We scoured the world's collected knowledge to compile these facts and legends about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
Born: around 385 to 387 AD in England
Died: March 17, year 461, at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland (source)
Patrick was born in England, in an area under Roman control. His father, Calpornius, was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. This was before the Church began requiring vows of celibacy from their clergy. While on his mission in Ireland, he missed his father and mother, Conchessa, but felt he couldn’t return. “God knows what I would dearly like to do. But I am bound in the Spirit, who assures me that if I were to do this, I would be held guilty,” he writes in one of two surviving documents confirmed to be written by Patrick. (source)
Patrick was taken from his home at a young age and sold as a slave. He was sent to County Down, Ireland, where he tended sheep and swine. After six years as a slave, he escaped to France. Tradition states Patrick had a vision in which he was told to return to Ireland. After the vision he began the process of becoming ordained, returning to Ireland as a bishop in 432. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is built on the site of a church Patrick built in the year 445. (source)
Things you thought you knew about St. Patrick
The legend of St. Patrick using the shamrock to teach about the Catholic concept of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – dates to the early 1700s. There is no evidence that Patrick actually used a shamrock as a prop while converting people to Christianity.
Patrick is credited with driving all the snakes from Ireland. The truth of the matter is there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with. One theory explains the source of this legend as figurative, rather than literal. The serpent represents either paganism or evil, which Patrick was on a mission to drive from the land
In 1931, four years after recorded dialogue first appeared in film, Newfoundland and Labrador became the setting for Canada’s first “talkie,” The Viking. Centred around the seal hunt, the film tells the story of two sealers, one brave and one “jinxed,” who begin the hunt as enemies and end up as friends.
In addition to filming on location in Quidi Vidi, the director and producer accompanied actual sealers on a Grand Banks expedition in order to add a sense of realism to their film. After showing the completed movie to a private audience at the Nickel Theatre in St. John’s, director George Melford was dissatisfied with the Grand Banks scenes and decided to shoot new footage of a second hunt – this time aboard the SS Viking, the film’s namesake.
On March 15, 1931, while attempting to film a scene involving exploding icebergs, Varick Frissell, the film’s producer; Alexander Penrod, the cinematographer; and 25 other crew members and sealers were killed when dynamite brought by the film crew exploded, destroying the ship’s stern and ultimately sinking the vessel. Despite the tragic accident, The Viking was completed and released only three months later.
Reader Eric Quinlan of Tiverton, Ontario recently sent in this photo of a mystery object that was found in Newfoundland more than 70 years ago. He writes, "My sister-in-law’s father found it on the beach in Botwood in 1942. It’s a hollow brass cylinder approximately 3.5 inches in length and just over 0.5 inch in diameter. The item on the left screws into the hollow of the cylinder. The item on the left also has what seems like a miniature spoon on its end, albeit the 'spoon' is quite shallow. It appears this item was manufactured in England and may have something to do with the Second World War."
If you recognize this object as something you once used or owned - or even if you have a good guess as to what it may be - please help solve the mystery by leaving a comment on this article, or by calling 1-866-640-1999. We’ll share what we learn from you in a future issue.
We were overwhelmed with responses to our last "mystery object" (pictured below), which turned out to be a component of a seaman's hammock. Have a listen to some of the interesting responses we received via our toll-free submission phone line.
Courtesy Lloyd Pretty
Jonathan Seaward, retired chief petty officer with the Royal Canadian Navy, offered the following explanation.
Watson Strong wasn't long figuring out our mystery.
Wayne Grasser explains why he is more than a little familiar with "hammock clews."
For those of you who'd like to see how hammock clews are made, reader Orville Reeves sent us a link to this video.
Are you in possession of some object that defies explanation? Submit a photo of it here, along with a description of where and when you found it, and with the help of our readers we'll try our best to solve another mystery.
