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Monday 16 May 2016

Girl of the Outport

This poem is for my granddaughters, Sylvie and Caitlin. The girls will never know life in Newfoundland like their maternal grandparents and the other ancestors on their mother's side of the family. Although the history and stories of the men abound, there is little written about the women in Newfoundland. While the poem is about their great great grandmother Bessie Earle Smith of Durrell, Twillingate Island, Newfoundland, it is about any of our foremothers who grew up in outport Newfoundland. 


Women worked hard from an early age, learning how to survive in the harsh environment of coastal Newfoundland.


Their lives revolved around a fishery which was seasonal and unpredictable,


in support of the men who braved the rough seas of the North Atlantic, 


meanwhile doing everything on the home-front. 


We are so proud of them.


Girl of the Outport

There was a wee girl
Named Bessie Earle,
Who lived in a place
Where the ocean did swirl.

She could play on the beach
And watch fishing boats,
See whales and sea gulls,
Horses and goats.

Icebergs were plenty
Waves they were lapping.
Gardens were tended
And feet they were tapping.


People worked hard
And times they were tough.
Families struggled
To just get enough.

When Bessie did grow up 
And then met her bow,
She took along with her
The life she did know.

Now in my history
I have a great gran
Who was a proud daughter
Of outport Newfoundland.


These are family photos taken on and around Twillingate.



DJan said...

I loved this post, Marie, filled with history of your family, and pictures to show me how amazing that North Atlantic coastal environment still is today! :-)

ADRIAN said...

It is the spitting image of the Scottish west coast. It makes for a hard life but better than being down a mine.

Joanne Noragon said...


Shammickite said...

Lovely pictures. I'm currently painting a picture of Long point lighthouse, Twillingate. And my cousin in St Johns lives next door to a Mrs Earle.... but of course, lots of Earles in Newfoundland!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

As the Chinese say: "Women hold up half the sky."

Marie Smith said...

It is beautiful!

Marie Smith said...

Life on the ocean is dangerous but not like a mine for sure. Newfoundland had them too however.

Marie Smith said...

Than you, Joanne. It is!

Marie Smith said...

I wonder if those Earles are from Twillingate. I love that lighthouse.

Marie Smith said...

They sure do, and more besides, if the truth be known.

Barbara said...

Lovely poem and memories and pictures.

Tomoko said...

The picture of the life in Newfound l I had was just a sweet one like Anne's world. I am learning about a part of the history of your country.
My spring blog break will be over soon. I finally finished reading the Green Gables, part 1. I needed almost 6 months to finish the book. It was a lot of work but fun. I will be back to my usual textbook!

Marie Smith said...

I love these photos of Newfoundland.

Marie Smith said...

Well done, Tomoko, for finishing the book about Anne and Green Gables.

Anonymous said...

I always think of Anne of Green Gables. Funny how these stories seldom depict the harsh winters. These women, including Bessie, were amazing.

Tomoko said...

Thank you Marie!

Marie Smith said...

Hey truly were! With so little praise or fanfare. We owe them a great deal.

Marie Smith said...

You are welcome, Tomoko. Best of luck with the regular textbook now.

The Furry Gnome said...

Had an interesting visit to Twillingate years ago. We were in Newfoundland on the day they closed the cod fishery. As a visitor, it sure made you stop and think!

Marie Smith said...

It was a devastating day. Now, over twenty years later, the Northern Cod biomass is increasing. Rural Newfoundland, the outports, have suffered a great deal.

Down by the sea said...

Wonderful post it's good at the old way of life is not forgotten. Sarah x

Marie Smith said...

It is part of who we are and it is important to us.

Anvilcloud said...

Well done. You are firmly in the present but,rooted in the past. It's a good way to be.