Share your photos,
videos, stories, poems and more.
Guy was eight years old when he first joined his father on fishing voyages north. On that first trip in 1925, his father tied him to the schooner’s mainmast to cure his seasickness (which clearly worked). At 14, Earle entered the family firm, Earle Freighting Services, and when he was just 16 he skippered his first solo trip to Labrador in 1933.
Suffragettes in the City
East Coast biking at its best
Getting the goods from the ground
While Newfoundlanders and Labradorians remain faithful to their tried and true brews, excitement for the craft beer scene is spilling over into the province. Note: this story was first published in the February 2016 issue of Downhome. Since then, several craft breweries have opened in the province. Thereâs nothing quite like sitting back after a hard dayâswork and cracking open a cold one, especially among friends. That refreshingfirst sip can set you spinning into nostalgia, fondly remembering backyardbarbecues, shed parties, bar shows, and all the way back to where and when youhad your very first swally.Beer is not just a social drink, but a cultural one thathelps tell the story of where we came from and where we may be headed.According to the Encyclopedia ofNewfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland and Labrador beer history can betraced back to the colonists at Cuperâs Cove (present-day Cupids) in the early1600s. Used as an alternative to fresh water, beer was a staple of the diet.But it wasnât until the 1800s that local breweries began popping up - even with the temperance movement gaining steam. Some might say that in this province, next to the weatherand politics, thereâs nothing that we love arguing about more than the meritsof our favourite beers (even if the only reason we drink our chosen beverage isbecause our father, grandfather or great-grandfather did so before us). Aftermoving to Toronto in 2011, local beer historian and enthusiast Chris Conway, 30, began questioning the origins of the provinceâs tried-and-true brews. He started searching for answers online and when he couldnât find enough information, he decided to gather his research and create a website of his own. As a result, the blog âNewfoundland Beer Historyâ was born.While many different beers have come and gone, Chris discerned there are five in particular that have stood the test of time in thisprovince. With the exception of Black Horse, which hails from Quebec,these beers were previously produced by one of three independentNewfoundland breweries: Bennett Brewing (which produced Dominion Ale);Newfoundland Brewery (India Beer); and the Bavarian Brewing Company (Blue Starand Jockey Club). In 1962, the âbig brewersâ bought the local breweries,inheriting those beloved Newfoundland brews with them. Canadian BreweriesLimited (later Carling OâKeefe and now Molson Coors), which already stockedBlack Horse, bought Bennett Brewing; Molson (now Molson Coors) purchased theNewfoundland Brewery; and Labatt (now part of Belgian-based Anheuser-BuschInBev) acquired the Bavarian Brewing Company. While all of Newfoundlandâsbreweries being bought out at once may seem rather curious, Chris (who iscurrently employed as a brewer at Folly Brewpub in Toronto, while workingtoward his PhD in the History of Technology) says several other historians havenoted that it falls in line with what was happening elsewhere in the country atthe time.âA lot of those dealings are pretty common towards howthose breweries treated the Canadian market through the later 20th century.They kind of were all on this path of buying out smaller breweries, so they didit in basically every province...But it was a trend across Canada, pretty much, that theyâd just kind of collude a little bit to buy out some breweriesand take over the market so that they all had basically an equal share.âWhile some of the old Newfoundland brands were shelvedfor good to make way for new products, the loyal following of the five famousbrews saved them from the same fate. All these years later, those beers arestill around. Perhaps part of the reason for this boils down to effectivemarketing that inextricably linked those brews with Newfoundlandersâ very identity. Chris notes that the Bennett brand had perhaps one of the mostsuccessful campaigns, which used traditional Newfoundland songbooks and coastersprinted with local legends and the tagline âa Newfoundland traditionâ tosell Dominion Ale. âThey advertised very strongly toward this idea ofNewfoundland culture, towards trying to get Newfoundlanders to really buyback into the idea that even though theyâd been bought, theyârestill authentically Newfoundland...And so if your father was drinkingBennett, youâd probably continue to drink Bennett because itâs what thefamily drank. And you kind of get tied into this idea that these are your localbeers,â Chris says. âFor a long time it would be really hard to tell ifthey were brewed by somebody other than these small breweries. It took meâtill 2011 to really figure out who actually owned which of these brands."Good For What Ales YouWhile Labatt and Molson Coors are still going strong in thisprovince, the â90s saw a revival of sorts in independent brewing with both theQuidi Vidi Brewing Company and Storm Brewing (currently located in Mount Pearl)setting up shop. In 2008, YellowBelly Brewery & Public House joined thescene. Chris counts Quidi Vidiâs 1892, Stormâs Coffee Porter and YellowBellyPale Ale among his favourites. Itâs beers such as these, he says, that tie moreinto the American craft beer movement, where beer, like wine and spirits, is enjoyedfor its flavour.âAs a small brewer myself, I really value that locally ownedand locally produced beer...And so for me, the flavours of those beers are someof the best beers that are being produced in Newfoundland. Stormâs CoffeePorter has tons of flavour. (Itâs a) really nostalgic brand for me because itâsone of my first kind of craft beers. Same thing with Quidi Vidi 1892. Thatâsthe beer I used to drink a lot in my undergrad because I knew it was locally ownedand it was a really flavourful, really delightful malty beer.âWhile Newfoundland may be slower coming into the craft beergame, its certainly made inroads. Chris credits groups like the NL Artisanal& Craft Beer Club (formerly Beerthief, which special orders craftbeers that are not usually available in the province) and restaurants likeRaymonds, The Merchant Tavern and The Adelaide Oyster House in downtown St.Johnâs with helping to change the beer landscape in the province.