Valentine’s Day, a time of love and tenderness and fond thoughts of cherished ones. But imagine it’s 500 years ago, and you’re a lonely sailor thousands of miles from your homeland, exploring the far reaches of the world. You’ve got land in your sights and love in your heart. So it would make sense then, that these long-ago, possibly lovesick, folk might have been moved to christen our towns, coves and bays with tender-sounding names – wouldn't it?
Take Cupids, for instance. Upon entering this historic town on the Baccalieu Trail, we imagine the average tourist visiting from upalong might mistakenly assume the place owes its romantic name to that adorable arrow-weilding cherub. After all, the scenery here looks like a fitting home for the ultimate matchmaker. The truth is though, the town shares no connection with Cupid. In fact, in the early 1600s John Guy brought settlers to a place called Cuper’s Cove. Over the years the name took on many variations – Cubbit’s Cove, Cuperts Cove, Copers, etc. – and finally the present-day name, Cupids.
Doting Cove. Based on the name, some lonely fella might stroll into this cove waiting to be tended on hand and foot by the most loving and attentive women in the world.
The truth behind the name: This scenic cove near Musgrave Harbour is actually named after a doater, a Newfoundland term meaning an “old seal”…which is probably not loving and attentive – and definitely not what any lonely fella has on his mind.
Flowers Cove. It sounds like a heavenly place where the land is carpeted in a beautiful wash of colourful flowers each summer.
The truth behind the name: Located near the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, the beauty of this seaside town really does make it heavenly, and yes, flowers do grow here! But the name, given by Captain Cook in the 1700s, is actually derived from flour – not flowers. However it wasn’t Cook’s fondness for baked goods that led to the naming of this cove. Rather, back then, “flour” was the name for the white scum of breaking waves. Ahh, the romance of the sea.
St. Bride’s. Could this pretty town on the southern Avalon Peninsula really be named after the little known patron saint of the newly wed? Think again.
The truth behind the name: St. Bride’s is named after Bridget, one of Ireland’s patron saints.
L’Anse Amour. This French name for the picturesque community on the southern Labrador coast translates to “Cove of Love” in English.
The truth behind the name: The above description is the truth – just not the whole truth. According to the website Labrador Coastal Drive, that’s a romanticized version of the original, slightly less warm and fuzzy-sounding, name “Anse aux Morts” – or Cove of the Dead – likely named for the many shipwrecks in the area.
Heart’s Delight & Heart’s Desire. In the case of these neighbouring Avalon Peninsula communities, reality is sweeter than fiction. According to the book Newfoundland and Labrador Place Names by David E. Scott, Heart’s Delight was named by “weary travellers who were ‘delighted’ with the beauty of the place.” Of nearby Heart’s Desire, Scott goes on to say, “Tradition has it that early travellers, after first seeing Heart’s Delight, desired to keep on hiking up the shore to see what they then named Heart’s Desire.”
Source: Newfoundland and Labrador Place Names by David E. Scott
Just the other day, we received the most impressive piece of mail ever delivered to Downhome by Canada Post – hands down. We get a lot of great mail from readers, from amazing photographs, to original artwork, to archival documents. But this was something we never expected to receive – though in a way, we should have.
You see, it has to do with that ever-present Corky Sly Conner. He’s been swimming among the pages of Downhome since the magazine itself was just a fry. We get more letters from readers who find Corky than about anything else in the magazine! When I meet readers in my travels, so many of them begin by telling me, "The first thing I do when I get my magazine is look for that little fish!" And if he’s not found within a few days, people call our office to make sure he’s in there and ask for clues as to where he is hiding (which we can’t give, as it’s a contest and that would be giving an unfair advantage).
Subscribers write about how they try to sneak off with the new issue as soon as it arrives, so they can find Corky before their partners get a chance to look and they can have bragging rights to finding him first. Some years ago, one man sent us a poem he had written, about how his wife was so immersed in finding Corky every month that he was convinced she’d rather go to bed with Corky and her magazine than with him! Another reader wrote to tell us how she and her husband almost divorced because they were fighting over the magazine on the hunt for Corky. We think she was exaggerating to stress how much they enjoy the contest and the magazine – at least, we hope so. As far as we know, Corky’s never been named in divorce proceedings.
