Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Newfoundland Dog

This is a postcard of "Champion" Black Sambo owned by Hal Duffett, Terra Nova Kennels reg'd Breeders of the famous Newfoundland Dogs.  The Willows Marine Drive, St John's  NFLD.   This postcard is from the early 1980's.                         

The Newfoundland is a breed of large dog.  Newfoundlands can be black, brown, gray or black and white.  They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fisherman in the Dominion of Newfoundland.  They are known for their giant size, tremendous strength, calm disposition and loyalty.  Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue/lifesaving due to their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet and innate swimming abilities.  Males weight range 130-150lbs, females 100-120lbs.

In the water, the dog's massive webbed paws give it maximum propulsion.  The swimming stroke is not an ordinary paddle.  Unlike other dogs, the Newfoundland moves its limbs in a down-and-out motion, which can be seen as a modified breaststroke.  This gives it more power with every stroke.

Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits.  One famous Newfoundland was a dog named "Seaman", who accompanied American explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition. [1]

I have only met a Newfoundland Dog once in my life.  This happened about a year ago while in the Pet Store, getting food for my Golden Retriever.  Being the Dog Lover that I am, and having a mother who was born in Newfoundland, I quickly made my way over to this handsome black stoic creature and his owner.  I found him to be extremely friendly and well mannered.  His owner told me all about him and her life with this "gentle giant".  I hope to meet a Newfoundland Dog again someday.
The photo on the right is of my Golden Retriever "Lucy".  She is the 3rd Golden Retriever I have been fortunate to live with.  I have learned that the Golden Breed is a cross between the Irish Setter, the sandy-colored Bloodhound, the St John's Water Dog of Newfoundland and the wavy-coat Black Retriever. [2]  Although Golden's are not as large as Newfoundlands, they share similarities of being good natured, loyal, and strong.  So, Lucy has a little "Newfie" in her too.

[2]   Golden Retriever, History

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Chair by the Door

Van Gogh's Chair by Vincent van Gogh
Just inside Nanny's Kitchen there was a chair by the door, it was right next to the daybed and it was just inside the backdoor.

There would be no knock at the door nor shout of "Hello" but suddenly the kitchen door opened and in walked  "someone", who quickly sat down in the chair. This someone would be anyone who had been walking down the road and needed to take a break, to rest their legs or warm themselves by the wood burning stove. This someone might sit quietly or share news of the day from their family or from the town. Nanny would continue with whatever she would be doing but listened and responded to the visitor. When the visitor was ready, off they went, on their way.

As a young girl, I was always surprised by this abrupt entrance of this unannounced visitor into Nanny's Kitchen.  I remember wondering and asking, "Why didn't they knock before they entered?"  As an adult, I think this custom is really rather nice,  an open door for your neighbors and friends. But this was a simpler time, place and this was Newfoundland. My cousin Wayne once told me, "Newfoundlanders are the friendliest people in the world".

I think you might agree if you were to ever meet a Newfoundlander.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lights Out

As I learn about my family history, I often think about the time period in which family members lived. It is important to keep that in mind, to understand what their life was like and to understand the experiences that shaped them.

My mother shared a story with me about what it was like living during WWII, between 1939 - 1945, she was 10 - 16 years old during this war.  She did not have immediate family members in the war, but still the war left an impression on her.

Newfoundland is the furthest eastern point in North America to Europe.  During WWII, Newfoundland was still a British Colony.


As a child, my mother remembered the rule, lights out at night, completely out.  She told me, no lights and no radios were allowed. Total blackout precautions were enforced to prevent the enemy from finding a target. I can imagine how extremely difficult this made life for those who were required to follow this precaution and the fear it created.  This could explain why my mother was always uncomfortable in the dark.

    Heinkel He 111 bombers during Battle of Britain

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nanny's Kitchen

This photo is exactly how I remember my Grandmother, and it is one of my favorite photos of "Nanny".

Nanny's Kitchen was a very small room, maybe 9 ft by 12 ft. It was bright, clean and cozy. There was a 3ft counter with a cabinet above it in the corner that held a sink in later years. The kitchen table was in the center of the room, and a large wood burning stove sat next to the table. There was a small daybed along the inside wall and of course, Nanny's rocking chair fit right by the front window.  This was the space in which she prepared meals for her family of seven, among many other things. Making everything from scratch, there were no modern conveniences for this woman.

Looking around the kitchen, one would ask how did she possible function in such a little space.  I think what saved her was a long pantry in the back hallway. In this hallway, was the entry from the side of the house, a door leading to the root cellar and a door to the pantry.  In the pantry there were cupboards, counter space and storage for baking and cooking supplies. I remember the temperature in this room was cooler than the rest of the house. I was always very curious about the pantry and liked to look and snoop around. 

Nanny's day would start early, stoking the fire in the stove to warm the house and to prepare breakfast.  It seem as if she was constantly preparing something, breakfast then mid morning tea, lunch then afternoon tea, dinner then evening tea. It was a non-stop routine and I bet her dishes were washed over a million times.

When she first moved into this house and while raising her children, she had no running water. Water was retrieved from the well and brought into the house by bucket for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Aunt Agnes said, during the winter if a bucket of water was left in the hallway overnight, a layer of ice would form by morning.

I made this sketch so you can see the layout of the first floor of my grandparents house. I think it is pretty close.