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Co-operative education student studies iconic marine engines

Joelle Carey in a wooden boat powered by a 4-horsepower Atlantic make and break engine owned by Bob Hardy.

By Mandy Cook with files from Joelle Carey

Around the turn of the 20th century, the metrical "putt, putt" sound of make and break motors on the province's waters signaled fishermens' revolutionary transition from rowing by oar to the use of gasoline engines to travel to traditional fishing grounds.

And while the steady sound of the make and break was eventually drowned out by the arrival of the next seafaring technological advance – the diesel engine – the engine's "tik-a-tock, tik-a-tock" has since become an iconic, but elusive, symbol of a past era.

This summer, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) wanted to do its part to help return make and break engines to the historical spotlight. Dale Jarvis, Memorial alumnus and HFNL's intangible cultural heritage development officer, recently partnered with Memorial's folklore co-operative education program to hire a graduate student to find, document and showcase the inboard marine engines.

Joelle Carey, a master's student in public and applied folklore at Memorial, has already ventured into the field. She's been visiting with individuals who own or still run their vessels with chuck-chuck motors – yet another colloquial name for the make and break motor.

"I am very excited to be working on a project of this calibre for the first work term component of my co-operative education," said Mrs. Carey in a recent news release. "To have an opportunity to experience how what I am studying is actually applied is a privilege and I am looking forward to contributing to the intangible cultural heritage collection."

Rebecca Newhook, co-operative education co-ordinator for the Faculties of Arts and Science, works with employers to help students secure work terms to complement their academic programs.

"Joelle's work term with the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland is providing her with an amazing opportunity to connect with employers in her field of study, to apply her skills in her future profession and to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the preservation of the heritage of this province," said Ms. Newhook in the release. "I have no doubt that Joelle's experience this summer will have a positive influence on the progress of her academic, as well as her professional, development."

Mrs. Carey is also responsible for conducting oral history interviews with make and break engine owners, past and present. She is also partially responsible for the planning and co-ordination of the 2012 Provincial Folklife Festival.

The festival will take place in the community of Bonavista on Saturday, Aug. 4. Events will include a make and break flotilla and a parts swap where enthusiasts can get together to swap parts, experience or stories. Mrs. Carey is hoping people will participate not only in the oral history project but to also come to Bonavista with their boats, engines or stories.

"The more people we can get, the better the future looks for make and break engines in the province," she said.

If you are interested in getting involved by sharing your stories or if you have an engine that you would like to be part of the events, please email or call toll free 1-888-739-1892 ext. 5.