Reels, Rock and Rosaries: Confessions of a Newfoundland Musician


160 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-895900-73-5
DDC 384.54'092





Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R. Gordon Moyles is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Alberta. He is co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities:
British Views of Canada, 1880–1914, author of The Salvation Army and
the Public, and editor of “Improved by Cult


The cover is a faded green, and the pages yellowed with time, but it is
one of my prized possessions: an original copy of Gerald S. Doyle’s
The Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland. There, packed between the
advertisements for Dodd’s Kidney Pills, Sloan’s Liniment, and Dr.
Chase’s Nerve Food, are the poems (“The Outharbour Planter”) and
the songs (“The Banks of Newfoundland”) that Doyle so lovingly
collected in the 1920s and that helped shape Newfoundland’s identity.
“It is a well known fact,” Doyle wrote in his brief introduction,
“that there is often more interesting history in the Songs of a
country than in its formal political and State documents.” It is that
theme—her father’s musical tradition, the songs and music of
Newfoundland, their transmutations and migrations, their insistence into
the Newfoundland soul, and how they impinge on all other musical
tastes—that is the essence of Marjorie Doyle’s wonderfully rich and
witty memoir.

Marjorie, a music columnist and former host of the CBC radio program
“That Time of the Night,” is more than an elegant stylist, a gifted
music connoisseur, and a superb ranconteur (who has had more than the
normal share of unusual experiences). Her “Confessions” take us
around the world, and into various musical confines, but always bring us
back to Newfoundland, to the music that shaped her sensibilities and
still ties her to the land and its people. This book is passionate and
proud, a celebration of life and home, and an absolute delight to read.


Doyle, Marjorie., “Reels, Rock and Rosaries: Confessions of a Newfoundland Musician,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,