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Preserving our boat-building heritage
Newfoundland and Labrador funnyman Mark Critch talks Trump, Trudeau - and comedy's increasingly important role in politics.
Breakfast at Julia's
A look back at Buchans' beginnings
I have often heard great stories of people visiting my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and falling in love with the laid-back lifestyle and the people. I now have a story to recount myself. I am from Topsail, Conception Bay, and I am married to a lady who comes from Gander Bay in Central Newfoundland. We left Newfoundland in 1988, living for several years in Red Deer, Alberta, and then moving and settling in Ottawa, Ontario. We have lived in Ottawa since 1991. Every year we love to go home to visit family and friends. In September 2012, we planned a visit to coincide with the opening of the recreational cod fishery, as it is one of the things I love to do when back home. My wifeâs brother, Gary Coates, has a business in Summerford, NL, and is an avid outdoorsman - delving into fishing and hunting when the seasons are open. It was while cod fishing with Gary that I experienced an outstanding example of Newfoundland hospitality.After a day on the water, Gary and I were cleaning our catch near where we had launched the boat. It wasnât the ideal spot for the job, as we didnât have a platform to clean and fillet the fish. A local fellow came by and spoke with Gary and told him that if we had intentions of going out again we were welcome to use his fishing stage not far from where we were. He gave Gary some directions and left. The following day, we were fishing off Herring Neck and very quickly caught our limit of 10 cod. We headed back to shore to clean and fillet our catch. As we motored into the inlet, however, we couldnât spot the stage weâd been told about. Gary spotted a couple of fellows on shore. They had a stage all set up and, as often happens in Newfoundland, it turned out that Gary had a connection to one of the men. This fellow, Roland Smart, was the grandfather of the girl that Garyâs youngest son was dating. Gary asked him if he was aware of the stage theyâd been told about. Roland responded, âNo, not off hand, but my friend and I are just about to leave and go fishing ourselves. You are quite welcome to use my stage.â Gary thanked him, and after they left we proceeded to clean and fillet our fish. A short time after they left, a lady appeared on the deck of the house overlooking the stage and asked if we would like to come in for a cup of tea before leaving. She turned out to be Rolandâs wife, Julia. We thanked her and continued to clean our fish. As we were finishing up I said to Gary, âAre we going to take her up on the offer before leaving?â We both decided that maybe we would just leave. But before we knew it, there she was again, out on the deck, reminding us of the invitation. So, we said to each other, âWhy not?â and took off our outer clothes and climbed up the walk to the house. We were no sooner in the door and she was asking how we liked our eggs. The next thing we knew, we were sitting down to eggs, Newfoundland steak (bologna) and homemade bread - to the tune of Newfoundland music playing in the background. She sat down with us and we had a wonderful chat. Not five minutes ago we were strangers, and now she was feeding us and chatting with us as if we were old friends. I was absolutely taken aback by her hospitality and it just reconfirmed what I always knew about Newfoundlanders.My wife and I were just recently home in August of this year to attend the wedding of Garyâs son and Roland and Juliaâs granddaughter. Iâd been informed some time ago that Julia had passed away, but it was so nice to run into Roland at the reception. I took the opportunity to remind Roland about that previous meeting Gary and I had with him at his stage and about what his wife did for us that morning. I told him that after returning home to Ottawa I had written an account of it and had intentions of sending it to Downhome to see if maybe you would be interested in including it in a future issue. However, procrastination got the best of me and it stayed stored on my computer. I thought that it would be fitting to acknowledge Julia now, even though it has been several years since Gary and I met her. I still have a wonderful memory of that day and her invitation for a cup of tea. And what a wonderful cup of tea it was. Rest in peace, Julia Smart. You are a true example of good old Newfoundland hospitality. - Submitted by David Allen of Ottawa, ON
