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The incredible, untold story of Mary Dohey, the NL woman who stopped a terrorist attack
How a musician and shared histories spawned a unique Irish-Newfoundland festival
Why beekeeping is becoming a honey of a hobby
Remembering that old, familiar sound
"Main Street was alive, it was vibrant, because it had all of these lovely cars and lots of people and the sweet little Cozy Chat and the smell of the french fries - and it just bustled, it was vibrant." These are the words of Yvonne Courtney (pictured below), a retired teacher who was born and raised in Grand Falls in the 1950s and 1960s (before the amalgamation that created Grand Falls-Windsor). For her, that was the heyday of the community. In her memory, Main Street, Windsor, was an exciting place full of wonderful tastes, textures, sights and sounds. One notable aspect of life back then was the Newfoundland railway train that ran through the town.âClose to the train time, the place would fill up. People would come in and get a soda or get a cup of tea or whatever you are going to order, waiting for the train. The cars would start bustling on Main Street. The place would get thick with cars and you would hear the train. The train would have the most distinctive sound and smell. You would smell the smoke of it as it entered. It just permeated everything.â As a teenager looking for the latest fashions, Yvonne and her friends would head to Riffâs department store. Riffâs ladies department buyer Austin Clarke was the source of fashion information for the girls of Grand Falls and Windsor, Yvonne recalls. âThe ladies department was always tight. The racks were sometimes circular, and then sometimes rectangular. Always silver, lovely chrome-looking racks, but they were so tight with clothes it was hard to pull them apart to just move the stuff to see the fashions. But they were really smart because they would have mannequins around the areas so [if] you saw something you likeâ¦Austin knew where it was and what size it was going to be in etc. Ladies, too. I found Austin really, reallyâ¦I wouldnât call it helpful, I would say knowledgeable because he could look at you and say, âOh, Iâve got just the thing for you. I know exactly what would look great on you.â And he was usually right. He knew what was going to be absolutely chic on you.â Courtesy of Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society In the 1960s, Cohenâs revamped its department store, including ladiesâ fashion. âCohenâs had elegance right off the magazine covers,â Yvonne recalls. âThey had changed the shop completely.â While it still stocked dry goods and âmenâs stuffâ downstairs, Yvonne says, the upstairs was a fashionistaâs dream.âWell, when you walked up those steps on the left hand side and entered the world of Cohenâs fashion, you were just blown away. Everything was gorgeous. There were velvet coats or fur coats, fur-lined coats; there were hats like you had never seen before; there were shoes that were really todayâs shoes with a clutch purse to match; and the clothing was just gloriously beautiful, and there was carpet on the floor and the dressing rooms were snazzier. Everything about Cohenâs was just snazzy. Cohenâs really had a fashion sense that was a cut above. Cohenâs had a way of presenting it that was in a league of its own.â - Interview conducted and transcribed by the Collective Memories ProjectFor more Windsor memories, click here to listen to the full interview with Yvonne Courtney. About Collective MemoriesThe Collective Memories Project is an initiative of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador to record the stories and memories of our province. If you have a memory of old-time Newfoundland and Labrador to share, contact Dale Jarvis at email@example.com or call 1-888-739-1892 ext 2 or visit www.collectivememories.ca.