Admittedly, Corky has been left out of three issues since his debut around 200 issues ago. Most recently, a digital production glitch caused him to be left out of the October 2010 issue. That problem was soon turned into opportunity as readers were challenged to guess where we found Corky after he’d been “fishnapped.” Readers sure had fun trying to figure out where that sly fish had disappeared to, with several readers “finding” Corky in sections of the October issue where he wasn’t (a popular wrong guess was on a red hoodie on page 161).
The letters we get about Corky are actually contest entries, but people will go through the effort to dress up their entry letter and envelope with hand-drawn images of Corky, shiny stickers and fancy lettering. They’re very entertaining and staff often pass around the best-dressed envelopes for others to see. But what we received at the end of October 2010 astonished us.
It was carefully packed in a brown courier envelope marked “RUSH!” Inside was a letter from Eric and Linda Beatty of Oshawa, Ontario:
“We are returning one very lost fish. We found him swimming/floating in Lake Ontario, just southeast of Oshawa. He’s a little thin now, but he’ll recover.”
The Beattys had sent us a beautifully carved, 25.5 cm (10 in.) wooden replica of our Corky Sly Conner! We called up Eric and found out that he does custom scroll works as a hobby. Always looking for a creative challenge, and being fans of Downhome, he took the tiny image of Corky from the magazine and had it enlarged as big as he could, then used that as his template. For several hours, he worked on a piece of Brazilian pine, using a scroll saw with a five-inch blade the width of three human hairs. What he produced we can only describe as a masterpiece. We will be proudly displaying this gift in our St. John’s office for all our visitors to admire.
And… Eric has agreed to make us a few extra carvings so that during 2011, some lucky winners of the Find Corky contest are going to have a real trophy to show off. Stay tuned for more details in future issues, and keep your eye out for that sly conner!
In the useful-looking kitchen of an old farmhouse, sitting across the table with his back to the sunshine that laboured through the dingy window pane is a burly man. His stature is imposing and rugged, un-Irish in spite of his Southern Shore roots.
At 77, Howard Morry’s hands and arms still look strong as he folds and unfolds them in conversation, rising once in awhile to comb his long, straight grey hair back from his forehead.
His hearing isn’t what it used to be and his voice elicits an almost permanent strain from having to constantly raise it in conversation. But this doesn’t mask the straight-forward and friendly way he talks.
“I was seven years old when I got my first sheep, for passing Grade one,” says Morry, knowing I wanted the story from the beginning. “My father gave it to me. They were worth about five dollars each then.”
That means he’s been farming sheep for the better part of 70 years.
As if to check his own accuracy, he quickly explains that there was a four-year period in the 1950s when he moved to Toronto to work and had to give up his flock. Then again for a couple of years when he attended agricultural college in Truro, Nova Scotia.
After college, Howard landed a job with the provincial government as a technologist in the entomology department of the research station where he worked for 35 years until he retired in 1990. During that time, his sheep farming was a sideline.
Howard and an orphaned lamb
“I used this (sheep farming) to educate my kids; buy cars for them,” Howard explains. “They all came out of university and trade school and neither one owed a nickel. So they (the sheep) have been a good help to me all my life – not a living in it, but a very good sideline.”
For the past 54 years, Howard has been raising sheep on his property in Kilbride, a quaint two-story homestead sharing space with an antique barn, grey fences mechanical farm equipment, a plain pick-up truck, all identified by a simple roadside sign, "Morry’s Sheep Farm." He says, as far as he knows, he was the first sheep farmer in Kilbride.
A family affair
He’d grown up in Ferryland on the Avalon Peninsula's southern shore. His father was a fisherman and subsistence farmer who raised animals for food. Along the way, he shared his techniques for caring for farm animals with his son. Howard was one of nine children and the only one who carried on farming after leaving home.
