The History of Long and Brier Islands

THE EVOLUTION OF LOBSTER FISHING LONG & BRIER ISLAND

by | Jan 31, 2022 | Brier Island, Central Grove, Fish Plants, Freeport, Long Island, people, Tiverton | 0 comments

Being A Lobster Fisherman on Long & Brier Islands

Foreword: Before starting this blog, I would like to apologize for not including all the names of the lobster fishermen of Long and Brier Island. All names should be included because this is their story.  There has been so many lobster fishermen over the years, to include them all , there would be no room for their story. For this I apologize.

Lobster fishing is probably the most dangerous occupation that is done on these two Islands. It is done in the winter months when the cold, ice, wind and snow are against you while you are trying  to set your traps and haul. All Islanders go through the same stress and worry every year, everyone hoping that no accidents occur.  

This is a painting I did back in 2003, it is called “I Did my Time”

I did another painting similar to this called “Still Sea Worthy” it hangs in

Tideview Terrace, Digby ( Seniors Home )

There is no real written history of when the lobster fishery first started here on Long and Brier Islands. We do know that they was canning lobster here on our Islands as early as 1886 and before, as one was remarked about in The Digby Weekly Courier dated April 1886 of one already operating in Tiverton. In another issue of the Digby Weekly Courier there has a story asking for someone to rebuild the old lobster canning factory at Westport that had been destroyed in a gale. This paper was dated March 1899. But we do not know when this industry first was started.

Lobster Canning Factory Westport 1900

The Canadian Government of the time had felt it necessary to take control of this fishery. The first Lobster License was issued in Feb. 1892. Anyone fishing lobster traps will need a license. The cost is .01 cent per trap. Each boat and buoy or other apparatus shall be stamped or branded as in the license. A fine of $20.00 for not having a license.

The biggest obstacle in the start of the lobster fishery was how to get the lobster to the consumers before mortality of the lobster. In these early days there was no highways to transport these lobsters, there only means was by water. Lobster can only live a few hours out of water and they have to be kept protected from the cold as any low temperature they die. Their only means of getting them to market was to can them.

Fishermen didn’t receive very much for their lobsters that went in the canneries. By canning the lobster, there was a lot of cost, first they had to be cooked, then meat had to be taken out of the shell, cans had to be made, packed, and soldered, retorted (pressurized) and then shipped to market. A lot of effort to produce and to keep the canned lobster affordable to the customer, so they couldn’t pay much to the fishermen for the lobster.

These lobster fishermen of our Islands would do their lobstering in the winter months, and go handlineing, trawling, or other types of fishing in the summer months. Some tried their hand at farming for their own use.

Now some of you Islanders have heard the story of Island farmers plowing lobster in the ground as cheap fertilizer. Yes this is correct. When the lobster meat was removed from the shells, the shells were discarded at first, and then they found a use for the shells. Farmers started plowing them in their fields as fertilizer. Nothing goes to waste.

Now for the price of lobster paid to the fishermen. I haven’t found any information on what fishermen were paid in the beginning of the lobster fishery. I found in the Digby Weekly Courier in January 1902 canneries were paying $25.00 a box of 140 lbs. In 1903 they went up to $28.00 a box of 140 lbs. Then in 1904 lobsters were .12 cents a lbs. By 1916 lobsters hit a high price of $ .75 cents a lbs. I would say at the beginning they didn’t pay much.

In 1903, Westport had its second Lobster Cannery built, Tiverton had its second cannery by this time and Freeport had its first built in 1918, when Frank E. Davies started operation with a lobster cannery.

In the years before good road conditions or a ferry connection existed between Nova Scotia and the United States, lobsters were taken to market in Gloucester, Maine with the use of wet and dry lobster smacks. A dry lobster smack would be a large boat which carried crates of lobsters in its hold. A wet lobster smack would have a large tank in its hold. The lobsters were put loose into the hold and then water was taken on up to the level of the outside sea water.

