The Western Star
SHALLOP COVE, N.L. – For Danny White, spruce root basket weaving is spiritual, and something he wants to instill in those who take his course this summer.
The master basket maker learned the art from his dad Anthony White of Shallop Cove, who was renowned for making baskets for many different purposes. White said his dad first picked it up from watching his mother. Then in retirement, after a career as a carpenter, he picked it up again. In 1986, Anthony was invited to the Vancouver Expo to make baskets.
Anthony was also a very well-known and skilled boat builder, who died in 1990 at the age of 74.
White said he was “the baby” of the family of 16 children and it wasn’t until he got married at 21 years of age that he took up basket weaving with his dad and followed in his footsteps as a master basket maker.
White claims to be the only traditional knowledge carrier of basket making and says when he’s doing a basket “dad is there with me guiding my hands.”
White said his dad's most cherished basket is an unfinished one he was making for the Fisherman’s Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, N.S., which was in progress when he died. It was a herring basket that had the bottom complete and was done part-way up on the sides. While he has the specs for the basket, he said he won’t be completing it, as it was his father’s work and should remain that way.
White said he brought basket making back to the Mi’kmaq people of Conne River back in the early 1990s and took pride in teaching courses there at the time.
This Sunday at the Bay St. George Powwow in Flat Bay, he will be doing a basket making exhibition. Before he heads back to his Peterborough, Ont., home in August, he will instruct two classes with five to six students in each. White said students will have to be serious about learning basket making and will have to carry on the tradition. He said he will be teaching them to do it in a spiritual way, respecting Mother Earth and leaving the site in the same pristine condition it was when they went there.
“They have to learn respect for the bush and that what we take from the Creator, what’s left will thrive and grow,” White said.
He creates baskets for the love of doing it and not to sell, noting 40 to 60 hours is put into a six-inch basket and the bulk of the work is in the preparation, gathering the roots.
“It’s all spiritual, it’s like weaving your family together,” White said.
Types of spruce root baskets:
• Vegetable harvesting.
• Berry picking.
• Wool collection.
• Creel for trout.
• Lunch container.
• Jewellery box.
• Waste paper.
• Half basket for wall hangings.
Source: Master Basket Maker Danny White