Digital Archives Initiative

ICH - Avalon



Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory - Avalon
The Avalon Peninsula is the oldest region to be settled. The Avalon stems from Chance Cove, located on the Western Isthmus to the shoreline town of Trepassey in the South. Its home to bustling urban centres like St. John's, a city full people who create and recreate traditions this province has known for years. From the downtown vibrancy of a city embracing both the old world and the new, full of music, boutiques, art, culture, to charming, historic, outport communities gathered around its coast it is a land of firsts. It was here Marconi ushered in the modern era of long-distance wireless communications by receiving the first transatlantic signal atop Signal Hill in 1901. And, of course, it was here the oldest city in North America, St. John's, was founded. You can find people in this great area of the province passing on the traditions of boatbuilding in Winterton or making hooked mats from old clothing cut into strips in Bay Bulls.

The Baccalieu Trail, Bay Roberts, Branch, Brigus, Calvert, Ferryland RNC, Port Royal, St. John's, Quidi Vidi, The Battery, Witless Bay
Baccalieu Trail Region
The Baccalieu Trail region of Newfoundland and Labrador consists of approximately 70 communities along 240km of coastline on a peninsula that forms the north side of Conception Bay and the south side of Trinity Bay, on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. Some of the oldest European settlements in North America were established in the Baccalieu Trail region including Cupids, in 1610; the Bristol's Hope Plantation established at Harbour Grace by 1618; and Carbonear settled by circa 1631.

This collection includes filmed oral histories collected in 2005 by the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation from over 40 elders who grew up in the area. The Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting the heritage of the Baccalieu Trail Region. This particular project includes memories of living and working in the area, going to school, children's games, home remedies, the first modes of transportation, supernatural beliefs and traditional industries, such as fishing.

Bay Roberts
European fishermen were visiting Bay Roberts as early as the 1500s. Fishermen from Brittany and Normandy in what is now France fished the waters off the coast of Bay Roberts in the early 1500s and named the harbour Baie de Robert. They established onshore fishing rooms where they dried and salted codfish. These fishermen came to the area because of its large harbour, and flat rock beaches that they used for curing fish. Evidence of these European people can be found in community place names such as Priaulx Hill and in nearby names such as Spaniard's Bay and Port de Grave.

The Town of Bay Roberts was incorporated in 1951 after Premier Joseph Smallwood suggested that if the Town had its own council, it could take care of paving its own roads. In the time since its incorporation, Bay Roberts has seen many changes. In the past fifteen years, the number of services has greatly increased from two main businesses to a town whose economy depends upon its service industry. Bay Roberts has become the main business centre for a large part of Trinity and Conception Bays. Vast improvements have also been made in the area of recreation with the modernization of the swimming pool and the development of the ball fields and tennis courts.

Branch
The Branch inventory is a collection of photographs and associated information on the places in and around Branch, St. Mary's Bay. The collection focuses on place names and their history as a way to portray the close relationship between people, land and ocean. The intangible cultural heritage of Branch is centered around a close relationship with nature. This collection provides a glimpse at the vast repository of knowledge regarding self-sufficient, self-sustainable, and environmentally friendly living.

Research for this collection was conducted between Summer 2008 and early-2010 by the Branch Cultural Historical Association with funding provided by the Cultural Economic Development Program of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. The presented material is a portion of that gathered from oral interviews with residents and those who grew up in Branch, as well as research of local and provincial written and online material. Researchers included Lorna English, Linda O'Keefe and Margaret Power. Kenneth Nash was very generous in sharing parts of his personal research collection. The text was written by Michael Mooney.

Brigus
Brigus stands at the forefront of Newfoundland's heritage settlements. The origin of the name Brigus is not known for sure. One theory has it coming from the town names of Brickhouse or Brighouse, in Yorkshire, England. Another has the name coming from the French word for intrigue or plot, Brigue. The town counts among its settlers, pioneers from England, Ireland and Wales. It was at one time one of the major sealing ports. In 1847, Brigus sent sixty-six vessels to the seal hunt and over half were captained by natives of Brigus.