It's a warm, overcast morning near the end of July in Bay de Verde, a small fishing community on the northern tip of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. At the cemetery near the town's entrance, a small group watches in silence as a priest sprinkles holy water onto the rectangular urn, draped in a black cloth, before him. Plumes of sea spray from a group of whales frolicking nearby rise into the air. Even they seem to be paying tribute. For now, a simple white cross marks the final resting place of a humble hero - Mary Dohey. The people bow their heads and pray. They have fulfilled their promise. They have brought Mary home. Afterward, friends share stories, smiles, and a few tears, as they sit and reminisce at the recreation centre in the neighbouring village of Red Head Cove, where Mary spent her formative years.For Mary, the road to Red Head Cove was a rocky one. But itâs those early challenges that helped form the strong woman she would become - the woman who would go on to save over a hundred lives, thousands of feet in the air, thanks to her sheer grit and nerves of steel. High-Flying Dreams The youngest of 14 children, Mary Imelda Dohey was born in the Cape Shore community of St. Brideâs on September 22, 1933. Times were tough and most families spent their waking hours doing what was necessary in order to survive. When Mary was just three years old, her mother died and her father made the heartbreaking decision to place his two youngest children, Mary and her brother Jack, in foster care. The next six years for Mary were filled with hardship. Her foster mother would beat her and make her scrub floors and perform other household duties. The shy little girl went to school unwashed, barefoot and hungry, and had to pick berries and steal vegetables from local gardens to get enough to eat. âThe foster mother was not very good to her, and she used to say âYouâll be found in the gutter,ââ says Nora OâRourke, Maryâs niece (and Jackâs daughter). âIt wasnât exactly a good situation that she went into.â Eventually, Mary was brought to Belvedere Orphanage in St. Johnâs where, at the age of 10, she was adopted by Michael (Mick) and Catherine (Kate) Rice of Red Head Cove. The couple had had seven children, but all but one had died. They cared for and loved Mary as their very own - and she loved them right back. They lived happily in a part of the community known locally as Round Cove. (Today, nothing but a few rock walls remain and the ocean chases the horizon beyond a lush, overgrown meadow filled with raspberries, wild roses and blue irises - an idyllic place for a child to grow up.) Wildflowers bloom at Round Cove (part of Red Head Cove) where Mary spent her formative years. (Linda Browne photo)After high school, Mary left Red Head Cove to teach for a year, to earn enough money for nursing school.âShe knew she wanted to be a nurse. From the time she was very young, thatâs what she wanted to do,â says Nora, who, with bright eyes and a kind smile, bears a striking resemblance to her aunt. She describes a woman of unwavering faith who was modest, genuine, independent and compassionate to a fault. While Mary successfully trained to become a psychiatric nurse, she also wanted to see the world and in her early 20s, she became an air stewardess with Trans-Canada Air Lines (now Air Canada). The requirements were tough - but so was she. âShe applied and she said she never ever thought sheâd be accepted. Lo and behold, they said yes, theywanted to do an interview. She had to go to Montreal for that. And the rest is history,â Nora says. Through her work, Mary visited places she had only dreamed of as a child. At one point, she took a leave of absence from the airline and spent almost six months in Kathmandu to nurse, and train nurses, with the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation. âThe conditions were pretty rough in Nepal. But she absolutely loved it,â Nora says. âShe was very busy. When she wasnât in the air, she was in a hospital somewhere.â Terror Aboard Flight 812On November 12, 1971, during a routine flight from Calgary to Toronto (what would come to be known as âthe doomsday flightâ), Maryâs dream job turned into a nightmare. âI remember the night that all this went down. I was only 12. Dad got a callâ¦I remember sitting at the top of the stairs and I knew there was something big going on. I came down and he was in a tizzy,â Nora recalls. A hijacker, clad in a long trench coat and gloves, a black balaclava covering his face, had taken her aunt and 127 others hostage on a DC-8 jet mid-flight. The hijacker demanded $1.5 million and that the plane be diverted to Great Falls, Montana. The man called Mary over and held a sawed-off shotgun to her head. At one point he forced her to hold, in one raised hand, the detonating wires attached to two bundles of dynamite.Nora, in the retelling, lifts her left hand in front of her to demonstrate, holding an imaginary wire between her thumb and forefinger, and another between her ring finger and pinkie. But for her aunt, those wires were all too real. Mary held her hand in that position for four hours. âShe said she was afraid to put her hand down, afraid that the wires would touch. It was a 60-stick dynamite bomb that he had,â Nora says. Not long after, Nora continues, the hijacker accidentally fired his shotgun just past Maryâs ear.