âSo theyâve really tied us into the craft beer movement inNorth America, where it was kind of more difficult to do before. And I thinkbecause of that, weâll start to see some more breweries open in Newfoundland,because people have been exposed to the flavours and want to try local versionsof it,â Chris says. A Crafty MoveStanding four-storeys tall at the corner of George and Waterstreets (locally known as YellowBelly Corner) in downtown St.Johnâs, YellowBelly Brewery & Public House looms over the heart of thecityâs entertainment district. A testament in stone to a bygone era, thebuilding is a character in and of itself - one that exudes beauty, strength andresilience, but is not without its scars. Originally constructed in 1725, thisis where the Great Fire of 1892 was finally extinguished, though one couldnever tell looking at it today.âThe building burned out, but not down, many times,â saysCraig Flynn, who owns and operates the business with his wife, Brenda OâReilly.He explains this was the corner of downtown where immigrants from Wexfordgathered, and they were known back in Ireland as Yellowbellies because theirhurling team wore yellow sashes around their waist.Having been involved with the restaurant industry for thepast 20 years (the couple formerly owned and operated the Stonehouse restaurant, and they opened OâReillyâs Irish Newfoundland Pub 20 years ago),and seeing the increased interest in the craft beer movement, establishing arestaurant/brewpub seemed like a logical step for the enterprisingpair. After acquiring the building, Craig spent more than five years painstakinglyrestoring it to its former splendour. âI believe in historical preservation. And this building hads o much potential, so much character. When I brought my engineer in here first,he said, âYouâre sure you donât want to tear this thing down?â It was super dilapidated. We had to take the entire front off the building; we cleaned all the brick and put it all back in place,â Craig says. Once the nuts and bolts of the restoration process werenailed down, Craig started thinking about what he wanted in a beer. Through amutual friend in Toronto, he met his brewmaster, Scottish-born, award-winningbrewer Liam McKenna (the beer Liam once made at the Dublin Brewing Company wasconsidered so good that Guinness paid publicans not to stock it). Together theyresearched and developed their own brews. Today, in addition to their seasonalbeverages (like their beloved Mummerâs Brew), YellowBelly offers four signaturebrews: Fighting Irish Red Ale, St. Johnâs Stout, Wexford Wheat, and YellowBellyPale Ale. In 2010, in honour of the Cupids 400 anniversary celebrations, YellowBelly released Cupers Cove Pale Ale, which was made with stinger nettles instead of hops. Since then, Craig says theyâve moved towards trying tointegrate more Newfoundland products into their beers, such as local cranberry and crabapple juice, and apples and bakeapples. He says theyâre always tryingto give patrons new tastes. âThereâs so many styles of beer, like thereâs so manyvarieties of wine. And then within that style, there can be so many differentvariances. Itâs kind of unlimited, almost, what you can do flavour-wise withbeerâ¦ thatâs what makes it so interesting.â In seven short years, YellowBelly has earned a spot as oneof the go-to places to grab a pint in St. Johnâs - and itâs little wonder. Brewmaster Liam has been dubbed âCanadaâs best brewerâ by respected beveragewriter Billy Munnelly. YellowBelly was ranked number four by Vacay.caâ¢ in its 2012 list of the âTop 24 Brewpubs in Canada,â and recently, an episode ofthe Food Networkâs âYou Gotta Eat Here!â was filmed there. In addition to tours and tastings, YellowBelly hosts trivia nights and live music, and it has also become a favourite place for wedding receptions (Craig and Brenda had their ownthere in 2008). As for their success, Craig credits it to a combination of the quality of the beer and food, having a fantastic brewmaster and staff, the charm of the building, and their patrons who come in, have a good experience and spread the word to others. âWeâre lucky, but it took a lot of hard work...youâve gottamake your own luck. Again, itâs all about our team,â he says. With brand loyalty becoming a thing of the past and more microbrewery beers available on the shelves than ever before, Craig says itâs an exciting time for beer enthusiasts in the province. âAs the multinationals conglomerate more into these massivecompanies that own 60 and 70 per cent of the world beer market, the more educated consumer tends to want to buy something thatâs produced with a little bit morecare, not mass-produced, not using any preservatives, not over-chemicalizing abeer because it has to travel across the world. Weâre trying to be greener aspeople. Thatâs kind of where I see the trend of craft brewery going,â he says.âWeâre planning on developing a brewery around the bay. Andone of the things that weâre going to be doing is weâre going to be trying tomake our carbon footprint as low as possible. Weâre going to use the seawaterto help cool our tanks. Weâre going to process all of our own microbial wasteand then even recapture the methane off that to use to fire the boilers and things like that."While he thinks itâs a long way from taking over, Craig says the craft beer scene is making quite an impression, with the discerningtastebuds of consumers leading the charge. âI can foresee where craft has up to close on 10 per cent ofthe local market, perhaps within the next five, 10 years or so,â he says.Visit Chris Conwayâs blog, Newfoundland Beer History, at nlbeerhistory.com.-by Linda Browne
Long before Gulag Australia, the United Kingdom sent its prisoners to North America. As a result, more than 52,000 convicts became newly minted Americans. Three prison ships on record made Newfoundland and Labrador history, including the last official prison ship in North America.A muggy June 14, 1789, saw an aging brigantine, The Duke of Leinster, ready to sail from Dublin, Ireland. It was carrying 102 men and 12 women aged 13 to 55, most of them under 30. Brought to the Dublin docks in carts, the jarring rhythm of rough cobbles in their ears and the taunting rumours of Botany Bay, Australia, drowning behind their eyes, wild attempts to escape were made. All were forced onto the ship, clamped in irons back-to-back in pairs.The brig knocked its way into the Irish Sea under a cloud of secrecy. It was ordered by the Lord Mayor of Dublin at a reported cost of 100 pounds per head to voyage to Australia, though no destination was officially registered and not even the crew knew where they were headed. Leaving the Irish Sea, Captain Richard Harrison ordered his crew to maintain their westerly course rather than head south for Australia.Thirty days at sea brought sickness, urgency and, finally, the sight of land. âDump them!â the captain barked to the crew who shuffled in a meeting of uncertain eyes.âCaptain, some are seriously feverish,â said a concerned sailor.âThey can die in irons or take their chances ashore. How many do you think will choose to stay? We dump them tonight.âIn the liquid black of night on July 15, 97 convicts put ashore at Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, and another 17 nearby in Petty Harbour. A surviving report published in Halifax described the scene: âThe hungry victims lived for three days in a state of warfare... the strongest beat the weak... and over a cask of rank butter, or beef, there was for a time as severe fighting as if a kingdom has been at stake.â Terror found thirsty ears with reports of a house being torched in Bay Bulls. Within days they hit the streets of St. Johnâs.Thefts were reported, and a sickness they carried appeared to be typhus, sending the town into crisis. Local merchants convened an emergency meeting and a petition was delivered to the magistrates, imploring that âthe convicts be rounded up and placed under guard.â The merchants would pay for the maintenance and support. This placed the magistrates in an uncomfortable position, knowing full well that they didnât have legal authority to arrest individuals who had not committed a crime in their jurisdiction. But recognizing the public fear, they agreed to comply with the petition.An affidavit was secured from Richard Robinson, a member of The Duke of Leinster crew who was so disgusted with the whole affair that he had left the ship with the prisoners. The magistrates also interro-gated two of the convicts, James McGuire and Matthew Dempsey. In all, the magistrates amassed a detailed account of what had transpired and the identities of the convicts including their ages, places of birth, crimes and sentences. Two appear to have been professional thieves: John OâNeal was described as the âbest shoplifter in Ireland,â and John Keogh, âa famous porter stealer.â Five had been convicted for robberies, seven had received death sentences for various offences and one, Cornelius Brosnahan, had been condemned for murder. The remaining 99 had been sentenced because they possessed a powerful need to eat. A woman could be sentenced in those days for being out of doors after 10 p.m. A property north of town, owned by James Winter, was rented to house the convicts. The 12 women were not incarcerated but left to their own devices. The men were hunted down and placed under guard until a ship could be arranged to send them back to the U.K. In all, 80 men were captured, while 22 successfully evaded authorities. Weeks before sailing, six more men escaped and disappeared into society.On October 24, the ship left St. Johnâs for England, with 74 men and six women on board. They were eventually sent to Botany Bay, Australia. Remaining in Newfoundland was one man who had died in August of illness and 33 others who were protected and taken in by the Newfoundland community. It is extremely telling that the convicts who were rounded up and documented were from almost every county in Ireland, with the glaring exception of Waterford and environs. The vast majority of the St. Johnâs Irish population originated from the Waterford area. It is reasonable to speculate that the 33 escapees were from the South of Ireland and were protected by their own. Community runs deep and beats at the heart of the Newfoundland story.This has been a reimagining based on real events. (Source: J. Bannisterâs Convict Transportation and The Colonial State in Newfoundland, 1789)-by Chad Bennett
Over the passage of time, the Atlantic blue lured a steady stream of heroic seafarers, and one of its most brilliant and revered navigators in the past century was a Newfoundlander, Captain Guy Earle.Born November 24, 1917, Eric âGuyâ Earle came into an era that saw the sun setting on great and gritty seafarers who mastered the clipper ships. The eldest son of six children raised by Skipper Arthur Earle and his wife Effie (Saunders), Earle was born, it seems, with salt in his veins. He grew up in Carbonear, a port heavily engaged in the salt fish trade using schooners, the backbone of the Newfoundland fishery. Earle came by his fishing passion honestly. He was descended from a long line of fishermen from Plymouth, England; and when his own father obtained a schooner and outfitted fishermen for the Labrador fishery, a family fishing dynasty was launched that is still held in high esteem today. Guy was eight years old when he first joined his father on fishing voyages north. On that first trip in 1925, his father tied him to the schoonerâs mainmast to cure his seasickness (which clearly worked). At 14, Earle entered the family firm, Earle Freighting Services, and when he was just 16 he skippered his first solo trip to Labrador in 1933. By the early 1960s, Earle Freighting Services became the first fully integrated fishing company in Newfoundland and was exporting more than a quarter of all the salt fish on the island. Earle and his brother Fred would go on to launch a sister company, Earle Brothers Fisheries.Remarkable RecordsIn a recent conversation with Earleâs youngest son, Dr. Phil Earle (now residing in Carbonear), he reflects on his fatherâs sea legacy and records. âTwo years later, after he took a schooner to the Labrador, Father forged his birth certificate to earn his master marinerâs ticket.â So in 1935, at the age of 18, Captain Guy Earle became the youngest licensed sea captain in North America.Phil also recalls some of the heroics of his famous father, including two âunbelievableâ sailing records that he set. The first came in 1938. As part of the Triangle Trade, Earle travelled to the West Indies selling salt fish. Phil Earle remarks: âIn 1939, at the age of 21, my father completed a record trip to the West Indies and back from Newfoundland ï¿½" a mere 21 days. He delivered a schooner full of salted cod, which he traded for molasses.âThen in 1941, as captain of the three-masted schooner Betoine, he sailed to Portugal. âIt took him only 11 days to cross the Atlantic, and this was during World War II, when the sea was full of danger,â Phil says, noting that the record has never been beaten.Skipper of the SS KyleBy early 1961, the Earle brothers purchased the Arctic Eagle from the Shaw Steam Co. in Halifax for use as a sealing ship until 1967, giving it back its original name, SS Kyle. Phil vividly recollects the trip he took to Halifax with family members to bring home the refitted vessel. âI was a kid, and we brought her back down in a storm. It took us two to three days,â Phil says. âI felt like I was on the Queen Mary.