Digital Archives Initiative

ICH - Western Newfoundland



Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory - Western Newfoundland

The western region is a great sliver of land on Newfoundland's island, stretching 750 kilometres from Channel-Port aux Basques on the southwest corner, to the Viking site of L'Anse aux Meadows at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula with thousands of miles of coastline and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The land found here has a unique geological history dating back 1.25 billion years, not to mention a human history spanning 4,500 years, which is still being researched and discovered today. Western Newfoundland is home to the first European settlement of the new world at L'Anse aux Meadows. You can also learn about the rich Acadian French history and culture by listening to dialectical differences on the Port aux Port Peninsula or hearing someone play the fiddle in the style of the famous Emile Benoit.

Communities found in the Western Newfoundland ICH Collection:
Conche, Flower's Cove, Main Brook, Quirpon, Roddickton, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet , The Straits

Conche
The town of Conche is a historic fishing community on the eastern shore of the Great Northern Peninsula. This geographically isolated community is part of what is known as 'the French Shore' and as such, has a rich history of early French settlement. Starting in the early 1500s, Conche became an important location for French fishermen, who arrived each season to fish for cod. This pattern shifted in the early1800s, when France was preoccupied with Napoleon's wars. During this period, Newfoundland settlers moved up the east coast within the boundaries of the French Shore and made a permanent settlement. These Irish and English Newfoundlanders stayed year-round and provided the foundation of today's existing community.

Conche is home to the French Shore Historical Society, located in the former Grenfell nursing station. This building houses an interpretation center that explores the history of the French cod fishery on the northeast coast of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is also home to the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center- an on-going project that aims to document, preserve and teach traditional textile-based arts and crafts.

The Conche inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as knitted hats and mittens, appliqué quilts, and embroidered wall hangings. This inventory also includes audio clips of local craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.



Deer Lake Area
The first settlers arrived in Deer Lake in 1864, travelling from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, under the leadership of George Aaron Nichols. These settlers were originally trappers and loggers but the suitable soil conditions and climate in the area led many to take up farming. Upon arrival, the settlers witnessed herds of caribou crossing the lake and mistook the animals for deer, hence the name of the town.

In order to support the International Pulp and Paper Company, a work camp was established in Deer Lake in 1922. With a formal town site constructed in 1925, the camp would later become the Town of Deer Lake. An airport was built in Deer Lake in 1955, which has grown into the main airport in the region.

The Deer Lake whistle, located on the roof of the Deer Lake Power Company hydro plant, has an important place in the history of the town. Originally, the whistle was used to call the plant employees to report for work. Even to this day the whistle blows at 7am and 8am, noon and 1pm and 5pm and 6pm, from Monday to Saturday. In the early days of Deer Lake, when a person was feared to be lost, the whistle would blow every half hour in hopes of guiding that person home. As the town grew, the whistle was also used to call the Volunteer Fire Brigade to emergencies. A code, consisting of a series of whistle blasts, was set up as a way to identify where the emergency was located.



Flower's Cove
Flower's Cove is located on the Northwestern edge of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. The town proper incorporates the nearby communities of Nameless Cove, Mistaken Cove, as well as a stretch of islands and inlets that include Seal Islands, Seal Ledges, Flower's Island and Flower's Ledges. Because of these protective islands, the settlement of Flower's Cove is one of the only well sheltered communities along The Straights.

Historically, Flower's Cove was situated near excellent cod-fishing grounds and was in the path of a major spring seal migration. French settlers were drawn to these two industries and helped to establish a community here. In these early years, the French regarded the Flower's Cove vicinity as their own and discouraged English fishing and settlement. This changed around 1850 with arrival of two English families-the Whalens and Carnells- whose arrival marked the beginning of permanent English settlement in the region.

With the fishery now gone, this community mostly operates as a business and administrative center for the GNP. It features a fish plant, restaurants and accommodations. Of the many landmarks, one of the most notable is the ocean-side Anglican Church, known locally as the Seal Skin Church. This church is an original early twentieth century structure and got its nickname from how it was originally built with funds from the sale of locally crafted sealskin boots.

The Flower's Cove inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as seal skin boots, Newfoundland Quilts, and embroidered pillowcases. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.



Main Brook
Main Brook is located on the east coast of the Northern Peninsula, one hour south of St. Anthony. Unlike most other communities on Newfoundland's GNP, Main Brook was built upon the logging industry rather than the fishery. Beginning in the 1800s, this region was settled by the English who were drawn to cod and salmon fishing grounds as well as the regional forests for lumber. Of these resources, it was the lumber that prevailed and helped to establish the settlement. The town of Main Brook was officially founded in the early 1920s when a saw mill was built in the area, transforming it into a productive logging community. Residents who worked in logging supplemented their income by fishing for salmon, capelin, cod and herring.

Like the demise of the fishery, the lumber industry eventually faced serious decline on the GNP. Nowadays, Main Brook's economy is predominantly based on ecotourism, recreational hunting and fishing, and the sale of locally-made handicrafts.

The Main Brook inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of traditional crafts such as steamed-birch snowshoes, as well as textile-based objects such as knitted diamond-pattern socks, crocheted doilies and patchwork quilts. This inventory also includes audio clips of local craftspeople discussing their particular craft-based skills and practices.



Quirpon
Quirpon is a former fishing community that sits on the northeastern tip of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. Due to its relatively sheltered location, the town harbour has attracted migratory fishermen to the region starting as early as the late 1500s. The rich fishery around Quirpon made it one of the centers of the French migratory fishery on the Petit Nord and it wasn't until the mid-1800s that a permanent English settlement was established. This settlement steadily grew throughout the last century, as Quirpon became a popular stopping point for fishing boats traveling from different locations in Newfoundland to Battle Harbour in Labrador. This traffic gave Quirpon harbour a busy feeling, as it offered many different commercial services. These shops and services benefited both the passing fishermen and the local population. However, with the cod moratorium, the local population went into decline, services closed their doors, and schooners began stopping in other harbours. Nowadays, due to the lack of sustainable services, the people of Quirpon must travel to St. Anthony or St. Lunaire to purchase their supplies.

