Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Rooms"

"The Rooms" Provincial Archives in St John's Newfoundland Canada
Dressed for Spring- in a Blanket of Bright Yellow Dandelions - May 2013

Before my trip to Newfoundland, I had done quite a bit of research on the Flynn Family History through family notes, stories, interviews with aunts and uncles and by scanning over old photographs.  My research lead to working on-line and learning about a place called "The Rooms" - Provincial Archives in St John's Newfoundland, Archives - Art Gallery - Museum.

With documents dating back to 1662, The Rooms Provincial Archives is the guardian of the historical record of the people, places and events of the oldest colony in North America.  Soaring into the skyline of historic St John's, The Rooms combines twenty-first century technology with a striking visual reference to our past.  It's unique design mirrors the "Fishing Rooms" where families came together to process their catch. [1]

The description above sounded perfect to this family historian/genealogist, I planned to spend some time here hoping to find some answers to my family history.  Shortly after getting settled in Newfoundland, I made my way to downtown St. John's to "The Rooms", a one time registration fee of 10 dollars, gave me access to their reference staff, to research archival resources and to be able to return how ever many times I would like, in my life time!

I met with an Archivist, who gave me an introduction and tour of the Research Indexes available.  He asked me several questions about what I was looking for, to help me get started and commented, he was surprise at how much I  already  knew.  I explained that I had been working on this project for the last 5 years!

Once acclimated, I filled out the Retrieval Request Form for the specific areas I knew my ancestors were from and got to work.  I found the atmosphere at "The Rooms" to be extremely inviting, comfortable and intriguing! There was so much information available!

What is a "Fishing Room"? you may ask, here is a description by Fred Pafford found on Gen Web NL

A fishing room was an area on the shoreline where a fisherman or a group of men landed their fish, kept their boats, stored their fishing property and built flakes to dry their fish.  It most often required the clearing of forest, building a shelter for storage of fish and material and a dock of some sort for their boats.  In the early years of Newfoundland fishery it was important to have such a place to return to each spring and not have to rebuild every year.

So a person's "room" was his shoreline property and quite valuable to him.  In some places every bit of useable shoreline was taken up and a male person wanting to go on his own would have to move to another cove or island to find a good landing area.  This was important enough that quite often a man from one community would marry into another area to get waterfront land for his "Fishing Room".

Hmm? I wonder? Did my Flynn Ancestors have a "Fishing Room"?

In my grandfather's notes, he states, "My grandfather, Michael Flynn married Elizabeth Dunlae and at that time settled on the south side of Harbour Main, waterside, as fishing was the main source of living at that time"……..….


[1]    The Rooms Provincial Archives, Connecting with the Past, Brochure

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