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Memory Store - Oral history recording booth meets fishing shed!

Remember those photo booths where you would sit with a friend, pose, and then leave with a few photos? The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador is setting up something similar this weekend in Petty Harbour. The only difference is that they will be recording memories, instead of taking photos.

The foundation is setting up what they call “The Memory Store” - an oral history recording booth located in a fishing shed along the Petty Harbour waterfront. The recording booth is being set up as part of the Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove 6th Annual Arts and Heritage Festival, which runs Thursday August 14 - Sunday August 17. The Memory Store will be open from 11am to 4pm each day.

“The goal is to help preserve people’s memories of the community,” says folklorist Dale Jarvis. “The setup is pretty simple. You show up at the Memory Store either alone or with a relative or friend you want to talk with, we give you some sample questions, and you sit and have a chat.”

Afterwards, participants will be emailed a digital copy or mailed a CD of the interview. A copy of the interview will be given to the Petty Harbour Museum, while another copy will be placed on Memorial University’s Digital Archives Initiative for future generations to hear.

Jarvis says people should allow themselves about half an hour for the conversation and paperwork. The sessions and CDs are free for participants.

Look for the Memory Store banners and signs during the Arts and Heritage Festival. The Memory Store will be in the yellow shed, right on the harbourfront, three buildings up from the convenience store. Bring a friend or family member, drop by, say hello, and share your memories!

For more information, email

Photo: Heritage intern Terra Barrett with The Memory Store sign. Look for both in Petty Harbour this weekend!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Memory Store - Oral History Recording Booth

This week at the office we are gearing up for the Arts and Heritage Festival in Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove. As part of the festival the Heritage Foundation will have a Memory Store set up in a yellow shed across from the town hall, just three sheds up from the convenience store.

We'll have an oral history recording booth set up in the shed and we are looking for anyone with a connection to Petty Harbour who would be willing to share their memories. From recollections of the town’s social life to tales of the community concerts, if you have been involved in the community we would love to hear from you! We'll be encouraging people to bring a family member or friend in order to interview one another about your Petty Harbour memories.

You will receive a copy of your interview to keep and it will certainly make a great memento!

Hope to see you at the festival!