In the April 2016 issue of Downhome, we bring you the stories behind the provinceâs wooden boats and the people who built, and still build, them. We saved the following two tales just for the web. The Gunning PuntJerome Canning photo Itâs March, sometime in the 1950s on Horse Islands. The hungry month, they call it. Llewellyn Curtis has been preparing for it. Itâs been on his mind all winter, as he whittled down the frames of the gunning punt he was building, getting them thinner and thinner, until they were as light as they could be without failing.He sucked in the sides, pulling the small puntâs gunwales closer together. He knew he was pushing the limits of how thin this boat could get. But look at a herring - thin and quick. Thatâs what this boat would be.It was a cranky boat, rowed out of the harbour by a hungry man; handled by an unskilled oarsman, that boat would have nothing in her but water. Llewellyn knew this. He also knew how to handle a pair of oars. Had to, really. There werenât many motors around Newfoundlandâs Northern Peninsula.This boat (pictured above) was an embodiment of necessity - it had to be fast to retrieve the birds and seals he was about to shoot. Too slow, and he would return empty handed to his family, hungrier. And he had to be the one to build it, because in these parts, if you wanted something, you made it. But it proved its worth, this boat. He got his seals and his birds. And, like he figured it would, the boat calmed down with a seal in the bottom for ballast.It was a good boat, worth keeping. A boat his grandson would have - some 60 or 70 years later - hanging in the rafters of his stage, to be spotted by a folklorist on a hunt of her own, accompanied by a boat builder who would one day retell this story of the cranky beauty from Horse Islands. Musical Inspiration Thereâs an old traditional Newfoundland folk song, "Squid Jigging Ground," written by Arthur Scammell of Change Islands in 1928. He names Bobby Watton and his brother Nobby in the song, along with other squid jigging fishermen from Change Islands. In the summer of 2016, Crystal Brae, a folklorist with the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, was in Change Islands, searching for wooden boats to document. She was staying in an AirBnB, where her hosts pointed out the old store shed that once belonged to Bobby. Later that day, she spotted an old boat up against a shed and began asking around, looking to see who owned it.It was in rough shape, but Crystal could see that it had the lines of a row punt that had been modified to accept an outboard motor. To her experienced eye, this boat was old enough to have been used during the transition from row to motor power.The current owner told her it was once Bobby Wattonâs, followed by âYou want it? Take it.âHer small car wouldnât fit a boat, and she declined. But her hosts took the fellow up on his offer, and Bobbyâs boat, possibly even the boat he was in that day Arthur surveyed the scene, recording it in song, is now back in Bobbyâs store, likely the spot it was built more than 70 years ago, says Crystal.Find more stories about traditional boats and their builders in "Dories & Stories" in the April 2016 issue of Downhome. - By Tobias Romaniuk
Behind the news desk, Mark Critch stands up straight, adjusts his tie and flips through the scripts in front of him. By all accounts, his demeanour is one of a serious news anchor. But, there's a faint twinkle in his eye. And if you look closely, you can see the corners of his mouth turn upward, just slightly.The dramatic, blank stare after the punchline gives it away. It's the kind of look you might expect from Rex Murphy if you were to ask him the most trivial question in the world. It's all in the facial expressions and comedic timing. The audience in front of him erupts into laughter.Of course, Mark isn't really a reporter. He just plays one on TV. At 42 years old, heâs an actor, comedian, writer and star of the CBCâs award-winning news parody, political satire and sketch comedy show âThis Hour Has 22 Minutes,â now in its 24th season. âBut, if I wasnât doing that, Iâd probably do journalism,â says Mark. His father was a prominent radio news director in his hometown of St. Johnâs, Newfoundland, and politics was often a conversation at the dinner table - which isnât surprising, given that Critch is well known for his witty political commentaries and ambush-style interviews with politicians and celebrities. His ability to manoeuvre between the lines of news, comedy and politics is impressive and his knowledge of all fields is extensive.