This was sometimes done by two separate methods. Half the lobsters would be taken on in the boat and the boat would circle around the harbour taking on water. More lobsters would be added and then the water would be topped up to level. Up to 15,000 pounds of lobsters could go in the hold for one trip. Lobsters are buoyant in water and they would need to be kept floating within the hold. The boat would circle and recircle within the harbour to keep the water circulating with the lobsters lifted off the bottom of the boat.

Daniel B. Kenney Sr. transported some of these lobsters to the United States in the “Mary E. Kenney” in the 1930’s, and later in the “BLK”.

The “Mary E. Kenney” Lobster Carrier Owned by D. B. Kenney Sr. 1935

The ‘Chester Marshall’ and ‘Grace Kirby’ picking up lobsters from a D.B. Kenney lobster car.
1942
Westport
     

  In 1956, the Bluenose, a car ferry that ran from Yarmouth N.S. to Maine, U.S.A. began daily trips. With this method of transportation available to them, the use of the lobster smacks stopped and trucking became the preferred way of taking lobsters to market.

When lobstering started it was done in dory’s, sailing vessels were not used because where lobsters were caught in traps it was near the shore. I had not read about any lobster fishermen, on these Island’s trying to lobster with a boat converted over to use a steam engine for lobstering. Before the gasoline engine the steam engine was used in some boats for trawling or handlining. Westport fishermen could go out in dory’s and catch lobsters along the edge of their harbor, as did Tiverton. Now Freeport couldn’t do this as there was not enough harbor area, and it was impossible to row in a dory around Dartmouth Point. So they went lobstering from landings along the south and north shores of Long Island.

I will next tell what harbours, or landings these Islanders fished from, on Long and Brier Islands. I do not have the dates when each one started, all I can say, is most of them date to the start of the lobstering industry. With probably three or more generations fishing from these landings. They are: Westport, Tiverton, Lowell’s Cove, #2, #12, #14, Choclit Holler, Little Flour Cove, Pirate’s Cove, Bear Cove, Buckman’s, Flour Cove, Tibert’s, Small’s, Brown’s Knoll\Rings Landing, and Beautiful Cove. I do remember when I was growing up on Long Island in the mid 50’s, I would be on the north shore, beach combing, and I would see a couple strings of buoys, running up and down the shore. There was boats from Freeport and Tiverton tending these traps in larger gasoline powered boats. No one in dory’s.

Below is a list of some of these fishermen that fished from these lobster camps (Landings), this is only a partial list as it is almost impossible to find all the names, there has been three or four generation that have lobstered from these camps. I would like to thank David Teed for calling around asking for these fishermen’s names. Most all the fishermen worked in pairs.

(No Photo available)

Little Flour Cove; Roy Guier, Eldred Guier, Malcolm Bates

Choclit Holler; Fred Lent, Will Israel, Lloyd Prime, Phillip Lent

Landing # 14; Cecil Prime, Watson Crocker, Baxter Prime, Walter Crocker, Bill Titus, Mitt Griffiths, Harry Crocker, George Crocker (Georgie Porgie),

 Landing # 12; Percy Prime, Daniel Prime, Howard Prime, Cleve Prime, Charlie Cann, Eugene Cann,

No: 2 Camp; Pictured is Dougie Thurber (Tallest), Hurbert Thomas with gun.

 Landing # 2; Earl Haines, Clearence Bates, It is believed that most all that lobstered here moved their camps down the shore and they are the fishermen that is included for Lowell’s Cove,

 Lowells Cove; Renie Prime, Arther Moore, Hugh Haines, Carol Thurber, Parker Thurber, Raleigh Nichols, Frank Thomas, Pat Thurber, Earnest Haines, Edwin Moore, Theodore Teed, Willard Titus

Beautiful Cove; Walter Patterson, Clyde Stark (my father), Mendall Bates, Raleigh Bates.

