Finishing Touches – Floor Plans and Interviews

Joey's shed.

Joey’s shed.

As has previously been written on the blog this last week is hectic.  More hectic than the last and the one before that.  At times it seems like we won’t finish all our projects and work on time but right now there is a quiet determination throughout the convent.  This quiet an interesting change as the convent is usually bustling with conversation and cooking.  With eight “sisters” living in the space there always seems to be something going on.

Inside Joey Yard's Shed.

Inside Joey Yard’s Shed.

It is also a bittersweet week as it is our last in Witless Bay.  I’ve certainly enjoyed the convent life although at times we’ve questions whether we enjoy it too much (is listening to Gregorian chants during meal time taking it too far?).  The communal way of living – cooking, cleaning and living together has been a great experience and I know I’ll miss my sisters when we return to St. John’s (although we’ll see each other four days a week in our two remaining classes when we return).  I’m looking forward to presenting our work to the community on Saturday at 5:00 at the Recreation Centre.  It’ll be great to be able to show what we’ve learned and who we’ve talked to.

Jacquey  climbing around the shed.

Jacquey climbing around the shed.

This week I’ve learned a number of things from different people.  I’ve had four interviews – including Bonnie’s which I posted about on Monday.  Tuesday I had an interview with Vicki Walsh of Burnt Cove who members of the Fifty Plus club recommended I interview.  It was a great interview and we discussed everything from her family in Witless Bay and her great-grandfather’s house close to Lower Pond to rug hooking and Newfoundland Ponies.  Vicki was even kind enough to join Dena Wiseman and do an impromptu rug hooking workshop last night.  I picked Dena’s brain on heritage while everyone practiced the techniques.  I think we may have a few new rug hookers on our hands.  The people here have really been wonderful – inviting us in to their homes, sheds, stables, root cellars, asking us to join them for bingo, craft nights and cards and dropping by the convent with gifts of fresh vegetables or bottled preserves.  I really wish we had more time in the community to enjoy the warmth of the people.  My last interview was this afternoon with the Mayor of Witless Bay Sebastien Despres.  We discussed heritage in Witless Bay while his daughter Amelie explored the chapel in the convent.

Claire hanging out and measuring the shed.

Claire hanging out and measuring the shed.

Other than interviews my week has also been filled with finishing up a floor plan of Joey Yard’s shed.  This shed has two parts – the rear part which was built by his father Henry in the 1930s or 1940s and the front part which was built by Joey in the mid 2000s.  Joey said the shed once housed hay which had been cut in the nearby meadows to feed the Newfoundland Pony their family owned.  The rear part of the shed now contains disused fishing gear such as caplin traps, a squid roller, handmade swivels, gill nets, and piles of rope.  The front of the shed is used more frequently and has barrels of diesel for Joey’s boat, tubs for fish, and containers for lobsters.  It was interesting drawing the inside building with all its studs but even more interesting watching Claire and Jacquey climb around the shed.

Caplin trap.

Caplin trap.

To clue up my last blog post and write what I’m sure we’ll all say on Saturday – thanks to the community of Witless Bay!  It has been an incredible and packed three weeks.  I’m thankful to everyone who made this experience as amazing as it was and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Joey Yard

Joey Yard

Advertisements

Today was a breath of fresh air from slaving away in the convent all day.

….continued from sharnabrycki’s post

Bonnie Johnstone with a piece of her work felted from a common scene in her meadow.

Bonnie Johnstone with a piece of her work felted from a common scene in her meadow.

After we interviewed Bonnie on felting we shifted the topic to the heritage of Witless Bay.  As a member of the Witless Bay heritage committee and an avid supporter of the arts and heritage in the area Bonnie had an interesting perspective on its place in the community.  Bonnie described a game developed by the heritage committee and played during the puffin festival this past summer.  The game involved several tools used in the community’s history however for many people the objects were hard to  identify.  Bonnie said this was a great way to engage with the community and the committee hopes to further develop this sort of game to keep this knowledge alive.  One thing which stood out most during this conversation was the idea that our parents and grandparents may not always pass down their stories and traditions for a variety of reasons.  Modern conveniences may replace many traditional practices and if those practices are not taught or discussed they could be lost.  This is one of the many reasons heritage committees are so important across our rich province.  These committees provide a voice for the past and help communities preserve and celebrate their past and present traditions and customs.

Petting Boo and Bobby.

Petting Boo and Bobby.

IMG_8363

BFFS with Bobby.

