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Christmas Traditions

The Holiday season is to be spent with loved ones. Sometimes they are not always with us in a physical sense, but are in our hearts.

This Christmas will be the 12th on celebrated without my father. He is still present and ever remembered. I will not forget all the times we would spend together searching for that freshly cut Christmas tree. My father would take extra care in trimming some of the branches. Not to mention drilling holes and filling spaces it branches. Our tree had to be very full of life! As a family we all had a part in the decorating. It was tradition. Over time that has changed as we have an artificial tree, which certainly does not have the same appeal but does the job. It is now my time to string the lights (something I never wanted to do as a child, guess it is part of growing).

I remember hanging lights outside. My father would give me the task of organizing all the lights, creating a pattern of red, green, yellow, blue. It was a challenge with all the bulbs that needed replacing and having to use a potatoe or vaseline sometimes to remove them. My father trusted me and as a team we would get those lights up all around the house. Last year I gave up on the old strings and started buying some LED lights (still multi-coloured, of course) and have added again this year. They are up hanging with plastic clips. I smile as there are remains of staples on some shingles (reminding me of assisting dad) :).

We always delivered presents on Christmas Eve, ate pizza at my aunt and uncle’s house and went to church late at night before leaving milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for his reindeer. Christmas morning after opening our presents would be spent with grandma and grandpa opening their gifts.

Times have changed as my mom usually works Christmas Eve, so I am typically tasked with delivering presents (sometimes with my sister). This year my aunt and uncle will spend Christmas Eve with their kids and grandkids away, so no pizza with them. It has been several years since we all attended church service or even spent Christmas together as a family. As well, my grandpa passed away this year.

This year 2010, my sister and her husband will be home for the holidays. For me it is my first time since 2006 and long overdue. We will create new traditions, while hanging on to some old ones, which include the lunch for Santa!

Think about your Christmas times with friends and families, old traditions and new ones! It is just two weeks and change away….so enjoy! Make new memories today, tomorrow and always.

From Live Rural NL – CCM

The Roving Newfoundlanders

Newfoundlanders & Labradorian’s continue to roam the world, passing on talents, exploring and making history. I’ve been reading Old-Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs of the People from the Days of our Forefathers. Compiler and Publisher, Gerald S. Doyle (1892-1956) was one of Newfoundland’s most successful businessman, establishing a province-wide pharmaceutical and home products business. Additionally, he had a passion for preserving culture. His newspaper, “The Family Fireside” was provincially distributed, provided good advice and noted first-hand accounts about the social and economic conditions of rural communities, as well as promoted his products. He certainly was a very savvy businessman. He has done us all a remarkable service through his publications. We now have preserved in time these songbooks for us to enjoy, reflect and compare with current Newfoundland folk songs.

Newfoundlanders  are known for being musical and having our own unique folk songs. Today, I will share with you “The Roving Newfoundlanders” taken from Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland

The Roving Newfoundlander

  • As I was setting in my homestead on day
  •          while all alone,
  • I was thinking of my countrymen and
  •         where they had to roam,
  • From England to America, Australia and
  •        Japan
  • Where’er you go you’ll surely find a man
  •        from Newfoundland.
  • They’re the pride of every country, good
  •        fortune on the smile!
  • They climbed the heights of Alma, and
  •        crossed the river Nile,
  • They sailed unto Vancouver, you’ll find it on
  •        the roll,
  • And on the expedition went nearest to
  •       the Pole.
  • It’s way out in South Africa where hogs
  •       they stand so high,
  • They used their guns and bayonets the
  •       Boers for to destroy,
  • Where cannons roar like thunder
  •       destructions on the plain
  • You sons of Terra Nova, you fought for
  •       England’s fame.
  • ‘was Nelson at Trafalgar the victory
  •        did gain,
  • The Americans fought the Spaniards for
  •        blowing up the Maine;
  • She sunk with all of her gallent crew,
  •       that gay and gallant band,
  • They’re sleeping in their watery graves like
  •       sons of Newfoundland.
  • When my mind been bent on roaming, ’tis
  •       something sad to tell
  • Out in the mines of Cuba one of my
  •      comrades fell.
  • His age had scarce been twenty-one, just
  •      entered in full bloom,
  • On the eighteenth day of June was
  •      summoned to his tomb.
  • They sailed the Mediterranean, I’ve heard
  •       the clergy tell,
  • They went out into Egypt, from that to
  •       Jacob’s Well,
  • They’ve fished the Northern and Grand
  •       Banks from every hole and knap,
  • They are the tyrants of the sea, they
  •       fished the Flemish Cap.
  • And now my song is ended, I think I have
  •       done well,
  • My birthplace and my station I’m trying
  •      for to tell.
  • I’ve spoken of every nation, I’ve freely won
  •      my race,
  • I am a Newfoundlander belongs to
  •      Harbour Grace.

