Page 73 - Joseph D. Samson of Petit-de-Grat
ISSUE : Issue 43
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1986/8/1
Joseph D. Samson of Petit-de-Grat I can tell you the way we were brought up, kind of a job we had, and things like that. I wasn't quite born in this house--I was born the same time the house was built, 78 years agOo I can tell you the way it went. I was brought up as a fisherman. Boy, we didn't have too much then. We had to do something--fishing--in order to live. And plant potatoes and things like that, I didn't go to school too much, I had to stop school in order to help my father try and make a living. It was a hard time then, I was pretty near all kinds of trade all right. I was a boatbuilder for quite a- while. I used to fix up engines in big boats, building houses, or anything at all, farming. 'We used to have 8 cattle here. We had 3 or 4 different fields, you know, and we used to buy hay, (This area is not an easy place to farm,) You can't do it. If you've got to farm, farm for yourself-- it's all you can do. I had a good place way back there, by the lake. It was only an acre of land. It was just enough for your winter grubs. (Your father was a fisherman.) Yeah, Fa? ther, grandfather, and myself. I don't really remember the first time I went out-- I was awful young, 12 years old, I guess. And then at that time, they had a fish trap, catch all kinds of fish. They were fishing in the trap, and we were trying to help them, fishing around, with the small boat, a dory, tried to help them. My bro? ther was a little older than me, so I was fishing with him. I was fishing hook and line outside the trap • While they were fishing in the trap. We fished that way for 3 or 4 years, I guess. And after that I had to take over my father's place in the trap, at 14 years. We were 8 men. I was among them, helping them, (That's heavy work.) We had all big hand? fuls, 400, 1200, 600 pounds, and all big rope and big twine. Twice a day. We used to go in the morning around 6 o'clock, 7 o'clock in the morning, pursing, getting the fish in. One time I had 40, 50 thou? sand pound of fish. Then you had to take it in, dress them. You had to do it among 8--you had to do all your work, forking your fish on the wharf, and then weighing with the bar, those times, not the way they are now. Had to weigh them, dress them, and get them ready for shipping. Didn't salt it though--it was fresh. And then in the afternoon, we used to go back around 3 o'clock or 4 o'clock, and some? times I had just as much or more. Well, you had to do the same thing over again, dress them, clean them, weigh them. Some? times it would be about 11 or 12 o'clock before you would get home again. Before you got through. So we were fishing long hours, and at small pay. At the trap, you were paid in money. But you didn't get too much for your fish. I think when we first started. we were getting $1.50 a hundredweight--a cent and a half a pound. Then it came .up to 2o a pound. It stood there for a little while, and it dropped after that. It dropped low enough that we had to sell it for 50o a hundred--half a cent a pound. Came pretty near when people had to stop fishing altogether. (How could you buy your goods with that kind of money?) I'm going to tell you the way we used to do it. We used to fish all summertime, getting all the odd dollars you could get. And then try to pay what you had bought the winter before, to pass your winter. And then the next winter you were just as bad off--you had to go back on credit for your next spring coming. So that's the only way you could do it. After that was over, it came up a little better. The fish was coming up a little more. For 3c, 4c a pound, things like that. So we were doing a little better. But you couldn't make enough to put money in the bank. Just enough to keep you up, and that's all. I wasn't more than 16, 17, 18 when I took over the trap. I was boss of the trap then, boss over all the crew. But I'll say one thing, when I took over the trap, my moth? er was alive. And my mother used to have a little education--not too, too much, but a little. In order to look after the trap, I had to get a book, Mark every fish that (73)
Cape Breton's Magazine