ICH - Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe
Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory - Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe
Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe include knowledge, know- how, skills, practices and representations developed by communities by interacting with the natural environment. It includes areas such as traditional ecological wisdom, indigenous knowledge, knowledge about local fauna and flora, traditional healing systems, beliefs, and superstitions. Some common examples in relation to Newfoundland and Labrador include berry picking, trapping, sealing, fishing berths, food presentation, weather lore, nautical lore, logging, and animal husbandry.
Fisheries (formerly the Mark Ferguson Collection)
The daily work of the fishery had a profound impact on the culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador. The particular method of curing fish in Newfoundland (and Atlantic Canada), of soaking in brine and sun-drying on stretches of coastline, led to the development of specific architectural forms, language, and many different aspects of occupational folklore. This collection showcases the history, hard work, and lifestyle of many Newfoundland fishing families. A large section of this collection was compiled by Memorial University Department of Folklore graduate Mark Ferguson, who conducted several audio interviews with people who worked in the Newfoundland fishery. Recorded in the early 1990s, these interviews focus mainly on the subject of salt fish.
Mark Ferguson Collection Collection
A large section of this collection was compiled by then Memorial University Department of Folklore graduate student Mark Ferguson. The Mark Ferguson Collection consists of several audio interviews with people who worked in the Newfoundland fishery. Recorded in the early 1990s, these interviews focus mainly on the subject of salt fish. Salting is a style of fish processing with a history as long as the fishery itself. Long before the days of refrigeration, fishers and their families would work long hours salting their catches for the purposes of preservation. It was a long, skillful process that required much dedication and hard work.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, forestry developed as a viable industry and traditions were created and transmitted as a result. Men worked in the lumber camps, sawmills and/or ventured into the woods around their communities, cutting with a handful of fellow loggers. Cutting and collecting lumber was arduous work. In the lumber camps men worked from sunrise to sunset every day of the week, except Sundays, several kilometers deep in the woods. Living quarters consisted of log cabins with several bunks and a wood stove. Despite the toilsome nature of the logging industry in Newfoundland, there were fun times. Many folk songs, particularly satirical songs, practical jokes and other forms of folklore, particularly folk art, were created in the lumber camps, often as a distraction from the unforgiving nature of lumbering.
As skyscrapers climbed to greater heights in the late nineteenth century, so did the Newfoundlanders who helped build them. Balancing along beams often no more than a foot wide, they worked high above the clouds. Groups of Newfoundland iron workers felt the rush of working high steel as they raised such projects as The Sears Tower and The World Trade Center. Many carried on the iron work tradition of their fathers and brothers, travelling to California, Toronto, New York and Philadelphia to help build some of the largest skyscrapers in North America.
Root Cellar Traditions
Root cellars have played an important role in the folklife of Newfoundland and Labrador for generations. These underground or partially underground structures are used to protect food such as vegetables, berries and preservatives from frost in the winter and heat in the summer. They were constructed by digging a hole in the earth, reinforcing it with wood, rock, and mortar, and then covering with sod leaving small door for access.
Once commonplace throughout Newfoundland, root cellars provided consistent humidity and temperature levels essential for food security prior to the introduction of electricity and refrigeration. Additionally, root cellars have been the site children's games and stories, fairy legends, and other local lore. They have come to be recognized as a prominent symbol of Newfoundland’s agricultural heritage and represent current potential for food security and self-sufficiency movements within our province.
Nurses have been an integral part of patient care in homes and hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador since European settlement began. Before the 1920s, there were few professional nurses working in outport Newfoundland. Several organizations tried to remedy this issue by recruiting nurses outside Newfoundland and funding their placement in rural communities. The first of these was the Grenfell Association, which had been recruiting nurses from Great Britain and North America since the 1890s, to work in remote communities in southern Labrador and northern Newfoundland.
In 1934 the Commission of Government established a district nursing system, recruiting nurses and posting them to remote communities where they worked with little supervision or medical support. These nurses were responsible for maternity cases, school health, nutrition, child welfare and other community health needs. A second nursing service, the Public Health Service, was created in 1937, and the two services combined in 1941. Many of these nurses were stationed in cottage hospitals, but many others worked on their own without the support of a doctor or extensive medical facilities. After Confederation, funding increases, old age pensions, family allowances, and health insurance allowed better access to health care and increased the need for trained nurses.
In the mid 1980s Marilyn Marsh interviewed a group of Newfoundland nurses who graduated between 1918 and 1949 and worked in a variety of nursing settings and locations in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and in several cases internationally. The nurses' stories capture what life was like for women and nurses during that era. These tapes reveal their lived experiences and provide insight into who they were as women and nurses.
Wells and Springs
Wells and other natural water sources are often the oldest pieces of human heritage in a community still in use, and there are several found around Newfoundland and Labrador. They are sometimes "true" wells (holes dug in the ground and walled with rocks), pools kept open by generations of users, barrels sunk into boggy ground or pond-sides, or springs where water runs out of the ground. Many of these are still used today, for different reasons, and there is a rich heritage surrounding their use.
Traditional knowledge is widespread in the province, and traditional watering places have often been imbued with layers of meaning. Most wells, both public ones and private, are treated by local people as special and nearly sacred spaces that should be protected from despoiling. Many have oral history associated with them. This collection of information about wells and springs will preserve and protect the memories surrounding these traditional water sources.
Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory