Susanna Enwood, date of birth: July 1, 1928
7 August 2003
Burnt Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Susanna Enwood was born July 1st, 1928 in the community of Burnt Islands. Her parents were Elsie and Thomas Herritt who were residents of Burnt Islands all their lives. Susanna was one of fifteen children in the family. She had seven brothers and seven sisters in total.
Her father, Thomas, was a fisherman at first and then later in his life he worked as a fish plant worker in Rose Blanche, North Sydney, Burgeo, and Burnt Islands. Elsie was a homemaker who later worked at the fish plant in Burnt Islands. The plant was located on the other side of the island away from the site of the current plant. Susanna never worked at the plant in Burnt Islands except for once when she was around ten years old. Her mother was off sick because she was having a baby and needed one more day of work to finish off her shift. Susanna was sent to work in her place to make up this last day of work. She reported to work and was put to work deworming the fish. The plant workers gave her a pair of tweezers and a box to stand on because she was so short. Susanna started picking the worms out and the next thing that she knew she went head over heels. This was due in part to Susanna height and the disgusting nature of the work. Susanna was put off of work after her first day at the plant because she couldn't do the job. Susanna had to cross the harbour in boat to get her mother's last pay cheque while she was off having a baby. While crossing back in the boat after having received the money Susanna lost the whole amount over the side. The change went straight to the bottom but she was able to hook the notes up with an oar. The plant processed cod, which was the main industry on the Southwest coast at the time.
Susanna's brother, Phil also worked in the fishing industry. He left Newfoundland as a teenager to go to work at a fish plant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He worked at the plant long enough that he eventually became the boss of the operation.
Susanna attended the local Anglican Church in Burnt Islands. The minister would come to the community once or twice a month by boat for service. The local school teacher would hold services at the times when the minister couldn't get in.
Susanna attended St. George's School in Burnt Islands until grade three. This was a one-room school and each desk had two pupils in it. The students didn't have paper to write on like they do today. Instead they used a slate and a pencil. Where paper was required Susanna would use a paper bag torn in half. One of Susanna's memories about school was getting three smacks on the hand with a large stick by the teacher. Her father found out about it and had words with the teacher. When she went to school the next morning Susanna was put in the corner because the teacher was cross with her because of the incident. Susanna left school in grade three because her mother went to work at the local fish plant. Susanna had to leave school when she was eight years old to do the housework and to look after her siblings.
Susanna's parents did not grow any vegetables but her grandparents did. Susanna and her siblings used to help them take up the vegetables in the fall of the year. They also used to rear sheep, ducks and hens. Her grandmother had a flower garden near her home that was all full of flowers. The garden was fertilized with a mixture of fish guts and barn manure. This would be spread on the garden and left to rot there for two to three weeks and then ploughed under. Kelp would be picked and spread as fertilizer in order to plant potatoes.
The daily household chores involved the use of a mop rag and a bucket to scrub the floor and wash down the walls and furniture. A rag was used in place of a mop because a mop was something that wasn't used at that time. The family couldn't afford straw brooms to sweep the floor with. Instead the family made brooms out of birch bark to sweep the floors. These are the types of brooms that many Newfoundlanders used to use to scrub there fishing boats and stages. Susanna liked to use these types of brooms because due to their rough texture they would scrape as well as sweep dirt away.
Susanna washed her clothes on a scrubboard with a little bit of sunlight soap. This was a hard chore and lye was the only way to take out stains and make clothes white. In order to do this people would use a little bit of Gillette's lye. Gillette's lye came in a can and it was a solid chunk. People would chip way pieces of this chunk and put them in a pot with white clothes and boil it on the stove to get the stains out. Susanna remembered that some people would boil stove ashes in water in order to make their own lye. Animal fat would be added to this mixture in order to make homemade soap or as Susanna called it, "blubber soap." A person knew when they washed a piece of clothes with this type of soap because it was really strong.