âEarle would be the last captain of the Kyle, the last of the coal burners. In the spring of 1965, after being crushed by ice and grounded against a 10-storey iceberg, Earle steered the limping vessel back to port. Two years later, on February 4, 1967, the damaged Kyle was torn from her moorings in a storm and blown to Riverhead. There she rests to this day, in the Harbour Grace mussel bank beach ï¿½" a watery monumentto a way of life long gone; now a cultural icon and attraction to a great many tourists.End of an eraCaptain Guy Earleâs life was cut short at the relatively young age of 50, when on February 19, 1968, he died of a heart attack in his sleep. Legend has it that Earleâs funeral was the biggest Carbonear had ever seen, even to this day. His son recalls: âThere were over 2,500 people at the funeral; and when we came out of the church with the casket, over 400 fishermen from all over Newfoundland and Labrador were standing there. They were crying like they had lost their son.âAbove even his seamanship, Capt. Earle is remembered as being devoted to preserving the Newfoundland fishery and way of life. âHe believed that a fisherman was as important to Newfoundland as any other job,â says Phil. With a sonâs pride, Phil regards his father as âthe most incredible manâ in the last century in Newfoundland. âHe was one who loved his fellow man, and he especially cared about his workers. His trade was people and the warmth he spread in dealing with them,â he says, adding, âHe could not see another human being hurt; and every day of his life, he gave. The most important and incredible thing was that it was done in silence.âIn all his time as captain, Earle never lost a single life at sea. Further, his son has records the captain saved nine souls from drowning, including a 10-year-old-boy who fell in the harbour at Harbour Grace in 1939. Phil says, âHe was an unbelievable swimmer, but he completely ignored the possibility of losing his own life.âIn the winter of 2019, Phil set out to pen the untold story of his dad and the gifts he shared, to pay tribute to his legendary father and the cultural history of Carbonear. He corrobor-ated stories and personal recollections with people and at the archives. He hopes to have the book published this year.-by Kim Ploughman
For just a few short weeks this summer, visitors to Bannerman Park in downtown St. Johnâs can step back in time and cross paths with figures from the past. Through August, the Other Women Walk will be giving a tour through an important period in Newfoundland and Labradorâs history.In 1925, the women of Newfoundland (but not Labrador) gained the right to vote. It came after decades of battling and petitioning, of hard work and long hours fighting for their human rights. While people may know the names of some of these women, other names of people who made their marks in our history have almost been lost. Now in its second year, the Other Women Walk brings to life these figures and their struggles in the early 1920s.Ruth Lawrence came up with the idea for a walking tour a few years ago. It emerged from research and the image of women marching to get rights. âBoots on the ground, I feel, are important today. When people talk about getting support for protests or to make changes and support, itâs great when people sign up online and give their support to petitions, but really itâs the actual showing up in person that has the biggest impact. And so that was a point I was trying to make - and I certainly make it at the end of the show, as well - to say, yes, some people talk, other people walk. And itâs the people who walk that actually make change,â Ruth says.In the course of about an hour, participants learn the story of a household maid, a teacher, a barkeep, as well as suffragettes and labour organizers. And some of these women werenât necessarily actively involved in the fight to gain women the vote. Some were more concerned with fairer wages, âand that was something that I thought was really important to vocalize, too, because I know people now who say the same thing, âEh, you know, what different does the vote make? We canât make any difference,ââ says Ruth. And while suffrage had its supporters back in the day, there were also detractors, including women who said they wanted no part in politics and had other concerns. âSo I thought it was important to incorporate that viewpoint, too.âThere was also a prominent class element to the suffrage movement. âThat was one thing that I really noticed: that the women who had the time and the opportunity to do all that work, which I appreciate they did it because it led to my suffrage, they were privileged women. And we donât really know about the ones who were underprivileged,â she says. The people who had to work long hours in factories couldnât really take time from their day to attend rallies or frequent activist hubs like the Ladiesâ Reading Room. However, the well-to-do women could afford to hire people to look after their children and their homes while they did the activist work. Ruthâs interest with the suffragettes of Newfoundland and Lab-rador stretches back years, to when she was cast in Marian Frances Whiteâs 1999 docudrama The Untold Story of the Suffragists of Newfoundland. From further research since then, it became apparent to Ruth that there was more to tell about this story. She was drawn to the voices of people whoâd been glossed over and ignored by history. So Ruth and Sherry White started digging and found incredible resources, like the writings of Helen Fogwill Porter and Linda Cullum that detailed the lives of women in this period, particularly the marginalized folks such as serving girls and teachers. In contrast, âI tell the story from the trench,â Ruth laughs, whoâs bringing history to life as a story in a way people can interact with. It all helped Ruth choose what characters would be featured in the Other Women Walk. Those characters are portrayed by a handful of actresses dressed in period appropriate clothing (some of them have multiple roles and must do a quick-change between stops).All but one of the characters that walkers are introduced to are based on real, historical people, and the group is introduced to her early on in the walk: Mi-Lady Davidson, a sex worker. To create this character, Ruth took details from the time period and used Mi-Lady to talk about some of the charitable work done by the wealthy in town, but also contrasted it to the struggle of Mi-Ladyâs own life.Another woman you meet early on in the walk is Alice Warren, a housekeeper at the grand Winterholme, back when it was a private residence. As a servant, she was more concerned with poor working conditions than suffrage.The walk is led by a barkeep named Helen Furey, who acts as the groupâs guide and confidante. Sheâs the one who takes people around the park and doles out the inside-scoop of what was happening in the city at this time. Raising Their VoicesIn the past few years, there has been more interest shown by historians, writers and the public in examining the voices of those marginalized from the historical record. We know plenty about the deeds of men, but not so much anyone else.âAs I went through I thought, âOkay, letâs just see who was struggling at that time,ââ Ruth says. For instance, thereâs Josephine Colley. She was a teacher during a time when it was rare for women to become principals. Through her own ingenuity, Josephine was able to manoeuvre herself against the odds to rise up and become principal of a school.Itâs also helpful to remember these events didnât happen all that long ago, and some of these people existin living memory. Guests of the tour who knew Josephine Colley have approached Ruth to tell her sheâd accurately portrayed the educator.One of the stories that Ruth really wanted to share was of immigrants in this province, but it was a challenge. She couldnât find information about the first Chinese women who came over because there were so few. Struggling to find a way into that story, she learned of a group of Chinese immigrants who lived in downtown St. Johnâs, next door to an Irish woman. So Ruth wrote a song about a woman who fell in love with one of these Chinese men.Taking a Walk with Other WomenBy Ruthâs count, approximately 700 people turned up for the Other Women Walk last summer. In the first week or so, only a handful showed up, but those numbers swelled on subsequent tours as word of mouth and social media comments spread. The final show had 70 people drop by. The overall response from last year was glowing, Ruth says. âThe biggest compliment I got was from a couple people who referred to it as a human rights story, not just a womenâs voting right. And I thought, that speaks so deeply to who I want to be as a writer, that I just carry that with me. Iâm like, âGood, someone got it.â Thatâs really what I was going for, itâs not just about women, but human rights,â she says.âI often write about the underdog, I root for the underdog, and I like playing the underdog. So I guess in some ways itâs what really drew me to this story,â she says. âAnd also for an audience, itâs new, itâs fresh. They know that when they come to see the show there might be a name or two theyâll recognize, but theyâre really going to walk away, I hope, hearing seven stories that are mostly fresh to them.âFor information and dates for the 2019 season of the Other Women Walk, visit Otherwomenwalk.com.-by Elizabeth Whitten
âThe most important thing that keeps me here, really, is the coastal experience,â says avid mountain biker, trail builder, and owner of Freeride Mountain Sports bike shop in St. John's, Chris Jerrett. âEspecially one as rugged and as rough going as the coastline of Newfoundland, which is really conducive to mountain biking.âThe terrain is rocky, with a lot of hard roots. Itâs technical mountain biking, the sort that presents a fun challenge for the experienced mountain biker on trails that, at times, run right along the coast. âThereâs not really many places anywhere else in North America where you can do that,â says Chris. Mountain biking, and cycling in general, isnât exactly popular in Newfoundland and Labrador. Given the excellent and abundant terrain, the lack of cycling popularity is somewhat perplexing. Then again, there arenât that many mountain biking trails. But itâs not a problem unique to this province - bicycles just arenât as popular on the east coast as they are on the west coast of North America, where mountain biking as we know it today has its roots. And roots, in part, are what make the trails on the island of Newfoundland so good - tree roots, that is. Together with the rocky ground and uneven landscape, they make forthe sort of technical and challenging riding that really defines the Newfoundland mountain biking trail experience. Although several communities have gravel trails that allow bicycles, including the cross-island TâRailway, these arenât really proper mountain bike trails, which are also commonly referred to as singletrack (a trail wide enough for a single bicycle); think of the East Coast Trail, but for cyclists rather than hikers. In the St. Johnâs area, many of these trails are concentrated in two spots - White Hills and Pippy Park. In White Hills, the trails range from Subnet, a technical and challenging trail with rolling terrain through the forest, to Oceanside, a more advanced, steeper and exposed trail that, at times, runs along the open coastline and has a greater elevation drop than Subnet. Theyâre the sort of trails made for full suspension bikes with plenty of travel - in other words, âall mountainâ style bikes (see sidebar). Although a hardtail trail bike can be used on these trails, itâs not ideal.Pippy Park, on the other hand, has a network of easier trails, with a mix of doubletrack and singletrack trails, all of which can be ably handled on a trail or cross-country bike. Although easier, these trails still offer a fun ride, and the overlapping, crisscrossing trail network allows you to mix up the route selection each time for a new riding experience.Don Planchet, an employee at Canary Cycles in St. Johnâs, is also an avid cyclist with plenty of experience riding the local trails.âItâs hard, but itâs fun,â he says of the St. Johnâs-area mountain bike trails. âBut you have to have a certain skill level to ride real trails because itâs just so steep, and rocky, and technical. Itâs nothing like the mainland,â he says, referring to the more difficult trails. âItâs constantly bang, bang, bang,â says Don, referring to the impact it can have on your body, âso full suspension or big tires, or full suspension with big tires, seems to help a lot.âHead out on the HighwayItâs not all roots, rocks and trails for Newfoundland riders, though. Road cycling also offers something novel for the rider who prefers pavement. âThe most unique thing we have is our coastline,â says Don, âso any coastal road is what I call âreal Newfoundlandâ riding.âDon pulls out a road map kept handy near the counter in Canary Cycles. It is folded to the eastern portion of the island, showing the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas with several looping routes highlighted. Itâs what shop staff direct people to whenever they ask about where to go road cycling. The Cape Shore, Irish Loop and Baccalieu Trail each make for a good cycling trip. Each can be done as a loop, so youâre never riding the same road twice. âThat whole perimeter of the Avalon is more distance than across the island, with a lot more scenery. So I always recommend people skip the central highway, rumble strip and trucks, and bang around the Avalon. Itâs a lot more fun and scenic,â says Don.Leaving from St. Johnâs, the Irish Loop round trip route is 320 km, says Don, and although heâs done it in a day, most people take two days to do the trip. It takes in such scenic outports as Witless Bay, Ferryland and Trepassey, while encircling the Avalon Wilderness Reserve. The roads donât have a lot of shoulder - or any, in some places - but there also isnât a whole lot of traffic to contend with, which is a pleasant switch for anyone used to riding in more populated areas or along major highways. âIf you drive an hourâ¦ anywhere out of town, youâd be surprised at how few cars there are,â says Don. âI was out last weekend and I saw five cars the whole time.