Elliott’s Cove

Sweet Leaves, Frankum, and Spruce Buds

Sweet Gale

The other night I had a memory of being on the grass on Celie Burt’s garden in Elliott’s Cove, with Tony Burt I believe, but that part of the memory is foggy.  Its my most vivid memory of eating something we all ate as kids I’m sure; sweet leaves.  Eric and I were trying to figure out what they officially are named earlier, and thought they might be Sweet Gale, but that grows up to a meter high and that doesn’t sound right, but maybe so.

We used to chew them up and they had a delicious sweet taste, that I do remember, and we spent a lot of time pulling them out and getting that sweet juice.

Another thing I’ve had occasionally, and came back to me with the same memory, and I’m sure others have had even more frequently is the soft new growth that pops out from the spruce buds in the spring of the year.  I’ve read it’s good in salads, and can be brewed into spruce beer.  I’ve had both (the growth and the beer) and while one may be derived from the other, I’m not sure what I had was, as the beer was disgusting, while the buds weren’t that bad!

Lastly there’s frankum.  I doubt many of the young people now have had it, or even heard of it, but the older generation used it like chewing gum.  Its the hardened resin from a spruce tree, and Dad used to cut it off and trim off the bark, and start chewing it.  Its a bit hard to get going, and tastes a bit barky till you get it going, but its not that bad!  The worst part is if you didn’t get a nice hard piece, you ended up putting raw sticky resin in your mouth, not a pleasant experience!

Up, Down, Out, Over the road

It may be prevalent elsewhere, but one thing Newfoundlander’s know is that distance isn’t measured in miles or kilometers, its measured in time.  How far to St. John’s? 2 hours.  Gander? Hour and a half. If you don’t do it in those times, then you’re obviously driving too slow.

One other thing we have is how we point out communities and locations on the way.  Back home, Apsey Brook was at the end of the road, so we of course had to go “up” the road to go anywhere, and everyone knew coming from that direction you were coming up.  A confusing side effect of this was that Snook’s Harbour meets at the bottom of three hills or grades, and so that portion is of course named “bottom”.  It was always amusing to see CFAs (come from aways) confusion when we said we were going up to bottom.  Of course, since the road took a 90 degree turn there, we had to go “over” to Elliott’s Cove.

Going to school was down to Hickman’s, and if we went shopping we went up to Clarenville. It all makes perfect sense, no?  Then again we also had to deal with going out the arm, out the sound, in to town, and so on and so on.  Yet we all knew which was which, and if someone got it backwards (like maybe me now, is it out to town? or in? I keep forgetting?) god help them for the fun making about to be heaped on them.

Anyway, was always fun to head up to bottom and play ball, and then run over to the store to get a snack.  If you get a chance, pick me up something while you’re over :).

Random Island Industry

UPDATE: Just found a link with some history of the Milton Brickyard, and comments on our own at clarenville.newfoundland.ws

Snook's Harbour Brickyard (Photo by Eric Cooper)

Snook’s Harbour Brickyard (Photo by Eric Cooper)

I’m sure many of the younger generation on the island are in the dark about the fact that in past years, there were, if not thriving, at least operating businesses, making use of local products.  Yes, many many people had sawmills and some even operated as a going concern till recently at least, and I’m sure I’ll talk more about mills later.  But back in the early 1900’s up till the early 50’s there were for a time two brickyards on the island, one in Elliott’s Cove and one in Snook’s Harbour.

I remember Dad telling me about his first job being at the brickyard, 10 cents an hour for 10 hour days.  Back in those days the owner was as much your bank as your employer too, Dad also told me the story of wanting a bike, so rather than actually buying it, his boss Uncle At Smith got it for him out of his wages.

The brickyard supplied brick for all the locals, I know our well was lined with brick from Snook’s Harbour, and our chimney was made from it as well.  Looking closely at the picture you can see shards of brick amongst the snow on the shore (yes I know its hard not to look at the view, see how tough we had it scenery wise?).

When I was younger it was easy to find full bricks, maybe slightly imperfect scattered on the shore with the Smith name stamped in them.  I had one as a kind of souvenir in our house back home, wish I had thought to keep it now, those keepsakes mean more as you get older I find. There were also remnants of equipment to be seen.  I’m sure more of this has washed away or grown over over the years.

The Snook’s Harbour brickyard area was also home to some people, I’m not sure it it ever had a name as a community, but there is a small graveyard near there.  I’m sure someone reading can give me more details (and I’ll try to look them up later).  I’ll update this if I ever get info.

View from Brickyard Area (Picture by Eric Cooper)

View from Brickyard Area (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Elliott’s Cove brickyard too had remnants, but were harder to find as that yard closed much earlier.  I’m sure its still worth a visit to the curious or nostalgic though.  Adding another view from the Snook’s Harbour brickyard here, just because.  Enjoy the view, and thanks Eric!