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Haulin' Rope & Gaff

Songs and Poetry in the History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery

by (author) Shannon Ryan & Larry Small

Breakwater Books Ltd.
Initial publish date
Jan 1978
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    Publish Date
    Jan 1978
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Men and boys of Newfoundland''s north East Coast always looked forward to the coming of March. It was sealing or swilin'' time. Seal meat would give some reprieve to 'the long and hungry month of March by which time the family food store was very low. At this time of the year, sealing provided the only opportunity to obtain fresh meat and the pelts brought long awaited cash. Shannon Ryan was bo and bred in Riverhead, Harbor Grace, the one time home of the great sealing industry. He attended secondary school in his home community and later received an education degree from Memorial University. After spending several years teaching in Newfoundland he taught for two years at ranking inlet in North West Territories. In the late 1960''s he retu ed to university and later obtained a M. A. in history at Memorial University. He has done extensive research on the Newfoundland seal and cod fisheries and has spent one summer doing fisheries research in Norway. Larry Small was bo and reared in Morton''s Harbor, Notre Damme Bay. He killed his first whitecoat at the age of fifteen: the gaff was a dogwood selected from the woods by his father and the hook crafted by the community blacksmith. He attended the one room Methodist school in Morton''s Harbor and later took up studies at Memorial University. During his BA at Memorial he came under the influence of the inte ationally known scholar, Herbert Halpert, who inspired him to study for an MA degree of folklore and folklife at the University of Pennsylvania. All of his field research has been in Newfoundland outporting community''s where he has done extensive work on various aspects of talk among fishermen. Since 1974 he has been teaching in the department of Folklore at Memorial University.

About the authors

Shannon Ryan was born in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, in 1941 where he received his early schooling. He began teaching in 1956 and by 1968 had taught and/or served as school principal for nine years in Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories and had received a B.A. (Education) from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Ryan received a B.A. and M.A. (History) from MUN during the following three years and was hired by MUN in 1971, retiring as professor of history in August 2006. He received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1982.During his career, he published in Oral History, Maritime History and Newfoundland/Labrador History, including a monograph on the seal hunt (to 1914) and one on the saltfish industry (1814–1914). For several years, Ryan served as graduate coordinator of the History Department and as chair of the Newfoundland Studies Minor Program, both at MUN. Outside the university, he served as president of the Newfoundland Historical Society, chairman of the Atlantic Oral History Association and as Newfoundland’s representative on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), as well as a member of other heritage groups including the Cupids 400th anniversary committee and, most recently, the Elliston sealing memorial committee. Ryan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and is an Honorary Research Professor of History, MUN.

Shannon Ryan's profile page

Larry Small was born on Twillingate Island and grew up in Moreton’s Harbour, the home of his ancestors for two centuries. He did an M. A. in Folklore at Memorial University and a Ph. D. in Folklore and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, after which he taught at Memorial University until his retirement.


Larry Small's profile page

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