Lectures & Gatherings

Greetings once again at the beginning of a new Wessex season! All presentations are given at Hampton Hall, Marine Institute, Ridge Road, St. John’s, at 8:00 pm, on the second Wednesday of each month. Lectures are free and open to the general public. A small membership fee of $5.00 annually helps defray expenses and provides us with a list of email addresses and contact information for easy communication. Members are encouraged to invite friends and relatives and especially anyone visiting from around or outside the province.


A schedule of lectures for 2017-2018 follows:

11 October 2017
Speaker: Dr. Michael Deal, Archaeology Dept, MUN
Topic: “Newfoundlander Aviators of World War I”
Abstract: Nearly nine thousand Newfoundlanders volunteered for military service during the First World War, primarily with the Newfoundland Regiment, the Royal Naval Reserve, and the Newfoundland Forestry Corps, but a few individuals also served in the fledgling Allied air forces. The combined experiences of these airmen give us a glimpse into Newfoundland's contribution to the air war of World War I.

08 November 2017
Speaker: Jenny Higgins, Researcher/Writer, NL Heritage
Topic: “Women at War in their own Words”
Abstract: Nurses, knitters, mothers, money raisers, and more. This talk and slideshow presentation is about Newfoundland and Labrador women in the First World War. We’ll learn about their experiences through their own words, by examining the letters, diaries, and scrapbooks they left behind. These documents shine an important light on how the war affected women’s lives, and how their contributions altered post-war society for the better.

13 December 2017
Topic: “From the mouth of a canon: The wit of Canon George Earle”, a video by David Quinton, followed by Christmas music/sing-a-long.

10 January 2018
Speaker: Dr. Alex Marland, Dept. of Political Science, MUN
Topic: The Democratic Cookbook
Abstract: In early 2018, the provincial Liberal government will strike an All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform. To kickstart the committee's work, Alex Marland and Lisa Moore of MUN assembled over 80 people to write opinion pieces, creative works and even politically-themed recipes, which The Telegram ran daily for two months and which were published as a book. Come learn more about "The Democracy Cookbook: Recipes to Renew Governance in Newfoundland and Labrador" and join the conversation about democratic reform.

14 February 2018
Speaker: Dr. Anna Kearney Guigne, Folklorist and Adjunct Professor, MUN
Topic: “Fortify My Glass and Sing Me a Tender Tune: Newman's Port Wine and the Shaping of the English Song Tradition on Newfoundland's South Coast”
Abstract: Although the existence of British song material in the Newfoundland and Labrador repertoire has been widely observed, our specific understanding of the methods and patterns by which ballads, broadsides, and music hall numbers came to be transferred across the Atlantic is less understood. While we can rarely be entirely certain as to how specific song materials have migrated to the province, we can certainly look at probabilities through “indirect sources” such as the examination of collections from both sides of the Atlantic. We can also look at the movement of people from one region to another as a result of mercantile activities. One such example is the West Country of England firm of Newman and Company whose presence on the south coast of Newfoundland dates back centuries. As early as 1589, merchant John Newman was recorded as having brought back Newfoundland cod to Dartmouth to trade for wine and cloth. By 1672, the Newmans had established a permanent trading station at Pushthrough on Newfoundland’s south coast. By the early nineteenth century the company had added additional trading posts along the coast, eventually leading to the growth of such communities as Harbour Breton, Gaultois, Hermitage, and Ramea. Throughout the nineteenth century Newman and Company maintained an active presence on the Island’s south coast. Finally, in 1907, the company closed its stores in Harbour Breton, thus ending three centuries of trading in Newfoundland cod. Historically, Newman and Company serviced its south coast of Newfoundland trading and fishing activities by recruiting its workforce from inland parishes surrounding the company’s West Country base. Over the course of several centuries hundreds of immigrants from Dorset, Somerset and Devon eventually settled in the island’s south coast communities, along the way bringing their musical traditions with them. In this sense Newman and Company’s particular workforce arrangement contributed to the importation of a distinct cache of Child ballads, broadside ballads, music hall songs, alongside the odd sea shanty resulting in a strong British-based song tradition on Newfoundland’s south coast. Drawing on both published and unpublished song collections from Newfoundland’s south coast region, alongside new research on family genealogy and community history, I highlight some of song materials found within the south coast of Newfoundland repertoire and discuss links to song materials derived from the southwest of England. Using the activities of Newman and Company as a case study, I hope to illustrate that such investigations may provide one viable means of mapping out specific patterns of transference of a given body of songs from one region to another.

14 March 2018
Speaker: Cabot Martin
Topic: “The Welsh Heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador”

11 April 2018
Speaker: Dr. James Hiller, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Memorial University
Topic: "Robert Bond (1857-1927): a Fresh Approach"