folk traditions

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follow folklorist lisa wilson as she finds and documents the culture, traditions and folk arts of olde newfoundland (or wherever she happens to be)

twitter.com/lisawilly_:

    Mini-Farm: Model Train Miniatures in S. River. 
I’m on twitter now: @lisawilly_ …promising to get weird on there.

    Mini-Farm: Model Train Miniatures in S. River.

    I’m on twitter now: @lisawilly_ …promising to get weird on there.

    — 1 day ago
    #farm  #trains  #models  #newfoundland  #hobby  #craft 

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Fishermen’s Protective Union Row Houses (Port Union, Newfoundland)

    — 3 days ago with 28 notes
    Alberta Love:
My Grandparents John and Nataly Buk.

    Alberta Love:

    My Grandparents John and Nataly Buk.

    — 1 week ago with 9 notes
    #family photographs  #family  #archives  #alberta  #canada 

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Seal Furs and Skins: Then and Now

    These fresh furs were spotted on the Bonavista Peninsula in the early spring of 2013. They were being temporarily preserved in saltwater while waiting to be further processed. The furs will likely be transformed into fur boots or mittens and sold in a local craft shop to both tourists and residents.

    Seal furs and skins have had many traditional uses in Newfoundland, particularly the farther you go north where they were once vital for winter protection. People wore sealskin boots and mittens for travel by foot, or while hunting and hauling wood, often on dogsled. The making of sealskin boots, a style where the skin is seasoned after the fur is removed, and then processed into a durable, ornate footwear, are considered an endangered traditional practice on the Great Northern Peninsula (GNP). The origins of this handicraft is thought to be an adaptation by early settlers of skills learned from aboriginal groups along the Straits of Belle Isle in Labrador. From there, sewing and pleating techniques were handed down from mother to daughter for many generations. Some (but relatively few) GNP women still continue the practice but the boots are rarely worn—nowadays it is more common to see sealskin boots on display in a museum, preserved as heirlooms in a box, or hanging as decorations in a home.

    Nonetheless, seal-craft traditions continue in Newfoundland, having conformed to modern tastes and needs. In St. John’s, for example, we have begun to see seal fur boots as urban winter wear. They still make use of local resources, but employ contemporary designs, styles, uses, and even outsource some of the manufacturing (Nunavut, Northern Quebec, and Greenland assist with production).

    Contributed by L. Wilson

    — 1 week ago with 14 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Fishing Language in Newfoundland

    Though winter is still in full force around most of the island, fishing season is coming up and it felt like a good time to come back to some Newfoundland English, with a special focus on fishing. While I grew up hearing these expressions on a regular basis, it was only after confusing a fair share of mainlanders that I looked into their early usage on the island.

    Barachois (pronounced locally as bar-a-sway, rather than the French bara-shwah) refers to a sand bar, or, a protective little pond for boats that connects to the ocean. With first documented usage in the mid-1700s, there are obvious links to early French settlers, namely in the areas of St. Pierre, Fortune Bay, and the St. George’s Bay area.

    Flake (or fish flake) is a stage built of wood, typically held up by wooden poles, meant for drying fish. Documented usage in the early 1500s.

    Gansey is a knit sweater with a popularity amongst fishermen and sailors.

    Lop (or loppy) is a popular word used to describe rough, choppy water due typically to high winds. As in, “there’s some lop on the water today!” or “It’ll be loppier once the winds pick up.” Documents suggest usage around the 1890s or early 1900s. Apparently a similar expression, when talking about an icy surface, is knobbly.

    Mug up (also known as boil up) is used to describe a snack consisting of tea and bread, though sometimes meant as something more substantial like beans or freshly caught fish. Generally cooked on an open fire, though any casual cup of tea can be referred to as a mug up, as well. See photo #1: a boil up on the shore (or, shore lunch) during a fishing trip in Whitbourne.

    Throat (to throat, throating) is the act of slitting a fish up the belly to its gills. A throater was responsible solely for throating the fish, typically on shore and alongside a header and gutter. Calling this action throating has been documented as early as the 1300s.

