Bonfire Night in Conception Bay North

As everyone who lives in the Northern Avalon Peninsula knows,  Bonfire Night on November 5th is a huge celebration. Many communities, including Brigus, Bay Roberts and Carbonear sponsor town bonfires.

What is the origin and purpose of Bonfire night? According to Wikipedia, It actually has two origins from our Celtic and our British Ancestors.  Samhain, which means November in Irish, was an ancient celebration for end of summer and the Harvest season in the Celtic calendar. It was the last great feast held outdoors before the cold months came.

Later Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night began. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London.

Most people today do not know or care about the origins … they just enjoy a fun community gathering for families – to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  They drink hot chocolate, roast wieners, and marshmallows… and sometimes even a few dried caplin.

Bonfire, Paddy's Garden, Carbonear

Bonfire, Paddy’s Garden, Carbonear

Fire Thrower at Carbonear Bonfire

Fire Thrower at Carbonear Bonfire

Bonfire - Coish, Bay Roberts

Bonfire – Coish, Bay Roberts

Bay Roberts Bonfire - Community Gardens

Bay Roberts Bonfire – Community Gardens

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100 Sunrises for the Kyle

100 Sunrises for the Kyle, originally uploaded by eracose.

On April 7th, 2012, the SS Kyle celebrates one hundred years.  The SS Kyle was completed on April 7th, 1913 and officially launched 17 April 1913 by Mrs R. G. Reid, wife of president of the Reid Company of Newfoundland, long before Newfoundland became a province of Canada.

It is moored today in Harbour Grace, where people often photograph the boat because of its long attachment to the Labrador Fishery.   The SS Kyle had several phases of existence. It was a ferry on the Cabot Strait run between Port aux Basques in the country of Newfoundland and North Sydney, NS in Canada; it was a coastal boat bringing fishers to take part in the Labrador fishery; and in 1960, it was purchased by the Earl Brothers Fisheries of Carbonear and used in the seal trade until 1967 when an iceberg accident caused it to be moored in the Harbour Grace. During a storm, the SS Kyle broke its moorings and drifted to Riverhead where it has been standing ever since.

The SS Kyle and the Labrador Fishery

Fishermen and workers bought tickets at the Railway Stations in Conception Bay North to go the Labrador Fishery on the SS Kyle.  Ted Russell’s Famous Story Poem, Smokeroom on the Kyle, recounts the experience of storytelling while traveling to and from Labrador.

Tall are the tales that fishermen tell when summer’s work is done,

Of fish they’ve caught, of birds they’ve shot, of crazy risks they’ve run.

But never did a fisherman tell a tale, so tall by a half a mile,

As Grampa Walcott told one night in the Smokeroom on the Kyle.[1]

[1] Smokeroom on the Kyle  Ted Russell, The Chronicles of Uncle Mose (Flanker Press, 2006)

Kelly Russell performing “Smokeroom on the Kyle” from the deck of the Kyle, 2011
"Tall are the tales that fishermen tell..."

The SS Kyle was an important part of the lives of many people of this region.  For example, when the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation, the Bay Roberts 50+ Club and Ascension Collegiate conducted interviews with seniors for the “Holdin’ Ground Project” (which was supported by New Horizons Canada), we found that the Kyle had played a pivotal role in many of their lives.
Interview with Mr. Cecil Greenland (who was 104 years old at the time.)

(These interviews are online

The role was so important that when a film festival was held during Culture Days in 2010 at the Amalgamated Academy to show the interviews, students from each class recited one verse from “Smokeroom on the Kyle” and there was a Kyle Cake to celebrate the occasion.  The whole event was broadcast to the full school with their internal video system.

Mr. Gus Menchions, who has traveled on the Kyle many times and who has made a model of Kyle, participated in the Labrador Film Festival and displayed his model of the Kyle.  As well, Mr. Menchions was special guest during the opening of the Model Boat exhibition during last year’s Holdin’ Ground Festival.