“My grandfather was a farmer, too. He was at it in kind of a big way then,” says Howard. “He had all kinds of horse-drawn machinery and he used to use the island in Ferryland to pasture his sheep – my father used it, I’m using it and my boys are using it. There’s been sheep on that island off and on for hundreds of years.”
Howard’s mother, a war bride from Scotland, came from a family of sheep farmers. Her father was a lawyer, but her uncles raised sheep in the mountains of the Highlands. “She could pull the lambs out of sheep when they got in trouble,” he remarks.
Howard’s wife Mary has been involved in the farm work ever since they got together. “She’d live and die in the garden. And it’s good for you, too,” he quips. “She’s 81 now. She grew up in Outer Cove. She worked in an office in town and got in tow with me and came in here (Kilbride). She spent the first couple winters in the woods cutting wood with me. She never, never ever complained. We had eleven children. Eight survived. We lost one son 11 years ago to cancer.”
Howard is happy that his lifetime of learning won’t be for naught. His two sons and his son-in-law are already seasoned sheep farmers. They each have their own flocks but they all work together to make sure the trade grows and that sheep farmers all over the province have every advantage.
Managing the flock
Howard has been involved with the Sheep Producers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPANL) since its inception more than two decades ago. He is currently the president. He says membership drifts up and down depending on the “sheep business” but has been as high as 50. The SPANL was started by Joey Smallwood’s granddaughter, Dale Russell Fitzpatrick, in Gander about 21 years ago.
Howard recalls reading that during the depression years there were 125,000 breeding sheep in Newfoundland. “Those were the days when people needed them to eat and wool for their clothes, but as times got better and money got a little plentier and the town council came in, they didn’t want animals roaming the roads, so people who had them had to confine them, and people only had postage stamp-sized farms so they couldn’t afford to cut the hay and keep going so they got out of it (sheep farming).” About 20 years ago, there were about 10,000 in the province but Howard says the rapidly expanding coyote population forced many people out of the business. “We’re up to about 4,000 (sheep) again now and most of them are on the Avalon.”
Part of Howard’s learning by trial and error relates to developing a breed of sheep that were strong enough to not only withstand the Newfoundland weather, but a breed that would actually prosper in it. His current flock of 50 breeders are what he calls mongrels.
Some of Howard's flock
“I have some good blood in my sheep now. There’s a lot of Newfoundland in them plus everything, but they’re the best,” he explains. “I’ve tried purebreds but they didn’t work out too good. They couldn’t take it on the chin like the mixed up ones. They’re not hardy. They’re alright if you hand feed them and pamper them. The ones I’ve got are out all winter. The only time I put them in is when the snow goes over the fences, I’m afraid they’ll roam.”
Howard and the other sheep farmers in his area bring their sheep to the island around May 24 each year and leave them there to pasture until about mid-November when the sheep are returned to their home farms for the winter.
At home, the sheep roam the fenced-in land, and Howard tends them daily, but not without help. He has enlisted the aid of two llamas and a guard dog – three animals he is more than willing to call workmates. The llamas are large and daunting to predators like dogs and coyotes. But more than that, they instinctively govern the sheep. In cases where coyotes had been approaching the flock a llama has been seen herding the sheep into one corner of the field and standing between them and the potential danger.
Howard credits his llamas for reducing the number of sheep lost to predators. And while roaming dogs have also been a known predator for decades, Howard has a dog of his own that guards his flock.
“In 1959, I had a flock in Bay Bulls 26 out of 30 sheep were killed by a big pack of dogs. The four that were left, I looked at them and said, ‘Am I going to stay at this or what?’ And I said, ‘I’m not giving in to the dogs and that’s it.’ So I started with four and worked my way up again.”
Howard’s pride in his working dog is obvious as he pushes himself up from the kitchen table and asks if I want to meet her.