    Contributed by Justin Oakey (with photos by Amanda Row)

    — 2 weeks ago with 19 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Black bear hunting on the Burin Peninsula

    With drier days around the corner, at least in theory, I felt compelled to share some photos from my last bear hunting trip with dad, on the Burin Peninsula. Our week was beautiful and unseasonably sunny, though still quite chilly, with exceptionally high winds. Typically we spot and stalk with a bow (never using a tree stand), but the extreme winds made that nearly impossible this time around. Though we glass from the ridge, we still prefer to spot and stalk instead of shooting from afar.

    Contributed by Justin Oakey (more photos available @justinoakey)

    — 3 weeks ago with 21 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Root Cellars

    A root cellar is an underground or partially underground structure that is used to preserve vegetables and protect them from frost through the winter. Generally, they are constructed by digging a hole in the earth and reinforcing with wood, rock, cement, and/or other material before covering with sod, leaving a small door for access.

    The cellar interior is divided into compartments called pounds, used to store different varieties of vegetables. Potatoes and turnips are stored in pounds directly on the ground, on raised wood, or in bins, while carrots and parsnips are stored in sand or sawdust to keep firm and moist. Cabbage, when stored in the cellar, is most often hung from above. Filled at harvest in the fall the cellar would be accessed every week or two, often a chore assigned to children, to bring in vegetables to the house as needed.

    In Newfoundland and Labrador, root cellars were commonly used until the 1970s when electric refrigeration became more widely available. Today, hundreds – if not thousands – of root cellars can still be found throughout the island. While many are varying states of collapse and decay, others have been maintained and used continuously for multiple generations, and a growing number are being restored or built anew.

    Contributed by Crystal Braye (with photos by L. Wilson)

    — 3 weeks ago with 52 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    The Narrow Homes of Downtown St. John’s

    Vernacular architecture is the practice of using localized styles, materials, and methods when building a structure. The vernacular architecture of Newfoundland can be noted in various building types—stages, stores, sheds, fish plants, schoolhouses, saltbox houses, and row houses—with design variance according to such factors as landscape, available materials, local tradition, and decisions made by the builder.

    In St. John’s, the row houses located downtown represent a unique building type that is very uncommon outside of the city centre. Dimensions and design features are unpredictable from one building to the next, as they were built piecemeal, adapting to both the older layers of the built landscape, and the contours of the natural landscape. While the narrow house is a building style absent from modern development practices, it is not uncommon as a residence  for the contemporary townie.

    — 4 weeks ago with 21 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Ferryland Head (September 1969), Kodacolor print, made by Kodak.

    — 1 month ago with 11 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Root Cellar Capital of the World

    As is common in Newfoundland, the fishing community of Elliston is made up of several other settlements, including North and South Bird Islands, North Side, Noder Cover, Porter’s Point, The Neck, and Maberly. It was originally called Bird Island Cove, before being changed to honour the first permanent Methodist missionary in Newfoundland, William Ellis.

    Due to the abundance of root cellars, it has been called the “Root Cellar Capital of the World”.

    Photos by David Barclay

    — 1 month ago with 44 notes
    newfoundlandfolkways:


Blindfolding A Humpback - Investigating Whale Navigation in Elliston

By 1976, short repetitive clicks had been recorded from a many baleen whales, including humpback, minke, fin, gray and blue whales. However, it was unclear if the marine mammals used the clicks for navigating, as do their close relatives toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises. An experiment to tackle that question in the most straight-forward way possible took place in near the root cellar capital of the world, Elliston, Newfoundland in 1976 - a humpback whale was put in a maze and made to wear a blindfold.
The 10.2m long female humpback was held captive after being rescued from a fishing net tangle and tethered to land by a long rope and a padded harness placed just in front of the tale. A maze was built using walls of aluminum poles, mesh, closely spaced floats, anchors and line. The whale was pulled into position, then the DFO scientists watched and listened as it attempted to navigate its way through two offset doorways then around a third wall. The maze was altered by moving the doorways and the experiment was repeated during the day and night, with or without the use of whale blindfold.
The result of the experiment was that the whale could navigate the maze without collision during daylight hours, or when flashlights were used to beacon the doorways at night. It crashed into the walls at night with no flashlight or during the day when the blindfold was put on. Underwater microphones recorded no whale clicks or calls during any of the runs, day or night, blindfold or no blindfold, and the scientists interpreted this result as evidence suggesting that humpbacks rely on vision, and not sound, to navigate.
The whale was held captive for 29 days then set free. However, the debate surrounding the purpose of humpback calls rages on, with pro-humpback-sonar and anti-humpback-sonar papers continuing to appear in the literature.
—
Contributed by David Barclay