âItâs amazing, the way Mark is able to focus so intellectually on whatâs going on in the world, comment on it, go toe to toe with world leaders and then switch it back the other way, and just come in and be entirely silly and make people laugh,â says Jason Shipley, a floor director on â22 Minutes.â Co-star Meredith MacNeill agrees. âHe just knows it, he knows what to do. His mind is so quick; he works really fast. Iâd say that working with Mark Critch is like working with one of the quickest minds in the world,â says Meredith. Mark always knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. As a child, he was hugely influenced by the comedy show âWonderful Grand Band,â which featured Newfoundland and Labrador entertainment legends like Ron Hynes, Tommy Sexton and Greg Malone.âI didnât want to be on âHappy Days,â I didnât want to be on âThreeâs Company,â I wanted to be on that show. I wanted to write my own stuff, set in Newfoundland, and do it. And thatâs what Iâve been able to do,â he says.At 15, he rented the iconic LSPU Hall in downtown St. Johnâs and would sneak away from school to practice sketch comedy, mostly satirical commentaries on Newfoundland and pop culture. After his first performance, he was hooked. That show ran for seven years, and Mark began to make a name for himself, landing more and more acting and comedy gigs. The CBC approached him, offering him work as a radio commentator and eventually on the evening news hour. Thatâs when Mark really started getting into the political side of comedy.Newfoundland and Labrador has produced some of Canadaâs most well-known political commentators and satirists - Rex Murphy, Rick Mercer and Mary Walsh, to name a few. Since its beginning, the cast of â22 Minutesâ has been mostly made up of Newfoundlanders, something Mark attributes to a political culture within the province that easily lends itself to comedy.âWe joined [Canada] in â49, so that shapes the point of view. Youâre always an outsider, which is great for comedy. Itâs a hard place to live and thereâve been very hard times there and that forms a certain snarky, dark sense of humour because you need that to get through the hard times.âNewfoundlanders talk about politics all the time, thereâs a lot of arguing, and I think that comes from having to give up your nation not all that long ago. People argued about politics in a big way, and I think that kind of stuck,â explains Mark."This Hour Has 22 Minutes" host Mark Critch has been making audiences laugh since he was a teenager. (Courtesy 22 Minutes)When it comes to arguing about politics nowadays, however, the Internet has changed things significantly, and Mark has noticed a shift in the way that people deal with politics and each other.âThe way politics goes online, people are just âI hate you, youâre evil, youâre different,â and itâs getting crazy now. Itâs gone way too far. Thatâs not what politics is,â says Mark.âWith Facebook, itâs all your friends, and algorithms show you things that youâre going to agree with. And thatâs why people are shocked that Donald Trump won, because everything online is showing them that everyone on the planet thinks the way they do. And itâs a lie.âAs far as Mark is concerned, the only way to really understand whatâs going on in the world is to get out there and actually speak to the people you may disagree with.âThe more discourse like that, the more the world becomes a better place because you can start to see maybe some cracks in your own logic, but you also get to see peopleâs reasonings for why they think the way they do,â he says.In that spirit, Mark feels that itâs his duty as a public figure with a large platform to interview politicians from all parties and backgrounds as fairly as he can - fairness in both the amount that he pokes fun at them and in allowing them to respond.âIâm not just ranting at them, they can say something and I have to respond to it, so itâs fair. Weâre both doing it without a net, so itâs an equal contest. When youâre listening to them, when youâre reacting to them, thatâs when the best stuff happens,â says Mark.Mark Critch ribbing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Courtesy 22 Minutes)Mark also feels that itâs his responsibility to air things that some politicians would rather not see made public. He made national headlines back in 2013 when â22 Minutesâ aired a clip of him hauling out a joint in Justin Trudeauâs office, a stunt which Trudeauâs staff requested not to be broadcast. According to Mark, âIf somebody asks you to take something out, you canât, because then you work for them.