âScenic rides with few cars on quiet roads in areas with sporadic cellphone coverage can be a glorious thing, but it also means riders should to be somewhat self-sufficient, cautions Don, who recommends bringing everything needed to change a flat tire. And because the roads can be a bit rough, making flat tires a distinct possibility, racing-style road bikes - with their stiff construction, lightweight materials and ultra skinny tires - arenât the best choice. âGetting flats isnât fun, so we always recommend the heavier duty road bikes that have slightly bigger tires,â says Don. âAnd you can hit potholes and not break things, so they tend to be a little more rugged but better suited for multi-purpose use.âOff the Avalon, Don recommends the Bonavista Peninsula; in particular, Route 235, which hugs the coast in several places and is a visual feast. It is, says Don, a beautiful stretch of road with lots of hills. The Bonavista Peninsula is also the site of the BonRexton, a 133-km Gran Fondo style (long-distance) group ride happening September 7.With all this talk of narrow roads, long distances and less than perfect road conditions, one may think these routes are only for the experienced rider. But really, anyone can do these rides - the only difference is how fast the route will be completed, says Don. Heâs being encouraging, sure, but heâs also seen people of all ages and abilities do these rides. About 150 of those riders stop by the shop every season after having completed one of the longest rides - clear across Canada. âAnyone can do it,â says Don. âWeâre the end of the line for coming across Canada, so weâre seeing every type of cyclist. And thereâs a lot more older, retired people now.âFor more information on the mountain bike trails mentioned here, go to www.trailforks.com and search for âPippy Parkâ or âWhite Hills.â
For as long as I can remember, whenever my mom visits her sister in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and Labrador, she often comes back with a bag filled with some type of root vegetable, typically potatoes. Theyâve never seen the inside of a grocery store and sometimes they still have a bit of soil clinging to them, which washes away easily enough before being cooked up for Sunday dinner.We call them âJimâs Potatoes,â after my uncle Jim Ade, a farmer from a long line of farmers. Heâs lived his whole life on this one plot of land thatâs been in his family for generations.While Jimâs retired now, thereâs still plenty to keep him busy. Before he even sits down for his own breakfast, he heads out to feed the hens. âAround a farm, thereâs always something to do. Always. Thereâs never nothing to do,â he says, whether itâs animals and crops to care for or equipment to repair. âAnd the way it is on a farm, small farms like this, you were a jack-of-all-trades; you had to be able to try to fix stuff yourself.â Jim adds, âPeople will say, âAh, youâre working on your own, do whatâcha like, when you like.â But it donât work like that. What you donât do today gotta be done tomorrow, and then youâre behind!âNot only did he grow vegetables, heâd also buy cattle to butcher and sell the meat to people in the nearby city. It was common practice back in the day, when men like him were called âhawkers.â Theyâd have regular customers and would drop off a delivery of cut-up meat and vegetables once a week, all year-round. Once they ran out of veggies in the winter, it would just be the meat. âItâs how they made a living out here,â Jim says.âI never ever minded killing cattle or anything like that; that was no work. And if you like something, as you know, itâs not work. If you donât like it, it is the hardest work. So thatâs the way it was with me anywayâ¦ I was a pretty lucky fella that way.âThese days, Jim works a very small bit of land and itâs changed over the years. Trees have taken over the field where cattle used to roam and graze. Some of the best farmland in eastern Newfoundland, in Kilbride and the Goulds, has been turned over to housing. âItâs all built up now, pretty well,â Jim says. âJeez, you wouldnât know it; itâs all subdivisions everywhere.â And it kind of flies in the face of current concerns around food security. âThatâs all theyâre talking about now, every time you pick up a paper, pretty well: try to be a little bit self-sufficient in the production of food. And I mean, then you go along and youâll see the best farm area in a place being all built up!âBut you canât really blame property owners for selling quality farmland if theyâre not farmers. After all, if you inherit 15 acres but you donât farm, what do you do with it? Jim asks. In an ideal world, that land would be bought by an interested farmer, but farmers donât typically have that kind of money. Still, itâd be nice to see that land protected or some sort of government buy-back program to ensure that valuable land isnât gobbled up by houses.Thereâs also the looming issue of the aging population of farmers, and in Jimâs area he mostly only knows older men about to retire. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the number of farms in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased 20.2 per cent between 2011 and 2016, which was the biggest recorded drop in the country. But itâs not all bad news: while there are fewer farms overall, the report notes there are more women getting into farming. Itâs not easy to get a young person to give up an urban life or office work to go farming when theyâre used to money coming in all the time, Jim says. Thereâs unpredictability in farming. âYou could set the crop the year and Jesus, it donât come every year. Everything donât work the same every year,â he says, adding if you have a family to support, what can you do? âYouâve got to be kinda cut out for it or geared up for it. Thereâs no guarantees with it. But itâs a great way of life if you like it.âForging Food AttitudesAlong Brookfield Road, about where St. Johnâs meets Mount Pearl and just a stoneâs throw away from the busy road, are fields of green and swaths of earth covered in plastic sheets protecting the growing plants beneath, and long stretches of massive greenhouses.This is Lesterâs Farm Market. The Lester family has been providing food to the province for more than 160 years, making Susan Lester a sixth generation farmer. While she did work in other industries for a time, she eventually returned to the farm to continue the Lester legacy.She is also chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmers Forum (NLYFF), helping young farmers connect to discuss common issues, as well as forge a sustainable agricultural industry and promote food self-sufficiency in the province.