The Rorke Store Museum in Carbonear houses an Exhibit called Balancing the Scales, which chronicles the connection to the Labrador fishery which was very much an integral part of the Rorke legacy.  Florence Button from Carbonear has written a play about the role of women in the Labrador Fishery entitled Connecting Rooms: A Tribute.” One story is about a young women, at nineteen, going to the Labrador on her Honeymoon on the Kyle – but the men were in one section of the ship and the women in another!

Florence Button reading from her play:

At the Cupids Legacy Centre in Cupids, there is a large display about the Labrador Fishery.

The Fishery

Pat Collins of Harbour Grace last year published “The Spirit of the Kyle.”  From the description of his book:

The S.S. Kyle, a 220-foot steam ship that is a cherished icon to generations of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, was launched in 1913. In February of 1967, it ran ashore in a gale and it now lies aground in the harbour of the town of Harbour Grace. The ship proudly known as the ‘Bulldog of the North’ was used mainly for transportation of people and goods from St. John’s to Labrador. It also transported soldiers from Newfoundland to mainland Canada during World War Two. The Kyle was part of the Reid Newfoundland Company’s Alphabet Fleet: ships that all bore the names of a Scottish town. The Spirit of the S.S. Kyle, author Pat Collins recounts the history of the incredible ship by intertwining real life with a love story that encompasses murder, romance, forgiveness, and the mystic Seaman’s Ghost that continues to guide and watch over the Kyle.

Pat Collins with his new book, and Dennis Flynn

Pat Collins (l) with his book and Dennis Flynn, author and photographer with close ties to the SS Kyle

For the past three years, Libby Earle, daughter of Guy Earle, the last owner of the Kyle has carried out a “Swim the Kyle Event” to bring attention to the SS Kyle in Harbour Grace and to highlight its importance to the history of the area and to raise money to preserve the SS Kyle.  This year’s 4th Annual Swim will take place on Saturday, September 14th, 2013.

Touching the Kyle

Libby Earle, daughter of the last owner, Fred Earle, Reaching the SS Kyle in 2012.

More photos from last year’s “Swim the Kyle” > >

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15th Anniversary Bay Roberts Festival of Lights – 2012/13

We have designed a series of posters for the 15th Anniversary Festival of Lights in the town of Bay Roberts – November 28th, 2012 to January 6th, 2013.
This post has posters with information about events which are ongoing over the Festival. The next post will have information about single occurrence events.

Festival of Lights - Nov 28th, 2012 to Jan 6th, 2013

15th Annual Festival of Lights

On Going Events

Christmas Park and Christmas Village

Christmas Park AND  Christmas Village.

Visitor Information Centre

Visitor Information Centre

Internation Nativity Set Collection - Dec 7th to Dec 15th

International Nativity Set Collection – Dec 7th to Dec 15th

Neighbouring Community - Port de Grave Boat Lighting

Neighbouring Community – Port de Grave Boat Lighting

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Bay Roberts Holdin Ground Festival -July 23-27

Monday, July 23rd

Model Boat Display The model boat display is continuing every week day from 1-4pm at SUF Lodge #82 on Patterson Street, across the street from the Bay Roberts Fire Hall.  Victoria Smith, Melissa Dawe, and Kalysha Snow from the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation are guides and offer refreshments and entertainment.

SUF Dawe Lodge #82

Victoria Smith and Melissa Dawe at SUF Dawe Lodge #82 with Handcrafted Models in Background.

 Tuesday, July 24th

  • The model boat display continues at the SUF Lodge from 1-4pm

  • The Three Sisters – Traditional Newfoundland Musical Performances sponsored by the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation.

The performances will be held near the Mad Rock Cafe or at the Three Sisters on fine days. (A sign will be placed near the Mad Rock Cafe telling where the performance will be.) On rainy days the performances will be held at the SUF Dawe Lodge #82 on Patterson Street, across the street from the Bay Roberts Fire Hall on Water Street.

Three Sisters with new telescope.

Three Sisters with new telescope on the Shoreline Heritage Walking Trail.

  • Family Campfire at the Community Gardens, Crossroads

Weekly campfire at the Community Gardens at the Crossroads takes place, rain or shine, at 7pm. In good weather, it will be at the gazebo; and if there is rain, it will be held in the cookhouse.

Family Campfire at the Community Gardens, Tuesdays at 7:30pm

Family Campfire at the Community Gardens, Tuesdays at 7:30pm

  • Every Tuesday Night, until August 21 – “How’s About A Time?” A Night of Newfoundland Comedy

Written by Nick Mercer and Kim Wiseman
FEATURING The Mad Rock Theatre Troupe, Directed by Michele Gosse Dove (Director of the Award Winning Avion Players of Gander)
Victoria LOL#3 Museum & Playhouse, Patterson Street, Bay Roberts
Starting at 8pm Tickets at the door: $15 Advance Tickets: 683-6377 or email:

How's About a Time? - Out for a Smoke

How’s About a Time? – Out for a Smoke

Wednesday, July 25th

  • Thomas Amusements at the parking lot of the Bay Arena and Bay Roberts Mall.

  • The Model Boat Display continues at the SUF Lodge on Patterson Street, across from the Bay Roberts Fire Hall from 1-4pm

  • “The Haunting,”  A series of ghost and fairy stories enacted during a walk by the graveyards on Neck Road.

Starting at dusk in the parking lot of Dashing Schomberg, Loyal Orange Lodge No. 45, Neck Road, Coley’s Point. A series of ghost and fairy stories enacted during a walk by the graveyards. Music. Hot chocolate is served. Tickets: $5. Be scared!!

The Haunting - Ghost and Fairy Stories

The Haunting – Ghost and Fairy Stories

Thursday, July 26th

  • Communities in Bloom Judges in town.

  •  Thomas Amusements at the parking lot of the Bay Arena and Bay Roberts Mall.

  • The Model Boat Display continues at the SUF Lodge on Patterson Street, across from the Bay Roberts Fire Hall from 1-4pm

  • Walking Tour of Heritage Area from Cable Building National Historic Site to Site of Historic Fish Plants.

Includes tour of the Cable Building including the Road to Yesterday Museum and the Christopher Pratt Gallery, Cable Avenue Municipal Heritage Area, LOL Victoria #3 Museum and Playhouse, SUF Dawe Lodge #82, and the site of Historic Fish Plants on Water Street.

Lois Dawe, Tourism Officer, greets tour member in front of Cable Building.

Lois Dawe, Tourism Officer, greets tour member in front of Cable Building.

  • Victoria Loyal Orange Lodge #3 Museum and Playhouse

The Victoria Loyal Orange Lodge #3 is the oldest public building in Bay Roberts. Brenda and Jerry Mercer, whose families have historic roots in the town, have preserved the building and many of its historic contents. Open every Thursday from 2-5pm

Victoria LOL #3 Museum and Playhouse

Victoria LOL #3 Museum and Playhouse

  • A Time in Pigeon Inlet

Experience a Traditional Newfoundland “Time” – Complete With Songs, Stories, Fiddle & Accordion Music, Soup Supper & an Old-Fashioned Square Dance.
Newfoundland & Labrador’s First “Tradition Bearer” – Kelly Russell; and his family “Russells in the Corner” Thursday Evenings 7:00 – 9:00, until Aug 16
The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 32, 108 Water Street. From the Conception Bay Highway, turn right at the traffic lights near Jungle Jim’s, across the street from Powell’s Supermarket. Continue to 108 Water Street to the Royal Canadian Legion and the Veterans Quay Marina.
Admission at the Door – $15, Family & Group Discounts
“Soup Supper” $5 and Bar Service Available at Additional Cost

"Running the Goat" - Newfoundland Dance with Tonya Kearley

“Running the Goat” – Newfoundland Dance with Tonya Kearley

Friday, July 27th

  • Communities in Bloom Judges in town.