âI said, âWhat did you do?!ââ she recalls asking her aunt incredulously. Mary said to the hijacker, âOh, dear, you didnât mean to do that.â To which he replied, âNo, I didnât.ââShe spoke to him very calmly,â Nora says.Mary, noticing the man was nervous and shaking, trusted in her training in psychiatric nursing to soothe him. She introduced herself to the man (who told her his name was Dennis, which turned out to be an alias) and asked if she could hold his hand, continuing to speak to him in comforting tones. The plane touched down in Montana, where a suitcase was delivered (containing only $50,000), and prepared to take off again. Through her conversation with the man, Mary learned that he had a soft spot for children, so she pretended that she had heard some aboard, crying.âShe said, âI didnât know if there was one kid or 20 kids on the plane,ââ Nora recalls Mary telling her. âBut she said to him, âDennis, do you hear the children?...Theyâre scared, theyâre hungry.ââThat was all the convincing âDennisâ needed to let the passengers go. He told Mary that she could leave, too, but she refused for the sake of the lives of the remaining crew. The plane took off again and some time later, when the hijacker laid down his gun to open a window to parachute out of the plane, the crew jumped him, bringing the terrifying eight-hour ordeal to an end - with no lives lost. A Humble Homecoming On December 1, 1975, Mary became the first living person to receive the Cross of Valour, the highest of Can-adaâs three Bravery Decorations, which ârecognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.â At the recreation centre in Red Head Cove, the medal has been put on display for the afternoon, flanked by pictures of significant moments from Maryâs life, including meeting then prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II. An unassuming woman by nature, Mary never displayed the award at home. This photo of Mary meeting then prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II, in 1977, was on display at a recent gathering of her family and friends.âShe didnât want any recognitionâ¦ she very much wanted to just blend into the background,â Nora says. Mary, who never married or had children, continued travelling the world long after her retirement from the airline in 1991. Every year, to celebrate Maryâs birthday, Nora says, they would go on a big trip, to places like Australia and Machu Picchu in Peru. They spent Maryâs 82nd birthday on the Great Wall of China. On June 12, at the age of 83, Mary died in Mississauga, where she had lived for the past 50 years. Mary had made it clear to Nora, and to her childhood friend Rose Quinlan (her nextdoor neighbour in Red Head Cove), where she wanted to be laid to rest - the place where she knew true happiness as a child. âShe said, âNow Rose, I know youâre going to take me home and bury me,ââ Rose recalls. (The coincidence of Maryâs interment taking place less than two weeks before Red Head Coveâs very first Come Home Year celebrations is not lost on her.) The two had remained the best of friends over the years, exchanging birthday and Christmas cards. âWe were like sisters. We talked about everything on the phone,â she adds. Maryâs Cross of Valour will be eventually donated to The Rooms in St. Johnâs, where Nora hopes more people will learn about her auntâs incredible story. âEven though she never initiated the conversation [about the hijacking]â¦she was very proud of what she did and very proud, not only of what she did with the hijacking, she was very proud of what she did with her life. To have come from such humble beginnings and have such a rough start in life, with losing my grandmother and to be told in the initial years of when she was in foster care that she would never amount to anythingâ¦she said many, many times during her life thatâs what propelled her on,â Nora says. âI think the thing that she really would want people to know is that it doesnât matter where you came from, it doesnât matter how rough your start wasâ¦youâre in control of yourself and youâre in control of your life. If you want to work hard, you can make anything of your life. Thatâs what she wanted to do, she wanted to make something of herself.âAnd so she did. - By Linda BrowneClick here to watch Mary Dohey tell her story in her own words in a TV segment from the late 1980s.