Susanna did not have any running water and got her water from a well in the summer and fall and from the local pond in the wintertime when the wells had frozen over. Susanna would take her buckets and a little dipper and go to the well and get her water. She would use this dipper to fill the buckets and if the well was low she might have to lie on her stomach to accomplish this. The water would be brought back and stored in a water barrel out on the porch. In the wintertime barrels would be filled up at the local pond and brought back. In the winter time the barrel might freeze solid because there was no heat in the porch and it would have to be thawed by the stove before they could get water.
Susanna used to buy her groceries at a store on the island portion of Burnt Islands. She can remember taking a water bucket and having to go over and get a gallon of molasses. The family would eat the molasses straight out of the bucket because there was no spare bottle to put it in. Groceries at this time were not pre-packaged as they are today instead they were weighed out in pound or gallon allotments. The store owner would tip up his molasses puncheon (a large barrel that molasses came in) and fill the bucket for Susanna.
This was the same thing that people did for kerosene for their lamps. They would walk across the harbour ice once it froze over. The kerosene would be carried back in two empty rum bottles tied together with a string.
A person's diet was different in Susanna's time than it is today. Since there was no refrigeration food could only be kept fresh a day or two before it spoiled. Susanna recalled that her family ate a great deal of fish because it was easily available at that time. Her family also ate a large amount of sea birds. Susanna recalled her father going out in boat hunting and coming back with a load of seabirds. She also remembered her father taking the family in boat down the shore to go berry picking. Berries were a big part of a family diet in Newfoundland at that time. Susanna remembered, "We would walk miles and miles berry picking."
Susanna skated and went sledding a great deal for fun. She used to skate on a local pond either with homemade skates or on the soles of her boots. Homemade skates were often made from an old file. Store bought skates were a luxury in Susanna's time. If a person had store bought skates then they usually sent by family working in Canada or the United States. The most common form of fun was sledding on a homemade wooden sled on a local hill. Susanna remembered one time that her father had a new sled for hauling wood that was painted red and green. She asked her father if she could borrow it and he said no. They went to a neighbours place and got a sled made out of an apple barrel split in two. They were on the hill sledding and down came her sister, Hazel, with her father's new sled. They joined up in a train with both sleds and went down the hill. Hazel hit a bump and went up in the air. Hazel came down with a bang on the pond and split her father's new sled in two pieces. She was scared to bring it back by herself because her father might be mad. Susanna made her do it because she brought it out by herself and she could bring it back by herself.
Susanna got married to Hubert Enwood in 1943 when she was fifteen years old. If someone wanted to get married at that age they would have to get written permission from one of their parents. She wanted to get married at that time because Hubert was working at a fish plant in North Sydney called Leonard's and Susanna wanted to go over with him and get a job working as a cook in the bunkhouse. Susanna's mother would not give permission for the marriage because she thought that Susanna was too young. Susanna was forced to telegram her father who was working at the fish plant down in Burgeo. He sent a message back saying that, "You can have my daughter." Her mother didn't even know that the message was sent. Susanna couldn't get married at the Anglican Church in Burnt Islands because of her work. Susanna and Hubert had to get married at the Anglican Church in Port aux Basques by Reverend Samuel Baggs.
Susanna and Hubert had eleven children over the course of their marriage. They had seven girls and four boys. Three of her children were born at home by a midwife in Burnt Islands. The rest of her children were born in a hospital with a doctor.
Susanna made her baby clothes by hand when her children were small. She started when she was first pregnant and living with her mother-in-law. Susanna didn't know what it was like to be a mother and made baby clothes by hand out of flannelette. She remembered that she never saw her baby's feet after they were first born. At that time a baby had a big band of stiff material put around their waist and held in place with a pin. This was supposed to keep the baby's back strong but you never saw their feet because they were all covered below the waist.
There was no doctor stationed in Burnt Islands when Susanna was a child. Susanna can remember a steamer having to bring a doctor to Burnt Islands after her children were born. The closest doctor to Burnt Islands was stationed in Rose Blanche. The mail used to come to Burnt Islands on the steamer as well. Susanna can remember a doctor's boat 'The Whiteway.' bringing the doctor up from Rose Blanche. One of Susanna's strongest memories about medical care in Burnt Islands was when her daughter was severely burned by the wood stove. This was during a severe rainstorm and the child couldn't be moved out by boat. The only person that could help her was a former nurse from Norway who lived in the community and ran the local store. The lady came up and helped tend to the child. Her husband traveled to Isle aux Morts and got a man to come down to get her in his land rover. The child was put on a train and sent to St. John's for treatment because there was no other place in Newfoundland where she could get help. The only news that Susanna could get about her child was when the radio news hour would talk about her. Susanna had to wait eight months before she could go to St. John's and get her child.
Christmas was different when Susanna was a child compared to Christmas today. All a child in that time could expect to get for Christmas was an apple or an orange. If they were lucky a little girl could expect to get a rag doll made from an old pair of cotton socks and some material.
Wood was the main source of heating a home when Susanna was a child and after she was first married. Susanna remembered her father and her husband going in to the woods with a dog and a sled bringing out a load of wood. The wood was so ice covered that it had to be warmed in the oven to thaw before it could be burned. Even after her children were born Susanna can remember Christmas being a fun time. One her children said that all he would be getting for Christmas was stove ashes and potato peels because he was bad. As a joke, Susanna put potato peels and stove ashes in his stocking. He was quite surprised the next morning when he opened his stocking. Susanna remembered that there were no turkey dinners at Christmas like today. Susanna remembered her husband going out and killing salt water ducks for Christmas dinner. Susanna mummered as part of her Christmas celebrations. She had a lot of fun at it. Susanna thinks that people don't mummer as much today because they have carpet on the floor today and are scared if someone makes a mess in their home. Back then people didn't care if someone made a mess in their homes because it was all wooden boards and easier to wash down. The last mummers that Susanna saw were at her daughters' home in Rose Blanche. They were dancing away and Rosanna saw one with two odd rubber boots on and another had socks on his hands and mitts on his feet. Susanna thought one of them looked like an older man she knew. She mentioned this and he laughed after he took off his disguise because this man was a relative.
Susanna remembers that it was poor times in Burnt Islands before the fish plant came to Burnt Islands. She can remember a large portion of the population having to receive government assistance or as it was called then 'the dole'. She can remember the local storeowner allowing people to take what they needed in order to live because they were so poor off. She remembers people walking as far as Rose Blanche to get a good meal.
Susanna thinks that life is easier today than it was years ago. There are modern conveniences today to make life easier. Life was harder back then but people were closer because everyone helped one another. If she had her life to live over she wouldn't change a thing.
Viola Mauger, date of birth: June 10,1927
25 June 2003
Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Viola Mauger was born on June 10, 1927 in the community of Petites. Her parents were George and Blanche Griffin. George worked as a fisherman and Blanche worked as a homemaker. George and Blanche had six children including Viola made up of three girls and three boys. One of her births was a set of twins - a boy and a girl.
Viola's mother was born in Petites on the Southwest coast and her father was born in Jersey Harbour in Fortune Bay. George fished on the twelve dory banking schooners that fished on the Grand Banks for weeks at a time. When George was away fishing, Blanche had to do all the required work around the house. She brought in the wood to heat her home, made dry fish, looked after the children, planted gardens to grow the family's vegetables and cleaned the home.
When Viola and her siblings were, old enough they had to help her mother look after the family. They had to carry manure to fertilize the garden. They also would have to pick kelp to put on the garden before they went to school. The children did this so that their mother could plant potatoes and other vegetables.
Viola had chores to do as a child. She remembered having to bring wood for the family's stove. She remembered having to bring a lot of water for the home because there was no running water in Petites at this time. Viola also remembers having to look after her younger siblings.
Viola remembered having to attend church every Sunday when she lived in Petites. There was no full time minister in Petites when Viola was growing up there. They had a part time minister that served other communities in the local parish. In the summer time, a student minister was assigned to Petites. When there was no minister in Petites a teacher would be the lay reader and conduct the service. It was necessary to go to church. Viola would go to church three times on Sunday. She would go to morning service on Sunday, Sunday school in the afternoon and would go to evening service on Sunday evening. Her mother was a Sunday school teacher and she herself taught Sunday school when she was old enough. They were also members of the Ladies Aid; which is now called the United Church Women. Viola worked for the Junior Red Cross and C.G.I. T. at Petites.
