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a probably incomplete list of truly awesome place names in newfoundland

demon moose aren't the only odd thing
the very first part of my family [as far as i know] to arrive in canada washed up on the shores of newfoundland. both of my grandmothers' families have been in the province for a long time, as far back as the late seventeenth century. like many of the early settlers of the area, they started out as seasonal residents. fishermen from the southern part of england would travel across the atlantic every year because the fishing was just that damn good. eventually, of course, they decided that sailing across the atlantic ocean and back every year sucked and so they decided to set up permanent homes. at that point, they discovered that winter in newfoundland really sucked but having lived through the first one, they figured they'd dealt with the worst the place could offer and remained. [note :: not all of the people who settled there remained. even those who survived didn't all remain. i just happen to be descended from the stubborn ones who decided that they weren't going to go back and admit to their family that moving to the stormy arse-end of nowhere hadn't been a great idea.]

gradually, tiny settlements began to dot the coast of the island. many were the aforementioned english, but there were also families from france [a little further to the west, in what would become the province of quebec, but the borders were hazy at the time] and quite a number from the channel islands, especially jersey. some of the place names show that there were others mixed in there too: spaniard's bay, portugal cove, port aux basques, harbour breton, etc. plus there were still native tribes with whom the europeans sometimes interacted.

the thing is, the people who lived there were all uneducated and mostly illiterate. they spoke a variety of mother tongues and while english quickly came to dominate, people tended to pronounce things a bit strangely because they were often repeating what they had heard that was originally something in a different language and they had no idea what it meant or how to spell it. this persisted for hundreds of years. it wasn't common for people in the remote villages of newfoundland to receive a standard education until well into the twentieth century.

the legacy of those times is that newfoundland has an astounding number of truly awesome place names. as i've sought out information on my family history, i've come across many of them, although sadly my family seems to have settled in the comparatively normal ones.

most people will never hear about newfoundland place names on their own, so i've decided to list as many of them as i can here. enjoy.

low point
small point
heart's desire
heart's delight [which is just south of heart's desire. i picture the two towns fighting for supremacy.]
little heart's ease [more modest folk]
conception bay [these last two are further apart than you might expect]
tickle cove
leading tickles
happy adventure
old shop
point enragée [yup, that means "enraged point"]
françois [someone didn't understand when he was told to "name the village"]
muddy hole [wouldn't want to work in tourism for them]
isle aux morts ["island of the dead"]
harbour le cou ["neck harbour"]
mainland [which doesn't sound that odd until you consider that it's on an island just off the coast of a larger island]
random island
joe batt's arm
change islands [i think that was originally meant as an instruction, but someone got confused]
indian burying place [succinct, although disturbingly vague]
witless bay

there's also one that i particularly love as a bilingual person: baie d'espoir.

that isn't an odd name on the face of things. it translates as "bay of hope". but through time, it's been filtered through all the people who've lived there and through the modern-day, highly distinctive newfoundland accent, so that the people there now pronounce it as "bay despair".

and finally, no list of this sort would be complete without the place name that no one believes is real but which totally exists:

never change, newfoundland. you are awesome.


Subway Dreaming said…
This was awesome!

My mother’s family is from a small fishing village not far from Heart’s Content. I spent my childhood and teenage summers visiting my grandfather and other family.

Drive through Heart’s Desire and Dildo many times. Dildo had a whaling museum!
Kate MacDonald said…
"Heart's Desire" and "Heart's Content" are such whimsical names and seem to speak of a satisfaction with very simple things. On the other hand, I can't help thinking that no one's heart desires a Newfoundland winter... But that's perhaps my jealousy coming out because my family comes from places in the province with very plain names: "Pool's Cove", "Fortune Bay", etc. Although there is a group from "La Poile" or "the fur". I really hope that was named for the trapping industry and not for the people.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

making faces :: fall for all, part 2 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

well, installment one was the easy part: coming up with autumn looks for the autumn seasons. now we move into seasonal colour types that aren't as well-aligned with the typical autumn palette. first up, we deal with the winter seasons: dark, true and bright.

in colour analysis, each "parent" season- spring, summer, autumn, winter- overlap with each other season in one colour dimension- hue [warm/ cool], value [light/ dark] and chroma [saturated/ muted]. autumn is warm, dark and muted [relatively speaking], whereas winter is cool, dark and saturated. so you can see that the points of crossover in palettes, the places where you can emphasize autumn's attributes, is in the darker shades.

it's unsurprising that as fall transitions into winter, you get the darkest shades of all. we've seen the warmer equivalent in the dark autumn look from last time, so from there, as with all neutral seasons, we move from the warmer to the cooler cognate...

it continues... [part one]

so we're back at it with the democratic debates. last night saw cnn take their first crack at presenting ten candidates on one stage after msnbc led the charge last month. a lot of people were critical of the first debate because it seemed there were moments when moderators got such tunnel vision about keeping things moving that they stopped thinking about what was happening on stage. [the prime example being kamala harris having to insist that she be allowed to speak on the issue of racism, being the only person of colour on stage.] the other problem that many identified was that the time given to candidates wasn't even close to equal. i feel like cnn wasn't a lot better with the former, although they avoided any serious gaffes, and that they did an excellent job of fixing the latter. [that said, some of the outlying candidates might be wishing they hadn't had as much time as they did.] as with last time, i'll start off with a few general observations.

how importa…

white trash

yes, my lovelies, i have returned from the dead, at least for the time it takes me to write this post. this is not just another piece of observational drivel about how i haven't been taking care of the blog lately, although i clearly haven't. on that front, though, the principal cause of my absence has actually been due to me trying to get another, somewhat related project, off the ground. unfortunately, that project has met with some frustrating delays which means that anyone who follows this blog [perhaps there are still a few of you who haven't entirely given up] would understandably be left with the impression that i'd simply forsaken more like space to marvel at the complexity of my own belly button lint. [it's possible you had that impression even before i disappeared.]

ok, enough with that. i have a subject i wanted to discuss with you, in the sense that i will want and encourage you to respond with questions, concerns and criticism in the comments or by em…