Leaning on a Legacy (Page 2)

Leaning on a Legacy (Page 2) McGill University

| Skip to search Skip to navigation Skip to page content

User Tools (skip):

Sign in | Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Sister Sites: McGill website | myMcGill

McGill News
ALUMNI QUARTERLY - winter 2008
McGill News cover

| Help
Page Options (skip): Larger

Leaning on a Legacy (Page 2)

Tilting is the kind of place where it's considered "uppity" to take off your boots when entering a neighbour's house, where the landscape is dotted with fishing "stages" (or outbuildings used for storing fishing gear and processing fish) and "flakes" where the fish were laid out to dry, and where the strong family and neighbourhood ties, language and architecture have all been informed and affected by the tempestuous history of the inshore cod fishery.

Cooperation is a survival skill passed down by the residents' Irish ancestors, and there's an unspoken imperative to "look out for the other fellow." Activities such as "slide hauling" (harvesting wood using a horse and slide), fence building and house "launching" (moving a house from one location to another) are communal efforts.

Traditionally, houses were sold separately from the land upon which they stood and were moved, or "launched," to a new location, while the land remained the property of the original family. Moving the houses often entailed hauling them along the ice on sleds or floating them across the bay on barrels, using the pulling power of 75 or 80 men. Modern-day houses are built with foundations and are therefore sold with the land. Today, houses and outbuildings are still launched - now usually with the help of tractors - sometimes due to sales, but more often so that buildings can be relocated on a site belonging to the local heritage association, where they will be restored.

Heritage Foundation of NFLD and Labrador logo.

While the residents of Tilting went to great lengths to preserve existing homes, their attachment to the small buildings left over from the heyday of the now extinct cod fishery disappeared along with the fish. Things are changing, however, thanks in part to the efforts of Mellin and his colleagues at the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), a group dedicated to conserving historically significant buildings in the province. In addition to the town's designation as the first Registered Heritage District in the province, in September, former Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps declared it the "Tilting National Historic Site of Canada."

Mellin, who also designed the HFNL logo, has been vice-chair of the foundation for three and a half years, and he's a fierce advocate for conservation. He is an active volunteer participant in the process of community renewal, so sorely needed in Tilting since the depletion of the cod stocks. One of Mellin's long-term projects is working with residents of Fogo Island - home to 11 different and distinct communities - to stimulate interest in learning traditional building and renovation skills that will not only restore the cultural landscape, but revive the residents' pride in their heritage.

"If people can use local materials and local labour," says Mellin, "the money stays in the province and you can train future generations to do this kind of work."

Caption follows

A view of the colourful architecture of St. John's, Nfld.

view sidebar content | back to top of page