Oral History Initiative

Many years ago in Northern Newfoundland communities were isolated and very few fishermen, or family members, had tape recorders or cameras.
With no roads, no televisions, very few written letters and no computers to link people to other communities, how did local people remember events or entertain themselves? The answer was simple: they entertained through stories and music, because remembering those stories was vital in passing along family and community traditions and histories.

At nightfall, by the glow of the kerosene lamp, families and friends sat around wood-stoves in large kitchens while old-timers passed along home remedies, folklore, superstitions and tales about life in small fishing villages. Young children sat quietly watching and listening, hardly daring to move lest they be sent off to bed, learning stories by heart and eventually passing them along to their own children. But very few of these stories or events were ever written down. Yes, they were impressed in the minds and hearts of those who remembered, but eventually many of the old-timers died and the younger generation left the island and the stories ceased to be told.

In 2008 St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) hired researcher Kathleen Tucker to identify and document historical and cultural stories from residents of the region. She made contact with communities and interviewed elder residents who had memories to share or stories to tell. In 2009 the first set of stories was published online.

Since then, Kathleen has completed two other projects: one in 2014 about Customs and Traditions in northern Newfoundland, and another about the Trap Berth Fishery, to be completed in the fall of 2016. In the latter project, Kathleen has endeavoured to identify the location of trap berths, their names, the fishermen who fished them, and any stories associated with trap berths in the region.

Thanks to local men and women who have been willing to share their stories, a portion of the past has now been preserved for future generations. Their stories are worth hearing and worth passing along. May you enjoy reading them as much as the old folks enjoyed telling them.

2014 Collection

Since the completion of this project there has been new people coming forward interested in sharing their knowledge. Therefore, in 2014 Mrs. Tucker was hired on another project to continue documenting the historical and cultural stories within our region.

2016 Collection

Trap Berths

In conversation one day, a local man spoke to Kathleen Tucker about the trap berth fishery on the Great Northern Peninsula, and how it wouldn’t be long before the names of the trap berths, their locations, and who fished them, would be forgotten. SABRI liked the idea of mapping and recording the information and so Kathleen embarked on The Trap Berth Fishery Project. The information in this project is by no means complete in itself, but most of the trap berths in the SABRI Region have now been mapped on Google Earth, as well as the names of those who fished them, and the names of the berths.

These stories, photo essays, lists of Trap Berths and Nautical charts have been put together in collections according to location.  They have not been published or printed but they can be viewed by clicking the images below.

More stories will be added, so keep checking back.