Although small in size, Quirpon has a strong sense of community that celebrates its local craftspeople. Several women in Quripon make different kinds of textile crafts, including regional quilts such as the wedding quilt, graduation quilt, and the Newfoundland Quilt. Aside from textiles-based crafts, other creative Quirpon residents make carvings from wood, as well as model boats and airplanes. During summer months, these models can be found on display in different yards around town.

The Quirpon inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as knitted hats and mittens, appliqué quilts, and crocheted doilies. This inventory also includes photos of models, images of Quirpon and audio clips of local craftspeople discussing their particular craft skills and practices.



Roddickton
Roddickton is a community located between Main Brook and Englee on the eastern side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. This community got its start with help from the Grenfell Mission when in 1906, when they built a sawmill operation in the region. Setting up this land-based industry was a direct attempt to address the uncertainties of the fishing industry. Previous to this development, the Main Brook area was known as Easter Brook and was mostly used by residents of Englee as hunting and fishing grounds. The name Roddickton was given to the new settlement in honor of a Grenfell Mission supporter named Thomas G. Roddick. The town was officially incorporated under the name of Roddickton in 1953.

The sawmill history of Roddickton is one riddled with contrasting times of growth and decline. The original sawmill only lasted until the early 1920s-a closure that saw most of the residents evacuated. This economic slump was temporary, however, as within four years, the Bowater Company moved into Roddickton to establish new mill operations. This industry motivated consistent growth for the community until the 1970s when Bowater too, was forced to shut down. Roddickton now operates as a service center for the greater region, helping to sustain the local population.

The Roddickton inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as the Newfoundland Quilt, patch work quilts, and knitted items. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.



St. Anthony
St. Anthony is located on the northeastern tip of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. This site was first given the name of 'St. Anthony Haven' in 1532, for the way in which the area operated as a safe landing point for fishing fleets. The region was initially settled based on the fact that there were rich cod fishing grounds in the vicinity, a move that helped to establish a productive fishery that would last for several centuries. Despite the eventual collapse of the cod fishery, St. Anthony has had many development successes, making it a vital service center for residents of the broader GNP region.

Another important feature of St. Anthony is the community's historic affiliation with the legacy of Dr. Grenfell. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940) - a British doctor-arrived in St. Anthony in 1892 as a medical missionary, sent by The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Within a year of his arrival, Dr. Grenfell commenced building a medical system that eventually grew to serve the regions of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador. As his medical mission grew, his mandate expanded to include the development of schools, cooperatives, industrial work projects, an orphanage, and other social programs. One such program involved utilizing local textile-based craft skills to help sustain the region's economy. Grenfell style embroidered coats and hooked rugs with Grenfell inspired designs are being produced by residents of the Great Northern Peninsula to this day. These objects are now referred to as being a part of the 'Grenfell tradition' and can be seen and purchased at Grenfell Handicrafts, located in St. Anthony.

The St. Anthony inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as patchwork quilts, knitted items, and Grenfell-style hooked rugs. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.



St. Lunaire-Griquet
St. Lunaire-Griquet is scenic community located about twenty minutes north of St. Anthony on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. It is a community of approximately 1000 residents, spread across a region that was once two distinct communities. During the 1950s, sudden development in the area precipitated the conjoining of St. Lunaire and Griquet into one incorporated town-site. Unlike the vast majority of GNP communities, St.-Lunaire-Griquet has always seen a continual rise in population rather than a decline, with exception to the cod moratorium years, which invariable saw many people leave their homes to pursue work elsewhere. It is often said that the local post office marks the spot where the two communities come together.

The French began visiting this region as early as the 16th century, in order to exploit the renowned cod fishery. Despite the early arrival of these seasonal fishermen, the vicinity was not officially mapped until 1784, when the infamous French sailor Liberge de Granchain pursued the undertaking. He is still remembered for his work in the area, by an island near St. Lunaire Bay that bears his name. Granchain Island still holds evidence of the French presence, by the archaeological remains of French bread ovens that can be observed on the site.

The St. Lunaire-Griquet inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as embroidered and pieced quilts, knitted items, and Grenfell-style coats. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.



The Straits
The Strait of Belle Isle is a geographic region on the northwest coast of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. Colloquially know as 'The Straits,' this coastal strip runs from the community of Plum Point in the south, to Eddies Cove East at the northernmost tip. Between these two locales, several small communities dot the coast. Families first arrived at The Strait of Belle Isle in the 1880s, to exploit the salmon fishery and perhaps set up a base for the fur trade. Early inhabitants were there seasonally, but by 1884, permanent settlers arrived and began fishing for cod, herring, and began sealing practices as well. Although resources may have shifted in value, abundance and importance, over the years, the local drive to work the land and sea has remained consistent. While the cod fishery ultimately saw its demise in the 1990s, forms of this industry continue to fuel the local economy today. In Anchor Point, for instance, many of the residents continue to work as fish harvesters, or alternately in the shrimp plant, which employs upwards of 150 people each season.

The Straits inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as sealskin boots, Newfoundland Quilts, knitted socks, and embroidered cloth. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices. Straits communities present in this collection include Green Island Brook, Pines Cove, Bird Cove, Black Duck Cove, Eddies Cove East, Anchor Point, Sandy Cove, and Flower's Cove. Flower's Cove, due to its comparably large population, has been given its own community inventory on the DAI.

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