Ahhh... the old mill whistle. Blowing several times a day from Bowaterâs Pulp and Paper Mill in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, it sent men to work, children to school and much more. The old, familiar sound was as annoying as it was beautiful.Back in the 1950s in Corner Brook, all schools - Catholic and public - kept the same hours, largely thanks to the mill whistle and the important role it played in the lives of the townsfolk. The whistle was like an alarm clock that could be heard from miles away. It told folks when to wake up, when to leave for work or school, when it was dinnertime, suppertime, and when it was time to call it a day. Everyone in the town was accustomed to the mill whistle.To the best of my recollection, the whistle blew eight times a day back in the â50s. I remember three short whistle blows at 7:45 a.m. to alert the men that they had 15 minutes to get to work. At 8:00 there blew one long blast, signifying the start of the workday - while also serving as a one-hour warning for children starting school by 9:00. It blew again at 12 noon, when men and children headed home to their dinner (often called âlunchâ nowadays), prepared by their wives and mothers. Another blast at 12:45 ushered everyone back to work or school - where they were greeted by the 1:00 blast. The 5:00 whistle signalled that the workday was over. I remember watching all the men leaving the mill, heading home in all different directions. Sometimes, additional blasts were heard throughout the day for various reasons. Back then the town had a volunteer fire brigade, and it was the whistle that alerted them to a fire. The number of times the whistle blew indicated whether fire had broken out in the mill itself or elsewhere in town. The whistle also sounded if someone got lost in the woods.Every Remembrance Day, November 11, at exactly 11:00 a.m., the whistle blew for 15 seconds, fell silent for 1 1/2 minutes, then blew for another 15 seconds to mark two minutes of silence in honour of the war dead. And every year at midnight on December 31, the whistle blew to mark the beginning of a new year. I often wondered who blew the mill whistle. As a child I imagined there was a man pulling on a rope, like a bell ringer. Was it a special job for a special person? How did he know how many blasts to blow? How did he find out if someone was lost in the woods? And who got the message to the whistle blower? I did find out that it was steam that made the whistle sound, but someone had to put a voice to the whistle. And certainly, the whistle did have a voice. It spoke to the people, alerting them to catastrophes and events and bringing order to their daily routine.And so it stands to reason that over the years, when former townsfolk headed home to Corner Brook for visits, one of the most endearing sounds was the mill whistle. Theyâd hear that same old, familiar voice speaking to them again. âHi, remember me? Welcome home, friend.âI listened for the sound the last time I went âhome,â but I didnât hear the familiar voice welcoming me. It has been silenced; times have changed. The familiar blast of the mill whistle has been posted for posterity on YouTube, however, and it is forever etched in my memory. - Submitted by Bernice McCall, Ottawa, ON
The hot summer sun is beating down on me where I stand dressed in white and wearing a veil, a bonnet and elbow-length gloves and holding an ornate metal object as tiny tendrils of smoke waft like incense across the scene.Trust me. It is definitely not what you think.Althoughâ¦I did say "I do" to a proposal of sorts. After learning I was interested in backyard beekeeping, Gerard Smith invited me out to his place, G&M Family Farm in Freshwater (Placentia), NL, for a tour and to lend him a hand. He has around 4.5 million bees on his property - 80 hives with about 60,000 bees in each. His company offers all the supplies, equipment and some instruction on how to start your own honeybee operation.So here I am, fully fitted out in beekeepersâ protective gear, helping Gerard do a controlled split of a colony to a new location. I also get to mark a queen bee with an internationally recognized identification symbol so her age can be determined at a glance and she can be easily spotted in the hive (for 2017, the symbol is a single yellow dot on the thorax). I learn how to correctly handle the bee-laden frames during hive inspection and operate the small stainless-steel smoker when needed (Gerard suggests burning local grass or plants, which are natural and non-toxic, in the smoker to protect the bees).Iâm surprised to learn that the type of flowers where the bees travel significantly influences the flavour of their honey, and I get to taste samples so fresh and delicious during the day that I have to stop at the shop on the way out to buy several jars to bring home.Bell Island BeekeepingWhat led me to that amazing experience in Freshwater was actually a chance encounter on Bell Island last spring, where I met Rod Bickford (pictured below). He gave me a tour of his farm and talked enthusiastically about his relatively new beekeeping hobby.âWhen I first established the nucleus colony last summer , there were likely about 5,000 or so bees in there. That quickly grew and by September there were likely three times that many. This year the hive has expanded even more and there are maybe 30-50 thousand bees in residence,â Rod says, adding, âI can only estimate, of course, based upon the number of bees that I observe per frame in the hive.