Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Folklore of Corn Dollies with Donna Thompson. #FolkloreThursday

I am currently in southern Saskatchewan, teaching a series of intangible cultural heritage workshops with my colleague Kristin Catherwood for the Museums Association of Saskatchewan.

Earlier this week, we were in the community of Indian Head, teaching a two day workshop, and we were fortunate enough to have tradition bearer Donna Thompson as a participant, who talked to us about the tradition of English Corn Dollies, and then gave us a demonstration of how to weave a corn dolly using wheat straw.

Here, Donna talks about the folklore behind the craft, and tells the story of the spirt in the grain field.

Exploring Place, Memory Maps, and Language with Marlene Creates

Marlene Creates is an environmental artist and poet who lives in Portugal Cove. Underlying all her work is an interest in place—not as a geographical location but a process that involves memory, multiple narratives, ecology, and language. Her work has been presented in over 350 exhibitions and screenings both across Canada and internationally, and is in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada.

In this episode of the Living Heritage Podcast, folklorist Dale Jarvis sits down with Marlene to discuss how she got her start in art, how she found herself in Newfoundland, her work in Newfoundland and Labrador on place, the importance of place, several recent projects including her memory maps and important place awards, and her new book “Brickle, Nish, and Knobbly: A Newfoundland Treasury of Terms for Ice and Snow”.

Download the mp3

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Collective Memories - Main Street Memories

Stewart's. Photo courtesy of Carmel Barry.
Yesterday morning started with a chat with Carmel Barry about Stewart’s store on Main Street in Windsor. Carmel worked with George Stewart for 47 years. She spent one year working part time and another full time on the floor packing shelves and doing whatever needed to be done but most of the time she spent in the office doing the bookwork. Carmel vividly remembered the money system that was in place in the store which allowed money to traverse the store from the office to the cash. She also remembered the wood stove that heated the store and how George would head in to the store before the staff and have the fire burning so it would be nice and toasty when they arrived. Carmel clearly loved the store, the work, and the staff and she exclaimed that she would still be working there today if she could. Unfortunately George Stewart died in 20008 and the old store was torn down a couple of years ago.

In the afternoon we had two interviews. One was with Boyd Cohen whose family moved from the Ukraine and Poland. His grandfather moved from what is now the Ukraine to London, England in the 1890s to work for a clothing company. Between the years 1904 and 1906 Simon Cohen, Boyd’s grandfather, moved to Newfoundland to work for a Newfoundland Clothing Company which was being established by a firm out of England. Following the First World War the family moved to Grand Falls-Windsor and opened a general store. This store sold “anything from hardware and nails to ladies hats”. Boyd also discussed the move from Main Street in Windsor to High Street in Grand Falls and how he got into the furniture business and into real estate.
Cohen's bus.  Photo courtesy of Boyd Cohen.
One memory Boyd shared was of the bus his father ran between High Street, Grand Falls and Main Street, Windsor between 1928 and the mid 1930s. Listen to the clip below.
Our next interview was with Mary Kelly. She discussed growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor and spending time on Main Street, Windsor. Mary had many fond memories of Riff’s where her aunt Helen Kelly worked for years and years. She described going to the store and the magic of Main Street in Windsor. Mary fondly remembered the generosity of the Riff family and how they sent Christmas cards to the family long after her aunt had passed away. She described how after one of Riff’s buying trips to Montreal her family would eat bagels for weeks which were brought back from Montreal from Mr. Riff.
Riff's Christmas party. Helen Kelly and Marie Penney. Photo courtesy of Mary Kelly.
Listen to Mary’s memories of Main Street in Windsor.

Here Mary describes going into Riff’s on Main Street.
Let us know your memories of Main Street, Windsor! Email or call 709-746-0223.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Collective Memories Grand Falls-Windsor - Sealing Sweep

Harry Pinsent
I’m spending this week in Grand Falls-Windsor talking to folks about their memories of Main Street in Windsor and merchants such as Becker’s, Chow’s, Cohen’s, Hiscock’s, Munch’s, Riff’s, Stewart’s, and many more who started shops and businesses in the area. The Heritage Foundation is working with the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society to gather and learn more information on Windsor as the society has a large number of interviews focused on Grand Falls, the company and the mill.

Yesterday afternoon Audrey Burke and I had the pleasure of talking with 93 year old Harry Pinsent about his life and his memories of growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor. Harry had vivid memories of growing up in the community and has certainly seen the town change over the years. Harry grew up in a family of six including his only surviving sibling Gordon Pinsent. Harry described going to school in Grand Falls-Windsor and the joy of being able to wear jeans in the summer instead of the shorts required for the school uniforms!
Harry's equipment for his work as an electrician.
Once Harry finished school he worked for the mill briefly before signing up and flying overseas with the RAF during the Second World War. When he returned to Grand Falls-Windsor Harry worked as an electrician with the mill until he retired at the age of 65. Harry married and together with his wife raised a family of fifteen. Harry described some of the shops on Main Street in Windsor and High Street in Grand Falls. He also had memories of leisure activities such as dances, picnics, and going to the movies.

Harry's mother Flossie is in the centre of this picnic.

