Tag Archives: Food culture

Partridge, jostling each other on the barrens

Archival Moment

May 1903

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 53-10; Woman with roasting pan of partridges.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 53-10; Woman with roasting pan of partridges.

In their enthusiasm to lure hunters to the Cape Shore in the 1880’s the people of Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, boasted that there was no better place for fishing, trouting and birding than on the Cape Shore. In fact they let it be known to the celebrated travel writer Captain Robert William Kennedy, R.N. that the partridges were so plentiful that they were “jostling each other on the barrens.”

An avid hunter Kennedy in 1880 travelled to Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, where he enjoyed the hospitality of the townspeople and all the partridge hunting that he wanted. Five years following his experience (1885) he wrote in his book Sport, Travel, and Adventure in Newfoundland and the West Indies that it was true ‘patterridges’ (as the Branch people pronounced the name) could be seen to “be jostling each other on the barrens.”

With such grand reports of good hunting in the area it was inevitable that other ‘birders’ should be attracted to the area. It proved to be too much!! By 1900 the partridge population was near extinction.

In May 1903 the people of Branch and Trepassey were petitioning the government to protect the partridge. The local people had “for the last year or two been witnessing their entire crop of birds, swept away prematurely … by the wanton destruction of so many immature birds… “

Sir Robert Thorburn, the former Prime Minister of Newfoundland and a member of the Fisheries Board stood firmly with the people of Branch and their petitions to the government of the day. He took to writing the local press (The Evening Herald) in May 1903 he observed:

“that in comparatively few days at opening of last season shooting, (that a certain city so called sportsman), stated he killed enough birds on Trepassey and Placentia grounds to pay his expenses and that he sold 250 (two hundred and fifty) birds to one of our city grocers.”

Thorburn went on to write:

“Assuming this statement to be true, and that it is not a solitary instance or exception to the rule, does it not emphasize the necessity of preventing if possible a repetition of this wanton destruction of so many immature birds?”

The former Prime Minister, the people of Branch and the people of Trepassey argued that the partridge should remain “undisturbed until about the first of October.“ By tradition the ‘partridge season’ did not open up until October but over the years the ‘birders’ were arriving earlier and earlier.

They argued allowing the birds to mature:

“would have afforded a fair share of sport to the legitimate sportsman, be he a city man, or one of the manor born. ”  Thorburn continued : “Put the shooting back to the first of October and allow the use of firearms on no pretext whatsoever   … and the game will be preserved …. “

It appears that the petitions of the people of Branch and Trepassey were heeded the Consolidated Statutes of Newfoundland were revised to read “ No person shall hunt, kill, take, sell, barter, purchase … any ptarmigan or willow grouse (commonly called partridge).”

 Those of “the manor born” the people of Branch and Trepassey were quite satisfied! It was their petitions in the early 1900’s that saved the partridge from extinction.

The partridge (Lagopus sp) or ptarmigan is now the provincial game bird of Newfoundland and Labrador Two partridge species, Willow Ptarmigan and the Rock Ptarmigan, are found throughout the province.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’  on this subject?  Type hunting  in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Recommended Reading: Sport, Travel, and Adventure in Newfoundland and the West Indies by Captain Robert William Kennedy, R.N. William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburg, Scotland, 1885.

Recommended Reading: Department of Environment and Conservation, Newfoundland and Labrador. Small Game Regulations:   http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/hunting/smallgame.html

 

 

 

Food, Lent and St. Patrick’s Day

Archival Moment

March 17

(St. Patrick’s Day and the Lenten Fast)

Foods fro the Lenten Season Advertisement, Evening Telegram

Foods fro the Lenten Season
Advertisement, Evening Telegram

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 has long been considered a significant date on the calendar of Irish Newfoundlanders, in fact on St. Patrick’s Day, all Newfoundlanders lay claim to some smidgeon of Irishness. The Irish in Newfoundland have for hundreds of years celebrated their patron saint with parades, dancing, drinking, and feasting.

St. Patrick’s Day, falling as it does during the fasting season of Lent has proven to be inconvenient, it has also proven to be a source of theological confusion.

Those who follow the Christian calendar and fast or abstain during the Lenten Season (Wednesday, February 10, 2016  and ends on Saturday, March 26th 2016 )  can relax,  bishops throughout the world, especially in dioceses with large Irish populations have customarily granted a special dispensation from the law of abstinence and fasting on St. Patrick’s Day. In the United States, in the resent past, at least 60 of the nearly 200 dioceses (most with large Irish populations) provide such dispensations.

So ingrained in Newfoundland food culture was the idea of the “Lenten Diet” that there was a time during the Lenten Season when grocery stores in their advertising in the local newspapers boldly bragged in their advertisements that they carried “Lenten Diet” products.

