Friday, January 19, 2018

Letters from Uncle Val by Andy Jones: Listening clip posted on Soundcloud

Letters from Uncle Val

written and performed by Andy Jones
Listening Clip posted on SoundCloud

To purchase a digital download of Letters from Uncle Val visit Rattling Books.

Audiofile Magazine Review:

Adapted from the stage, and starring the author, this is a memorable one-man performance. Elderly Uncle Al has been forced to trade the city for the suburbs, moving in with his daughter, Margaret; her obnoxious husband, Bernard; three kids, and two poodles in Newfoundland. He confesses all his woes in 18 letters to his old buddy, Jack. As Jones wallows in his misery, his experiences go from bad to worse, building to a hilarious climax. Most rollicking are his letters about Bernard's new business, a tavern Val names Grapnel, which quickly fails. Second best are Andy's account of his bizarre method of babysitting his grandchildren and his thoughts on the plight of senior citizens. While lightweight, this is amusement par excellence. M.T.B.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Colouring Sheet: Letters from Uncle Val - #1

Ever wonder what the next "knitting" will be?

What the coolest people will haul out of their bags in the bars of 2017 and go at with the fervent reverence previously reserved for homespun?

Here at Rattling Books we believe the next Big Thing - BIGGER EVEN THAN POETRY - that's right, BIGGER EVEN THAN POETRY IS GOING TO BE RIGHT AFTER THIS NEXT BIG THING - we believe THE NEXT BIG THING is colouring. Not for kids though. We don't reccomend it for kids. Colouring is an adult activity.

So haul out the crayons and print out your Uncle Val Colouring Sheet.

Be Calm.

And if you want to listen to Letters from Uncle Val while colouring you can purchase a download online or get the CD from Fred's Records.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Review of Merrybegot by Mary Dalton, audiobook edition

"...Best has a lovely smooth reading voice, and does a little bit of singing on “The Water Man” (mp3 1.38 MB). After first reading the poem, she then sings it beautifully as a soft lullaby. Patrick Boyle fills the space between readings with improvised bits of what I can only describe as a combination of traditional east coast music and jazz. He really caught my attention on “Burn” (mp3 256 KB), the three-part story of a salter interspersed with Boyle’s mournful sea longing trumpet. The music is an inventive blend of styles that works well with the collection...

... sure to become a classic in Canadian poetry."

Read the rest of this review by Melanie Maddix of Mary Dalton's Merrybegot (performed by Anita Best and Patrick Boyle)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter Coal, a poem from Merrybegot by Mary Dalton


They trotted right up to the foot of the lane,
Cart piled with coal for the light-keeper's shack.
But the cousins said no, no crossing their land
So they turned round the horse and headed on back
For the boat, loaded her up for the Point.
Jam-packed to the gunnels, she rode low in the water.
A stiff wind from the west and over she went -
Over she toppled, tossed them out in dark water.
One of them got fast to the boat,
Held six hours to the side of her,
His fingernails tore off of him;
His brother's luck broke -
She flipped him in first
And the coal down on top of him.

The unabridged audio edition of Merrybegot by Mary Dalton published by Rattling Books in 2005 is performed by Anita Best with Patrick Boyle on trumpet and flugelhorn. For more information or to buy it visit


Who narrates Rattling Books audiobooks?

Who are the voices on Rattling Books audiobooks?

Rattling Books narrators in alphabetical order:

Mary Barry, Anita Best, Chris Brookes, Mark Callanan, Michael Crummey, Margot Dionne (Earphones Award winning narrator), Antonia Francis (Earphones Award winning narrator), Jessica Grant, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Nichola Hawkins, Holly Hogan, Frank Holden (Audie short listed narrator), Ron Hynes, Joel Thomas Hynes, Andy Jones, Robert Joy, Mary Lewis, Carmelita McGrath, Don McKay,  Lisa Moore, Gerard Neil, Susan Rendell, Jody Richardson, Janet Russell, Catherine Hogan Safer, Janis Spence (Earphones Award winning narrator), Carmine Starnino, John Steffler, Charlie Tomlinson, Leslie Vryenhoek,, Agnes Walsh Russell Wangersky, Patrick Warner, Claire Wilkshire

Listen to sample clips Rattling Books audiobooks on SoundCloud

Friday, January 12, 2018

Who is Rattling Books?

Who/What is Rattling Books?