The birthplace of Captain Robert A. Bartlett, the master mariner of arctic fame has immortalized the town in the annals of history. The monument at Bishop's Beach is a major tourist attraction, while Hawthorne Cottage (Bartlett's home in Brigus) has been declared a National Historic site.

Calvert
Prior to January 30, 1922, Calvert was known as Caplin Bay, sometimes spelled Capelin Bay, said to be named for the large number of capelin that were fished by early settlers there. As several other Newfoundland communities had similar names, such as Capelin Cove. In light of the necessities of the postal service, in the early 20th century, the Newfoundland Nomenclature Board made efforts to reduce duplication of place names. It responded favourably to a petition collected by the parish priest of Ferryland, Father Alfred Maher, in 1922, to change the name of the settlement in honour of Sir George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore. In the early seventeenth century, Calvert was also the founder of the Colony of Avalon, nearby the settlement now known as Ferryland.

Ferryland RNC
Historic Ferryland Museum is located in the old Courthouse just a short walk from the Colony of Avalon. The building was manned by the Newfoundland Constabulary and served the Southern Shore as a Courthouse for approximately 40 years until its closure shortly after Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949. The main floor held the courtroom, magistrate's office, jail cell and telegraph office. Upstairs was a residence for the Newfoundland Constabulary member and his family. During its term as a courthouse, six officers served this area and lived in the building: O'Flaherty, Manning, Power, Lake, Hogan and Costello.

Ferryland Museum is presently conducting research on the six officers and the role they played in the history of the building and this entire area. It is their intention to use the information collected for their files which will be made available to the public for research purposes. Information will also be used for the development of an exhibit which will become part of the permanent collection of Historic Ferryland Museum. They are grateful to the people who granted interviews and donated photographs and/or information for this project.

Heart's Content
Heart's Content is located on the Bay de Verde Peninsula along the shores of Avalon's Trinity Bay. It is a community with an occupational history that sets it apart from most other Newfoundland fishing villages. While the fishery is the primary reason that people first arrived and settled in the region--a recorded history that goes as far back as the early 1600s--it wasn't until the landing of the transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866 that the community gained notoriety. This successful cable landing connected North America to the Europe which resulted in Heart's Content becoming an important hub in international communications. It was a role that brought with it a substantial increase in population, attracting workers from both Canada and England. With this new demographic, Heart's Content was introduced to cultural activities, lifestyles, and social classes that were previously unfamiliar in such outport communities.

In 2001 the cable landing was designated a National Historic Event by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Remnants of this cable are still on the beach for visitors to see. The nearby Cable Station, built in 1876, remains virtually untouched today as a testament to Heart's Content's telegraphic history. This building is protected as a National Historic Site and is open to the public as a museum. Heart's Content also has an officially designated heritage district which holds at least 18 buildings of historic significance, many of which were built by the cable company.

This designation was made possible through a cooperation between the Heart's Content Town Council and the Mizzen Heritage Society. The photographs in this collection belong to the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of an inventory of Heart's Content's heritage features for their heritage districts initiative.

Port Royal
Port Royal is a small community located on the west side of Long Island, Placentia Bay. It presently consists of around fifteen cabins, populated during the summer by former residents of the town. Once a thriving fishing village, Port Royal was depopulated beginning in the early 1960s as part of the resettlement program. Families that had lived and fished in the area since the mid-19th century suddenly found themselves living in larger, less isolated communities on the island of Newfoundland. After this upheaval, the Port Royal townsite remained vacant for several decades. This changed in 1993 when, inspired by a community reunion, several families from Port Royal decided to go back home and build cabins where their houses once stood.

During its most populated era as a town, Port Royal had between 80 and 100 residents, most of whom were dependent on the local fishery. Despite geographic isolation, these residents did not go without as they benefited from nearby Harbour Buffett -- a commercially successful community located a short walk from Port Royal. Harbour Buffett was home to W.W. Wareham & Sons Ltd. which was an important fish merchant business that serviced not only the Merasheen Islands, but communities along the west coast of the Avalon Peninsula as well. This business operated successfully until 1967 when, like Port Royal, Harbour Buffett was forced to evacuate the island.

