GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord

Quebec Lower North Shore GenWeb


Le GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord est une composante du GenWeb du Québec et du Canada GenWeb.

The Lower North Shore GenWeb is part of the Quebec GenWeb and the Canada GenWeb Projects.



By Sharon Chubbs-Ransom


There were many different forms of entertainment growing up on the Coast. A few of them have already been covered. Mummering at Christmas time, Weddings, Church and Red Cross “Times” with square dancing to the music of fiddle and accordion, Bonfires on Queen Victoria’s Birthday, all these events were so much fun. There was the ball game “rounders” an old English game that has characteristics of both cricket and baseball and which baseball probably derived from. There was also a ball game called football that was somewhat of a cross between rugby and soccer. The ball though consisted of a dried seal’s stomach that could be blown up and sealed tightly. In the early spring when the days were getting longer, the nights lit by a full moon and the frozen harbour ice became hard and smooth it was then that the men gathered for a game of football.


Harrington Harbour has had the winter “Races” too for nearly 100 years. The “races” was a social time that covered three days in February when people from Kegaska to La Tabatiere descended on Harrington for a day of good fun and competitive sport. The races consisted of racket (snow shoe), dog team, running, three legged, and sack races for both young and old. There were shooting competitions for both men and women in the early days. There was lots of food, music and dancing in the evening and will into the wee hours of the night. It was all a time of good spirited fun and merriment. People like Dave Ransom, and Cecil Rowsell were champion racket racers. Unlike today the racket race then was one of speed and endurance. We would go up over the top of the island and across the bay to Barrachois, and up to the river, other years we might go down to Juniper Neck or Jimmy Monger’s plain which was down past Alymer Sound. Ref. Dave Ransom. Each of these routes would be about 12 miles each way for a total of twenty-four miles return race.


Another very important social time was Mardi Gras at Tete-a-la-Baleine.


There were all the common round games of childhood like “Farmer in the Dell”, “King William was King David’s Son”, “Red Rover” and “London Bridge” Tag and Hide and Seek.  There were evenings of card games and story telling, sing songs and recitations. There was also another game played by both children and adults called gunballs. Gunballs consisted of five lead balls. You needed considerable “hand, eye coordination” to play this game well. It was only called gunballs because you needed five lead gunballs to play! A hooked floor mat was used to play on. Any where from two to six players played at one time. Players sat side ways on the floor using one hand as a prop for stability. Each person took a turn. The game began with cupping the five balls in the palm of the free hand and flipping them onto the back of the hand. The objective was to keep all five on the back of the hand and then flip them again back to the palm. If you could do this and caught them all you progressed on to the next step. If you lost some you had to hold the ones you still retained in your hand and toss one ball into the air picking up each individual lost ball in turn and catching the tossed ball as it descended. Each step consisted of this flipping and catching, “scravelling” and tossing. The steps or maneuvers were as follows.1.) Fives, Tens, Fifteens, Twentys, and Twenty fives.  2.) Ones, twos, threes, fours, pick up 2, 1, 4, 3, until you had all five balls. 3.) Pots, one ball up and four down with one in the pot (cupped hand) all the time while another ball was in the air. 4.) Scratches, 5.) Eatens, 6.) Double Eatens, 7.) Low Buggens 8.) High Buggens, 9.) Pickens, 9.) Flickers, 10.) Eggens, 11.) Crackens 12.) Softens, 13.) Catchalls, 14.) Hand Scravels and 15.) Elbows


There were some people very skilled at this and if they got the first draw they might go all the way through the game with no one else getting a turn! Any number of people could play as long as they could all gather around the mat once that mat was full they had to set up another mat and split the number of people. In the early days before people knew about lead poisoning “eatens” really was putting these lead balls in your mouth one at a time according to the number you had dropped after your flip. There are stories of people accidentally swallowing these balls. There are no known stories of any illness or ill health associated with this only the rest of the  players getting upset that one of the balls was gone! The person swallowing eventually passed the ball and the games continued!


Date entered on the Web: 13 March 2005


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Thank you to the previous coordinators, Sharon Ransom and Marc-André Gosselin, for their excellent work !
We are looking forward to reading your suggestions and comments. / Il nous fera plaisir de lire vos suggestions et commentaires.

Dernière mise à jour: 13/10/2016

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Suzette Leclair, Provincial Coordinator, Quebec GenWeb Project