Sunday, September 22, 2013

All Things Newfoundland and Labrador: Tuckamore

If you like to take a walk on the wild side,
there is no better place to do so 
than in the remote and beautiful 
Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canada with Newfoundland and Labrador in Red

This unique place 
is not for everyone.

It is a raw land,
scraped bare 
by glaciers
and scultped 
by wind and water.

Source:  Wikimedia

This remarkable land holds a special place in my heart.
I was privileged to live and to work there in my past.

This province is so different, so other;
and, nothing more so than its language.
Your ear needs time to adjust 
to this province's grammar, syntax, lexicon, and cadence.

When I first arrived in Westport on White Bay in 1971,
I couldn't grasp what Westporters were saying
as words came at me rapid fire.

Westport on White Bay, Newfoundland, 2011

Garbage Bin Showing the Location
of Westport on White Bay, Newfoundland, 2011 

If I was lucky, 
I could piece together the gist of the conversation,
but often I was flat out flummoxed!

A Westporter would think of our conversation:
I'm not talkin too fast.
You're listenin too slow.
(Source:  phrase attributed to singer John White)

My sister Bertie (coral) and I (turquoise)
with Our Long Time Family Friend Dulcie
on a Recent Trip to Westport 

Slowly but surely my ears listened faster,
and I began to comprehend their spoken words.
I fell in love with this rich and original language 
with its lexicon of rare and unusual words.

For me one word typifies the essence of the province:  

Tuckamore, Broom Point, Newfoundland, 2011

If you walk almost anywhere 
along the exposed coasts of the province,
especially those of the Great Northern Peninsula 
and the Strait of Belle Isle,
you will find tuckamore.

Tuckamore Behind the Signs, 
Blanc Sablon, Quebec, 2011
Left to Quebec ~ Right to Labrador
Exiting the St. Barbe ~ Blanc Sablon Ferry

Tuckamore is the province's ubiquitous coastal forest 
of hardy dwarf white spruce and balsam fir.

   Terry, the Ever-Patient, with Tuckamore
Lobster Cove Head, Newfoundland, 2011

Stunted, contorted, intertwined and dense, 
tuckamore is shaped by the harsh wind, 
the salt spray, and the acid soil
of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tuckamore, Broom Point, Newfoundland, 2011

The origin of tuckamore is in a combination of two words:
tucking ~ tugging or pulling (as in tucking a net), and
more ~ an archaic word for root.
(Burzynski, Michael, Gros Morne National Park, Breakwater Books Ltd., St. John's, NF, p. 85)

Tuckamore is almost impenetrable.
Any exposed part of the forest dries up, dies, and breaks off
forming a tangle of vegetation 
that shreds and rips and scratches.
Surprisingly people have been known to rest 
on the surface of tuckamore.

 The E-P Considers a Nap at Cape Ray, Newfoundland, 2011

Michael Burzynski in his book Gros Morne National Park 
wrote my favorite description of tuckamore:

"...the wind sculpts growing coastal trees 
into a stooped and streamlined forest 
that flows and swells inland like a brushy green wave."
(Burzynski, Michael, Gros Morne National Park, Breakwater Books Ltd., St. John's, NF, p. 85)

 Tuckamore Rising Up Tracey Hill
in Red Bay, Labrador, 2011

To me, tuckamore also typifies the hardy people of this province.
Centuries ago they rooted along its wild and lonely coasts,
and they have persisted,
shaped by its winds, its waters, and its soils.

If you are lucky enough to travel in this special place,
you will find no finer people,
warm, generous, practical, and tough.

Chance Encounter and Impromptu Picnic
Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, 2011

I will return, 
and may you be so lucky 
as to experience all kinds of tuckamore
in Newfoundland and Labrador.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Have never heard of tuckamore, so thanks for educating me! I'd love to go to Newfoundland some day. EVERY person I've ever met from the Maritimes has been great to know. I guess that's just how things are on the East Coast!

    1. Hi Debra! Maritimers and Newfies are the best! But so are people from everywhere! I think you must be the common denominator! Have a great day!