Smalls Landing: Stewart Small, Patrick Delaney, Fred Heresy

At Small’s Landing in the 50’s there was three wooden buildings (no photo).

Maybe someone can help with this one with a photo.

Rings Landing\Browns Knoll; Edgar Ring, Wellington Ring, Lloyd Prime, Cecil Prime

Tibert’s Landing; Ralph Tibert, Alton Titus, Elwood Tibert, Earl Tibert Horace Johnson, Robert Johnson. Clearence Tibert

Flour Cove; Louis Delaney, Gordon Delaney, Collie Powell, Burtie Shortliff

Buckmans Landing; Theodore Buckman, Leland Buckman, Bob Buckman, Percy Buckman, Mel Buckman.

No photos :

Bear Cove; Maybe someone can help me with this one.

Just a little humour, Cleve Prime was a comical person and was always joking around. He always had a saying about, # 2 landing. He would say “number 2, lobster cannery, Mohawk trail”. It would be interesting to know what it meant.

These fishermen did the same thing day after day, so they devised some interesting shortcuts to help themselves. This one I found very interesting. They had a formula of counting their oar strokes when rowing off from the shore to know the depth of water. This is crucial to set their lobster traps at certain depths at certain times of the season. They found it took for instance, 100 oar strokes rowing off shore there would be 20 fathoms of water.  100 strokes=20 fathoms water. This may not be the exact formula, but just showing the principle.

In 1934 and 1935 the Federal Government decided to help these “out-lying landings”, with a little help in money to install haul-out engines to haul their small boats out of the water. These articles I collected from the “Tiny Tattler”. Although these are landings on the north shore of Long Island, I believe this is around the time when the landings on the south shore of Long Island received theirs too.

Flour Cove June 1934

Tibert’s Landing Sept. 1934

Brown’s Knoll Aug. 1935

 It may be easier to explain what these “Landings” were all about from a  page that Blair H. MacNeil wrote in one of his books called “Fact and Fancy”.

Landings

From the Book: “Fact and Fancy”

By

Blair H. MacNeil

 Recently I’ve been walking the shores of the Island and examining the various “landings” along the coast. Historically these landing sites were very important in the economy of the village since they served as “harbors” for men who found it inconvenient to use the Cove as a home port. For the most part, the landings were accessible only by narrow trails scarcely wide enough to allow for an ox cart laden with traps and other gear. At the landing itself, which often was not more than a break in the rocks at the base of a cliff, the men would build a ramp from spruce poles cut on the nearby bank; it was down this steep ramp (“ways”) that the lobster boat would be launched. At the end of the day, the boat was pulled up the ramp beyond the high watermark and left until the next fishing day. At times, when the wind was on the shore and the surf was running high, it obviously required a great deal of skill to land the boat and its cargo safely onto the ways.

         Most men like Raleigh Nichols, Parker Thurber and Hugh Haines are among the many who fished from such landings in their younger days. They can tell you a few good stories about their lobstering experiences along the rugged south shore of the Island. They say that today’s fishermen have it easy with her haulers and other modern gear, they can tend 400 traps and think nothing of it. But in their day, it was a matter of man-handling a wooden trap, already ballasted, down the skidway to their 14-foot rowboat, placing it in that in their skiff, then climbed back up the beach to get another dozen or so to make a full load. They’d need then row to the top of their line, bait and set the traps, and row back to the landing to get another load. This task was repeated until the full string of traps have been set. For a man in his partner (some work alone), the first day of the season was mighty hard work, and the walk overland back to their home was a weary journey in the dust of the evening. Some men built a shack at the landing and stayed overnight so as to save the long walk out to the village. Like the landings, most of these shacks have disappeared.

         Today, when I stand beside one of the old landings and picture in my imagination those men struggling down the steep ramps, and manhandling the heavy wooden traps into their boats, I become completely exhausted! Truly, the lobstermen in those days were men of iron.

His brow is wet with honest sweat, and he earns what’er he can.