Rattling Books are downloadable award winning Canadian audiobooks by the "so small, we’re fine" Rattling Books of Newfoundland & Labrador. 

The antithesis of Audible in our business model. 

We respect our whole catalogue, not just the "Bestselling this" or the "Celebrity that". We aim to flourish, not through a frenzy of substandard new production, heavily capitalized marketing, and aggressively monopolistic strategies but through the slow and patient development of a listening audience for our "Literature to listen to".   

No BackList,. No Fall Line. No Spring Line. Our catalogue:  authentic human voices reading work we like. Fiction long and short, poetry, historical nonfiction, true outdoor adventure.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Rattling Books SoundCloud Post: Clip from Bishop's Road by Catherine Hogan Safer

New listening clip posted to SoundCloud.  Listen free to a short clip of Mary Lewis reading Catherine Hogan Safer's novel Bishop's Road.

The unabridged audiobook recording of Bishop's Road was produced for Rattling Books by Chris Brookes.

The unabridged audiobook Bishop's Road is available to purchase as a Digital Download.

Alphabetical List of Authors with audiobook recordings from Rattling Books

Alphabetical List of Authors with audiobook recordings from Rattling Books

Captain Robert Bartlett, Chris Benjamin, Chris Brookes, Cassie Brown, Mark Callanan, Michael Collins, Michael Crummey, Richard Cumyn, Mary Dalton, George Allan England, Mavis Gallant, Jessica Grant, Prudence Grieve, Sir Wilfred Grenfell,  Steven Heighton, Frank Holden, Mina Hubbard, Joel Thomas Hynes, Andy Jones, David Macfarlane, Robin McGrath, Carmelita McGrath, Don McKay, Lisa Moore, Helen Porter,  Susan Rendell, Rebecca Rosenblum, Catherine Hogan Safer, Janis Spence, Carmine Starnino, John Steffler, J.J. Steinfeld,  Leslie Vryenhoek, Agnes Walsh, Russell Wangersky, Patrick Warner,  David Weale, , Emily White, Claire Wilkshire, Kathleen Winter, Michael Winter

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Excerpt: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Robert Bartlett (Captain Bob), setting: January 10, 1914

The following excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

...At five o'clock on the morning of the tenth I was awakended by a loud report like a rifle-shot. Then there came a tremor all through the ship. I was soon on deck. The watchman, who for that night was Brady, had already been overboard on the ice and I met him coming up the ice gangway to tell me what he had found. There was a small crack right at the stem of the ship, he said. I went there with him at once and found that the crack ran irregularly but in general northwesterly for about two hundred yards. At first it was very slight, although it was a clean and unmistakable break; in the course of half an hour, however, it grew to a foot in width and as the day wore on widened still more until it was two feet wide on an average.

By 10 A.M. there was a narrow lane of water off both bow and stern. The ship was now entirely free on the starboard side but still frozen fast in her ice-cradle on the port side ... The ship felt no pressure, only slight shocks, and her hull was still untouched, for the open ends of the pocket fended off the moving ice especially at the stern. It was clear to me, however, that as soon as the moving ice should grind or break off the points of these natural fenders there was a strong probability that the moving ice-sheet would draw nearer to the starboard side of the ship and, not unlike the jaws of a nut-cracker, squeeze her against the sheet in which she was frozen on the port side, particularly as the wind was attaining a velocity of forty-five miles an hour.

Everything indicated, therefore, that the time was near at hand when we should have to leave the ship. We must have things ready. I gave orders to get the snow off the deck and the skylights and the other walls of the cabin to lighten her. ...

At about half past seven in the evening I chanced to be standing near the engine-room door. The lamps were lighted. The labors of the day were over and now, after dinner, the men were playing cards or reading or sewing, as usual. All at once I heard a splitting, crashing sound below. I went down into the engine-room and found the chief engineer there. We could hear water rushing into the hold and by lantern-light could see it puring in at different places for a distance of ten feet along the port side....

I went on deck again and gave the order, "All hands abandon ship."

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Excerpt: The Lure of the Labrador Wild: The classic story of Leonidas Hubbard by Dillon Wallace, setting: early January 1904

The following excerpt is from Dillon Wallace's classic story of the fateful canoe trip which Wallace, Leonidas Hubbard and George Elson made into the interior of Labrador in 1903 (The Lure of the Labrador Wild originally published in 1905 by Fleming H. Revell, New York) . In 2005 Rattling Books released an unabridged audiobook edition of The Lure of the Labrador Wild narrated by Jody Richardson.

