Page 68 - A Visit with Steve Whitty, Ingonish Beach
ISSUE : Issue 36
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1
The boats were just called fishing boats. And you got the salt from the fish buyers-- you know, Robin Jones and Whitman--and there'd be steamers coming here to take the fish away. You see, that fish they'd get from you or me, whoever was fishing-- was Robin Jones's--they owned all that beach. Well, it was three times as big as it is now, because it was washed away. They had flakes all over the beach, and faggots, barracks that came down over their pile of dry fish. They used to make all their fish on the beach. They'd take them and wash them out, and then they'd dry them along the beach and spread them. Spread them generally first on the stones, till the years we got the wire flakes. I'm safe in saying I worked there for three years for Robin Jones--5 cents an hour. And my sister worked there--5 cents an hour. We were carrying in fish and out? spreading them, turning them over and pack? ing them up in little faggots, you know, things like that. You'd never stop, my boy--10 hours. Take your grub with you. Now, I often tell the young race of peo? ple- -and I know they don't believe me-- that I've seen the Whitty boat, the boat my father owned at that time--and he had her hired to Robin Jones--and he went into her, carrying the haddock, from down at Middle Head (from the traps) into Robin Jones's, And there'd be as high as 70 men working there. Not all from Ingonish. The most of them were from Newfoundland. And those poor men came from Newfoundland to work for 30 and 35 dollars a month. But I tell this as I've told lots of young fel? lows: I've seen my father going down to that beach--Nate and him and Pius and the Whitty boat--took her down to the wharf for carrying haddock--so he got 35 dollars a month. He'd bring a load of haddock in, and when he came to the wharf and tied her on, he had to jump on the wharf and grab the splitting knife, start splitting. The young fellows jumped in the boat, pitched the fish up. Well, all right now: he got 35 dollars a month. Pius got 20 dollars a month for what we call heading the fish, taking the head off of the haddock. I'd reach in the tub and pull the guts out and pass them to my father to split them. And I got 15, and the boat got 10. Add that up, that's 80 dollars. But how long did you work for that? Two months, 160 dollars for a whole spring. Well, people ask, how'd you live? I'll tell you how we lived, A hell of a lot bet? ter than people are living today. The first thing my father did with that 160 dollars--he went to George Hines's factory down there--he was packing lobsters--and he got his winter's flour. Probably he bought 12 or 14 barrels. All he had to buy, clear of that, was tea, molasses, sugar, and tobacco, if you used it. A little clothes, but that's all. Everything else was grown. You had your vegetables, every? thing. Lots of meat, piles of meat, piles of potatoes, cabbage, turnips--all kinds of stuff to eat, the very best of stuff. We're not eating that today. We're eating God-darned poor stuff, half of it coming in cans. That's what's causing cancer to? day. Because we're not getting the right riiiifffe'-' ??'IP'' ''' '': :'* i Drying Fish on Flakes. Steve Whitty: "This is down at Robin Jones, in the cove there. And Tommy Robinson • Steve Robinson's father--made all those flakes, or a whole lot of them. And there (on the ground) is what we used to call faggots, fish faggots." Photo by Edith S. Watson, courtesy The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
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