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

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.

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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.