After our interview we trekked back through the woods to Bonnie’s home where she showed us several more examples of her work including felted boots, rugs, a wrap and a necklace.  Then we got to meet the adorable source of Bonnie’s wool themselves.  Boo, Sparrow and Bobby grazed in a large meadow set against the backdrop of the ocean and the North Side of Witless Bay.  At first the sheep didn’t know what to make of us but once they were comfortable with our presence they came over and wanted to be nuzzled and have their chests scratched.  We sat in the field with the sheep and chatted with Bonnie about their different breeds and different personalities.  Bonnie even pointed out the architectural clues of an old walk in hearth all that remains of an old house on the property.  Although the rain and winds set in it was a magical morning with many memories.

Architecture clues: outline of walk in hearth.

Architecture clues: outline of walk in hearth.

The Difference a Day Makes

Jacquey and Claire examining the outside of Bernadette's house

Jacquey and Claire examining the outside of Bernadette’s house

Yesterday was our first day on our own measuring houses.  We split into three groups of three and headed to our separate houses.  Claire, Jacquey, and I headed to Bernadette Maddigan’s house to measure her house and start our floor plan.  We started off with the outside and measured all the sides of the house including windows, doors, the veranda, and the front and back porch which jut out from the main house.  It was interesting to what we had been shown and practiced earlier in the week in action.  After completing the outside of the house we stopped to the convent for a quick lunch.  We headed back to the house and that’s when the trouble began.

Bernadette's companion Blackie who visited us frequently the past few days

Bernadette’s companion Blackie who visited us frequently the past few days

Starting in the back porch we added the measurements for a built in cabinet, and a water pump then we ventured into the bathroom.  Two people measuring a bathroom is quite a tight squeeze and this is where we began to see issues.  The exterior walls in the bathroom appeared to be a foot thick.  We went outside and measured again.  We went inside and measured again.  Everything appeared to be correct!  Finally we decided to leave it and come back to it.  We moved into the pantry and aside from the thick walls all seemed fine.  The walls were still an issue and we were losing time so we decided to start from the front porch.  Here the walls were still quite thick and time was running out.  Finally we opted to pack up and head home to the convent.

Gregorian chants and popsicles

Gregorian chants and popsicles

Andrea and I were on cooking duty and prepared a vegetarian shepherd’s pie.  To unwind we listened to a CD of Gregorian chants while Sharna read Henry Glassie aloud.  Andrea and I supplied jam-jams and popsicles as dessert and we all ate a quiet meal with the accompanying chants.

A bump in Bernadette's home indicating a wall which has been removed

A bump in Bernadette’s home indicating a wall which has been removed

This morning was a new day and we headed to Bernadette’s again.  Claire had checked over the measurements and drawn a new drawing to see where the issues were but couldn’t find any major problems.  Dr. Chappell suggested the walls were simply thick due to the layers of siding and insulation over the years.  We opted to draw both the original wall size and the current wall size to show the different dimensions.

The wood stove which replaced an older stone fireplace.  This may have been a lobby entrance house with a large stone fireplace in the centre, and stairs to the second floor.

The wood stove which replaced an older stone fireplace. This may have been a lobby entrance house with a large stone fireplace in the centre, and stairs to the second floor.

It was much smoother day and we worked from the front porch through the house adding all the different measurements from built in cabinets to sinks, from stairs to counters as we went.  We labeled the rooms and added notes for changes and built in work.  We stopped mid afternoon for some cookies, a cup of tea, and a chat with Bernadette.  We left feeling much happier and more accomplished than yesterday and it just goes to show the difference a day can make!

The difference of a day!

The difference of a day!

Looking for Architectural Clues

Mother Carey's Chick

Mother Carey’s Chick

Our Monday morning started off with a visit from a Leach Storm Petrel (known locally as Mother Carey’s Chicks).  Dena Wiseman dropped by to let us handle the rarely seen sea bird which is nocturnal and nests on the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.  Although I’ve seen puffins before the storm petrel was new to me.  Both birds can become disoriented and stranded along the roads and are part of the puffin and petrel patrol in Witless Bay.

Left to right, top then bottom: Dr. Chappell climbing into the attic, Dr. Pocius examing the attic, a loose collar beam, smoke blackened wood.

Left to right, top then bottom: Dr. Chappell climbing into the attic, Dr. Pocius examing the attic, a loose collar beam, smoke blackened wood.