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Blindfolding A Humpback - Investigating Whale Navigation in Elliston

    By 1976, short repetitive clicks had been recorded from a many baleen whales, including humpback, minke, fin, gray and blue whales. However, it was unclear if the marine mammals used the clicks for navigating, as do their close relatives toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises. An experiment to tackle that question in the most straight-forward way possible took place in near the root cellar capital of the world, Elliston, Newfoundland in 1976 - a humpback whale was put in a maze and made to wear a blindfold.

    The 10.2m long female humpback was held captive after being rescued from a fishing net tangle and tethered to land by a long rope and a padded harness placed just in front of the tale. A maze was built using walls of aluminum poles, mesh, closely spaced floats, anchors and line. The whale was pulled into position, then the DFO scientists watched and listened as it attempted to navigate its way through two offset doorways then around a third wall. The maze was altered by moving the doorways and the experiment was repeated during the day and night, with or without the use of whale blindfold.

    The result of the experiment was that the whale could navigate the maze without collision during daylight hours, or when flashlights were used to beacon the doorways at night. It crashed into the walls at night with no flashlight or during the day when the blindfold was put on. Underwater microphones recorded no whale clicks or calls during any of the runs, day or night, blindfold or no blindfold, and the scientists interpreted this result as evidence suggesting that humpbacks rely on vision, and not sound, to navigate.

    The whale was held captive for 29 days then set free. However, the debate surrounding the purpose of humpback calls rages on, with pro-humpback-sonar and anti-humpback-sonar papers continuing to appear in the literature.

    Contributed by David Barclay

    — 1 month ago with 10 notes
    newfoundlandfolkways:


Winter on the Barrens

After visiting Heart’s Content and getting ready to head back to town, locals always remind me to, “Be careful on the Barrens!” The Heart’s Content Barrens hold a narrow stretch of road that lies on a stark landscape, exposed on all sides. Despite its possible dangers, this road is an important throughway that links Heart’s Content and Carbonear. The Barrens are a place where you wouldn’t want to get stranded for any length of time, particularly in a blizzard, or in the cold of night.
Below is a list of mid-19th century casualties that occurred along the Heart’s Content Barrens during winter. It was compiled by Ted Rowe for his book Heroes and Rogues and the Story of Heart’s Content (2011). This list of lives lost is a reminder that even those who are most familiar with an area can be susceptible to the extreme conditions we sometimes have in this province.

Lives Lost on the Road to Carbonear 1844-1860

January 26, 1844, William Hanrahan, M.D. of Carbonear found dead after attempting to make his way home in a snowstorm from a picnic on the Barrens. The Sentinel and Conception Bay Advisor February 1, 1844.
January 3, 1850, James Broders of Heart’s Content, a ”quite inoffensive old man” and “a teetotaler for upwards of five years” found dead near the side of the road after a severe blizzard. Broders had guided travelers across the Barrens for more than 30 years. Weekly Herald and Conception Bay Advertiser, January 16, 1854
March 22, 1854, Two poor men named Scott and Grant perished in a “terrific smothering storm” about five miles from Heart’s Content. They had gone to Harbour Grace for relief and were returning home each with a bag of meal. The Harbour Grace Herald, March 29, 1854
March 21, 1860, The body of Eliza Underhay, widow of Richard Underhay and daughter of William Hanrahan, found afloat in Powell’s Brook about a mile inland from the bridge. She had left Harbour Grace “in a low desponding state of mind” to walk across the Barrens on January 20 and was not seen after. The Harbour Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, March 28, 1860. 
Accompanying photograph depicts Newfoundland barrens in winter from the Rooms Provincial Archives, VA93-89.
—
Contributed by Lisa Wilson