As we pick up the story, Leonidas Hubbard lays dead in his tent in the Labrador wilderness and Wallace, slowly recovering from their ordeal, is planning to retrieve Hubbard's body and return with it to the US.

...Immediately upon my return to Northwest River, my feet began to trouble me again. Word was sent to Dr. Hardy, who, regarding it as a call of duty, arrived on December 31st. I very much regret to say, that in responding to the call, Dr. Hardy received a chill that hastened, if it did not cause, his death. After examining my feet upon his arrival, he advised me to return with him to Muddy Lake. So it was arranged that George, with Mackenzie's dogs and komatik, should drive Dr. Hardy and me to the Kenemish lumber camp twelve miles across Groswater Bay, where there was a patient that required attention, and that from there Hardy and I should go on to Muddy Lake with other dogs. Alas! the doctor never saw Muddy Lake again.

Before starting, I learned from Allen Goudie and Duncan MacLean, who came from the interior to spend New Year's Day that Grand Lake was frozen hard and an attempt might be made to bring out Hubbard's body. Accordingly, I engaged Duncan Maclean and Tom Blake, also a breed, to undertake the task with George, and to recover, so far as possible, the photographic films and other articles we had abandoned at Goose Camp and Lake Elson. Blake was the father of Mackenzie's housekeeper, and lived at the rapid at the eastern end of Grand Lake. As he had, at the request of friends, frequently prepared bodies for burial, it was arranged that he should head the expedition, while George acted as guide, and the agreement was that, weather permitting, the party should start inland on January 6th. A coffin, made by the carpenter at Kenemish, was all ready to receive the body when it should arrive at the post.

George was to have driven Dr. Hardy and me to Kenemish on January 3rd, but as there was a stiff wind blowing and the thermometer registered 40 degrees below zero, we postponed our departure untill the following day. The morning was clear, and the temperature was 34 below. The dogs, with a great howling and jumping, had hardly settled down to the slow trot which with only fair travelling is their habital gait, when we observed that the sky was clouding, and in an incredibly short time the first snowflakes of the gathering storm began to fall. Soon the snow was so thick that it shut us in as with a curtain, and eventually even old Aillik, our leader, was lost to view.

"Bear well t' th' east'ard, an' keep free o' th' bad ice; the's sure t' be bad ice handy t' th' Kenemish," had been Mark Blake's parting injunction. So George kept well to the eastward as, hour after hour, we forged our way on through the blinding, drifting snow. At length we came upon land, but what land we did not know. The storm had abated by this time, and a fresh komatik track was visible, which we proceeded to follow. On all sides of us ice was piled in heaps as high as a house. We had been travelling altogether about six hours, and the storm had ceased, when we came upon a tilt on the shore of a deep bay, and, close by it, a man making passes with a stick at a large wolf, which, apparently emboldened by hunger, was jumping and snarling about waiting for a chance to spring in upon him.

The noise of our approaching komatik caused the wolf to slink off, and then the man hurried to the tilt, reappeared with a rifle and shot the beast as it still prowled among the ice hills. He proved to be Uriah White, a trapper. Not at all excited by his adventure, he welcomed us to his tilt. In throwing off his mittens to fire his rifle at the wolf, he had exposed his naked hands to the bitter cold, and they had been frost bitten. While thawing out his hands at a safe distance from the stove, he informed us that he had been 'handy 'nuf to he (meaning the wolf) to see that he were a she."

... to be continued.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

On the Karluk with Captain Bob Jan 7 and 8, 1914

An excerpt from :  The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Robert Bartlett

"...On the seventh and eighth the variable weather continued with occasional twilight of considerable intensity; the low barometer and high thermometer still prevailed. Our observations on the seventh, the last we were to take on shipboard, gave us our position as Lat. 72.11 N., Long. 174.36 W. ...."
(To be continued.)

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Newfoundland Literature Christmas Reference: Old Christmas Day a poem by Michael Crummey

Old Christmas Day

My father, yes.

Father died on Old Christmas Day, January 6th, 1946. We thought he was getting better, he'd managed a decent meal that Sunday for the first time in months, salt beef and cabbage, peas pudding, he ate the works. Mother used to make fruit puddings in the old Baking Soda cans, Hollis and myself carried one up to him for dessert. He took three or four mouthfuls from the can and then he slumped over in the bed, never made a sound. I ran across Riverhead to Uncle Wel's and burst in saying Father was dead, I don't know what I expected them to do.