âA nucleus colony is essentially a small honeybee colony created from a larger one. The nucleus of a colony, of course, is the queen bee. For anyone starting their first honeybee operation, one nucleus colony in Newfoundland and Labrador cost about $285 in 2016.As far as Rod knows, heâs the only beekeeper on Bell Island. Registering with the government for setup was relatively easy, he says. âIt was just a form that is sent in to the provincial fruit crop development officer and provincial apiarist at the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources every year. You need to let them know where exactly the apiary is, how many hives are there and what the purpose [commercial, hobby etc.] is.âHis family has deep roots in the area going back generations, and his love of the land is evident. âLance Cove is a great spot for the bees. The abundance of wild flowers, trees, shrubs and other food sources is amazing. I have had neighbours ask what type of flowers they should plant to help the bees and some have even held off trying to get rid of dandelion as the bees love it!â he says. âThere is a bit of a micro climate in Lance Cove and a sheltered southerly exposure that creates the perfect environment all year long.â Rodâs bees donât need to travel very far since there are lots of nearby forage opportunities, and generally bees keep to a three-kilometre range.In the fall of 2016, Rod says, âThere was maybe 30-40 pounds of honey in the hive. Of course, none of it was harvested as it was needed to get the new hive through the winter. Now that the hive is well established and healthy, I do expect to take maybe 25 or so pounds off this year, depending on the final production levels. I wonât really know until late summer.â He adds, with a smile, âI may take less honey than that, but it all depends on the bees. I want to ensure I leave sufficient supplies to get them through our long winter and if that leaves me with less, then so âbeeâ it.âThat response is a good reflection of Rodâs easy-going demeanour, something he partially credits for not being stung so far by any of his thousands of bees. Beekeeping doesnât stress him out; in fact, it does the opposite. âAs someone who spent the better part of a 30-year professional military career being trained in the art of war and effectively âmanaging violence,â keeping bees has become like therapy for me,â Rod explains. âSame reason I loved keeping and fostering Newfoundland ponies and spending time in my garden and greenhouse. Iâve been up close and personal far too many times with the evil side of humanity and witnessed the destruction society can wreak upon itself and the environment. Maybe, in a small way, keeping a few bees is my way of apologizing to Mother Nature and healing a few wounds, both literally and figuratively. âHe adds with a grin, âItâs also about providing a positive example and demonstrating that new people, ideas and experiences, when meshed with such a historical location, can actually enrich a place; they donât have to be feared.âNL's Queen BeeBackyard beekeeping has really taken off in the last four years, says Catherine Dempsey. president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association (NLBKA), who jokingly calls herself the âQueen Bee.â âMost of the members start out interested in having a couple of hives and getting some honey for themselves, but there are presently six apiaries that are larger scale and commercial,â she says.Newfoundland bees are a special species that need to be protected from outside influences. âThe island of Newfoundland is one of the few places in the world that has no Varroa destructor mite, tracheal mite, small hive beetle or wax moths. These pests are hugely destructive to hives and bees, and can also carry and pass on other diseases that affect honeybee health.â Currently, local beekeepers donât have to test for these pests, or medicate their hives. âHowever, this status could be irreversibly ruined if someone snuck bees or used equipment into the province. The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, and Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association are very concerned about this happening and are working to prevent it.âCatherine also notes that one of the greatest challenges to beekeeping in Newfoundland and Labrador is the weather. Our late springs, and wind, rain, drizzle and fog all mean that our bees have to produce enough honey and grow their hive populations to a size that can survive the long winter in about 12 weeks rather than the 18 weeks other provinces have. Beginners can expect to lose some hives over their first couple of winters. Location of the hive could be a factor. Sheltered, away from the ocean, and in Central and Western Newfoundland where the climate is warmer, is the beesâ best bet. - By Dennis FlynnInterested in backyard beekeeping? Follow these links for more information and resources.Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association - provides information about beekeeping in NL.Forestry & Agrifoods - learn about important local regulations.G&M Family Farm - supplies a full range of beekeeping equipment, supplies, nucleus colonies, bee products, training courses, tours, etc.Maine Beekeepers - find information on marking a queen bee and the meaning of the code colours.