(Longfellow, 1842)

The following is a interview that Daniel B. Kenney did for the monthly newspaper “Passages”. In it he tells of taking lobster traps up the south shore helping the fishermen to get their traps set on setting day. Daniel Kenney Sr. was also the one to go up along the south shore to buy the lobsters daily.

Looking Back to Setting Traps on Long Island Shore-Told by Daniel B. Kenney Sr.

Thinking back of the early days of buying lobsters on the shore of Long Island brings back many memories for D.B. Kenney Sr. of Westport. He along with Vincent Doucette of Grand Manan spent several years setting traps for the men who fished along the south shore of Long Island, as well as some on the Bay of Fundy side.

 “They set the traps out of small row boats and with any wind they couldn’t get the boats off. The people who had bigger boats, they would go out to Dartmouth and set theirs and the other guys couldn’t get the traps out. In fact we even set them on the North Shore too- I did it for Lloyd Prime and Parker Thurber. The traps that you see on the Divima would belong to more than one person. The fishermen only set around 100 traps, and there would be hundred traps on deck, as well as 50 and the hold.”

Divima with a load of traps going up the south shore of Long Island.

After the traps were set, Daniel and Louis Germain, aboard the BLK would go out daily and pick up the catch from men in the small boats, sized from 14 to 20 feet in length. The fishermen would give them some lobsters to cook for them when they pulled up alongside. The men worked hard, recalls Daniel and he didn’t have much time to stop and eat. Vincent and Louis took the catch from a small boat and weigh them, he would cook the lobster. The fishermen would come on board, grabbed a cup of coffee and eat a lobster. Often it was the only break they would have during the day. One of his favorite stories involved a man from Freeport name Mitt Griffiths. Mitt fished by himself and one Friday he had asked that his paid be brought out to him. The small boats were always tied to the BLK’s spar rigging when they were alongside. Watson Crocker had given Daniel some lobsters to cook, and when Mitt came up, he could smell them. Mitt couldn’t resist the smell, and asked for one. After Louis had passed the lobster and pay packet to Mitt, he noticed that there boat was drifting in toward shore and got Daniel to put the boat in gear. Mitt’s boat was still attached to her, and when the engine started, the pressure sucked Mitt over a barrel in the stern and into St. Mary’s Bay. Daniel remembers he wasn’t long resurfacing- Up he popped, with the lobster in one hand, and his pay in the other! Mitt often teased the BLK crew about trying to drown him, a fact fondly remembered by someone who lived in those days.

A short interview with Raleigh Nichols about lobster fishing at Lowell’s Cove.

Raleigh Nichols recalls setting traps from the South Shore of Long Island.


You’d walk over to Lowell’s Cove from your home in the morning, sometimes before daylight.
And the first day, you had to carry all those traps down the skids,  to set them the first day. Couldn’t haul them that day. What I often think of as jackass work. What dumb people. Put them on your back. And Lowell’s cove goes down straight or 45 degrees, with them on your back.

 And at last when we got tired of doing that, we did rig a sled out of wood, out of a couple of spruce trees, made them kind of smooth and fastened them down so they wouldn’t fall off, either side and we’d slide them down. We did that and that would work fine. It was better than putting them on your back.
How many traps were you allowed in those days? Many as you could afford?
I imagine it was, because we had 90 traps, Parker and I. You did! You wouldn’t put those off in one day, would you? Yes.

Source: Passages

LOBSTERING FROM THE SOUTH SHORE IN THE 1950’S
by Walter Crocker

      For years, much of the lobster fishery on Long Island was done from the St. Mary’s Bay Shore (South Shore) of the island from small landings or camps. There were several of these along this shore from Freeport to Tiverton and some were used for the lobster fishery into the early 60’s. The Bay of Fundy Shore also had several landings but they were used mainly for the summer ground fishery. Some of you will probably remember them on both shores but I’m sure most of you won’t.