  • Thomas Amusements at the parking lot of the Bay Arena and Bay Roberts Mall.

  • The Model Boat Display continues at the SUF Lodge on Patterson Street, across from the Bay Roberts Fire Hall from 1-4pm

  •  Toutons and Tunes” – Guided Hike with Musical Performance

Shoreline Heritage Walking Trail in Bay Roberts East. Hike starts from the Crane’s Hill Access Point to the Trail at 1:30pm. It includes description and music, and… toutons.

Mr. Herb Badcock tells stories to hikers.

Mr. Herb Badcock tells stories to hikers.

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Placentia Plaisance 350

More photos from March 20, 2012 > >
Placentia is a beautiful town that I have always loved. In 2012, Placentia is celebrating its 350th anniversary! The early French settlers called the town “Plaisance” – “the pleasant place” and it certainly is that and more. The town is located on a flat plain surrounded by towering hills, including Castle Hill, which is now a National Historic Site.
Intrepid Peggy and Peter - Placentia Mascots
Intrepid Peggy and Peter – Placentia Mascots

On March 20th, on behalf of the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation, I attended the announcement of funding for “Placentia Plaisance 350” by the Honourable Peter Penashue Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada on behalf of the Honourable James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Perhaps, the event was a little taste of what is to come – a town crier in full costume, Peggy and Peter – the charming town mascots, guides in period costumes, and enthusiastic and happy organizers including Mayor Bill Hogan, Councillor Wayne Power, Rachelle Connors of Placentia Area Historical Society (PAHS), Elaine Murray and Winnie Berry of the Festival of Flags and proposed International Museum of World Peace, and Rhonda Power and the staff of the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre.
Grave Marker at St. Luke's Anglican Church
Grave Marker at St. Luke’s Anglican Church

Preserved and protected historical sites and landmarks, located around the town, weave a rich story. Castle Hill National Historic Site, the new Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre, the Placentia Court House, St. Luke’s Anglican Church and Cemetery, the Annual Placentia Regatta, the Placentia Heritage Trails, the Placentia Uncovered Archaeology Excavation, the replica of the French Fishing Chaloupe and the O’Reilly House Museum are all places to visit.
Three Sisters Pub and Belle's Resturant
Three Sisters Pub and Belle’s Restaurant

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Titanic – 584km or 365mi

Titanic – 584km or 365mi, originally uploaded by eracose.

Directional Signs on Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador showing the direction of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. On April 14, 1912 at 10:25 p.m. Cape Race (which is about 20km from Cabot Tower) received Titanic’s distress call – the letters C.Q.D.- and ten minutes later Titanic’s Phillips sent another wireless message stating Titanic’s position with the infamous added detail, “have struck iceberg”. At 12:27 a.m. (Newfoundland and Titanic time) on April 15 Titanic’s wireless signal abruptly ended and the last link with the land ended. Those who survived, credited the Titanic’s transmissions from the installed Marconi Wireless system with saving their lives.

Cabot Tower is interesting for two reasons this year – besides the incredible scenery.

1. Survivors of the Titanic credited the “state-of-art” Marconi wireless room on the Titanic with saving their lives. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi had received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message at a position near the tower, the letter “S” in Morse Code sent from Poldhu, Cornwall, United Kingdom. Cabot Tower is on the left. The last wireless message from the Titanic was received at Cape Race, about 20km from Cabot Tower.

2. Construction of tower began in 1898 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee [1897]. This year is the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Oldest English Settled City in North America
St. John’s – Oldest English Settled City in North America

The Narrows
Cabot Tower from St. John’s Harbour

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The Morgan Brothers – “Glory Train”

The Morgan Brothers of Bay Roberts are amazing. Their version of “Glory Train” is second to none.  However, the contribution of the Morgan Family goes beyond gospel singing.  Boyd and Betty Morgan, their parents, are owners of Morgan’s Furniture on the Birch Hills in Bay Roberts, where people from many parts of the province shop for quality home furnishings. Boyd and Betty are also enthusiastic members to the very active Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music Group that meets the last Saturday of every month at the Bay Roberts Lions Club on Bareneed Road.

