In the November 2014 issue of Downhome, Shannon Duff and Dennis Flynn speak to the fine folks behind some of Newfoundland and Labrador's longest running businesses. Here they share the stories of two more experienced retailers.
Got ’er Knocked at Nic Naks
Lorraine Welsh, proprietor of Nic Naks store in Green’s Harbour, Trinity Bay, says with a smile, “The building is approximately 100 years old and the original owner was a Mr. Harry Green. He was a general merchant and you could find everything you needed to run the fishery or a home here. Mr. Green went teaching for a year or so after he finished school, but decided he wanted to be in business for himself so he returned home and opened his store. It flourished and at one point he had over 200 people ‘on his books’ (an old-fashioned way of saying customers) and it would take him two full days just to deliver groceries around the area. He stayed open for around 60 years and my mother actually worked here for over 20 years helping in the shop.”
The next owner, Bill Green, operated a grocery store in this building for another 20 years after that. When he retired, the building was vacant for about a year when Lorraine entered a rent to own arrangement with him and she’s been in business for almost 18 years now. Her shop is filled with quite the assortment of goods, from beautiful replica dories, ships in glass bottles and knit goods to a large assortment of quilts that share shelf space with eclectic antiques (including vintage stereoscope viewers).
“I love it,” she says. “It is mostly seasonal, but I have been here since the ‘year of the tow out’ (a local expression for the 1997 move of the Hibernia Gravity Base Structure from the construction site at Bull Arm to the offshore oil fields) and the people are wonderful. I have a niche specializing in the high quality local craft industry and we see people from all over the world. I have had folks from Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and everywhere really. We have even had a few famous visitors including Shaun Majumder (of “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” and “Majumder Manor”) and he was really nice.” – Dennis Flynn
Generations of Grocers
Many of the smaller markets from our grandparents’ days are long gone, but there are a few that have held their own and weathered the storm in this ever-changing globalized, digital marketplace with its big box stores. One of those mainstays is the family-owned Coleman’s Group of Companies, owned today by Frank Coleman, a third-generation Coleman businessman. Coleman’s is now the largest, fully integrated, independent wholesale/retail food operation in Atlantic Canada. Its beginnings were much humbler.
Arthur James Coleman and his wife Maggie first opened for business in 1934 in a former school house in Corner Brook. It was a family operation in every sense. As soon as the Coleman children were old enough they were put to work in the store, as were subsequent Coleman descendants. “It was always a business where you had to work hard, specifically in the food business because it was so demanding every day,” Frank told Downhome in a past interview. “My brothers and cousins and I did a little bit of everything.”
Over the years, the Coleman’s enterprise has really branched out with 12 food stores, four furniture stores and two clothing stores operating from Port aux Basques to St. John’s. Frank says the company has a unique relationship with its customers and it’s one of the reasons they keep coming back. “It’s people that we work with and people that we serve that have a shared group of customs and expectations, and we treat them that way, and I think they feel that way when they come into our business. It’s a very unique place that we occupy in the minds of the consumer, and it’s a place that we work very hard to maintain.” With a fourth generation employed in the company, it’s likely Coleman’s will remain a hallmark of the food industry in this province. – Shannon Duff
When Tanya Northcott goes on vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador, so does her camera. Really, it’s an adventure for her camera, which doesn’t see much action back home in Ottawa, Ontario.
“My camera is not really used anywhere else but when I’m in Newfoundland,” Tanya admits. “When I’m in Ottawa it just sits on the shelf. I’m working on changing this, as there are many beautiful places in and around Ottawa, too, but it just doesn’t inspire me the way Newfoundland does.”
Tanya was born on the mainland and was introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador by her adoptive parents, who raised her there.
“I’m a descendant of Ojibway ancestry. My birth family once lived on the Wabigoon Lake Reserve, which is South of Dryden, Ontario. I was adopted by a wonderful Newfoundland couple who were living in Thunder Bay at the time, but after living there for a few years they decided to move back to Newfoundland and that’s where I grew up,” she explains. “I’m very happy to have grown up in Newfoundland; it’s a beautiful place with very friendly people.”