Traditional music is alive and well in Newfoundland. The sound of an accordion can stir up pangs of nostalgia in townies and baymen alike, and you'd likely be hard pressed to find a community without a kitchen party going on any given Friday night. There is something unique about the music that comes from this island. Drawing on many cultural influences, the traditional music of Newfoundland has evolved over centuries into something distinct, similar to the way that, over generations, the people who settled here became Newfoundlanders.A festival taking place this month, September 6-10, in Newfoundland and Labrador explores the connections between the music of this province and that of Ireland, perhaps the most recognizable influence heard in traditional Newfoundland music. Feile Seamus Creagh (Fay-la shay-mus cray) is a celebration of the traditional tunes, songs and dances of Newfoundland and Ireland. In its eighth year, the Feile (the Irish word for festival) brings top musicians and dancers from Ireland and pairs them with local musicians in a series of concerts around the Avalon Peninsula. The lineup this year features local acts Fergus OâByrne and Fergus Brown-OâByrne, Rum Ragged, Dave Penny, and Greg and Karla Walsh. Performers from Ireland include The Friel Sisters, Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daley & Paul de Grae, Cordeen and Sean NÃ³s (Irish for old-style) dancer Edwina Guckian.âBut, itâs not only about the visiting artists,â says Rob Brown, one of the festival organizers. âItâs about showcasing the connections between Newfoundland and Ireland.âSeamus Creagh, the namesake of the Feile, was one of many musicians who contributed to those transatlantic connections. Born in 1947 in Westmeath, Seamus moved to Cork in his early 20s and went on to become a master fiddle player of the tunes from the region. He first came to Newfoundland in 1987 and soon met his future wife.âAs the story goes, he came over for the folk festival. He was planning to stay for five weeks and he stayed for five years,â says Rob.Seamus Creagh, the namesake of the FeileDuring his time here, Seamus joined traditional Newfoundland group Tickle Harbour, playing on their album The Brule Boys in Paris, as well as recording a solo album titled Came the Dawn. Both albums are regarded as being highly influential to traditional music in Newfoundland, with many tunes (the word used for traditional instrumental music) making their way into the repertoire of players on the northeast coast.After returning to Ireland, Seamus kept in touch with friends in Newfoundland and always had a bed or a meal for visiting musicians. In 2000, he met Graham Wells, a young accordion player from St. Johnâs. They eventually recruited other musicians from Ireland and Newfoundland and recorded an album called Island to Island, which features tunes native to each tradition. Graham went on to play with several Newfoundland acts, but Seamusâs influence never left him. After his passing in 2009, Graham decided to hold a festival in Seamusâs honour that celebrates the musical traditions of both islands. Telling the tunes apartSo, what separates Newfoundland tunes from Irish tunes? To many, they may sound indistinguishable. But according to musician Jim Payne (pictured below), who also teaches a Newfoundland accordion course at Memorial University, tunes from this province draw on several traditions and contain nuances that place them in their own musical category. âBesides the indigenous population, Newfoundland is mostly made up of four settler groups - English, Irish, Scottish and French,â he says. âSo, it stands to reason that when you take people from these different cultures and mix them all together, eventually thereâs going to be some sort of a hybrid form of expression come out of that.