After breakfast we had an intro class with Dr. Ed Chappell who is the Director of Architectural and Archeological Research with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  Dr. Chappell presented the basics of architectural floor plans, how to read buildings for changes such as “scars” left from additions or removals and techniques for dating buildings.  We had a quick lunch then we headed into the field.

Replaced board where chimney may have been.

Replaced board where chimney may have been.

We started by examining the first floor of the house before Dr. Chappell and Dr. Pocius decided we should see what we could learn from the attic (there was no access to the basement  – otherwise we would’ve been under the house as well).  We manoeuvred our way into the attic and examined the ceiling planks which were imported and seemed to mechanically cut.  There were studded walls with vertical planks some which had been blackened by smoke.  There were also new boards across the ceilings planks which seem to suggest the presence of a chimney and later possibly a wood stove chimney pipe.

Left to right: Field students examining the attic, markings on the floor of the attic, Andrea and Saeede.

Left to right: Field students examining the attic, markings on the floor of the attic, Andrea and Saeede.

Dr. Chappell suggested we start with a plan of the first floor and add in details of additions and changes when the plan was complete.  In order to start the floor plan we needed to decide upon a scale – we went with 3/4 inch equals 1 foot and started measuring.  Dr. Chappell showed us how to measure the buildings, how to include the windows, doors and moldings and how to label the floor plan.  He also demonstrated how to use an architectural ruler in order to draw the building to scale.

Dr. Chappell demonstrating how to draw a floor plan.

Dr. Chappell demonstrating how to draw a floor plan.

When the first floor plan was drawn the changes in support beams and the suggestion of a small entrance way were added before the attic was measured again.  Dr. Chappell was still doing some measurements and drawings in the attic when we left.  We are currently at the  convent preparing a quick supper before heading to the Fifty Plus Club’s Craft Night.  Later in the week we will work in teams of three to measure and document buildings as well as discovering the building’s history.
DSC_0724

A Whirlwind Week

This past few days have been a whirlwind.  A lot has been packed into each day since I last wrote an entry on Monday.  Tuesday Dr. Guha Shankar arrived from the American Folklife Centre and we’ve had very dense classes on everything from recording equipment to metadata.  As previously mentioned the classes take place in the chapel and there we’ve had a number of discussions on ethnography and ethics.  Tuesday’s class was very hands on – we each brought our recording equipment to class and Dr. Shankar discussed the different settings, how the equipment works and where to place the equipment in order to create the highest quality recording.  Then we each did a practice interview in different locations throughout the building (or in our case on the porch).  We also discussed project planning  such as focusing the topic, deciding boundaries (geographic, time period, etc), locating personnel or equipment, deciding on a final product and determining how the material will be documented and preserved (this should be particularly useful for those hoping to go into public folklore).  After a day of practical class work and a discussion on field notes we ate a hurried supper and rushed to bingo.

Bingo

Bingo

Bingo was an interesting experience in and of itself.  There were roughly 40 people at bingo which took place at the Knights of Columbus which is conveniently located right next to the convent.  We walked to bingo and picked up hard cards, paper cards and a dabber.  Sharna, Saeede and I sat at a table with some women from Bay Bulls who had gone to school in Witless Bay.  The women were quite helpful with our bingo questions and explained that the building used to be part of the school and that there was an older two storey school in front of the current building.  Another man who was selling tickets and exchanging bingo cards explained that there was a hallway from the school to the convent and that he had helped his father who was a handyman with work in the convent.  It was a long but fun night of bingo and it was nice to get out into the community – although unfortunately it was a rather difficult place to strike up a conversation.

Church interior

Church

Priest's House

Priest’s House

Wednesday’s classes included a morning class with an introduction to metadata₁ from Dr. Shankar and Lisa Wilson from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.  After lunch we took a quick break and went to look inside the church and priest’s house.  It was a nice way to break up the classes and an interesting look at how religious shifts were reflected in changes of the church.  In the afternoon we discussed file management, naming, storage, etc.  Just after our classes in the convent and before we cooked supper Sharna and I took to the woods to pick some blueberries.  We stumbled upon a patch of chanterelle mushrooms and filled our bags.  This was quite the experience as neither of us had ever foraged for mushrooms before.  We used several mushrooms in the taco casserole which we made for supper last night.

