If you’ve done some hiking around the East Coast Trail or taken a walk through the coastal meadows here in the ecological reserve, chances are you’ve noticed some really beautiful traditional Newfoundland fences in the area.
The coastal meadows along the shores of Mobile Bay and Tors Cove have traditionally been used for farming and this area still remains one of the best places to grow crops and raise sheep amidst a spectacular backdrop. Often times you can spot sheep on Fox Island and Ship Island throughout the summer from the shores of Tors Cove Beach.
The traditional fence designs found in Newfoundland were born out of necessity and function.
Nails were comparatively expensive in outport Newfoundland, so many traditional Newfoundland fences are designed to offer maximum stability while using the least amount of resources.
You will find three main rough wood fence designs around the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve and Southern Avalon Peninsula, each with its own strengths and characteristics.
Next time you’re exploring the coast along the southern shore, see if you can spot some of these traditional Newfoundland fence designs:
The Riggle Rod Fence
The Riggle (wriggle, riddle, lear, roddle) fence is the most secure of all the fence designs and is essentially a long picket fence made of long vertical sections that are left to dry and then pushed together to make an ultra-strong barrier.
Not only is this the strongest of all the traditional Newfoundland fences, but it also used the least amount of nails, making it the most economical.
The Picket Fence
The Newfoundland picket fence is the most common of all the fences you’ll see today during your coastal Newfoundland adventures.
The traditional Newfoundland picket fence places pickets close together to form a strong barrier designed to keep animals out of areas.
The horizontal long sections of this traditional Newfoundland Fence are usually made of spruce wood (which is preferred to fir for longevity) and the vertical upright sections are made of younger saplings.
The Wattle Fence
These are an old style of fence traditionally used around coastal gardens and around animal enclosures.
They can short half wall fences, usually when places around crops to keep small animals out, or taller when used for larger enclosures.
The Newfoundland Wattle Fence is created by
- creating a frame and
- then weaving young aspen or alder branches vertically to create a woven effect.
The Wattle Fence dates back to medieval Europe. A great example of a Traditional Newfoundland Wattle Fence is the Waddle on Inn Duck Coop Fence at the Whale House.
The fence is constructed out of Spruce, Aspen, and Alder. No nails or screws are used in the woven sections.
The longer (lunger) fence was used to keep sheep, cattle and other large livestock out of gardens or meadows in order to protect the crops. Constructed using two vertical posts with horizontal longers nailed to them, it did nothing to discourage smaller animals from entering and exiting the area.
While the wood used in a longer fence is unrefined, it is usually rinded to make it last longer without rotting.