Anyway we buried him. Had to take out the kitchen window to carry the coffin from the house and it was cold enough to skin you. Then we buried him.

I'm not saying this like I meant to.

He used to run a sawmill up the brook, it was something to do over the winters when there was no fishing. Mother made a fried egg sandwich and corked a bottle of tea for him every morning, we'd carry it up there together. It was warm inside from the heat of the machines running, and the scent of pine and spruce in the sawdust, I never smelled a place as clean as that mill. Father sat me up on the cutting table while he had his lunch and I usually ate more of the sandwich than he did. The first mill he had burnt down, the second one there weren't enough trees around to keep it running and he had to sell off the equipment or let it rust.

He worked hard is all I'm saying. The only summer that man didn't come to the Labrador he was having cataracts taken off his eyes. That was the year before he died, when he was sixty-two.

No, that's not it, nevermind, nevermind now.

Nevermind, I said.


This poem as read by Ron Hynes can be heard from the audiobook recording Hard Light: 32 Little Stories published by Rattling Books.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Don McKay on iTunes: Songs for the Songs of Birds

A suggested use for that iTunes card you got from Santa:

Songs for the Songs of Birds
poems written and read by Don Mckay

featuring field recordings of bird songs by Dave Fifield

available in the Spoken Word section of the iTunes store.

Also as per always, available to download from Rattling Books and as a CD Fred's Records in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Robin McGrath on iTunes : Coasting Trade

A suggested use for that iTunes card you got from Santa:

Coasting Trade  
by Robin McGrath
An audio book Performance for three voices, narrated (in order of appearance) by Robert Joy, Rick Boland and Anita Best,
produced with soundscape recordings by Chris Brookes.
available in the Spoken Word section of the iTunes store.

And of course always also available from Rattling Books.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

New Year's Resolution: a recap from 2008!

I resolve:

firstly: to shive all lewardly pishogues yaffled into this drung of a world by hangishores believing in boo darbies

secondly: to juggle four waddocks on the bawn and teach my merrybegot to do the same before

thirdly and lastly: I quit this droke peopled by nuzzle tripes, marl on out to the blue drop and hang with the bawks and guds.


I made this resolution before - back in 2008!!
I guess it's par for the course to have to re-resolve...

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Remember the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Remember the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Canadian audiobooks produced in Newfoundland and Labrador

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

January 2, 1914, from The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett

...During the night of New Year's Day we could hear, when we were below, a rumbling noise not unlike that which one often hears singing along the telegraph wires on a country road. The sound was inaudible from the deck. It was clear that there was tremendous pressure somewhere, though there were no visible indications of it in the vicinity of the ship. We were practically stationary. Apparently the great field of ice in which we had been zigzagging for so many months had finally brought up on the shore of Wrangell Island and was comparatively at rest, while the running ice outside this great field was still in active motion and tended to force the ice constantly in the direction of the island.

On Saturday, with a fresh north wind, in spite of which ship and ice still remained stationary, the rumbling noise could again be heard in the interior of the ship...."

(To be continued.)
This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audio edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Day on the Karluk: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett, January 1, 1914

...We had our own New Year's celebration, though it was only a coincidence that it came on this particular day, for we had planned a football game on the ice when the weather should be good and the wind fairly light; New Year's Day happened to be the first good day for it.

The ball was made of seal-gut, cut into sections and sewed up, with surgeon's plaster over the seams. We blew it up with a pipe stem and plugged up the hole. To protect the ball we had a sealskin casing made to fit it; the result was a fairly good ball, constructed on the same principle as any college football.

It was Scotland vs. All-Nations; the game was association football, played on a field of regulation size laid out on young ice about a foot and half in thickness. At each end of the field were goal posts with the usual cross-bar.

Fireman Breddy was captain of All-Nations and Mr. Munro of Scotland. The Eskimo, though not well-versed in the game, played well. Keruk, clad as usual in dress and bloomers, was goal tender for All-Nations. Some of the players wore skin boots, other ordinary American shoes. I had forgotten a good deal about the association game but I refreshed my memory from the encyclopedia in the ship's library and armed with a mouth-organ in lieu of a whistle took my place as referee, umpire and time-keeper. I soon found, however, that the cold would make it too dangerous for me to use the 'whistle", for it would freeze to my lips and take the skin off, so I had to give my signals for play by word of mouth....
(To be continued.)