My grandfather at 80 years, passed away this June. He had a remarkable memory and ability to rhyme off anecdotes, jokes, stories, poems and other lines from days gone by. I only wish we had greater written accounts of all his knowledge and tales. He is sadly missed. So take time and write down that traditional song, story or event, it can help us preserve our Newfoundland & Labrador culture as  we continue to advance in society. In the early 1900’s we may have been required to own a newspaper company to reach the mass of a province; however, today we have social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and others to reach the world.

Live Rural Newfoundland –


A Last Will & Testament…

Three years ago, I was in Dartmouth, Devon County, England visiting Churches, Cemetaries and Archives in search of records from the past. My Aunt and I have taken an interest in digging into our family history and trying to map out our geneology. My great-great-great grandfather came from Europe to settle in the community I grew up and currently reside back in 1853. However, we knew nothing of his parents, extended family or reasons why he may have opted to leave.

While in Dartmouth, some of my questions were answered. However, in finding the answers certainly led to more questions. I did find tombstones with those bearing my last name as well met a person with the same last name as mine. I have been able to find the parents and siblings of my ggg-grandad bringing, extending the history to the 1720’s. Furthermore, I was told my relatives moved to a town just a few miles to the south. I will return again this November in search of more answers.

Today, I pulled out a copy of a document that was written more than 110 years ago. It is his last will & testament, which goes:

In the Name of God, AMEN:

I, T.M. being sound of mind do make this my Last Will and Testament.

I give bequeath to my two sons Austin and John, the two dwelling houses situated in G.I.C. together with the bed and bedding therein. (The house in which William Henry now lives to be his and his herein). My stores, stages, puncheons & all my fishing gear I give to my sons Austin, Henry & John:

To William I give my “Spare Bed”. I desire that my wearing apparel and all my books be equally divided among my six sons now residing in G.I.C.

I give bequeath to my three sons Austin, William Henry & John all my cattle to be equally divided between them. All my gardens & hay ground to be worked and owned by my (crossed out) the same three sons as at present. Nut should occasion arise for them to separate, then the ground in question to be equally divided between them.

I hereby revoke all former wills. Dated this 17th day of Match One thousand, eight hundred and ninety-nine.

Signed by the Testator in the presence of us, who thereupon our names in his and each others presence.

My great-great-great-grandfather left his mark, as well as another resident and a Clerk, who would be considered a Justice of the Peace today.

This is such a remarkable document to reflect upon, noting the structure of society. In the past, it is evident that the eldest children received the largest inheritance as they were to take over the family fishing enterprise of their father and continue to carry on a legacy. It is noteworthy, that consideration was given in the document to commonly share property, but if their was disagreement or separation of family members that land be equally divided. It certainly seems like a democratic way to do things. Additionally, this man had three daughters, but there is no mention of them in his will. This is not uncommon, a female living in rural Newfoundland during the 1,800’s were expected to marry and would receive an inheritance through her husband’s family. How times have certainly changed.

The house I now reside is on land used by my forefathers. The community has grown significantly as this man was the first permanent settler. There is limited land in the community for gardening and new housing developments, but new sub-divisions have been created. This man may be gone, but he has left his mark. The family tree continues to grow, with more than 1,200 names connected to its many branches. As we dig deeper, we will find additional roots and as time passes our tree will rapidly expand.

A lot can be understood about society from old letters, wills, church records and other documents. Take some time to think about where you have come from and if you too or your ancestors has experienced something truly rural.


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