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Page 43 - Life on Bird Islands

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/8/1 (347 reads)

island. Getting close, he started holler? ing down. They didn't believe they were close. So he hit the island. A very gentle breeze was blowing--only about a 13-ton schooner, wasn't going very fast. Father saw her coming. He was down there when it hit the rocks. When it hit, that kid let go the tiller and he ran forward to the bowsprit and he jumped ashore. Father sent him up the house and got aboard the schoon? er. Knew the men, chased them ashore. Luck? ily, no serious damage. Leaking some for? ward quite a bit. He got her off and put her out to anchor. Kept them on the island all night and sent them on their way the next day. That's the only time a schooner ever made a call to the island. (Then it wasn't really a lifesaving sta? tion?) No, it wasn't. But they always had a lifeboat handy. My older brother was there to help--he'd be about 12. That time you're a man at 12. Of course there'd be fishermen there at times. There were two men drowned, right in the harbour, when my grandfather was lightkeeper on that is? land. Father was a young man, home from the sea, visiting at that time. There was a storm on. They had their big boats an? chored off and a small boat came in to the island. They were out tending the big boat--these two men--and they upset a boat in the surf, right in the harbour. It's a harbour twice as big as this house--not a bad little harbour when you get in it. But the sea was surging back and forth in the harbour. Grandfather was up at the house, and Father was up on the grass somewhere and he heard the commotion and he went down. And he could see one man in the surf. He grabbed a boat. There were some older men there. They wouldn't let him go. There was no boat could live in that surf, they* said. They wouldn't let Father go. And those two men drowned. Right there in the harbour. Grandfather arrived. He was going to run them all off the island. Cursed them up what all kinds of cowards they were. Too late then, of course. Father was a good swimmer. Upset the boat, wouldn't mean a thing. He fought to get clear but they wouldn't let him go. The fishermen always came there jigging squid in the summer. They'd anchor their schooners close to the island and go away in dories, jigging squid. Used the squid for bait, trawl for codfish. Spend their nights aboard the schooners. (Would they come ashore, visit?) Oh, yes. And there were French dory fishermen • Father invited them ashore. And Mother gave them all a drink of buttermilk and a lunch. That was a big schooner, from France they used to come, the salt fishermen. They were fish? ing cod at an island bank and they'd come in jigging squid too. Those men didn't get ashore from the time they left France till they got back again. Those years, they took supplies with them, rarely went in any harbour. Until they started getting engines in boats, fishermen stayed on the island in summer, dried their cod there. This is not lobster fishermen. They had a lobster can? ning factory there at one time--my grand? father ran it for a time--but the most of the fishing was cod fishing. They were from Alder Point, Little Bras d'Or, mainly. They had fishing shacks on the island. There was one time there were as many as 16 fishing shacks. And one fellow had a little store--he sold sugar and tobacco and so forth. They'd go up there usually in May. Then in August the fish would slack off, the water is warm. Then they'd go back there in the fall again. Dry the Fully Licensed for Fine Dining and Lunches, featuring Steaks and Seafood The Townhouse restaurant GEORGE 6c DORCHESTER STREETS Serving Downtown Sydney 24 Hours a Day SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA cape breton historical essays The College of Cape Breton Press announces a new public:ation Ten essays on topics ranging from French colonization in the 18th Century, through the Loyalist and Scottish migrations and the industrialization of the 19th Century, to the labour unrest of the early 20th Century. Maps and illustrations • soft cover. $5.95 AVAILABLE AT MANY RETAIL OUTLETS if you wish to order by mail, send cheque or money order in the amount indicated to: The College off Cape Breton Press P. O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, BIP 6L2 CAPE BRETON HISTORICAL ESSAYS includes: "Scottish immigration to Cape Breton" by D.C.Harvey; "New England's role in the under-development of C.B. during the French regime" by A.H.Clark; "Louisbourg: a foredoomed fortress" by Hitsman & Bond; "The Loyalists of C.B." by R. Morgan; "Economic nationalism and Confederation" by B. Tennyson; "The making of an industrial community: C.B. coal towns 1867-1900" by Del Muise; "Military aid to civil power: C.B. in the 1920s" by D. MacGillivray; "C.B. coal industry and the rise and fall of the British Empire Steel Corporation" by D. Frank; "C.B. 50 years ago" by M.C. MacLean. (43)
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