Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 33 > Page 55 - With Wilfred Poirier, Lobster Buyer

Page 55 - With Wilfred Poirier, Lobster Buyer

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/6/1 (236 reads)

out, clean them out; and they'd make oil and this scrap guano--fertilizer. I fished on George's Bank in the winter. I was only 17. Trawling. In my days, there was only the cable and the anchor and sail--that's all. If you got caught in a storm, it was, "Stay up or go down!" I made trips some? time in 1902 or 1903. One of them was a broker. Coming in there with 75-, 80-, or 100,000, all haddock. "Sorry--it's a bro? ker," captain would tell you. Means "No Sale." But there was a sale for them, don't worry. The captain and the dealer were working together to give us nothing but our board. All you got out of that trip was your bunk and grub. You had no money. There was lots of robbery then. The fisher? men that went out on George's or elsewhere had no education. They had to do something for a living. We never had a chance, you know. There were very few in my day were educated. Very few. But I learned a lot. I think I was fishing for about 4 years. Then I got married, in Boston, She was a Poirier, and she was born a few roads from me in Poirierville. She was working in a curtain factory. She was a stitcher. I made, I'd say, about 15 different kind of work in my life. I even worked in a coal mine right in Glace Bay, seam No. 4. They were on strike that time, and I was practically broke. I didn't want to go and work. But I was down and out, I had to get enough money for a couple of months to go back to the States. I worked in a shoe shop--that was my best job. I made $75, $80 a week then. I was a laster--he just shapes the shoe and passes it to the fin? isher. And I worked optical work, as an in? spector on lens, Then I went back again as a fisherman. And then I got the job as a buyer, a lob? ster buyer. (How did it happen?) Well, eve? ry time I'd make a fishing trip, I'd stop at this place to buy a couple of lobsters. And one trip I made--it was a full trip-- this woman was in there. She said, "French- ie, how did you make out this trip?" I said, "Not too good." I said, "If I could get a job ashore, I think I'd work ashore." She said, "I can't pay you much money. But," she said, "I'll give you $38 a week to start with." She was the head boss. So, I worked there. I was just splitting lob? sters. After awhile, she asked me if I'd take a job, to go down in Nova Scotia. She had me call on her husband who was in the office. He said, "There's a meeting in Gloucester tomorrow. You've got two lan? guages --you' ve got a chance," There were about 10 or 12 looking for the same job, you know, college students, sup? posed to be people knew their business. However, they picked me out. Because I had two languages, you know. And I had been a fisherman most of my life. And I came from a place where the lobsters were plentiful. So, they sent me down. Fishermen had just started fishing in this section here, on the Eastern Shore. And the first year I went down, I had to work with most of the clergymen, tried to organize the fishermen. We had a meeting, and they decided they'd ship through me, on consignment. (Were the fishermen here shipping lobsters before that?) No, they were just selling locally to the lobster canning factory. The first month I was buying, from about the 2nd of May to the last of May, I got 800 crates of"lobsters. I knocked the nail right on the head. They went crazy up there in Bos? ton. They didn't know how I was getting them, that I would get that much. That was a lot of lobster. And I only had this sec- tion--the Eastern Shore and Isle Madame-- that's all. Some of those fishermen down at Grand River were big fishermen. Oh, they used to get a lot of lobster. I was the first agent down here. And I kept buy? ing from eastern Maine, New Brunswick, No? va Scotia, Prince Edward Island--and then Newfoundland. And in 1932, I think it was, I broke the record--when I took over New? foundland. I was about the first buyer there. I cleared all the southern shore, down the.Bay of Islands, up north, down to near St. George's Bay, Cape St. George, Buying on consignment. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Bagnells Gift Boutique Camera Supplies, Handcrafts, and Souvenirs Open Year 'Round - 7 Days a Week In the Heart of Louisbourg We Buy & We Sell and We're as Near as your Telephone Sid's Used Furniture 436 Charlotte St, Sydney . 564-6123 All Rooms Overlook Sydney Harbour Vista Motel King's Road, Sydney, N. S. RESERVATION NUMBER: 539-6550 Zenith Number: 07940, Anywhere in N. S. NEWLY ENLARGED, LICENSED RESTAURANT OPEN ALL YEAR 'ROUND Harbour Restaurant Tel: (902) 224-2042 and Diet Dishes Cheticamp, Cape Breton, N.S. on request Children's Portions Try Our Butterscotch Pie Take Out Ramsay's ' Honda Shop Motorcycles, Parts & Accessories' Cor. Charlotte & Townsend Sts. 539-7644 Sydney 539-1730
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