âThereâs not one right way or wrong way; thereâs many different avenues for farming. So itâs very important to have constant learning opportunities,â Susan says.Throughout the year NLYFF hosts conferences and workshops. Itâs a great resource for young farmers because while people can look up things online, the information wonât necessarily be right for Newfoundland and Labradorâs conditions,cautions Susan. For instance, they recently had a workshop on NL soil conditions.Membership is open to people between the ages of 18 and 40 who are actively farming and gardening as their livelihood. Youâll get people whose family goes back generations in farming meeting with newcomers, along with those who are interested in farming and are now makingthe transition, she says. All across Canada there are chapters of Young Farmers Forums, so farmers in this province are also able to network across the country.The average age of a farmer in NL is around 55, which is a concerning number because as these people get ready to retire there arenât the same number of farmers taking up those posts. The NLYFF reaches out to those who could be or want to be the next generation of farmers in this province.Making the shift from office job to farmer can be a big adjustment and itâs not for everyone, Susan cautions. âItâs a full commitment. Itâs not just physical labour, itâs mental labour. Thereâs more to it than just one task. Everything is kind of like a domino effect.â Susan explains, if youâre not good at seeding or donât properly water your fields, that means you wonât have a good crop.âI guess a lot of people are starting toâ¦ realize this can be their lifestyle. And itâs not just a job ï¿½" it really is a lifestyle. Itâs not a nine to five. Thereâs crops out there, thereâs animals out there, youâre up early hours and late hours at night with the animals, putting in the irrigation system for the frost, so itâs very unique and diverse of what you do each day. And some people, thatâs what they want. They donât want the same thing day in and day out. In farming, no day is the same, for sure.âFarming is a profession where people need to be willing to constantly learn, adapt and grow, and Susan has some advice for those interested in becoming farmers: âI would defi-nitely say, never get discouraged. Farming is hard work.âThere will be years where you do everything right, and for whatever reasons, it still fails, âItâs really important to never get discouraged and never base your next season on your past seasonâs failure. Because if you did that, you wouldnât get very far. If we did that, we probably would have stopped back 30 years ago or even more.âA Fresh Face in FarmingRight now, looking down at her field in Conception Bay South, Trina Porter has what she calls a grocery store in the ground. At her farm, she grows celery, cilantro, parsley, âreal turnipâ (different from rutabaga, which she also grows), as well as rhubarb, bok choy, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, three varieties of winter squash, plenty of root vegetables and cabbage; basically, âwhatever you put into your Jiggs dinner,â she adds.With three hectares to work with, she has to plant every portion of her land. So between rows of cabbages, lettuce heads are popping up; nestled among the bok choy are radishes. This kind of intensive farming helps deal with pests and weed problems. After all, if the space is already filled with vegetables, thereâs no place for weeds to get in and cause trouble.Trinaâs a first generation commercial farmer (her great-grandfather farmed, but the two never met). When she was growing up, her fam-ily, like many, had a carrot patch and grew some potatoes, but just enough to feed themselves and their immediate family. The land she farms now has been in her family for several decades, something she considers fortunate, as buying that much land today would be very expensive. Cost is another reason she was motivated to farm her own food. Sheâs a vegetarian and fresh vegetables can get costly at the supermarket. It made sense to grow what she could, âAnd then it turned out that I could grow an awful lot.â The idea for a farm started a few years ago with a greenhouse Trina shared with her parents. Initially, her crop of choice was tomatoes. They grew so many and so well that they had too many for them to eat, sothey thought maybe they could make a business out of it. That was back in the fall of 2017. The next year marked their first commercial season, and now Trina and her parents operate the Foxtrap Access Road Market (FARM). They also run a Community Shared Agriculture program where members sign up and get a regular bag of produce throughout the year, depending on whatâs in season - similar to what Jim Ade did on his farm for years.Farming is a profession that requires long hours and itâs not for the faint of heart, Trina says.âIf you put it on paper how many hours you work, it sounds absolutely ridiculous. And itâs hard to capture, too, what we get out of it because itâs a bit of a hobby gone wrong,â she says. âSo when people ask me what do I do in my spare time, Iâm like, âI garden?â Itâs my hobby, itâs my work, itâs my relaxation and then itâs also putting food on my own plate.â And Trina doesnât mean that figuratively through the income it brings in - the food she gardens ends up on her plate.Working with the earth was pretty far from her expectations for the future when she started her masters in political science two years ago. âNo, this was not in the plan. It was really at the time how I managed my stress from being in a masters program. I was going out to the greenhouse to just clear my mind and just loved it a little too much, I guess.â While itâs a commonly repeated refrain that growing anything on âThe Rockâ is a Herculean task, Trinaâs more optimistic: âThereâs so much to be done here, and if you have the privilege to have a greenhouse, itâs even more so.âPeople assume that to grow tomatoes here, it must be done inside the protective embrace of a greenhouse, but Trina plants her 200 tomato plants outside.Trina would love to see more people growing what they can in their backyards, even if it wasnât with the goal to become completely self-sufficient. Imagine being able to go into the backyard and grab a bit of lettuce and a fresh tomato for your burger?Craving LocalCurrently, Newfoundland and Labrador ships in 90 per cent of the food we consume, and that needs to change. There have been times in recent years that bad weather has kept the boats from getting into our ports and as a result, grocery store shelves went empty. With climate change, weâre told to expect more severe weather more often, so here we can expect shipping delays to increase.