Last fall, Corey Morgan, along with two other teachers from the Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts, Catherine Downey and David Gill, won the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence - l-r David Gill, Catherine Downey, Prime Minister Harper, and Corey Morgan

To quote from the Western Avalon Website:  “When this superhero teaching trio teams up, magic happens and Amalgamated Academy turns into the Amalgamated Media Production Company. Those taking in the action are quick to see that teaching to these three isn’t second nature – it is their nature. Local artist-in-residence, blogs, wikis and moodles, film and drama festivals, math contests and skills challenges – these three show students how to make it happen and feel empowered to show it off.”

And last but not least, every summer Corey is a star member of Baccalieu Players when they perform the Royal Shag Up Dinner Theatre in Brigus.  For anyone who has not attended this show, it is one of the outstanding summer events in the province.  Be sure to book early, because it is sold out for most performances.

Royal Shag Up Dinner Theatre in Brigus

Royal Shag Up Dinner Theatre in Brigus

As a final note, Corey Morgan is one of the most talented people in the province. However, he has chosen to make a real contribution to his home area. Thank you to Corey and his family, and others all across this province who each day make our communities exceptional places to live.

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Pancake Day – Shrove Tuesday

Wedding Ring for Pancake
Grandmother’s Wedding Ring for Pancake

Pancake Day is celebrated in Newfoundland on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. The name shrove comes from the Christian custom of making confession of sin and receiving forgiveness, being shriven, on that day.

In many countries festivals are held on the last days before the beginning of lent. These include the Fastnacht in Germany and Carnivals in many places including the Mardi Gras, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, and the Carnival in Trinidad.

During Lent it was the custom to fast, as Christ did for his forty days in the desert. Every person, including children, was expected to “give up” some food for Lent, especially sweets.

Following the tradition of their English ancestors, Newfoundlanders serve pancakes as the family meal for supper on Shrove Tuesday (in the past to use up the last of their eggs and butter before Lent.) The pancakes are served with molasses, which was brought back to Newfoundland from the West Indies Islands (along with rum) in exchange for fish.

As an additional treat, items were placed in the pancake batter before it is cooked to foretell the future for family members. When a person recieved a pancake with a certain item, everybody in the family knew what it meant.

If a boy received an item for a trade, it meant he would enter that trade. If a girl received the item for a trade, it meant she would marry a person from that trade.

Although today families usually concentrate on placing coins and perhaps a wedding ring in the pancakes, in the past the items included:

  • A piece of string (representing a net)– a fisherman
  • A piece of wood ( representing woodworking) — a carpenter
  • A wedding ring (representing marriage)–the person would marry
  • A button (representing bachelorhood) — the person would not marry
  • A penny (representing poverty) — the person would be poor
  • A dime (representing riches) — the person would be wealthy
  • A nail (representing horseshoe)– a blacksmith

Pancake Recipe
2 egg
2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
4 tbsp butter or margarine or shortening
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

Makes about 20 pancakes.

Beat egg until fluffy; beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. Grease and heat frying pan.
Thoroughly clean items to be placed in pancakes. Spoon pancake batter into pan and place item in each pancake, until all items are used. Serve at least one pancake with an item to each family member.

Molasses Coady
2 cups of molasses
1/2 cup of water
3 tbsp butter or margarine

Boil ingredients together for about 10 minutes and pour over pancakes.


