I hail from the oldest and most easterly city in all of North America - St. John’s, Newfoundland.
For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of our island drew cod from the rich fishing grounds surrounding the rocky shoreline. One thousand years ago, Vikings became the island’s first European visitors, harvesting timber from the rugged northern peninsula. Five hundred years later, John Cabot would claim to discover the island, a moment that sparked the international fishing industry in Newfoundland.
Thousands of fisherman from England, Ireland, France, Spain, and Portugal crossed the ocean to spend each summer fishing for cod. Eventually, they brought their families, built year-round settlements, and created a unique island culture.
My family arrived on the island a few hundred years ago. At that time, we were English and Irish. Today, we are Newfoundlanders.
But we’re never far from our roots.
Those early settlers brought their Celtic customs across the ocean and firmly planted them into the land and the people.
Hundreds of years later, we carry on this tradition:
We are Storytellers.
We are songwriters, playwrights, novelists, and poets.
We love to spin a yarn, crack a joke, or tell the fishing tale of the-one-that-got-away.
We speak of fairies, mermaids, and legendary shipwrecks.
We are Survivors.
We have clung to the Rock for hundreds of years.
Our Indigenous populations, even longer.
We tell stories of long winters, when the cove iced up and no one could move for months.
We talk of small boats facing epic storms, of the ones that returned, and the ones who never made it home.
We tell the stories of those who can no longer speak for themselves:
For Shawnadithit, the last of the Beothuks.
For the fallen soldiers of Beaumont-Hamel.
For the 84 workers of the Ocean Ranger offshore drilling station, swallowed by the sea on a stormy winter’s night.
We’ve faced tsunamis, prejudice, isolation, and a moratorium on fishing that cod that started it all.
We’ve lived to tell the tale, so tell it we will.
We gather in our churches, lifting prayers of gratitude, harmonizing songs of struggle and faith.
We sing it our pubs, rousing our voices together in shanties and laments.
We laugh about it in our kitchen parties, fiercely choosing joy in the face of adversity, weaving tales of hope and humour.
We gift it to our children, passing our creativity and resiliency down to the next generation.
Our Celtic ancestors gave us the gift of storytelling for survival, hope, and legacy.
With each new chapter, we continue to share our story …
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!
Singer, songwriter and worship leader, Allison Lynn, is drawn to the power of story to grow hearts and communities. Allison and her husband, Gerald Flemming, just released their 9th Infinitely More album - The Sum of All Love. Publications include The Anglican Journal (national newspaper), Taste and See (journal), Love STC (Niagara Tourism Blog), and four stories with Chicken Soup for the Soul. www.InfinitelyMore.ca
Thank you for this beautiful post, dear Allison. The following words of yours touched my writer's soul, as this is the way so many inspirational words are conceived:ReplyDelete
"We gather in our churches, lifting prayers of gratitude, harmonizing songs of struggle and faith."
What a wonderful snapshot of the humanity and heritage of Newfoundland. Aside from being so gifted creatively, they are also some of the most hospitable people in the world. This lilting description brings back many memories of our brief time there. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Dear Allison, you had me at, "Celtic Roots." I too come from a Celtic background, being Scottish/Irish. I love this message being posted as a St. Patrick's Day post. You are so right, we are indeed storytellers. I sensed a sweet lilt in your words even as I read them. I look forward to more of your posts. One thing more. I hope we meet some day. :)ReplyDelete
I love this blog post Allison! I have a special place in my heart for Newfoundland, not because I'm from there but because I have so many friends that hail from the "Rock". As you probably know, there was (and continues to be) a mass migration of Newfoundlanders to certain mining and oil towns in western Canada. My town is one of them, so I know many MANY folks who still call Newfoundland home. I heartily agree with the "storyteller" part, the choice to be optimistic part (sometime quite stubbornly so!), and the warm hospitality. Each person I know is proud of their roots - as they should be - and celebrates like no other! I've visited Newfoundland once, back in 2022, and was stunned by the rugged beauty and hospitality etc. I'd love to visit again someday. Happy St Patrick's day to you!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful post, Allison, and so apt for St. Patrick's Day. My husband and I are planning to drive across Canada (from Victoria, BC) this summer/fall, and spend a considerable time on Newfoundland. The more I read about it, the more interesting it becomes to me. I look forward to hearing stories and songs from Newfoundlanders.ReplyDelete