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Newfoundlanders: Home and Away

{Dr. Leslie Bella}
Dr. Leslie Bella

By Dr. Leslie Bella
Dr. Leslie Bella's book Newfoundlanders: Home and Away is the result of a labour of love, as well as a scholarly interest in how people build family. The book was woven out of a multitude of interviews, surveys and collections of data, ranging from the old to the new, pertaining to Newfoundlanders leaving the province for various reasons: school, work or perhaps to accompany a loved one.

Respondents to the surveys created by Dr. Bella are readers of Newfoundland's Downhomer magazine, or are alumni of Memorial University currently living in Canada but out of the province.

Dr. Bella, of Memorial's School of Social Work, situates the book in a wealth of details about migration, discussing important historical trends and patterns. Coming from "away" herself, the England-born Dr. Bella assures her readers of her best intentions in wishing to collate information about Newfoundlanders' experiences of and opinions on living away from the province she now considers her own home.

One section of her book describes how "Newfoundlanders 'away' in Canada are a distinct ethnic group." Most people are aware of the major cities that have an impressive Newfoundland contingent, like Cambridge and Ottawa in Canada, and cities such as Boston in the United States. Dr. Bella provides the details on the many organizations and clubs created by Newfoundlanders living away; organizations that do everything from holding traditional "times" to fundraising for sick children in Newfoundland. She also describes the negative stereotypes many Newfoundlanders have had to face as they study, work and live away. While enhancing her findings with supporting documentation on many seminal studies of migration, and of pertinent Newfoundland cultural studies, many readers' primary interest would be the personal anecdotes related to Dr. Bella and her research assistants as they gathered accounts of first-hand experiences.

Tales tell of trips back home, of faded accents that come roaring back when amongst fellow Newfoundlanders, and of the loneliness of many who don't believe they have left the island for good. Others have communicated to Dr. Bella that they tried to return and work in the province, but were forced to leave yet again when the work was not there. In Dr. Bella's own words, the book chronicles how "Newfoundlanders nurture connections with Newfoundland," wherever they may live. The many stories are replete with "passion, sadness, enthusiasm and humour."

Dr. Bella also includes in her book a review of the methodology used to obtain the information, and suggests reasons why, for example, more men anticipated eventually returning home than did women. Readers of Newfoundlanders: Home and Away will not only discover why, but will be startled to read cliché-debunking accounts that reveal that perhaps Newfoundlanders are not as friendly as they consider themselves to be. Surprises included, Dr. Bella's book is a rich source of primary material from Newfoundlanders living away "and for whom their home province and its culture remains important."

[Image of Book Cover]

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}