In the local  St. John’s newspaper, Evening Telegram, on March 18, 1914 , Bishop Sons and Company Limited, Grocery Department stated in their advertising that their “‘Lenten Diet’ products included Salmon, Lobster, Cod Tongues, White Bait, Royans,  and a large selection of other fish products.”

The Lenten Diet, The Evening Telegram

The Lenten Diet,
The Evening Telegram

E.P. Eagan a competitor of Bishops and Sons at his Duckworth Street and Queens Road stores in St. John’s boasted in his advertising in The Telegram, March 16, 1914   that he carried “Foods that are popular during the Lenten Season.”

It was in this cultural milieu that it would have been difficult to consider a good meal of Irish bacon and cabbage, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal without an approving nod from the local bishop.

Irish bacon and cabbage, consists of unsliced back bacon boiled with cabbage and potatoes. Sometimes other vegetables such as turnips, onions and carrots are also added. Historically, this dish was common fare in Irish homes as the ingredients were readily available as many families grew their own vegetables and reared their own pigs. (As it was in Newfoundland.) In the mid-to-late 19th century, Irish immigrants to the United States began substituting corned beef for bacon when making the dish, hence creating corned beef and cabbage.

It is not likely that you will find a restaurant menu that will feature a “Lenten Diet’ and even more unlikely that our local newspaper will offer a ‘Lenten Diet’ column,  best stick to the fish.

On St. Patrick’s Day, break the ‘Lenten Fast’   it is all about the parades, dancing, drinking, and feasting!

St. Patrick’s Day Event:  The Irish Newfoundland Association as part of their 39th Annual Irish Week Celebrations is proud to present their program for this year. Read More: http://irishnewfoundlandassociation.ca/irish-week-four-nights-four-events/

Museum Exhibit: At the Rooms take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground, an exhibit at The Rooms, which introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“A derelict schooner, drifted ashore at St. Bride’s … “

Archival Moment

December 7, 1884

With so many  barrells of flour this could be a good Christmas.

With so many barrells of flour this could be a good Christmas.

As Christmas 1884 approached, the people of St. Bride’s, Placentia Bay, were thinking it would not be a prosperous Christmas. It had been a bad year in the fishery. Their fortune was however about  change, unhappily born on the pain of other families from Placentia Bay.

On December 7, 1884 residents of St. Bride’s stood on ‘the bank overlooking Placentia Bay watching as a a derelict schooner, drifted ashore at St. Bride’s, dismasted and waterlogged…”

There was much excitement in St. Bride’s, it was quickly realized that Sixty three barrels of flour and six puncheons of molasses” was aboard the vessel. It was theirs to salvage, they would take it home.

In the days following the salvage effort, St. Bride’s fell silent. James E. Croucher, the Wreck Commissioner stationed at Great Placentia had arrived in the town on December 10th. He immediately began a search for the cargo of the ill-fated schooner, but to his dismay only found Twenty Four (24)  barrels of flour broken and in a damaged condition, and two  (2) puncheons of molasses …” 

Thirty nine (39) barrels of flour and four (4) puncheons of molasses were not accounted for.

Croucher, as the Wreck Commissioner was obliged by law, under the Consolidated States of Newfoundland to travel to St. Bride’s to investigate the loss of the Schooner, he could only conclude: the remainder of the property being distributed amongst salvors by a person or parties who had no authority from me to do so.”

As he sailed out of St. Bride’s for Great Placentia, the residents of St. Bride’s, no doubt celebrated. With their newly acquired abundance of flour and molasses, it would be a good Christmas.

The people of St. Bride’s also mourned, they knew that their gain came at the loss of the crew of the Schooner Stella, a crew of nine men out of nearby Oderin, Placentia Bay. It is said that she was wrecked in the “terrific gale of November 1884.”

Ever respectful of the dead, it is reported that “All the clothes that had belonged to the lost men (that had been taken from the Schooner)  were carefully dried and forwarded to their families.”

Recommended Exhibit: At the Rooms: Here, We Made a Home: At the eastern edge of the continent, bounded by the sea, the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador’s livyers was tied to the fisheries and the North Atlantic. A rich mix of dialects, ways of life, food traditions, story and song developed here. The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, holds 70% of the Crew Agreements from 1863-1938, and 80% of the Agreements from 1951-1976. The crew agreements include particulars of each member of the crew, including name (signature), age, place of birth, previous ship, place and date of signing, capacity and particulars of discharge (end of voyage, desertion, sickness, death, never joined etc). http://www.mun.ca/mha/