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audiobook edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fourth Installment from the Christmas Card Collection of Jack Higgins: Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives

As we approach the sixth night of Christmas, a New Year's Greeting from Rattling Books.

This is the fourth installment in a series of Christmas card postings from the Higgins' collection (John G. "Jack" Higgins (1891-1963)). The collection may be viewed at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archive

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Possible Christmas Conspiracy involving Newfoundland: Did Santa once operate out of St. Anthony in collusion with Wilfred Grenfell?

This photograph of Santa's reindeer and some of Santa's Nelfers (term for Newfoundland elves) was taken in St. Anthony circa 1907.

This photographic slide can be found in the International Grenfell Association Lantern Slides Collection presented online by the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Digital Archive Initiative (DAI).

Photographic evidence of Santa's reindeer and Nelfers active in St. Anthony during Wilfred Grenfell's time there suggests that the Grenfell Association may have functioned as a cover for Santa's activities during that period.
Wilfred Grenfell is otherwise best known for being adrift on an ice pan and writing a best selling account of his adventures. That account, Adrift on an Ice Pan, a gripping one with absolutely no mention of Santa, is available as an unabridged audio edition from Rattling Books.

End of Year Special at

Save 30% on our selection of Canadian audiobooks at

End of Year Special!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Spending Christmas with Captain Bob Bartlett Dec. 29, 1913

...As soon as it was light on the twenty-ninth I kept a sharp eye out for land; south by west, by the compass, I could see a blue cloud raised up on the horizon. According to the soundings we should have been nearer Wrangell Island than Herald Island; I was inclined to think that it was Herald Island, although working out our position with our chronometer readings gave us Herald Island sixty miles to the south. Afterwards I found out that our observations at this time were correct but that the soundings were not right on the chart. What deceived us more than anything else was the big mirage; Herald Island looked large and distorted for many days. Later in the day I went aloft to see if I could make out which island it really was but on account of the imperfect light I found it impossible to tell.

Some time during the night the ice cracked about a hundred yards from the ship and made an open ribbon of water ten inches wide; during the next day the young ice was cracking a good deal all around us....

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audio edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books). 

As the fifth night of Christmas approaches may there be no cracks in the ice around you.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Audiobook mentions of Christmas : The Big Why by Michael Winter

A Christmas mention from a Rattling Books audiobook: The Big Why by Michael Winter

"That Christmas, Gerald Thayer had taken me to seven parties. We had drunk a lot and were vulnerable to awe. But the things we saw were all glitter and no substance. A store was shut and a sign said,


As though they hadnt decided what percentage to mark off. Then I saw: the percentage was there, but it had faded. it had been marked in red, the most fugitive of colours. The store, Gerald said, was closed. It's been closed a long time. This shocked me, this realization that what could have been a fresh thought (closing) had been an old act (closed long ago). I want, I said to Gerald, to avoid that predicament. I want a thickness to pour into me, like honey or cement.

You want, Gerald said, to slough off the baubles.

He said you can get that only if you move to a small place, to the periphery, to a community that is one organism and does not change. That loves itself.

So that is why we moved.

And Newfoundland? ..."


The above excerpt is from The Big Why by Michael Winter.

The unabridged audiobook edition of The Big Why narrated by Robert Joy was recently published by Rattling Books. It is available from as either an MP3 CD or Digital Download. Listening time 10.5 hours.

Janneying, a Christmas poem by Mary Dalton from Merrybegot

(by Mary Dalton from Merrybegot)

Every winter it was the same racket.
A hint of the janneying, our mother'd
Have copper kittens, but after a bit
She'd give in to us, say yes we could go.
We'd rig ourselves up in any old fit-out,
Pillows and nets, cotton drawers on our heads.
The boys let out squeaks, the girls spoke all gruff -
One fellow missing a finger made up a
False one so he couldn't be guessed.
Once we'd get in, we'd kick up the mats,
Fire up the accordion, dance the whole night -
The floor-boards'd shiver, the funnel turn red.
First light of the sun, off we'd head home,
Bellies rumbling and we ready
To eat the leg off the Lamb of God.