Her first experience with photography was during a vacation to the southern United States and Mexico in the 1980s, when she was gifted an Olympus camera to record her experience. “During this trip I was really inspired by the beauty of the ocean and landscapes,” Tanya says.
These days, Tanya captures scenes using her Nikon D-90 with its AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm lens. She also uses a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and an AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm zoom lens. While her camera gear has changed over the years, what she trains it on has not. She is still is irresistibly drawn to the sea and landscapes.
“My favourite subject to shoot would be Newfoundland outports and landscapes simply because it’s so beautiful: the ocean, beaches, cliffs, wildlife, wharfs, boats and colourful houses…the only thing I need to do is to capture good composition and good lighting – the natural beauty of the land does the rest.”
She makes it sound simple, but to get the right composition sometimes means clamouring over cliffs or crawling beneath wharfs. And that great lighting? Well one could be waiting for hours or even days – sometimes even returning in a different season – for the best light. But it’s all worth it, as Tanya and every other photographer will tell you, when you get that perfect shot, that image that inspires you and others every time you see it.
Click here to view a slideshow of images taken by Tanya.
Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.
No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.
Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.
Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.
“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”
Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)
Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.
Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.
In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).
Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe
Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.
Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.
As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.
Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.
“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.
Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.
“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.
He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.
“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.
“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”
Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
In the July 2011 issue of Downhome, Lin Crosbie-Marshall delves into the murky issue of Canadian citizenship. She found that some life-long residents of this country have been unpleasantly surprised to find out they are not recognized as citizens. If it happened to them, could it happen to you? Take the online test to find out by clicking here.
Below you'll find a list of circumstances under which, at one time or another, Canadians could have unknowingly lost their citizenship.
12 Ways to Lose Your Citizenship Researched and compiled by Don Chapman
1. As a minor child, one’s father took out citizenship in another country.
2. You were a foreign-born Canadian, and on your 24th birthday you weren’t domiciled in Canada.
3. You were a war bride who never became naturalized.
4. You were a war-bride child who never was naturalized.
5. In certain circumstances, you were a second-generation, born-abroad Canadian and you didn’t reaffirm your citizenship by your 28th birthday.
6. You were a border-baby, meaning you were born in the U.S. (mainly because the nearest hospital was in the States rather than Canada), and you were never properly registered. People from Quebec were particularly affected.
7. In certain circumstances, your connection to Canada came through a woman rather than a man. This mainly affected foreign-born, born in-wedlock children to Canadian mothers and foreign fathers. In 1997, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled CIC was guilty of gender discrimination, thus granting citizenship to this group on application. However, in 2004, CIC decided to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling, thus Canada went back to blatantly discriminating against women.
8. You were born out of wedlock.
9. You were born to a Canadian serviceman outside of Canada, commonly referred to as “military brat.”
10. You are a woman who married a non-Canadian prior to 1947.
11. You are a child of a woman who married a non-Canadian prior to 1947. (It doesn't matter that you’ve spent your whole life in Canada or were born in Canada!)
12. You took out citizenship in another country prior to 1977.
Waking up Canadian
A new law amending the Citizenship Act came into effect on April 17, 2009, giving Canadian citizenship to certain people who lost it and to others who were recognized as citizens for the first time, according to Citizen and Immigration Canada. Watch this video, "Waking up Canadian," an amusing portrayal of how so many individuals woke up Canadian citizens on that day.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you or someone you know had to struggle to regain Canadian citizenship? Leave your comment in the space provided, above right.
I was born on Fogo Island, Newfoundland on October 31, 1939. In 1958 I left for Toronto and have lived here ever since. In 2000, after 35 years working for the Toronto Transit Commission, I retired. Now my life's work revolves around my family tree. I call it a hobby - my wife calls it an obsession. If it is an obsession, I say it is a magnificent one.