Sharna with the chanterelles

Sharna with the chanterelles

Today we discussed the need to get out into the community and meet people and it was an appropriate discussion to have as this afternoon was spent photographing Shelia Ryan’s house, barn, shed, root cellar and Joey Yard’s outbuildings including sheds and stores.  In order to prepare for our outing we discussed some photography basics with Dr. Shankar and photographer Brian Ricks.  After our introduction to photography basics we were thrust into the field and told to take pictures, practice changing the settings and choose our best three pictures.  I’m about to head back to the convent (from the elementary school – where they are kind enough to let us use the wifi) for a quick supper and afterwards we’ll each present our pictures.  It should be interesting as I am completely new to photography and was a little overwhelmed the first hour.  Below are the images I chose for this evenings presentation.

Inside Joey's shed

Inside Joey’s shed

wbfs2014_tb_ph001 - Copy

Saeede practicing

wbfs2014_tb_ph002

Radio

Terra

1 – Metadata is essentially data about data.  But in the case of our material it is information such as who is interviewing whom, what the date was, etc and who took this picture, what is the picture of, etc.

Unconventional Use of a Convent

Left to right: Statue in our room, confessional, wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom, and the outside of the convent.

Left to right: Statue in our room, confessional, wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom, and the outside of the convent.

We arrived in Witless Bay on Sunday afternoon after a quick stop for groceries at Foodland in Bay Bulls.  There are seven new MA students – all female so we’ve been dubbed “the sisters”.  We are staying in the old convent beside the church and our classes are being held in the small convent chapel.  Sunday afternoon after unpacking groceries we had a chance to look around the building, unpack our suitcases and make our beds.  The building itself is beautifully restored on the outside and the inside is under construction.  This means there are still many touches from its time as a convent such as statues, stained glass windows and even a confessional box.

Left to right - top then bottom: Priest's house, ceiling vaulting in chapel, close up of stained glass, front porch of the convent, the stained glass window of the chapel, and the church.

Left to right – top then bottom: Priest’s house, ceiling vaulting in chapel, close up of stained glass, front porch of the convent, the stained glass window of the chapel, and the church.

After exploring the building and drinking several cups of tea and coffee from our welcome packs we piled into two vans and set off for the community hall.  Here we were greeted with an enormous pot luck put off by Witless Bay’s Fifty Plus club.  We ate everything from cold plate foods such as turkey and potato salads to cod au gratin and meatballs.  After everyone was served we introduced ourselves to the community and explained what we were interested in – which at this point in our folklore careers is pretty much everything.  There was tea and desserts which was accompanied by an accordion, guitar and mandolin.  We were invited to dance and several of us waltzed, step danced and learned part of the running of the goat.  When the music finished there were several games of cards played.  The game was 120s (otherwise known as growl) and while my table didn’t finish Andrea and I learned quite a lot about the rules and the community.  The evening was a fantastic introduction to the community and I’m sure the club will see us for a scattered craft, bingo or dart night.

Cards (120s) at the recreation centre.

Cards (120s) at the recreation centre.

This morning we had a lecture from Dr. John Mannion who explained the basics of migration and fishing methods in Newfoundland.  He also explained the importance of topographical maps and family names and how it gives insight into the community.  Dr. Mannion described the population growth on the southern shore and some of the changes it has seen.  We learned about the spacial structure of Newfoundland outports and property inheritance.

Some day on clothes - Newfoundland clotheslines.

Some day on clothes – Newfoundland clotheslines.

After lunch we walked around the community and saw several of the places described by Dr. Mannion and Dr. Pocius.  It was a beautiful day in Witless Bay – I’d go so far as to say it was some day on clothes.  We learned more about the community and saw everything from architectural changes to folk art.  We visited several of the buildings we will be measuring and documenting and took tonnes of pictures.

Architecture of Witless Bay.

Architecture of Witless Bay.

We saw several people who we met last night before and they stopped to talk to us.  The community has been extremely welcoming so far and we’ve already been told we’ll receive a large pot of turkey soup early next week.  I was wondering how it would be as a Newfoundlander doing a field school in the province (and not far from my hometown – St. John’s) however I’ve learned a great deal in the short time we’ve been here!

Left to right - top then bottom: Display of tools, bucket once used for the fishery is now a planter, wriggle fence beside the elementary school, mother and baby ducks, fish chairs, and fishing gear display.

Left to right – top then bottom: Display of tools, bucket once used for the fishery is now a planter, wriggle fence beside the elementary school, mother and baby ducks, fish chairs, and fishing gear display.

Simply judging from the past thirty hours it seems like our time in Witless Bay will be a blast!  Looking forward to meeting more people from the community and the interesting classes we’ll have this week.

Folklore MA students 2014 - Hard at work!

Folklore MA students 2014 – Hard at work!

Terra