âWe need a lot more food than what weâre able to produce each year, whether thatâs vegetable food, animal food, whatever it may be. So the more people [farming], the better,â Susan stresses.And Susanâs seen a shift in attitude when it comes to food in the last decade. People want to have a connection to their food and know where itâs coming from. Thereâs also been a surge of people interested in growing their own food. These are probably all factors that have appealed to the newer generation of farmers. Like Susan, Trinaâs also seen a hunger for locally grown food. People donât want food thatâs been shipped from one end of the country, loaded onto a boat and driven across the province before it finally makes its way onto the shelf of a grocery store.Not only is local better for our economy and the environment, âit has such a different taste, too,â she says. Trina says she knows people who wonât eat a tomato at all in the winter because they only eat local tomatoes and say that grocery store ones just donât cut it anymore. From Trinaâs experience selling fresh produce, the demand for local is booming. She regularly goes to the CBS Market and has a stall at the St. Johnâs Farmersâ Market where she sells veggies, herbs, seedlings and potted plants. âBy the end of the day, if you come too late in the dayâ¦ you wonât get fresh produce at the Farmersâ Market because I just simply donât have enough.â And for a farmer doing business, thatâs a good thing.-by Elizabeth Whitten
Music has told our stories. It has given us the tastes and flavours of ordinary life in Newfoundland and Labrador, an emotional time capsule to remind us of what truly matters. One such song is one of our oldest surviving native born songs: âA Great Big Sea Hove In Long Beach.â It was written circa 1755, in Bonavista, by an unknown woman in love. The story of that song begins where it must, with our lovely songstress. Letâs call her Sarah.âHeâs gonna ask any day now!â declared Sarahâs friends, who were almost as excited as she was. Almost.âHe better,â she said, smiling, âor Iâll push him off the end of the wharf. I feel fit to burst.ââWhen are you seeing him next?â her friends asked in unison.âNext week, for supper with him and his Gran.â Sarah shifted. âIâll bring a pie.â Sarah had brought Granny Snooks a lot of pies during that summer of fair winds and dreams. After a chat and tea, Granny would always arrange for Georgie to walk Sarah home. They lived in Bayleyâs Coveon the edge of Long Beach, and Sarah in Canaille. The neighbourhood of Mockbeggar, in between, seemed to grow on each walk home.Pies were the only baked good Sarah could make well, so it wasnât long before creative flavours were needed. âI wonder what a partridgeberry and turnip pie would taste like,â Sarah mused as she and her father sorted the winter vegetables in the root cellar.The next morning was a soft November 1st; the sweet smell of the sea hung in the air as Sarah headed up to the barrens above town. Partridgeberries, currants and bakeapples were plentiful. Getting on to noon, Granny Snooks was taking in the laundry while Georgie was around the corner splitting and stacking firewood. Worlds away and far from the dreams of our sweet Sarah, untold violence was occurring. An earthquake measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale was laying waste to the city of Lisbon, Portugal, killing more than 30,000 people and sending energy pulsing across the Atlantic. It took just seven hours to reach Bonavista.Sarah first heard shouts and screams carried on a strengthening wind. She raced to a promontory overlooking Bayleyâs Cove, and the sight froze her breath in her chest. People were running as an ugly great water poured in over the headlands of Long Beach, destroying boats, homes and gardens as it went. âGeorgie!â the name stuck in her throat and she bolted. Sarah cut straight through a hay field, feet flying over uneven ground lost in the tall grass. There they were!âGran saved me,â Georgie said, looking rattled. âIâve never heard anyone yell half so hard, but shehasnât been able to get a word out since. Iâm taking her to Mrs. Moulandâs for help.âSarahâs thoughts jumped to her family. Quick goodbyes and she was off running through the curving lanes of Mockbeggar. The words came unbidden: A great big sea hove in Long Beach and Granny Snooks she lost her speech. She tore past Abbottâs big red store where she and Georgie first met. It was still standing. She rounded the harbour and the destruction was hard to take in. Dazed, she nearly bowled over Mr. Keough who had been staring, stunned. A great big sea hove in the harbour, hove right up in Keoughâs parlour.Sarah was pounced on by her parents. âSarah! Youâre OK! I couldnât save it, Sarah,â her mom began, pained. âItâs gone - the material for your wedding dress, everything, ruined.ââShe nearly made away with herself going back after it,â her father said.âOh Mom, Iâll get married in a flour sack for all I care,â Sarah reassured her. Oh dear mother I wants a sack, with beads and buttons all down the back. âThatâs if heâll still have me - would you look at the state of us!â All three burst out laughing, and Sarah knew they were going to be OK. Me boot is broke, me frock is tore, but Georgie Snooks I do adore.âAny wedding will have to wait,â her father began. âWith the cost of everything, weâll be fortunate to put a roof over our heads, and the Snooks canât be much better off. â Sarah had to agree. Oh fish is low and flour is high, so Georgie Snooks he canât have I, but he will have me in the fall. If he donât, Iâll hoist my sail and say good-bye to old Canaille. Sarah wrote down the words that had been running through her head all day. âWas it a happy song?â she wondered. âDid they marry in the end?â To answer that question we need only listen to the tune. Locked into every note is joy. Over two and a half centuries later, and that message of love winning out can still be heard.The big red store of Mockbeggar, built in 1733, was there in Sarah and Georgieâs time in the sun. You can still put your hand on the building, close your eyes, listen to the waves crashing on the rocks and smell the sea in every breath. And if you sing Sarahâs song you will be transported, feel what Sarah felt. Itâs hard not to admire the Newfoundland spirit. Of course they married.This has been a reimagining based on real events.- by Chad Bennett
If you want to make Kombucha, a fermented sweet tea, you will first need to make the stuff used to make kombucha - a gelatinous mass known as scoby. It takes a bit of work and time, but itâs really not all that difficult. If you already have a scoby, you can skip straight to making kombucha. We have a tasty recipe on our sister site, everydayrecipes.ca. To make the scoby, we suggest following this guide from food website thekitchn.com. If you donât like the look of that one, liveeatlearn.com also has a thorough tutorial on all things kombucha and scoby.