Merrybegot, a collection of poems by Mary Dalton was originally published in 2003 by Véhicule Press. It is available as an unabridged audio recording from Rattling Books. The audiobook edition of Merrybegot is performed by Anita Best and Patrick Boyle.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: janny and janny-talk

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

janny n, usu pl also janney, jenny, johnny [phonetics unavailable]. Cp OED johnny 1 'a fellow, chap'; EDD john 2 (6 a) 'the mummers used to be called John Jacks' (1875-) W; O Sup2 janney Nfld (1896-).
1 Elaborately costumed person who participates in various group activities at Christmas; FOOL, MUMMER n.
1896 J A Folklore ix, 36 Old teaks and jannies, boys and men who turn out in various disguises and carry on various pranks during the Christmas holidays, which last from 25th December to Old Christmas day, 6th January. [c1900] 1978 RLS 8, p. 27 ~ a mummer. 1925 Dial Notes v, 335 Johnnies—Christmas mummers. Also jennies. 1928 Nfld Qtly Dec, p. 15 The merry party of 'Jannies,' or 'Mummers' made the welkin ring with their weird shouts and cries and their 'false faces' sent many [a] frightened child in haste to its mother's knee. 1937 DEVINE 29 ~ ies. Mummers; persons dressed in disguise at Christmas for visiting. 1957 Atlantic Advocate xlviii, 23 ... extra large kitchens that served as the stage for the 'Fools' or 'Mummers' or 'Janneys,' to give them their peculiar local names. T 45-64 You had no rhyme or nothing goin' out in these janneys. We usen't. Only get in [a house] and try and talk way they wouldn't understand you or get out and waltz or dance. T 172/3-65 Same thing, janney. Since that, we're not known as mummers today, they're janneys today. T 181-65 They have those johnnies, they calls 'em now. So many boys and girls around, but they got no recitations, see, nothing to say. 1969 Christmas Mumming in Nfld 65-6 There are 'big janneys,' adults, and 'little janneys,' children... Some are able to 'talk like a janney'—ingressive utterances at a high pitch. 1973 PINSENT 55 Apparently this janny had been making the rounds for years and not once had anyone guessed him—till this night. 1973 WIDDOWSON 424 'Now they big Janneys is comin' in! They'll take you tonight if yous don't be good!'
2 Phr go out in the jannies: to dress in the disguise and costume of a Christmas mummer; cp FOOL 2. T 45-64 Oh yes, we went out in the janneys several times down home before we left. 3 Comb janny-night: any night during Christmas season on which jannies go around visiting at people's houses. C 67-2 On janny-night they used to get dressed up and go from house to house. Would dance and get something to eat. Usually had a harmonica or a jews harp... Would go out most nights from Christmas Eve to New Year.

janny-talk: distorted or ingressive speech of a mummer used as a means of disguising one's identity. 1969 Christmas Mumming in Nfld 211 When the janneys come to a house they wish to visit, they open, without knocking, the storm-door, stick their heads inside the 'porch' and 'sing out': 'Any janneys in tonight?' in the high-pitched, squeaky voice that janneys always use—'janney-talk.' T 257-66 Oh yes, 'twas queer talk—janney talk. Some people can't talk and some of 'em can, you know. Some of them make a queer talk, draw in their voice, and make a queer sound.

A primer for listening to Merrybegot by Mary Dalton, read by Anita Best, from Rattling Books.

Third Installment from the Christmas Card Collection of Jack Higgins: Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives

This is the third installment in a series of Christmas card postings from the Higgins' collection (John G. "Jack" Higgins (1891-1963)). The collection may be viewed at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archive

Continuing our Christmas wishes through the twelve days of Christmas from Rattling Books.

Christmas Excerpt: The Last Voyage of the Karluk by Captain Bob Bartlett, setting: Dec. 26-27, 1913

"...On Friday the twenty-sixth a crack in the ice made from the waist of the ship towards the stern, running for about a hundred yards off the starboard bow. The crack did not open, but for the first time in our drift we felt a slight tremor on the ship. In about an hour we felt another slight tremor. I followed the crack for a hundred yards and then lost it. There was a fresh north-northeast wind which moderated as the day wore on but it looked as if we were in for some more bad weather, though the barometer was steady, and next day we began to get things ready to leave the ship at once, in case we should have to get out in a hurry. Everything was where we could lay our hands on it at once...."

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audio edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

John G. "Jack" Higgins (1891-1963): Collector of our Featured Christmas Cards

Photo: John Higgins and the Oxford Canadian ice hockey team. John Higgins is in the back row, second from right. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll - 086), Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland.

Jack Higgins: Newfoundlander Through and Through
From the files of The Gazette July 9, 1998.