â Stephen Harper, on the other hand, required that questions be screened prior to an interview, something Mark refused to agree to.For Mark, the political satire on â22 Minutesâ isnât just about making people laugh; itâs a way of engaging the nation with politics on a larger level. Clips on the showâs Facebook page often have millions of views each. According to Mark, more Canadians will tune into â22 Minutesâ on a Tuesday night than The National, which is one of the reasons why so many politicians agree to appear on the show and keep coming back.âIf you have people who are interested in your party or your view, thatâs great,â Mark says. âBut when you get your message to people who donât care at all, or would never care about it in a million years, and you get them to watch it for two minutes, thatâs a pretty powerful tool, and itâs a great agent for change.â - By Stacey Seward
Nearly 60 years ago, Guy Victor Barnes left his hometown of Buchans, NL, and moved to Ontario. His son, David Barnes, recently reached out to Downhome to help tell his father's story of growing up in the Central Newfoundland mining town.In Newfoundland and Labrador's history, there's no other town that originated in quite the same way as Buchans. Valuable ore deposits were found in the middle of nowhere in Newfoundlandâs interior in the early 20th century, and the mine - and by extension, the town - was established to extract those natural resources. While towns like Wabana on Bell Island already existed and expanded because of the mining industry, Buchans was formed for and around the mines. Guy, born in 1934, was one of five children born to George and Dora Barnes (nee Sharp) of Twillingate, who moved to Buchans and raised their family. Guyâs father was hired on July 3, 1926, as an operator in the mineâs mill and, according to Guy, was one of the first 10 people hired for the mine. When Guy was 16 years old, he became a carpenterâs helper at both the Rothermere and MacLeans mines in Buchans. Other mines in the town included Old Buchans, Lucky Strike and Oriental, for a total of five. As a carpenter, Guy helped build the mineâs deck head and pump house, and he regularly worked at the carpenterâs shop. He was also sent out to help repair homes in the town, everything from putting up drywall to building the foundations of new homes, as well as shingling and any other maintenance that might be needed.Guy Barnes at the MacLeans Mine deck head (Courtesy Karen Gallant)Life in BuchansDue to Buchansâ remote location, the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) pretty much controlled the town, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage website. No one else was allowed to set up a private business in Buchans and the company owned all the homes. In fact, ASARCO even dictated who could get into the town via the railway.But it wasnât all work in this company town. âWe had everything - doctors, hospitals, entertainment. It was a small town and everyone knew everyone,â Guy told his son, David. Guy can remember the many ways the employees and their families found to relax. âBuchans hockey team was all the rage. They were championship winners and Dadâs friend played on the team. So he went to the games in town and travelled on the train to see them when they played out of town. Dad was on the rowing team. The mining company made a swimming dam down from the mud hole,â David told Downhome in an email. âThere was sail boating, there was a ski hill, the company bus took them to Red Indian Lake to go swimming and fishing,â David continues. There were also dances twice a week and a movie theatre while Guy was growing up.Off to the MainlandGuyâs last day on the job with Buchansâ mines was April 25, 1958. Like many young men, he left his hometown for the mainland in search of better opportunities. It was certainly a different experience, moving from company-controlled Buchans, Newfoundland to a major Canadian city. In Buchans, Guy was only allowed to work at the mines, whereas a myriad of job opportunities were available to him upalong. He continued on as a carpenter and eventually opened his own business, Guy Barnes Carpentry, which he ran for 37 years.He met his wife, Flora, at a dance hall in Toronto. âHe knew at first sight that she was the one,â David writes. They were married on December 3, 1960, and have three children: David, Gary and Karen. David and Gary followed in their fatherâs footsteps and became carpenters.Itâs the quiet life for 82-year-old Guy today. He and Flora live in Orangeville, Ontario, with their children nearby.Buchansâ mines, meanwhile, closed in 1984. - By Elizabeth Whitten
In the late 1920s, cars and radios began to appear in our town of Grand Bank, Newfoundland. Our family's first radio was equipped with earphones, and only one person at a time could listen to it. It was powered by a pack of large, round screw terminal batteries. Later, when main line electric power came along, we became the proud owners of a Philco cabinet radio with a loud speaker. It was on this radio that we kids first heard Big Ben and the voice of the King on Christmas Day. We also owned a 1928 (second-hand) Studebaker sedan. It was referred to by (envious?) non-owners as the âFrazer Hallâ on wheels because it allegedly resembled that ugly church meeting hall.While short-wave radio reception from the UK was good, standard AM broadcasts from Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Newark, New Jersey, were the only two East Coast stations we could be sure to be able to tune into - and this was in the early 1930s! Even VON St. Johnâs was unavailable to us at that time.Later on, we were privileged to tune into the St. Johnâs station, but we were quickly disappointed that the âBarrelmanâ show, sponsored by Gerald S. Doyle Cod-liver Oil and starring Joey Smallwood telling tall tales, was a large part of the main bill. Little else of much interest outside the environs of St. Johnâs was aired. For example, we had to tune into New Jersey to listen to things like the Joe Louis boxing matches, while we heard not much besides Joeyâs wisdom and the St. Johnâs weather on VON.This same Joey Smallwoodâs gift of gab and twisty oratory would eventually propel him to much greater heights and achievements, including the bringing of Britainâs oldest colony into the Canadian federation. Without him, the completion of the Canadian federation might not have been realized. Joey (modestly) referred to himself as âThe Only Living Father of Confederation.â Among Joeyâs most passionate beliefs was that only a Liberal government in Ottawa made any sense. At every opportunity he made clear how little he admired the PCs when they came to power, led by Diefenbaker. He left the impression with the people of the outports that, were he and his Liberals not to be re-elected at any time in the future, such Confederation benefits as Old Age Pensions and Child Allowances could be lost.On one occasion, in 1959, perhaps to ensure his omnipotent image was justified, Joey used his position to make sure he - and nobody from Ottawa - would be the first to greet the Queen when her aircraft landed at Torbay Airport on the first stop of her Canadian Royal Tour. I was there as captain of the C5 VIP aircraft and bore witness to this spectacle.The official printed program for her arrival aboard a BOAC Comet jet indicated that Prime Minister Diefenbaker would officially greet Her Majesty as she deplaned. However, the prime ministerâs aircraft from Ottawa was late, and his appearance was further delayed by the fact that his aircraft had been (craftily?) diverted to a remote, supposedly secure, parking spot on the airfield.While the prime minister was being rushed by limo from his aircraft to the terminal area where the Royal aircraft was already parked, Joey took matters into his own hands. Rather than wait, Joey stepped forward and indicated to all concerned that the Queen should now deplane. She did, and Joey officially welcomed her, first to Newfoundland - and then to Canada!And when he finally appeared to greet the Queen, the prime ministerâs famous jowls were visibly shaking as he realized Joey had upstaged him. Meanwhile, Joey was beaming from ear to ear as he presented the prime minister to Her Majesty! Prime Minister Diefenbaker did not act as happily as he tried to look. - Submitted by General Bill CarrBill Carr is a retired Lieutenant General of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
When Eoin Mac Gearailt landed in Newfoundland last summer, he was ready to teach as Memorial University's latest Irish Scholar, but he wasn't sure what to expect from the province. While Newfoundlanders often boast of our connection to the Emerald Isle, Eoin (pictured above) didn't know much about this Canadian province prior to packing his bags. Internet searches showed pictures of icebergs, and he'd been warned about the cold. Fortunately, he arrived to sunny skies and 24-degree weather - but unfortunately, there were no icebergs in sight.He quickly found out that the name for Newfoundland in Irish - a version of Gaelic spoken in Ireland - is Talamh an Ãisc, or "Place of the Fish." "It's the only place outside of Ireland that has an official Irish place nameâ¦A lot of places are directly translated from English to Irish. This place has its own Irish name, so that's very interesting," Eoin says.Every year, the Ireland Canada University Foundation selects a number of Irish language speakers to teach at Canadian universities as Irish Scholars, which allows Canadian students to learn the Irish language from actual speakers and helps instructors cultivate their teaching skills. Part of Eoin's role as an Irish Scholar is to promote the unique language and culture of Ireland, something he does enthusiastically.During MUNâs fall semester, Eoin taught âIntroduction to Irish Culture,â and heâs currently teaching âIntroduction to Irish Writing and Cultural Connections.