The church bell tradition in Newfoundland : a reflection of culture change

Brown, Sheila MacKenzie. (1981) The church bell tradition in Newfoundland : a reflection of culture change. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF (Migrated (PDF/A Conversion) from original format: (application/pdf)) - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (70Mb)
  • [img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

Based on the premise that customs are adopted to meet recurring needs, that the needs of one culture are not the same as those of another, and that needs change within a developing culture, this study looks at the way in which the customs associated with the church bell tradition are reflective of the societal changes which have occurred in Newfoundland. -- The data for this work was obtained primarily from personal interviews and field research conducted between January 1980 and July 1981 on the south Coast of Newfoundland, the Northern Peninsula, the Port-au-Port Peninsula, and the Bonavista Peninsula, in Central Newfoundland, and the City of St. John's and its environs. Further information was obtained from questionnaires distributed to the clergy of the province, and from library and archive research, particularly the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive collection. -- The purchase of church bells in Newfoundland, spanning a period of some 140 years, was tied to the prosperity of the fishing industry. With the influx of electronic systems in the mid-twentieth century, the purchase of church bells per se died out. -- With a long history of development in Great Britain the tradition was altered substantially when transferred to Newfoundland. Change ringing, requiring several bells, was not continued because the bells were too expensive, and the wooden church towers were not strong enough to support the weight of more than one bell. Many ringing customs associated with large-scale agriculture were inappropriate in the fishing-oriented society of this province, and others, such as the use of the bell as a directional guide, were given a new emphasis--in this case, guiding men across water rather than land. -- Church bell inscriptions, one of the more stable aspects of the tradition, are expressive of ideals and values in Britain and Newfoundland alike. The structures built to house the bells, however, have changed in recent times under the influence of North American culture. This same influence, as well as the general development of Newfoundland, has led to a decline in the use of church bells as audible communicators, and to the introduction of a secondary display function. -- The customs and changes associated with this tradition can be seen not only as a reflection of the needs of Newfoundland society, but also of the early influences of Great Britain, the break of colonial ties with the "Mother Country", the later influences of North American culture, and the subsequent political and economic attachment to Canada.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7722
Item ID: 7722
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 344-360.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1981
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Bells--Newfoundland and Labrador; Bells--Religious aspects; Bell towers--Newfoundland and Labrador

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics