Dead Man’s Bay

Back in 2010, I started another blog called Dead Man’s Bay. It was meant to be a blog about the historical significance of certain hiking trails and destinations in Newfoundland. I only got three real posts up before life went in another direction (mainly north) but it’s still out there and, I think, still interesting. I completed posts on Colinet Island, Cape Spear, and the Burgoyne’s Cove B-36 crash site.

Dead Man’s Bay

Here’s the original introduction to that blog:

I have been an avid hiker for most of my life, although for the first 18 years, I didn’t know hiking11it. I just thought everybody played in the woods. When I moved to St. John’s to attend Memorial University, I learned differently. I found out that hiking and camping was something not everyone did. Some would look at you funny when you told them you were spending three days in the woods. I could almost see questions like “But where do you plug in your Xbox?” going through their heads.

People travel for a lot of reasons: to relax, to explore the world, to learn about other people and places, or just from a feeling of restlessness that they can’t seem to escape. Outdoor pursuits are the same: people walk, hike, camp, bike, canoe and kayak for all kinds of reasons: to stay in shape, for the adventure, for love of the outdoors. But I wonder: how often do people stop to think about the history of the places that their hiking or kayaking trips are taking them?

I’ve always been fascinated by the past, by the chance to learn something about the people who came before us, and whenever a hiking trail takes me past an old rock wall or a crumbling house foundation I can’t help but wonder who built it. What did they grow in their gardens? What meals were prepared on the stove, whose chimney now stands in the field, home to a family of birds? Who walked these trails before us, with our Gore-Tex boots and expensive backpacks?

I think learning about the past is the only way to truly appreciate the present, to understand how places and people have come to be what they are. I also think you more fully appreciate the meaning of the places and landscapes you’re traveling through if you understand their history.Most travelers would agree when talking about the great cities of the world or ancient monuments. But the forests and oceans are no different.

Think about the importance of walking trails to the inhabitants of the Southern Shore before there were roads, and the East Coast Trail becomes more meaningful. The D’Iberville Trail only makes sense if you know who D’Iberville was, and what he used the trail for. If you consider that not so long ago the sea was the highway and not a barrier, then kayaking in Trinity can be a very different experience.

Welcome to Dead Man’s Bay, a blog about hiking and history in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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History Podcasts & Interviews

Back when I was working at a museum, and later completing my master’s degree in history, I was occasionally asked to do some media interviews on historical topics. In addition to validating my choice of study and proving that at least one other person found history interesting, these were fun to do and the chance to share these stories did influence how I thought about the past’s influence on the present.

I came across one of these again recently so I thought I’d share a few of them here.

The first was an interview I did for Calgary’s CJSW “Today in Canadian History” series about the 1948 Newfoundland Referendum.

CJSW Today in Canadian History – June 3, 2011 – The Newfoundland Referendum of 1948

Anti-Confederate Propaganda, from the Heritage NL Website: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/law/referendums.html

The next two I did with Jeff Gilhooly of the CBC’s St. John’s Morning Show. One was about early attempts to create a tourism industry in Newfoundland in the early 1900s, while the other looked at a long-forgotten plan to cut shipping canals through the island to reduce trans-Atlantic crossing times and dangers.

St. John’s Morning Show – September 22, 2008 – The Norway of the New World

St. John’s Morning Show – February 10, 2009 – The Trans-Newfoundland Canal

Enjoy! As always, comments and questions are welcome. Twitter is the best way to reach me: @KeithCollier

 

Landwash

A few months ago The Independent launched it’s online literary & arts journal, titled “Landwash.” They’ve launched two issues so far and I was happy to have stories featured in both.

“Landwash” is a collection of stories, poetry, photography, art, and commentary on contemporary Newfoundland and Labrador arts and culture, filtered through the unique post-Confederation revolutionary lens of The Independent.

Landwash Vol. 1, Issue 1:

Landwash Vol. 1 Issue 1 Cover

Landwash Vol. 1 Issue 1

My contribution to Issue #1 is “Sleigh Bells,” a short story I wrote a couple of years ago (and another Christmas-themed one!) based on stories I heard growing up in Bay D’Espoir.

Landwash Vol. 1, Issue 2:

Landwash Vol. 1 Issue 2 Cover

Landwash Vol. 1 Issue 2

“Undercurrents,” my contribution to Issue #2, is also based on people I knew growing up, but is also a reflection on industry and development and its affect on small town Newfoundland.

I should have a story in Issue #3 as well. Keep an eye out for it at www.theindependent.ca!

© Copyright Keith Collier 2014.

The Rest is History

One of the things I learned early on in university (probably not as early as I should have, but anyway) was that I liked writing nonfiction – finding an interesting topic, asking a question, researching the story, and putting it together into an article. A lot of my writing over the years has therefore been of the historical variety. In fact, my first published pieces were for the original print version of The Independent.

A lot of pieces are obscure, or hard to find, or forgotten (even by me), and I’ve had fun searching some of them out and revisiting those articles I wrote years ago. I’ve started to post some of them in the “History” section of this website. I’m going to try to find some of those old Indy pieces too.

For those who are especially interested (hi, Dad!) I’ve also posted the major paper I completed for my MA in history: “Clearing the Slums“.

Unless you’re super interested in early-to-mid twentieth century public housing policy or the urban history of St. John’s, it’s not exactly a page turner. But feel free to get in touch with any questions or comments! I always enjoy chatting about the past. Especially Newfoundland’s.