âNewfoundland tunes are often faster and more aggressive than their Irish counterparts, which Jim thinks stems from the environments they were played in. At their roots, both traditional Irish and Newfoundland tunes were written for dancing. Jim, who once taught at the Irish National Dance and Theatre School, says many of the Irish dancers and musicians he worked with were caught off guard by how fast the tunes are. âBut, [Newfoundlanders] were dancing in much tighter spaces, and they had less room to travel on the dances, so they didnât need as much time. They danced in kitchens, so it evolved in kitchens,â says Jim.Dance tunes from this province are also known for being âcrookedâ - an extra beat is sometimes added to a place in the tune where it might be unexpected. They also tend to be less ornamental and more âchoppyâ than Irish tunes due to the types of accordions available on the island - four-stop, one-row accordions that required much more pushing and pulling than the two-row accordions popular in Ireland.This year, the Feile features a new band that aims to merge both musical traditions. Cordeen is a four-piece accordion ensemble of master players from either side of the Atlantic: Graham Wells, formerly of the Irish Descendants, and Billy Sutton of The Fables represent Newfoundland; award-winning Irish accordion players Benny McCarthy and Conor Moriority balance out the Irish side. Their debut album, Musical Bridge, explores the connections of the songs and tunes of Newfoundland and Ireland using only accordions. âWith tunes, weâll try to approach it as four individual instruments as opposed to four of the same instruments, if that makes sense. And, when we can, weâll try to manage them together in sets, like a Newfoundland tune with an Irish tune,â says Billy Sutton.One track, titled âHerb Reidâs/Irish Polka,â is a prime example of the subtle differences in the two types of tunes. Herb Reidâs is a single, which is a type of traditional tune unique to Newfoundland, followed by a polka from Ireland. Instrumental tunes are often categorized based on their time signature, and although these two tunes are technically in the same time signature, the way theyâre played makes them distinct.âThe only difference is the attack, or the approach to them. A polka and a single have the exact same structure, only with a single, the emphasis is on a different beat and they tend to be faster and more aggressive,â says Billy.âIâd imagine itâs because a lot of that music was taken over here and just took on a life its own, over time. Which is inevitable, really, especially when given the isolation and peopleâs abilities.âSee Cordeen and other musicians from Ireland and Newfoundland, at the Feile Seamus Creagh, with shows in St. Johnâs, Freshwater (Carbonear), Ferryland and Bay Bulls. Visit www.feileseamuscreagh.com for complete details. - By Stacey Seward
Downhome's Elizabeth Whitten recently headed into the Downhome Shoppe & Gallery on Water Street in St. John's, NL to chat with some tourists. Armed with a list of vocabulary from the Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, she wanted to see how many folks could guess the meanings behind some of our most colourful words. Watch this video, and see how they did!