  3. wild side you say?
    Kissing a fish is pretty wild of a display haha
    Never been there
    Or heard of tuckamore before this at my lair

    1. Hey Pat! I've long been an honorary Newf ~ and I didn't have to kiss a fish! But over the years I have drunk plenty of Screech! Terry became an honorary Newf in 2011 by kissing a cod and drinking Screetch! It was such fun! You've gotta go if you ever get a chance! Take care!

  4. I would LOVE to visit there some day. In fact, I'd love to tour the entire east coast. I imagine it'll be a trip I'll never forget. That photo with Terry in it is spectacular! What amazing composition.

    1. Hi Martha! Thanks for the kind words about my composition! I hope you do get a chance to go back to the East Coast. It is beautiful, and the people are great! Take care!

  5. Replies
    1. Hi Jill! Thanks! A little bit different from Australia ~ but then there is no place like Australia! Have a lovely spring day!

  6. Ah, beautiful, beautiful! You've really captured the essence of Newfoundland in these gorgeous pictures.

    1. Hi Jan! Thank you for the kind comment! I hope that you and your family are having an awesome day!

  7. This is very educational (surprise surprise) and it all made sense that the vegetation would be that way considering the climate. I will keep my eyes open for 'tuckamore' around these parts but a smaller version.
    Newfoundland is a spectacular place to visit Louise as you well know. We were there once and saw most of the southern areas. Want to return some day. It is a gem in our four Atlantic Provinces.

    1. Hey Jim! Aren't our four Atlantic provinces the best! I know for sure that there is "tuckamore" in Beautiful Cove and in other places on the Islands off Digby Neck. I just love to dig into things! As for southern Newfoundland, I've been on the Burin and in Port aux Basques. Now I just need to see everything in between! I would have loved to take a coastal boat along the south coast and see places like Burgeo. Now you can drive there! May you and Ron go back! Take care!

  8. Dulcie is one fortunate person to have her arms around the both of you. Mainlanders being scooped up and made part of the frey. Look at the smiles on your faces. Lovely.
    Tuckamore surely is a tough vegetation, I can just feel it scraping on my bare legs. Duh, Ron put on long pants for Pete's sake. Our scrappy low growing trees are a bit tall than N L's so we have to watch our eyes. Oh the living along the east coast.
    Thanks for the lesson today, Miss Barbour!!

    Winks RON

    1. Thanks, Ron! You're so sweet! Worse than the branches in your eyes are the deer flies! They used to make me crazy when I was mapping and sampling in Cape Breton! I guess the teacher in me will never die ~ but I do so love to explore and learn! Have a happy day, and belly rubs to the pretty female in your lair. (I've been reading Pat too much ~ he has had some funny, funny posts lately!) Take care!

  9. Hi Louise, its Barb fresh back from Scotland - loved this piece on Newfoundland! And I loved our trip there in 2011!!

    1. Hey Barb! I'm so glad you had an awesome trip to Scotland ~ but I'm gladder that your home and we can talk. Next time I'm going to go with you! I'm already working on Terry since you mentioned hiking in Ireland. That could make him cave. Middle East ~ I don't think I can talk him into it! But Petra here I come! Take care! XOX

  10. Newfoundland has always been a dream of day I WILL make it there! And Louise, you'd be one of the first people to know.... "Tuckamore" is such a cool word!

    1. My reply to you disappeared Audrey! I'll try this again! You must make it to NL! I can see you, Alain and the girls having so much fun seeing so many new and outdoorsy things. I would love to see the look on Clara's face if she saw an ice berg! And Sophie's too! *Hugs*

  11. Excellent Post Louise and simply an amazing place ....I have been blessed to see many of Newfoundland's spectacular sites including the Burin Peninsula, Gros Morne, Terra Nova...the Avalon Peninsula .-Dutchess

    1. Hey Dutchess! You made my day to see your comment! Remember the tuckamore we plowed through climbing Chapeau Rouge in St. Lawrence on the Burin! One of the highlights in my life! *hugs* to you!

  12. What a great post. Thanks for sharing. And wouldn't Tuckamore be a great book title?

  13. Lovely photos. What a beautiful place! That garbage can is the prettiest I have ever seen!

  14. Lovely photos. What a beautiful place! That garbage can is the prettiest I have ever seen!

    1. Thanks doubly Linda! I thought that garbage can was special too! Take care!


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