The headstone rubbings in this collection are from Port Royal's only cemetery, located on a hill just above the waterfront cabins. This cemetery was put out of use during resettlement and up until the 1993 reunion, went untouched. These days it is being maintained by residents of the cabin community whose ancestors are buried here. In the summer of 2012, the Port Royal Cemetery underwent a restoration project which saw to the cleaning and repair of its 35 headstones. These rubbings were collected after the headstones were brought back to their original appearance.

St. John's
St. John's : As the provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, the city enjoys an extensive and vibrant history as the oldest English- founded city in North America. In the last half of the twentieth century, The city is famed for its nightlife and rich musical culture. The downtown area is widely known as the cultural hub of St. John's and is a major tourist destination in Atlantic Canada.

The St. John's digital collection consists of collected materials surrounding occupational folklore in the area and local oral histories.

Quidi Vidi
Quidi Vidi Village is nestled in the east end of downtown St. John's. Truly a small community within the city, Quidi Vidi is known for being one of the oldest fishing villages in North America. It's sheltered harbour was the perfect location for fisherman in early days of settlement in Newfoundland and, to this day, remains a useful fishing port. The main part of the Village, surrounding 'The Harbour' and 'The Gut,' consists of just over 60 homes, and has retained a distinct village feel, despite new housing developments and being within minutes of the downtown core. The fishing stages, and jutting stage heads, that line the shores of both the north and south side of 'The Harbour' and 'The Gut' contribute to this old world feeling which tourists from around the world come to see.

As with any settlement of this age, many of the families who are living in Quidi Vidi Village have been there for many generations. However, because of it's scenic beauty and quiet surroundings, this area of St. John's is sought after by a younger generation of newcomers as well as artists looking for inspiration.

The Battery
This collection was assembled by graduate students of Folklore 6740 in 2006 as part of a Public Sector Folklore graduate class. It is being used as part of a web site on Intangible Cultural Heritage and a museum exhibit at The Rooms Provincial Museum. It contains over fifteen hours of audio and video interviews with Battery residents, 900 photographs taken in 2006-7 and several historical photographs and maps. The images include homes, fishing premises, folk art, work and social activities, and the changing landscape of the community. The interviews are with current and former residents and deal with issues concerning change, the nature of home, the fishing industry, privacy, the weather, and life in the Battery, among other things.

Names of collectors:
Jedediah Baker, Rita Colavincenzo, Lynda Daneliuk, Jerry Dick, Lynn Matte, Hannah Mills-Woolsey, Maureen Power, & Heather Read.

Witless Bay
Witless Bay is located about 30 km from St. John's, on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland. According to legend, the name Witless Bay originally came from an early European habitant named Captain Whittle from Dorsetshire, England. The area was originally named Whittle's Bay, after this one family. Upon the death of Captain Whittle, his widow and children decided to return to England. Hence, the remaining settlers referred to Whittle's Bay as Whittle-less Bay and eventually, it became Witless Bay.

This community is a small, scenic outport, originally settled to participate in the cod fishery. Migratory fishermen began visiting the vicinity in the late 1600s and by the mid-1700s, Irish fishing servants began to settle, quickly outnumbering any English who had settled. In 1835 Witless Bay had a population of 542, and within ten years, this substantial population saw a school and chapel built. During settlement history, residents of Witless Bay kept gardens and tended livestock, such as sheep, to supplement the inshore cod fishery. However, residents were still susceptible to the eventual decline in the fishery. As the fishing industry rose and then fell, so too the population of Witless Bay grew and then dipped.

Nowadays, with the fishery all but gone, the main industry is tourism, with The Witless Bay Seabird Ecological Reserve as its main attraction. This reserve consists of four seabird colonies, which breed on four different islands in the surrounding waters. These islands, Gull Island, Green Island, Great Island and Pee Pee Island, provide breeding habitat for the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in North America and the world's second largest Leach's Storm Petrel colony.

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