It is indeed an ironic twist of fate that Senator John G. Higgins died on Canada Day, July 1, 1963. As a veteran of the First World War, he would have said he died on Memorial Day, the day Newfoundlanders commemorate the massacre of the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont Hamel. It was just as ironic that Jack Higgins was even a member of the Canadian Senate; he had fought long and hard to keep Newfoundland out of Canadian Confederation in the late 1940s. But such ironies were an integral part of the life of this unheralded Newfoundlander.

....Shortly after his graduation he was selected as the 1909 Rhodes Scholar for Newfoundland and spent the next three years at Merton College, Oxford, where he read law, and captained the seven-member Oxford-Canadian Ice Hockey Team, which also included Newfoundland 1910 Rhodes Scholar, Robert Tait. This team, which toured Europe, was undefeated in the 17 matches it played, outscoring the opposition 204 goals to 17.

...Higgins became one of the leading members of the Responsible Government League, firm in his belief that Newfoundland should return to self-government before any negotiations should be begun with Canada. He participated in both referenda campaigns, contributing his speaking and writing talents and financial support. Never one to take defeat lightly, on March 31, 1949, he hung black crepe, a symbol of mourning, over the door of his house.

There had been no elected House of Assembly in Newfoundland during the 15 years of the Commission of Government. An election was scheduled to elect a new House on May 27, 1949. Higgins, never before a candidate for elected office, was returned by the voters of St. John's East as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. As party leader H. G. R. Mews had been defeated in the election, Higgins became the leader of the opposition, the first in post-confederate Newfoundland. His term in the house was short-lived, however, as he was not a candidate in the next election in 1951, preferring the logic of the law courts to the fractious debate of the House of Assembly.

His political career was not over. On January 15, 1959, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker appointed Higgins as the first Progressive Conservative Senator from Newfoundland.

...Higgins married Alice Casey of Harbour Grace on August 13, 1925. They had three children, Gilbert, Mary Margaret and John. He was made King's Counsel in 1932. He was also a fine poet, who published in local magazines such as the Newfoundland Quarterly on a regular basis. Much of his poetry remains unpublished.

Jack Higgins was an ardent Newfoundlander. He was a lover of books from childhood and began collecting Newfoundland books at an early age. He purchased many rare and valuable documents, mainly from England, concerning Newfoundland...

(excerpt from the Gazette article stored in the digital archive of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies)

Jack Higgins' son Gilbert was a great friend of Rattling Books before it even existed. I have fond memories of visiting Gilbert in his book stuffed apartment in Stephenville where to have a cup of tea I had to first wait while Gilbert removed stacks of books to clear a seat for us, his access to the tea and even the stove. Those books and articles so lovingly cared for by Gilbert are now under the care of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Thank-you Gilbert for your unbounded and contagious enthusiasm for books.

A Christmas Excerpt from In the Chambers of the Sea by Susan Rendell

Light Years by Susan Rendell
in memory of Jim Truscott

A selected excerpt for Christmas:

...That November they took Mom to St. John's, to the hospital. I wasn't around when she went, but I knew when I came in the house she was gone, I could feel it.

That was the Christmas I found out there was no Santa Claus. Not how most kids finds out; you know, their Mom or Dad tells them or they hears it at school, but it's not so bad because they still get presents and everything. But when me and Brian went down over the stairs Christmas morning the year Phonse died and Mom went away, taking the stairs two at a time like we always did, pushing and shoving each other - it's a wonder we never broke our necks because there was no carpet or nothing on them stairs and they were as slippery as a gutting table - our stockings were as flat as pancakes; we could see 'em laying limp over the clothesline by the stove before we were even halfways down.

I couldn't believe it. The old man never said nothing to us when he got up, and we never said nothing to him. The old bastard; dead to the world on Christmas Eve on all that money, and me and Brian laying awake for the longest time, listening for the reindeer to pitch on the roof....

Light Years, a short story by Susan Rendell, read by Joel Thomas Hynes, from the Rattling Books recording of In the Chambers of the Sea by Susan Rendell.

Second Installment from the Christmas Card Collection of Jack Higgins: Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives

This is the second installment in a series of Christmas card postings from the Higgins' collection (John G. "Jack" Higgins (1891-1963)). The collection may be viewed at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archive

On the first day of Christmas, Rattling Books wish for you and yours:

Be blest with health and peace and sweet content.