â These courses offer beginner language skills and an overview of Irish culture, which includes studying Irish writers, film and music. Eoin says in the past there was somewhat of a stigma associated with speaking Irish, but the language is being revived and people are now proud of it. Heâs taught a wide range of students at MUN, from recent high school graduates to retirees. He has an Irish speaker in class this semester, and others who have taken Irish courses in previous years and are looking to refresh their knowledge. And heâs met folks here whose Irish accents are so strong, âyouâd actually think they were from Ireland,â says Eoin.Itâs no secret that people from this province feel a close connection to Ireland, with many having Irish roots. And when Eoin asked his students why they wanted to take an Irish course, he got a wide range of answers. âThey want to find out more about their selves, connect more with language and things like that,â says Eoin. He recalls one girl in class whose grandmother spoke Irish and this student wanted to keep up that tradition. âAnd that was cool, for someone whoâs completely outside of Ireland to say they want to keep the language up - which is great,â he says.Other students enrolled because of their interest in Irish music. âThereâs a big connection between the Newfoundland music and Irish traditional music. Theyâre very similar and a lot of the chords and the reels that they play here are very similar to Irish ones,â says Eoin.His studentsâ desire to connect to their Irish heritage has made Eoin reexamine his own culture, and the many components - language, music etc. - that make Irish people Irish.When he applied to be an Irish Scholar, Eoin didnât have a say in where heâd end up. âI just saw this advertised in the paper: Teach Irish Abroad,â he says. âSo I love Irish language and everything, because itâs my first language. So I just applied for this and you could have been placed anywhere across Canadaâ¦So I just ended up being sent here.âHe considers himself very lucky to have been assigned to St. Johnâs. âI thought it was a small fishing town, like you know, something similar to what I was used to at homeâ¦Itâs a lot bigger than what I actually expected,â says Eoin, who hails from the fishing village of Ballydavid on Irelandâs west coast. He now lives in MUNâs student housing in the Battery, right in the heart of the city. âYou could either go walk up the back of Signal Hill and youâre in the countryside or walk downtown; you could be on George Street with 15 minutes walking downtown. So itâs actually great, I have the best of both worlds.âBallydavid, IrelandWhen asked if anything about his new home has surprised him, Eoin admits the people have been a surprise - a welcome one.âI wasnât sure what to expect when I came here. Youâre coming from a completely different place. I left on my own, I came here on my own, but what surprised me was how genuine people are. Like, if you were at home and they said âAh sure, come on over for dinner!ââ¦At a half-attempt at an invitation. But here, they genuinely want you to come over for dinner and theyâll actually pick you up. Iâve been brought to dinner a few times by a few different families,â says Eoin. âItâs amazing.â The Irish Scholar position can stretch to two years, and Eoin doesnât know yet if his term will be exten-ded, but he says heâd love to stay a bit longer. Heâs been touched by the kindness of strangers while making his home in St. Johnâs. âIrish people are very similar, but itâs just that I was just kind of taken aback that it happened so quickly and that I was welcomed in,â he says.But before Eoin leaves, thereâs one thing heâs determined to cross off his bucket list: âIâm really looking forward to seeing an iceberg. I havenât seen one yet, so thatâs my main goal.â - By Elizabeth WhittenAnyone interested in reaching out to Eoin or finding out more about events celebrating Irish culture going on in March, follow along on Twitter @TalamhanEisc.
The ocean flowed into the harbour a stone's throw from our home. Some days the sea was quite treacherous, with waves splashing about. We didn't dare venture towards the "point," the place where the big rock was. If we stood on that big rock, when the waves were coming inland, we'd be drowned for sure. On the coldest winter days, the waves pounded together the big pans of ice, making the harbour seem like one solid sheet. Only a few dared jump onto those ice pans, dashing from one to another, hoping never to fall into the icy water. I never heard about anyone drowning. Then there were the beautiful summer days when the sun shone so brightly and that same water glistened. We could see the sparkles on the water and weâd listen for the motorboats coming back from the fishing grounds. As the men brought back their catches we wondered how much fish they had, and if Mr. Kelly would fire up the stove on the beach to feed us kids some lobster. The gulls hovered wherever the fish was taken, hoping for a fish to fall - it was sure to be lifted to safety. That harbour was our haven, our home, and the little place it enveloped was called Coalâs Cove. Part of Long Harbour, the hillside was made up of rugged rocks and stunted-looking trees. They were evergreens, so they never lost their beautiful colour.Everyone in Coalâs Cove knew each other, maybe sometimes too well. We kept track of everyone coming and going, and it felt like the community was one big family. There was never a dull day, it seemed.The schoolhouse and church were built close to each other and we always participated in the choir and school concerts. How I loved to sing! My friend, Angela, and I would spend a whole afternoon singing in the hot sun. We would be in our swings soaring higher and higher towards the sky. What fun it was!The most precious memories from childhood are never forgotten: Picking berries and seeing who could get the most in the least amount of time; listening to our father tell us stories about the fairies and how they used to sneak into the woods and scare children.Weâd sing and be so happy on the days we could be with Dad, as he only got to come home on weekends. He had to go away during the week and work hard to provide for our family. Then, there would be the days weâd go trouting. Weâd take our bamboo poles with the lines and hooks attached, and walk towards the best pond. Sometimes weâd walk along the train track and listen for a train, hoping one would pass by so we could wave to the people onboard. Mom would pack us a picnic most times. Sheâd stay at home and cook a feast to be ready upon our return. I know we all liked to fish, but cleaning it was the most dreaded task. Mom always hated the smell of fish but, boy, could she cook!There were always dances on Friday nights at the big hall. People would come from all the nearby small towns and thereâd be a great time. I attended my first dance a week after my 14th birthday. Mom had gone to the city and bought my sister, Lila, and me the same type of blouse. We got ready and I nervously followed Lila, who was two years older than me. Boy, could she dance! And before I knew it, I was out on the dance floor with all of my friends having a blast.The Christmas concerts were the best. There was always someone on stage who could imitate someone else from a different town. They would do such a good job, youâd have to look around and hope that person wasnât at the concert. How embarrassing that would be!The joy in our house at Christmas time could not be compared to any other holiday. It was overwhelming. We looked in the Sears Wishbook for weeks before Christmas and made many wishes. We hoped Santa would bring each of us something special.Christmas mornings were stupendous. The living room floor was covered in cars, trucks, dolls, sleighs, apples, oranges and candies as we opened our gifts. Wonderfully cooked smells wafted from the kitchen to our noses. Family time at Christmas was the best we could ever wish for. We didnât ask for anything; whatever we got we enjoyed. The home-cooked meals prepared from the fixings from Dadâs garden and the ocean nearby provided us with our healthy meals. Christmases in Coalâs Cove are some of my happiest memories.Life certainly wasnât bad in a small town. Our parents loved us and tried their best to give us a balanced life, one filled with laughter, song, books, discipline and wellbeing. We didnât have as many choices as kids do today, but I will always treasure my fond memories of that small town nestled by the ocean. As did many young people from that place, I grew up and moved away, all the while never forgetting a special place called Coalâs Cove. - Submitted by Suzanne Norman Demaer
We Newfoundlanders and Labradorians express ourselves in such colourful language we have our very own dictionary. So it should come as no surprise that we have a wide variety of pet names for our loved ones. Downhome took a jaunt down to Jumping Bean Coffee in St. John's recently to ask folks, "What do you call your sweetheart?" Hear the responses in the video below.What do you call your significant other? Share your romantic pet names by leaving a comment - and keep it clean, me ducky!