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Widdowson, John

  • Person
  • 1935-

John David Allison Widdowson (1935- ), folklorist and linguist, has done extensive fieldwork and research in sociolinguistics, dialectology and English cultural tradition in both urban and rural areas of England and Newfoundland. He was born in Sheffield, England and attended Bridlington School, Bridlington, East Yorkshire, England from 1946 to 1954. His secondary education led him to Oxford where he obtained a BA (1959) and an MA (1963) in English Literature and Language. In 1966, Widdowson also completed a study of dialectology in the MA programme at Leeds. Before finishing his thesis, he was offered a teaching position at the English Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN).

Widdowson arrived in Newfoundland in 1962 and continued work on his MA thesis. A research question related to a "proverbial" comparison led him to seek the advice of his colleague, Herbert Halpert. The item he was probing turned out to be the Newfoundland expression "boogieman." During their meeting, Halpert showed Widdowson his collection on "frightening figures." This sparked his interest in this topic, and particularly in Newfoundland folklore.

Shortly after, Widdowson began taking folklore courses, and while he was the first student to enroll in the doctoral programme in the Department of English, his thesis actually dealt with a folklore topic. During the summers of 1963-67, Widdowson joined Halpert in fieldwork in rural Newfoundland. Their collection of material formed the foundation for the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA). When the Folklore Department at MUN was established in 1968, Widdowson began a series of his annual research fellowships in language and folklore. He completed a PhD in 1972 and, in 1974 was appointed as Head of the Folklore Department and Archivist. He also served as acting Head in 1977-78. In 1985, Widdowson was named honorary research associate in folklore and language at MUN. Although Widdowson maintained a close research association with Newfoundland and MUN , he also spent 30 years as a faculty member of English Language, Folklore and Culture of the University of Sheffield. In 1974, he became the founding director of a research project - the Survey of Language and Folklore -which subsequently, in 1976, became the Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language and, in 1997, the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition. He remained director of the centre until he retired in 2001.

Widdowson was elected to the first executive of the Canadian Oral History Association in 1974 and became the co-director of the Institute for Folklore Studies in Britain and Canada in 1986. From 1987-90, he was the president of the Folklore Society. As well, he became the curator of the Traditional Heritage Museum in 1989 and has been a full member of Folklore Fellows International since 1993.

Widdowson also published circa twenty books, and over 60 articles in learned journals. Some of the more significant publications with which he was associated include: "If you Don't be Good...:" (1977), an article on verbal social control in Newfoundland; Linguistic Atlas of England (1978); Dictionary of Newfoundland English (1982, revised 1990), with Strong and Kerwin; Studies in Linguistic Geography: the Dialects of England in Britain and Ireland (1985); Studies in Newfoundland Folklore, Community and Process (1991); Survey of English Dialects: The Dictionary and Grammar (1994); and Folktales of Newfoundland (1996). Widdowson was also the founding editor of the journal Lore and Language.

Widdowson's work earned him several prestigious including: two Certificates of Merit, Regional History Award of the Canadian Historical Association; in 1984 for his contribution to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, and, again in 1987, for Canada's Folklore-Folklife Series. As well, in 1992, he received the Jubilee Award of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Widdowson was given an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Edinburgh in 1999 and by MUN 2000.

Whitty, William

  • Person
  • 1792-1822

William Whitty (1792-1822), was born in County Wexford, Ireland in 1792. He arrived in Newfoundland in 1817. Few other details are known about the life or activities of Rev. Whitty.

Whitty died at St. John's in 1822 and was buried in the Old Kirk yard. With the closure of the Old Long's Hill Cemetery and the opening of the new Belvedere Cemetery in 1855, his body was exhumed and reburied in Belvedere Cemetery.

Whiteway, Sir William Vallance

  • Person
  • 1828-1908

William Vallance Whiteway (1828-1908), lawyer and Prime Minister of Newfoundland (1878-85; 1889-94; 1895-97), was born on 1 April 1828 in Devon, England, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Vallance) Whiteway. He married Mary Lightbourne of Bermuda in 1862 and they had one daughter. Following the death of his wife, he married Catherine Anne Davies of Pictou, Nova Scotia, in 1872 and they had six children. Whiteway died on 24 June 1908 in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Whiteway was educated at Tomes Grammar School, Totnes and at a private school in Newton Abbot, England. As a result of his family's participation in the Newfoundland trade, Whiteway was sent to St. John's in 1843 as an apprentice in the mercantile firm of Stabb, Row and Holmwood. Instead, he elected to article under Robert R. Wakeham, a prominent local lawyer. He was called to the Newfoundland Bar in 1852.

While practicing law Whiteway was encouraged by businessman Charles Fox Bennett to stand for the Newfoundland House of Assembly in a by-election in 1858. He was elected member for Twillingate-Fogo District and was re-elected in elections held in 1859, 1861, and 1865. He was named Queen's Counsel (1862) and nominated Speaker of the House (1865). Defeated in 1869 as a Confederate candidate, he returned in 1873 to represent Trinity District (1873-85). He was Solicitor General (1874-78) and Attorney General (1878-85).

