This paper describes how, in the past, the Newfoundland funeral procession seems to have been largely gender-based. Depending on the specific area, the procession might have been male only, composed of mixed-gender pairs, or based ideally on married couples. Currently, both sexes participate in funeral processions. A specific set of participants, the pallbearers, has, however, historically usually been male and typically remains so.
Nevertheless, I have collected from my interviewees occasional reports of actual or potential women pallbearers in the present or recent past, and have also found some information about female pallbearers in the past. Ironically, current/recent reports of female pallbearers came from areas where male-only processions used to be always or at times traditional in the past.
Paper read at combined American Folklore Society and Folklore Studies Association of Canada meeting, Quebec City, 2007