One story which stood out during the interview was Harry’s description of the Sealing Sweep. Harry remembered the Methodist Church on the West End of Gilbert Street where movies were shown while the new town hall in Grand Falls-Windsor was being built. He saw the first “talkies” or talking pictures at the church. Harry explained that bingo was also played in this church however you couldn’t play for money. In the sound clip below Harry explains the only gambling allowed in the town – the Sealing Sweep.
Do you remember the Sealing Sweep? Or do your recall memories of shopping or working on Main Street? Let us know in the comments or email or call 709-746-0223. ~Terra

Monday, September 19, 2016

The City of St. John's Volunteers: Marie Ryall

Marie Ryall with her volunteer awards. Photo taken by Terra Barrett.

Marie Ryall grew up in the West end of St. John’s. Her daughter, Rhonda, lives in Nova Scotia with her husband. They have three children, and Marie is now the proud great grandma of four.

Marie considers her life in two stages: before and after the accident. In 1990, she was in a head-on collision while driving to Nova Scotia to visit her daughter for Christmas:

“It was a life-changing experience. After the accident my marriage broke up, and that’s when I started to live for myself.”

For Marie, living for herself meant a chance to help others. “Because I was so lucky that I had lived, I wanted to get into volunteering with those who are less fortunate than me and who experienced likewise. I just want to be part of a team that’s out there helping others. You know, and it gives me a sense of purpose. As I said, it’s a two way street. You help someone, you’ll get it back millions of times over.”

During Marie’s working years, she collected for the Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation and was team captain of the Arthritis Society in her area. After she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia she helped to launch a support group for sufferers of the disease. She continues to volunteer at the Miller Center Veteran’s Pavilion, has been volunteering at the Agnes Pratt Nursing Home since 2001, and is an active member of the City of St. John’s Senior’s Outreach Program. Once a year, she helps out with the Children’s Wish Foundation.

”When I look back over the years and realize how many new friends I’ve made through volunteering, and the events that I’ve experienced getting involved with them and their families, it gives me such a very, very gratifying feeling. My motto is that by helping others you help yourself.”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On the road - Hitchhiking #podcast with Andrea McGuire

Andrea McGuire is completing her MA degree in Folklore at Memorial University. She is currently in the throes of writing her master’s thesis on hitchhiking traditions in Newfoundland and Cape Breton. In her thesis, she is looking at how trust, in its many variations, influences the way hitchhiking is practiced, and the way hitchhiking stories are told.

In this episode of the Living Heritage Podcast, we discuss why Andrea chose hitchhiking for her thesis, how she conducted her research, the difference between short and long distance hitchhiking, how gender effects hitchhiking, the stories people tell and the techniques they use, the brief history of hitchhiking in Newfoundland, and examples of the hitchhiking stories she has heard.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The City of St. John's Volunteers: Ruby Hann

Ruby Hann with her Volunteer Award. Photo taken by Terra Barrett.

Ruby Hann was born and raisedin downtown St. John’s. She is a mother of three and a proud grandmother of many.

Ruby began volunteering at the Miller Center at the Senior’s Resource Center when she retired about thirty years ago. She has always had a great deal of respect for seniors.

One woman in particular has been an inspiration for Ruby: Ivy, another senior volunteer, who had a massive stroke which left her paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. According to Ruby, Ivy came back to the Senior’s Resource Center dances and began learning to speak again.

When Ruby is at home, her door is always open. “They know here if my door is closed I’m either gone out, or I’m having a shower, or I’m having a nap.” She is well-known at Kenny’s Park Apartments, where she has sometimes been mistaken for the building superintendent because of her helpful nature and involvement with the community.

As for aging, Ruby embraces her life as an older person: “I’m a very happy senior, and I’m very proud that I’m a senior, actually. People say ‘how old are you?’ and I say ‘I’m eighty!’ Ah! ‘You’re not eighty!’ Yes I am, unless they made a mistake on my birth certificate! But that’s me.”

“I feel for other people - differently. You know, I have always sympathized with people but now I can see. Me being a senior, I can see.”

Friday, September 9, 2016

Heritage Update - New Perlican, Windsor, Champney's West & Fisheries Heritage

In the September issue of the Heritage Update: we have news on heritage programs in the town of New Perlican; an update on the architectural history work we are doing on the Salvation Army Citadel in Elliston; a report on the wreck of the Hazel Pearl in Champney's West; we announce our planned oral history fieldwork in Windsor; and we are looking for communities interested in documenting their fisheries heritage and fixing up old fishing stages (with a $10,000 grant to support restoration).

Download the pdf here

Contributors: Andrea O'Brien, Michael Philpott, Terra Barrett and Heather Elliott.

Looking for a past issue of the Update? They are all online as part of Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. You can browse through them here

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What is a Planner? A #podcast with Ken O’Brien

Ken O'Brien is the Chief Municipal Planner for the City of St. John's, involved with land-use planning, rezonings, heritage planning and environmental planning. He graduated from MUN in 1986 with a B.A. in Religious Studies and a minor in Math (having tried Engineering first), then attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, graduating with a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning in 1991. He likes history and old buildings and is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

In this week's episode of the Living Heritage Podcast, we discuss what a land use planner does and what they study, the importance of the social history of buildings, his work with the city of St. John’s, changes in the past 20 years, the benefits of heritage regulations, St. John’s storm doors, the Atlantic Planners Institute and the Planners’ Plate series, how community members can get involved with planning, mapping community assets, the oddities of downtown St. John’s, and growing up in Georgestown.