“She” is a four-year-old Maremma sheepdog named Queen. Maremmas are livestock guardian dogs indigenous to central Italy and have been used by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. Queen came to Howard from Cape Breton.
Queen gets a well-deserved scratch behind the ears.
As we walk the dozen paces from his back door to the barn Howard seems to come even more alive. The barn door is open and as we approach, two small cats who had been lazing in the afternoon sun stir and slink away, pausing to look back at us a time or two. “They’re not house cats. They’re working cats,” Howard says. “They keep the mice away.”
As we step inside, a llama raises its head, a strand of hay sticking out if its mouth like a toothpick. She looked as out of place as a fisherman in the dessert. Around her legs in the pen were several adult sheep and a couple of lambs. They are there to keep the llama company while she’s on vacation. Her work won’t begin again until the flock returns from the island.
Getting down to business
A sharp, pleading whine draws our attention away from the llama as Queen pulls herself up to the top of the pen for a look. Howard reaches out and rubs her ears and talks to her as if I’m not there. Interestingly, Queen has the same hardy look about her as Howard and is just as comfortable around the sheep as he is.
From the dark recess of the barn comes a tiny bleat. Howard steps up to the pen and swings his legs in over. He reaches down like a father and scoops up a tiny lamb. “She’s an orphan,” he says. “Her mother died and I don’t know what happened.”
From where he stands at the barn door with the tiny, wooly animal in his arms, the “lab” is visible – a tiny, white government-looking building where lambs become sustenance.
As the subject is broached, it is the first time I see discomfort on Howard’s face.
Killing lambs is something Howard doesn’t like talking about, even after all these years in the business. “I don’t like doing it. But, sure I’ve got to do it. What are you going to do, keep ‘em all?
Lamb meat is worth money now Howard says, “Over $5 per pound.”
Restaurants and independent grocery stores are his main markets. “People are more fond of it than ever. Lamb, they go mad for it,” he says. “Without any exaggeration I could sell 300 lambs a year. If I was pushing it and advertising it would be more, but I can’t butcher what I haven’t got.” He points out that his lambs are “naturally raised” meaning they roam free until they are of market size. They reach market size in about five months.
The breeding sheep need to be sheared at least once a year but the wool is not fetching much – usually between 50 cents and a dollar per pound.
Howard explains that sheep tend to lose their usefulness as breeders between 7-10 years of age. His sheep generally lamb once a year and the lambs are castrated to prevent accidental breeding.
The next generation
Howard had open-heart surgery last year, and these days his knees are trying to tell him to ease up on the hard work, but his passion for the trade keeps him going morning after morning.
He says you don’t become a sheep farmer in Newfoundland for the money. You do it because you enjoy the work and you like sheep. “I likes to be at it. I’d go cracked in the house. I’d go mad. The wintertime here, boy, I can’t stand it, the long nights and the short days. I dread for it to come.”
Howard is hopeful about the future of sheep farming in the province given the greater number of younger people taking an interest in it. Aside from his own family and those around his area, he’s met and helped a young woman on the Northern Peninsula who he says is becoming a very good shepherdess.
Jennifer Decker runs Wild Woods Farm in Roddickton, which began as a hobby farm with chickens, turkeys, ducks, and peacocks. The hobby has since turned into an 18-acre sheep operation and five acres of pasture.
Jennifer is not shy about crediting much of her success to the willingness of veteran farmers like Howard to share their knowledge.
“We never would have met but for our love of sheep,” Jennifer says of Howard. “I wanted to let him know some of us younger folks 'get it' and I appreciate his encouragement and passion for the sheep industry in our province and our history here.” Click here to read a poem that Jennifer wrote and dedicated to Howard, her mentor.)
Jennifer says whether he realizes it or not, Howard is well-known and loved and respected in the agriculture circles – a point proven when he was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame in Atlantic Canada in 2005. “He's endeared by so many of us; a treasure now. His words are often colourful, like he came out of an old movie of hard times,” she remarks. “I didn't think anyone took sheep out to the islands anymore, till I met Howard. I knew without words when I met our aged sheep president that we both saw something in each other we liked as sheep producers. I saw a glimpse of the past and he saw a glimpse of the future.”