I have childhood memories of Mom saying her cousin James was "lost" during the war. As a young boy, taking things literally, I couldn't understand the true, tragic meaning of the word. Later, when I heard about a boat sinking with the "loss" of all on board, I was similarly confused - until the bodies of the drowned seamen were pulled from the deep and taken ashore. Then I finally realized what Mom had meant. Cousin James had died during the war.
James Albert Mahaney (my second cousin) was born on Fogo Island to parents Alfred Israel Mahaney and Susan (Clinch) Mahaney on April 21, 1899. His christening took place at St. Andrew's Church on May 5 the same year.
As a young man, James was a seaman onboard the trawler HM Lord Durham as a member of The Royal Newfoundland Naval Reserve during the First World War. This boat was one of many vessels that made up the Royal Naval Patrol, which kept watch over England's coast during both World Wars.
I learned the circumstances of my cousin's death on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Web site. According to the site, James and one other seaman, William Albert Parry (from the United Kingdom) of the Royal Naval Reserve, died at Queenstown, Ireland in October of 1918. Cousin James succumbed to pneumonia on October 14 that year, and William died five days later. Both men are buried at the Cobh Old Church Cemetery in Ireland, where 127 First World War Commonwealth graves are located. (Cobh is the original Irish name for Queenstown.) It seems the crew of the Lord Durham were all rescued, but James and William died in hospital some time later.
"Lost" and Found
On an overcast morning last year, my brother-in-law, Noel Keyes, and I set out to drive from Limerick City, Ireland down to Cobh. As we approached Cobh the sun began to shine. We asked a passerby for directions to the cemetery. The gentleman was very informative and we had little trouble finding it.
Considering this is a very old cemetery (and the particular section we were looking for hadn't been in use for some time), I didn't think we would be able to find our cousin. But I was pleasantly surprised; I could not believe how well the armed forces gravesites and headstones had been kept after all these years. The stones looked to be only a few years old; the grass was trimmed and on some of the graves new seed had been planted. It took about 10 minutes to find the grave I had travelled so far from home to visit. I had a lump in my throat when I saw the familiar caribou head (symbol of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment) carved into James' headstone.
I crouched down beside his grave for some time as my tears flowed. Questions filled my mind: How did James' parents find out about his death? How long did it take for the news to reach them? Did they ever know where their son was buried? This must have been a tragedy for Uncle Alfred Israel and Aunt Susan. James was their first-born and he was only 19 years old when he died.
When I regained my composure, my brother-in-law and I took a few photos. Our visit to the cemetery took place on October 14, 2007 - exactly 89 years after James Albert died.
Tragedy visited this family again when their youngest son, Stanley Gilbert Mahaney, was lost during the Second World War. While visiting Fogo during the summer of 2007, my cousin Janel discovered a news item about the family's losses. Included were photos of two young sailors in uniform with the caption "One generation, two wars. Brothers James and Stanley Mahaney of Fogo, killed in action 1918 and 1941."
Stanley was an ordinary seaman on Her Majesty's Yacht Rosabelle, as a member of the Royal Navy. He died November 12, 1941, along with the other 13 members of the ship's crew. Their bodies were never found and they are remembered on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial in Suffolk, England, which honours the men of the Royal Naval Patrol Service who have no other grave than the sea.
During both wars, the Royal Naval Patrol lost 2,397 members, including James and Stanley Mahaney of Fogo Island, my cousins.
Recently, Linda Browne sat down to chat with Newfoundland icons Sandy Morris and Greg Malone of the legendary Wonderful Grand Band. To learn more about the WGB's upcoming shows, the band's early years and how they really felt about wearing pantyhose, check out the August issue of Downhome, on stands now.
To hear more, have a look at the following video clips.
Click here to enter to win a copy of the band's first self-titled album on CD.
Greg Malone and Sandy Morris discuss why it's great to be part of the WGB.
The guys share a bit of news about the band's upcoming projects.
Malone and Morris chat about the rerelease of their first self-titled album on CD, recorded at Clode Sound Studio in Stephenville in 1978.