A minister would come down to Petites from other areas if they were needed. Marriages were conducted in Petites all summer long when there was a student minister assigned there. Viola cannot remember the lay reader marrying people in Petites but she can remember them burying people when no full time minister could come.
Viola attended Ocean View School in Petites. She went to school until she was in grade nine and had to leave to go to work. The teacher in Petites taught all grades; Viola remembered that one year there were twelve or thirteen people in her class. One year Viola remembered that there were two classes of students. She started in a one-room school.
Viola's mother and father kept their own sheep and hens. The children were required to help feed the hens and they all had their own hen that they named themselves. The family grew cabbages, carrots, turnips, potatoes and rhubarb. All the work was done with a garden fork, shovel or spade.
Christmas was a fun time from Viola's childhood. She cannot remember getting much at Christmas when she was a child. She can remember getting some candy and clothes that her mother sewed for her. Viola always remembered that her family had a Christmas tree. The tree was not put up until the children were in bed on Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated with candy canes, and the silver paper off cigarette packages, chocolate bars, gum papers and tea packages. The family always had fruitcake or a bottle of rum or wine and syrup for Christmas. Viola went mummering during Christmas and remembered going to whichever house that would give you syrup and fruitcake. Viola's family had ducks or mutton for their Christmas dinner.
Viola remembered having lots of fun when she was a child. She remembered having to do her schoolwork and doing her housework around home before she was allowed out to play. She remembered not having many toys when she was a child. She remembered playing hopscotch in the summer months. She remembered that there was more to do in the winter months than in the summer months. In the wintertime she would build snow houses, go skating, and sledding.
Viola was seventeen years old when she got married to Raymond Mauger. The student minister in Petites married them at Bethany United Church in Petites. The minister that married them was Reverend Williams. Raymond worked as a fisherman and as a seaman on local boats that ran freight around the Southwest coast. Raymond worked on the government boat that would take government employees such as school inspectors and magistrates to all the communities along the coast from Rose Blanche to Burgeo. He worked on this boat for five years taking different doctors around the coast.
When Viola lived in Petites, she bought her groceries at Newman Brother's store. This was the main merchant in Petites and many other small communities along the coast. Raymond worked for a while working on their freight boats running cargo between Port aux Basques and all the communities where they had stores. Newman Brother's had stores in Isle aux Morts, Burnt Islands, Harbour Le Cou, Rose Blanche and West Point. Newman's facilities in Petites were large. They could dry 1800 quintals of fish a day. The wharf and business was over three hundred feet long. Mr. Robert Newman was the main boss of the operation. The stores stocked everything from marbles to materials to make caskets. He even sold the local fishermen their fishing boats and they would pay it off. The groceries were charged and marked down in the memorandum book and paid off at the end of the week. Raymond worked one-year freighting coal from Sydney, Nova Scotia to St. Pierre and Miquelon on the M.V. Thomas & Robert from Little Bra Dor, Nova Scotia.
Raymond worked as a fisherman in Petites before he went freighting for Newman Brother's. Raymond used to go fishing with another man in Petites. Viola can't recall what type of gear that they used but there was no problem getting fish at that time. Fish was fried, stewed or baked. There was always a lot to eat at that time. The sea around Petites was dangerous lots of time. Viola can remember that her mother's three cousins were lost one day while hunting out in a dory. Three of her mother's other cousins got lost in a skiff. Two ministers got lost after leaving West Point to go to Grand Bruit.
Viola would make the clothing for her children. She would buy the material at Newman's. Special things were ordered by mail from Eaton's catalogue. This was only used for special occassions because the order would require duty on it because Newfoundland was not part of Canada at this time.
