Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 14 - Lobster Factories around Cape Breton

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/8/1 (443 reads)

John Colin MacDonald, Little. Judique Ponds: Not all the co-ops failed. The one we started here, Maryville Cooperative Can? nery, continued until a storm wiped us out • and in a sense it's still going now up in New Brunswick. I'll tell you what they got the year we started building the co-op factory • we got 3 cents and a half for lobsters. That's a pound. There were factories here ajnd there and all along the shore. The fishermen were selling to those factories and just take what they get. And that year, 1933 • they were getting 3 cents and a half. But the U.M.F. started in 1929- Well, there were some of us joined it. Father Coady was going around preaching in the halls and having meetings with the fishermen. He told us we had to do something. We weren't getting anything for our fish. We should get organized and try to ship our own lob? sters to Boston, That was the first part of it. And some people thought what Coady was saying was a good idea; some people, you know how people are, to get things in? to their head. It's hard to get everything into everybody's head at the same time. Some thought it was a great idea. Well, we were one of the pioneers, building a fac? tory up here in 1933?? the co-op factory. There was one over Havre Boucher • it might have been built a little before here. Per? haps a year or so. Ours was at a place called Pig Cove • the Maryville Cooperative Cannery • and we built the factory all free labour, added a little to it all the time. There were oth? er canneries around at that time. There were two on Port Hood Island. One up at MacKay's Point, some in Mabou • none were co-ops, just individual companies. We built our own building. Anyone willing to join was welcome to join the co-op • that's a fisherman. The people that worked in the factory were hired by the fisherman. Their job was to can for the fishennan. Just like the other companies had them to do. And the fishermen would ship the canned lobsters wherever they thought they would get the best price. (How did this work out, as far as money?) Well, it was pretty slim all right. The first years they made 8 cents off of the canners. But we kept on, shipping our own markets, canning our own canners. (But were you making more than you were when selling to the private buyer?) That's for sure. Until the buyers caught on. We went as high as l8 and 3A cents • that'd be a little before the war. Then they went down again. The buyers couldn't keep up to the co-op price • so they got together, pooled, and made one factory, and then they were able to pay 20 cents where we were only getting 18 or 15 for quite awhile • and we still himg on. It didn't discourage the fishermen. Some of them left but they didn't all leave • and the Maryville Co-op held on to the last. In 1944 • we lost all the factory in a storm. Lost the whole work. Cleaned us off. Big high tide. And there was a co-op fac- Maryville Co-opera? tive Cannery at Pig Cove, 1947. R to L; Malcolm Finley R. MacDonald. Flora Ann Rankin, Mary Maclsaac, Marguerite MacDonald, Annie May John A. MacDonald, Josie MacMillan, John Fraser Tracey, Mary MacDonald, Alex Dan MacNeil. Francis MacKay, Jim Kerr Mac? lnnis . Man in front is Ranny Maclsaac.
Cape Breton's Magazine
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