As the interview slowly fades into simple, general conversation about life and work I begin to see Howard Morry as far more than an interesting subject. He reveals himself as a piece of living history. The tangents of the conversation protrude into tales from his childhood, of Germans stealing cows from his community during the war; of his father caribou hunting after coming home from the war; of his mother growing savoury and selling it to the upper class in St. John’s.
I tried half-heartedly several times to pull the conversation shut while turning towards my car in the driveway, but one more story would spring up like a fresh flower.
“It’s an interesting job. I love being at it,” he says as if putting the final nail in a beautiful piece of furniture. “I’ll be at it as long as I’m able to be around.”
Want to hear Howard Morry tell part of his story in his own colourful terms? Listen in here:
Everyone should have an emergency first-aid kit in their home to use in case of household accidents or injuries. With the proper contents, an emergency kit can assist in everything from splinter removal to resuscitation. You will need additional first-aid provisions to ensure your safety if you are going on a wilderness adventure, or travelling to a remote area. And while a well-packed kit can be great in a pinch, it is no substitute for first-aid training; consider taking a course offered in your area.
What every emergency kit should contain:
• First-aid book/manual. Don't wait for an emergency to read it!
• Pain medication. An over-the-counter drug should do the trick; always consult your doctor before taking any medications.
• Bandages. Have a range of sizes and shapes to cover any cuts or scrapes.
• Gauze and medical tape. Cover bigger cuts with gauze and adhere with medical tape.
• Antibiotic ointment. Applied to minor cuts, scrapes and burns, it will help prevent infection.
• Tweezers. A sterilized pair is great for splinter removal.
• Instant cold compress. With no pre-chilling required, these alternatives to ice packs are convenient for relieving the minor pain and swelling from sprains and sore joints.
• Disposable medical gloves. Wearing gloves while treating an open wound on yourself or someone else will help prevent the spread of dirt and germs.
• Mouth barrier. This small, disposable device will protect you from disease should you need to perform CPR on someone.
• Thermometer. It is important to gauge your temperature while ill, because prolonged fever requires professional medical treatment.
• Saline solution. The safest way to remove dirt from eyes is to flush with an over-the-counter sterile saline solution (don't try to make one yourself).
• Emergency contact information. This list of phone numbers should include the local police and fire departments, poison control, hospital emergency, family doctor's office, and reliable friends or family members whom you trust will respond quickly during a crisis.
Additional contents for outdoor exploring:
• Emergency blanket. Emergency blankets are vacuum-packed to take up less space and they are made for retaining your body heat and protecting you from the elements.
• Bottled water. Bring more than you think you'll need, in case your excursion takes longer than planned. (Also consider packing purification tablets should you run out of clean water and need to rely on natural sources.)
• Whistle or emergency flares. Rely on one of these to send out a call for help should you become lost or injured.
• Flashlight (and extra batteries). In case it takes longer than you thought to return to your cabin or campsite, a flashlight will guide your way after nightfall, and it can be used to signal to searchers.
• Waterproof matches and tinder. To create your own tinder, place wood shavings and lint from your dryer - which will easily start a fire - in a sealable plastic bag.
• High-energy snacks. Dried fruit, granola, energy bars or trail mix all pack a powerful punch.
• Insect repellant and sunscreen. These will keep you comfortable and safe while enjoying the outdoors.
• Hand sanitizer. To prevent chemicals from coming in contact with eyes, nose or mouth, clean hands immediately after applying lotions or repellants. To prevent infection, apply to hands before treating an open cut on yourself or someone else.
• Multi-tool. A sharp knife and pair of scissors safely contained are essential in the outdoors.
• Prescription medications. So you don't miss a dose when your excursion takes longer than you'd planned.