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Winter on the Barrens

    After visiting Heart’s Content and getting ready to head back to town, locals always remind me to, “Be careful on the Barrens!” The Heart’s Content Barrens hold a narrow stretch of road that lies on a stark landscape, exposed on all sides. Despite its possible dangers, this road is an important throughway that links Heart’s Content and Carbonear. The Barrens are a place where you wouldn’t want to get stranded for any length of time, particularly in a blizzard, or in the cold of night.

    Below is a list of mid-19th century casualties that occurred along the Heart’s Content Barrens during winter. It was compiled by Ted Rowe for his book Heroes and Rogues and the Story of Heart’s Content (2011). This list of lives lost is a reminder that even those who are most familiar with an area can be susceptible to the extreme conditions we sometimes have in this province.

    Lives Lost on the Road to Carbonear 1844-1860

    January 26, 1844, William Hanrahan, M.D. of Carbonear found dead after attempting to make his way home in a snowstorm from a picnic on the Barrens. The Sentinel and Conception Bay Advisor February 1, 1844.

    January 3, 1850, James Broders of Heart’s Content, a ”quite inoffensive old man” and “a teetotaler for upwards of five years” found dead near the side of the road after a severe blizzard. Broders had guided travelers across the Barrens for more than 30 years. Weekly Herald and Conception Bay Advertiser, January 16, 1854

    March 22, 1854, Two poor men named Scott and Grant perished in a “terrific smothering storm” about five miles from Heart’s Content. They had gone to Harbour Grace for relief and were returning home each with a bag of meal. The Harbour Grace Herald, March 29, 1854

    March 21, 1860, The body of Eliza Underhay, widow of Richard Underhay and daughter of William Hanrahan, found afloat in Powell’s Brook about a mile inland from the bridge. She had left Harbour Grace “in a low desponding state of mind” to walk across the Barrens on January 20 and was not seen after. The Harbour Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, March 28, 1860.

    Accompanying photograph depicts Newfoundland barrens in winter from the Rooms Provincial Archives, VA93-89.

    Contributed by Lisa Wilson

    — 1 month ago with 11 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Memories of a Grandmother

    In the audio piece I Measured My Growth On Her Cardigan Buttons, Catherine Wright shares memories of her beloved grandmother at the St. John’s Storytelling Circle.

    It was a few days before Valentine’s Day and everyone was telling stories about love gone right or love gone wrong. Catherine told the last story of the night and began with a song before speaking tenderly of her grandmother’s own love story.

    Contributed by Annie McEwen

    (Source: soundcloud.com)

    — 1 month ago with 4 notes

    newfoundlandfolkways:

    Moon Phase Harvesting

    On Deer Island, Bonavista Bay, it was common practise for boat builders to harvest their timber according to phases of the moon. “Everything is governed by the moon,” says boat builder Sam Feltham, “You wouldn’t cut timber when the moon was wasted; you would cut on a new moon. If you cut it after a full moon the wood shrinks faster.”

    Jack Casey from Conche, on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, also abides by the cycle of the moon when cutting wood for his boats. “You always cut timber on the rise of the moon. You wouldn’t cut it when the moon was going out. Same with animals. You wouldn’t slaughter an animal on a waning moon because the meat would shrink.”

    Known as moon phase harvesting, this ancient practice has been used worldwide to naturally preserve harvested wood. Like the ocean tides, the moon plays a role in the rise and fall of sap in the wood. Cutting during hibernation months in the fall and winter on a waxing cycle of the moon, when the sap is low, produces better quality timber.


    Contributed by Crystal Braye

    — 1 month ago with 28 notes