If someone became sick there was no doctor assigned to Petites. The closest doctor to Petites was in Port aux Basques. There was a nurse named Beulah Cavel assigned to Rose Blanche when Viola was a child. The closest hospital was in North Sydney or Corner Brook. Viola remembered having to go to North Sydney when she was a child to get her appendix removed. Viola remembered that many people died in those days with no medical explanation because there was no medical care readily available. Some of the home remedies that Viola remembers are that a poultice was used for an infection or boil. If someone had a cold then molasses candy was used. Molasses candies were made with molasses, butter and a bit of vinegar. She remembered that kerosene saved her father's life once. He was in a small boat that turned over once. He could not swim and swallowed a lot of water. They forced kerosene down his throat to warm him up. Her husband's father had stiff joints and rubbed kerosene on it to loosen them up. When they had a sore throat or cough, they were given liniment and a drop of molasses.
Viola travelled to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia when she was sixteen years old to visit her uncle. This was a big occasion because Newfoundland was not part of Canada at this time and people had to go through customs before you were allowed off the ferry. Viola remembered that someone in Nova Scotia would have to vouch for you or you would not be able to get off the ferry.
Viola's household chores involved getting the meals, doing the dishes, cleaning the stoves, cleaning lampshades, getting water and making beds. Clothes were washed in a big washtub on a scrubboard. It was in the 1950's that Viola received a gas washer to help her. Viola never made any of her own soap to wash her clothes with.
The home that Viola lived in had four bedrooms upstairs. The downstairs included a big kitchen and a living room. The floor was covered with linoleum which was a big luxury compared to some people. Some people only had plain white boards on their floor and this was scrubbed with a mixture of soap and sand.
There were no telephones in Petites when Viola was growing up. The Newman Brother's got a telephone when Viola was sixteen or seventeen years old. The main form of communications with places outside of Petites before this was the telegraph. There was a telegraph station in Petites where messages were sent to outside communities. There was a mail service to Petites. The mail was brought to Rose Blanche by coastal boat and a mail carrier would go in boat from Petites to get the mail. The mail would only come every two or three weeks depending on what the weather was like.
Two of Viola's children were born in Rose Blanche by midwife and two in Port aux Basques. Her last child was born at the Cottage Hospital in Port aux Basques.
Viola was required to do everything around the house when her husband was away at work. Viola had to look after her children, cook meals, clean the home and bring water. The only help that Viola got was when her children became older.
The family ate a great deal of canned food in addition to the traditional diet. There was always a store in Petites that Viola remembered. A man named Charlie Courtney ran the store in Petites before Newman Brother's took over in 1923. All the food that Newman Brother's sold was measured out. Certain foods such as sugar, rice, tea etc. were weighed out by the ounce and pound. Some things like molasses was sold by the gallon. Flour was sold in one hundred pound bags.
Viola remembered that her family got their water from Long Pond in Petites. The clothes were washed in a tub on a washboard until the family got a gas washer. The Newman's had running water when Viola worked for them. They had a pump on the wall to pump water upstairs for their flush toilet. Baths were taken in a galvanized or wooden washtub once a week. The rest of the week the family had to take sponge baths. The family had two stoves in their home for heat which burned both coal and wood. There were oil heaters in the living room for heat. The home was lit by naphtha lamps or as they were called Tilley lamps. These lamps gave off both heat and light. All she had while growing up was kerosene lamps.
Viola and her husband moved to Port aux Basques in 1967 after he got a job with the Canadian National Railway in 1966. It was a big change when Viola moved to Port aux Basques because there was running water and electricity. Viola remembered seeing the long line of workers heading off with their lunch cans to go to work at CN in the morning. All in all Viola feels that how she grew up was better than how people grow up today because people were happier.
Since moving to Port aux Basques Viola has been a volunteer for the Canadian Red Cross, the Cancer Association, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Lung Association and the Bible Society. She is also a member of the United Church Women and the Church Choir.
Viola Mauger's home in Petites
Petites,Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada
Viola Mauger's old home in Petites.
The community of Petites in the wintertime
Petites,Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada
Petites in the winter.
An oil lamp with reflector
25 June 2003
Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
A lamp in Viola Mauger's home from Bethany United Church in Petites.
The local school and Bethany United Church in Petites
Petites,Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada
Bethany United Church and the local School in Petites. Viola atttended both of these institutions.
A hospital boat entering the community of Petites
Petites,Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada
A hospital boat entering Petites harbour.