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As you explore Twillingate island, you’ll spot numerous root cellars, once an important part of storing food during the long winter months.
Root cellars reflect the ingenuity of the colonial settlers in a time of struggle who used them for keeping food at a low temperature and steady humidity. They keep food from freezing during the winter and keep food cool during the summer months to prevent spoilage.
Typically, a variety of vegetables are placed in the root cellar in the fall, after harvesting, such as potatoes, turnips, beets and carrots.
Other food supplies placed in the root cellar over the winter months include onions, preserves/jams, salt meat, salt and salt fish.
Twillingate Root Cellars
Twillingate has more than 232 documented root cellars, thanks to a project by Twillingate resident, the late Otto Sansome, who photographed and documented history of these unique structures. This work is now part of Memorial University’s digital archives and on the Twillingate Root Cellar Website.
In 2011 Memorial University folklore student, Crystal Braye, continued this research and worked with Wilma Hartmann at the Anchor Inn Hotel on a project to collect even more information about each root cellar. The Harris Centre published this story.
Root Cellar Architecture
Canadian Geographic talks about the “root cellar revival” as a source of sustainable refrigeration and refers to Elliston in Newfoundland that is officially claimed the title: “Root Cellar Capital of the World”.
If you are interested in learning more about root cellars in Newfoundland, visit this site to see different types of root cellars.
Join the Twillingate Root Cellar Spotters!
Visitors to Twillingate love to explore the area and try to find as many root cellars as they can. Join the adventure and see if you can find all 232!
Root Cellars have become so popular, they have their own “Amazing Root Cellar Race” during the annual Unscripted Twillingate Digital Arts Festival.
Other sources: Folklorist Crystal Braye: Exploring Our Roots: A Heritage Inventory of Newfoundland’s Root Cellars