Newfoundlander Trent McClellan is no stranger to the Canadian comedy scene. The Corner Brooker turned Calgarian has been living in Cowtown for the past 14 years, and has been doing the standup shtick for just as long - something he doesnât take for granted. âI was saying to someone the other day, itâs ridiculous to think that the silly things you think of ultimately pays your billsâ¦what a great country you live in, when you can actually have that as a job,â he says. Trent has graced the stage and screen doing various comedy festivals and TV specials, and is currently taking over the Internet with his weekly podcast The Generators (available on iTunes), in which he chats with everyone from fellow comedians to sports broadcasters about life and work, failure and success. This September, Trent is heading to Halifax where he will join fellow Newfoundlanders Mark Critch, Cathy Jones, Shaun Majumder and Susan Kent on CBCâs iconic âThis Hour Has 22 Minutes,â a show in which heâs had previous stints as a writer. Trent recently took time to answer some questions on â22 Minutes,â his obsession with chocolate and friends of the four-legged variety. Click here to listen. - By Linda Browne
To anyone familiar with Newfoundland and Labrador culture, particularly traditional music, the sight of a salt-and-pepper cap and accordion brings to the lips one name: Harry Hibbs. The shy young man from Bell Island who became a national sensation in the 1960s and '70s was a symbol for a generation of fairly new Canadians who were trying to find their place in the Confederation. So for them, a new Harry Hibbs CD is exciting news indeed.A few months shy of what would have been Hibbs' 75th birthday, Avondale Music, in cooperation with Wabana Music and the Estate of Harry Hibbs, has released Hibbs' 22nd album, titled Off the Floor: Songs from the Harry Hibbs Shows. These songs have never before been released on an album (except for "Roses are Blooming," but it is a remixed version). They were tunes performed on Hibbs' weekly TV show, "At the Caribou," recorded at the Caribou Club in Toronto and the Galt Newfoundland Club (in what is now Cambridge, Ontario) and aired on CHCH-Hamilton from 1969-76. This new album was two years in the making. For producer Russell Bowers, it was something of an honour. Russell is a lifelong Hibbs fan. The first album he ever owned, Harry Hibbs - At The Caribou, was given to him for his eighth birthday. That album, and Harry Hibbs himself, had a profound effect on Russell."It was very clear when you went in to the shops that Harry was a star" Russell says of that time. "His records were everywhere, but when you flipped over the back you saw that Harry Hibbs was from Bell Island. And it's not very often you flick over an album or look through the liner notes and you see that the artist is from your hometown.Russell adds, "Harry is kind of a Ground Zero for what we have as the modern Newfoundland culture. If you go back to the late '60s, there's a lot of movement to get away from what we had been, to modernize, to get rid of this accent - the 'burn your boats' era kind of thing. And Sandy Morris, the guitarist, said, "Along comes this fella, whose schtick is he's a Newfoundlander singing Newfoundland songs. And he's famous in Ontario! And all of a sudden people back home are going, 'Wait a second, if he's famous doing that, why are we changing to fit them?""He was the first who said Newfoundlanders could be part of Canada" Russell continues. 'Newfoundlanders didn't have to become Canada, we could be part of Canada. And our identity and our culture and our way of looking at the world was valid."He adds, "And Sandy Morris also said, basically, Harry established the accordion as the official instrument of Newfoundland."This new album, Off the Floor, features 15 Harry Hibbs tunes, including one that had never been recorded by Hibbs anywhere, not even on his TV shows. Russell found 'The Four Marys' on a documentary that Hibbs had provided music for in 1974. He plucked the audio from the film and Lyle Drake from Avondale Music cleaned it up for the album. From the opening notes of 'Harry's Two Step' to the closing strains of 'Memories,' it is a record that will have toes tapping - something Hibbs aspired to with every performance, according to the story behind the album title.Russell explains, "In recording terms, when a musician says they did the album 'off the floor' it means the whole band got together in the studio and they just recorded live to tape. But in this case, I took the phrase from an interview Harry did with Peter Gzowski in 1973." This day on 'This Country in the Morning' Hibbs was playing 'Harry's Two Step' and ended the song rather abruptly. When Gzowski asked what happened, thinking something had gone wrong, Russell says Hibbs replied, "Normally I like to cut the songs off when people's feet are a few inches in the air and off the floor."The live recordings feature some high-spirited whoops, some familiar voices introducing songs, and what sound like ugly sticks and most definitely spoons keeping the beat on several tracks. This album is destined to be a treasured addition to traditional playlists and well worn by Hibbs fans. Off the Floor: Songs from the Harry Hibbs Shows is available on CD wherever Newfoundland and Labrador music is sold (eg. Fred's Records, Downhome Shoppe and ShopDownhome.com) and is offered as digital downloads on iTunes and CDBaby. - By Janice StucklessClick here to listen to one of the tracks off the new CD, an old favourite: "I'se da B'y."