In 1878 Whiteway replaced Frederick B. T. Carter as Prime Minister and won a general election, based on Conservative-Protestant support. Following dissension in the administration, heightened by the aftermath of the Harbour Grace Riot (1883), Whiteway temporarily retired from political life in 1885.

In 1887 Whiteway announced his return to politics. After the defeat of the Reform Party (1889), Whiteway became Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1893. Following the election scandals (1894) he was disqualified as an MHA by the Supreme Court. Special legislation enacted by the Liberal government allowed him to take his seat in 1895. During his final term as Prime Minister (1895-97) Whiteway represented Harbour Grace District. Whiteway served in the Newfoundland House of Assembly for a total of 30 years, 14 of these as Prime Minister.

Whiteway devoted most of his political career to the construction of the trans-insular railway, completed in 1898. He was also an early supporter of confederation with Canada as a means of developing the natural resources of the island. He abandoned the idea only when it led to his defeat in the 1869 general election. Whiteway's commitment to resource exploitation led to the construction of a dry dock in St. John's, and agreements with France regarding the development of French Shore. Whiteway was also instrumental in securing a $1,000,000 award for Newfoundland as compensation for fisheries concessions granted to the United States by the 1871 Treaty of Washington. Whiteway prepared the Newfoundland case, and argued it successfully before the 1877 Halifax Fisheries Commission.

Whiteway was chosen first Worshipful Master of the Avalon Masonic Lodge in 1859 and eventually became Grand Master in Newfoundland. He was the first Newfoundlander to be made a member of the Imperial Privy Council, and in 1880, he was knighted in recognition of his service to the British Empire.

Whiteway, Louise

  • Person
  • 1901-1982

Helen Louise Whiteway (1901-1982), teacher and writer, was born in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1901, the daughter of Solomon and Sarah Whiteway. She died in 1982 at the age of 81.

Educated at the Methodist College in St. John's, Louise Whiteway had the distinction of being the Jubilee Scholar for 1919. She completed Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from Mount Allison University and a PhD at Columbia University. She taught briefly at Memorial University College.

Whiteway was the author of academic publications, including articles on the history of Newfoundland. These were published in a variety of periodicals, including the Atlantic Advocate, Dalhousie Review, and the Newfoundland Quarterly.

White, Mary M.

  • Person
  • 1903-1995

Born at St. Johns on October 6, 1903, she was the only daughter of William White of Trinity and Lavinia Hopkins Taylor of Bay Roberts who were married at Whitbourne on December 28, 1897. Her elder brothers were Raymond Mayers Taylor White (1899-1937) and Walter George Cornwall White (October 27, 1901 - June 21, 1976). She was descended from two of the oldest Trinity families, the Clothiers and Hurdles, and was an eighth generation Newfoundlander. When she was very young the family returned to Trinity from St. Johns and there she spent her early girlhood years except for several months each year which she spent at Bonne Bay. She died at St. Lukes Home, St. Johns, on August 31, 1995 and is buried next to her father and mother at the Anglican Cemetery, Forest Road, St. John`s.

Her elementary education was taken at Trinity, followed by High School at Bishop Spencer College, St. Johns (1919-1924), where she completed her Senior Associate or Senior Matriculation. This was followed during September through December, 1924 by Teacher Training at the Normal School, St. Johns.

Miss White taught at White Rock, Trinity Bay from January through June, 1925; at Kelligrews from September, 1925 to June 1926, Petty Harbour from September 1926 through December 1927; and was appointed to the staff of Bishop Spencer College commencing in January, 1927. She remained at Spencer as a staff member, Vice-Principal and Principal until 1963. Miss White was the Lady Superintendent of Bishop Jones Memorial Hostel, a residence for girls attending Bishop Spencer College and Memorial University College, from 1939 to 1950. She was the incumbent Principal at Spencer from 1957 to 1963. In September, 1964 Miss White was appointed Lecturer in French at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Assistant Professor in September 1968, but was obliged to retire from this position because of ill health in October, 1972.

In 1927, she attended summer school at Lycee Victor Duruy, Paris, and spent the full year of 1930-31 in Paris earning the Certificate of Civilization Francaise and the Certificate of Phonetics at the Sorbonne. In 1950, she spent the summer in Brittany, Paris and England and in 1951 at summer school at the Language School, Middlebury College, Vermont. This was followed by summer school at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York from 1951 to 1955 and full-time attendance at Columbia in 1955/56, thus completing a B.S.C. and M.A. in Education from that institution. The summers of 1959 and 1960 were spent in Paris attending lectures at the Sorbonne attending lectures in Civilization Francaise.

The summers of 1965 through 1970 were also spent in Paris researching the French in Newfoundland in the 18th and 19th centuries, this was an area of high interest for Miss White. A year of sabbatical leave from MUN in 1970/71 was again spent in Paris continuing this research.

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