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Bay Roberts Culture Days – 2011

Our community of Bay Roberts will be participating in Culture Days again on September 30th, October 1st, and October 2nd. Many people and businesses in our area have come together to plan and pay for these events, so that they are completely FREE to people of the region. Tickets and information about all events can be found at the Bay Roberts Visitor Information Centre or by calling 683-6377 or 683-1195  (Hours are Monday-Friday 10-5, closed weekends for Fall.)

Jerry Mercer will be presenting his production of David French’s “Salt-Water Moon” at the Victoria LOL #3 Playhouse on Friday, September 30th and Saturday, October 1st.  The director is Marc Warren. Acacia Puddister is playing the role of Mary Mercer and he role of Jacob Mercer is being played by Bobby Hogan.

Friday night’s show is sponsored by RE/MAX East Coast Realty Ltd. –  786-2310 and Saturday night’s show is sponsored by Pam Norman, Exit Realty on the Rock – 683-8676. In addition, door prizes have been donated by “Inn By The Bay” in Dildo. – One night for two – Room and Dinner at Inn By The Bay Dining Room.(Value $315) and donated By “Klondyke Cottage” in Bay Roberts one night for two. (Value $149  )

Fresh Mussels
Fresh Mussels

Saturday, October 1, 2011, starting at 2:30 PM, a Mussel Boil will be held at the Three Sisters on the Shoreline Heritage Walk with Traditional NL Music by David Fitzpatrick, including Madrock song. The Three Sisters is a beautiful pebble beach surrounded by cliffs, accessed by stairs from the road to MadRock. The beach is a popular site for weddings, picnics, the caplin scull, geocaching, and other family activities.

Sponsored by Ruth Brown of Clarke Real Estate, Bay Roberts  Drawing for one night for two donated by the Bumblebee Bed and Breakfast in Brigus (Value $119.00).

Fergus Geocache #22
Fergus Geocache

Shoreline Heritage Walk Geocaching Weekend

Participants pick up “Cacheports” and drop them off at Bartlett’s Irving (next door to Shopper’s Drug Mart on the Conception Bay Highway.) Each cacheport contains GPS readings for 3 geocaches in Bay Roberts, one question and one sticker space for each geocache. The participants will find each geochache with an answer to the corresponding question, and place a sticker in the space. A drawing from the completed cacheports will made for the Prizes which will be two $40 gift certificates at the MadRock Cafe, sponsored by Baccalieu Consulting.

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Port de Grave

Hibbs Cove, originally uploaded by eracose.

Port de Grave is one of the oldest and historically most successful fishing communities in Canada. Although there is evidence it is much older, its recorded history goes back to 1675, when the main planter in the community was Thomas Butler. In 1675, Thomas was living at Port de Grave with his wife and three sons. He employed 20 servants and owned five boats, 50 cattle and 20 sheep. Thomas is believed to be the grandson of Samuel Butler, who was a member of John Guy’s colony in Cupids Cove, which was settled in 1610.

The French from Quebec led by Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville attacked Port de Grave on January 23, 1697. Abbé Jean Baudoin wrote in his journal that they found 116 men, 14 planters, 20 boats, and 10 000 salt codfish. He commented: “This place is very beautiful.” Visitors to the community make exactly the same comment today! Artists and photographers love Port de Grave!

Port de Grave
Port de Grave

Organically growing from the cliffs on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, Port de Grave is one of the most beautiful communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. About 15 minutes from Bay Roberts, it retains its own distinct character and community spirit, while older people in the community still speak with their distinctive Port de Grave accent. People from all over the province come to see Port de Grave Harbour during the Christmas season, when fish harvesters decorate their  longliners with colourful Christmas lights.

Glowing Water - Port de Grave
Christmas Boat Lighting

For further reading about Port de Grave, see Heritage of a Newfoundland Outport: The Story of Port de Grave written and published by Gerald Andrews. Available through Amazon > >

Aslo see, Our Life on Lear’s Room, Labrador by Greta Hussey, published by Flanker Press. Available through Flanker Press > >
Here is Greta Hussey, 89 years old, reading a selection from her book.

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