Horses in the folklife of western Prince Edward Island : custom, belief and oral tradition

Cousins, John Robert (1990) Horses in the folklife of western Prince Edward Island : custom, belief and oral tradition. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study has as its primary goal the analysis of oral/verbal forms of folklore connected with horses in a small North American region, that being the western end of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The area is unique in that horses remained at the centre of its economic life and folklife until the early nineteen fifties. -- The work begins with a preliminary survey of Island agricultural history. This analysis indicates that environmental factors, lack of stony walking surfaces, for instance, combined with compelling economic considerations created, for horses, an ideal environment. In turn, the value of the horse to this farming society created an attachment which outlasted their economic value. The work identifies and analyzes the unique alliance of official (political, educational and media) and unofficial aspects of culture which, over time, supported and promoted the Islanders’ steadfast devotion to horses. An examination of the Islanders' resistance to the automobile demonstrates the power of this bond. -- The work's discussion of daily farm life illustrates set patterns of behaviour related to horses and horsemen. These patterns include childhood initiation into work with horses, the naming of horses, and daily and yearly routine involving horses. The function of horses in specific aspects of social life such as courtship and entertainment is also examined. Research shows that the pervasiveness of the horse in everyday life, combined with the cultural propensities of founding ethnic groups, especially the Scots, created distinctive marks on the area's folklife. -- Analysis of those marks found in narrative and belief about horses indicates story-telling techniques utilizing specialized simile, metaphor, stock expression, and beginning and ending formulas. The beliefs carried by both narrative and song display strong historic connections with those found in the British Isles. Further examination illustrates both the power and function of horse-related belief in Island agrarian society. The analysis of narrative and belief brings under closer focus the hidden texture of Island rural culture, its priorities, and even its language. -- Finally, research illustrates that, even today, the largely rural born and raised Islanders manifest the strong beliefs, attitudes and even the vocabulary of an earlier horse-drawn era. An analysis of this phenomenon suggests that the so-called cultural lag represented by the continuance of horse-related lore may be a valuable therapeutic tool in a rural agrarian society undergoing dramatic change.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5502
Item ID: 5502
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 265-284.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1990
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Prince Edward Island
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Horses--Folklore; Folklore--Prince Edward Island; Prince Edward Island--Social life and customs

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