         In the early years of our fisheries, boats were propelled with oars, or if the fisherman was lucky, a small low-powered engine. The closer one could be to the productive grounds the better, so the landings were inter-spaced along the shores in small coves, or in some cases, almost anywhere a small skid-way could be installed and protected from the swells that plummeted them throughout the year. The majority of lobstermen had boats that were small and open, affording little protection from the elements, so they usually chose the South Shore because it was protected from the prevailing cold Northwest winds of winter. Then, as now, the lobster season was from the first of December to late spring. Many fished for the first two months of the season only, because as the water cooled, the lobsters stopped moving.


Two of the small landings or camps that I remember vividly, were those on the shores of lots # 12 and 14. These were the closest to where my family lived and they and our neighbours lobstered from them each winter. I cannot think of any other landings along the shore that were more unfavorable to access from the land or to fish out of in small boats. The banks leading up to the cart roads were steep and rocky while the landings themselves were not what one could call coves. They were merely small grassy open areas on the shore with skidways leading down to the water between and over rocks. They were very prone to storm damage and had to be repaired annually in the fall, but served the purpose until larger and more powerful boats from “The Cove” (Freeport) started lobstering along the South Shore. For many years after their use was over, the small shacks and remnants of equipment could be seen from the water but they are now only identifiable if you know where to look. On the land the roads are still there, and some of the old pieces of gear, especially those of the winches for hauling up the boats, can still be found.

In my growing up years, those lobstering from #12 landing were Percy Prime and his sons Daniel, Clifton, and Howard; Cleve Prime who traveled from Freeport and sometimes stayed overnight at the camp; and Charlie and Eugene Cann. From #14 landing there were the crews of my father Watson Crocker and his partner Cecil Prime; Harry and George (Georgie Porgie) Crocker; and Baxter Prime and Bill Titus. There were many who had fished from these places before, but these were the last to do so and they are the people that I remember and worked with. To imagine how these men supported their families from these places is mind numbing if we compare it with what is available today. They would build and rig their traps in their back yards, then haul them one and a half miles to the shore by ox or horse cart over very uneven rocky ground, swamps and a brook. To get the load down the hill to the shore, they would sometimes ease the cart and team down the bank using ropes around trees or they would offload part and make several trips down to the shore. Their bait was salted in barrels, usually after catching the herring themselves in nets, and transported to the shore the same way. Those were heavy loads!
        Every fall the skidways had to be repaired and with materials that did not cost anything. These skidways were approximately 200 feet long as they ran on an angle from above high water mark to low water mark. Sometimes whole sections of stringers and skid poles had to be replaced. This meant looking for and chopping trees as close to the shore as possible to use for the repairs. As kids our job was to drag the poles from where they were cut and trimmed to the water’s edge. This was hard work that I disliked and as the closer trees were used up, we had further to drag them. Luckily we grew larger each year so it all stayed somewhat in proportion. Once the skidway was finished, the traps and boat were then made ready, and the bait was put in place, all in preparation for the opening day in December.
      Daniel Kenney (now Daniel Senior) of Westport was the lobster buyer then, as his son is now. He would sail up the shore in a decked over boat almost daily to buy the catches from each small boat in turn and then transport them to his pound in Westport. Each year, in my memory, he did my father and Cecil the favor of setting their traps from this boat after loading from the wharf in Freeport and hauling them to the South Shore grounds on setting day. This eliminated the process of hauling all the gear to the shore on carts and setting the traps from a small twenty foot boat.          Those who were not so lucky, had to lug their traps from the storage place on the shore, down the skidway to the water’s edge and load them on their boats. At low tide this was quite a distance and loading the boat half in and out of the water was tricky to say the least. If the tide was going out, they had to be careful the boat didn’t get stuck on the skids and if there was any swell…….!
         Most of his adult life my father suffered from back problems as the result of an accident in his teens. During a particular bad period for him, I had to leave school two years in a row (Grade 10) to lobster for two months with his partner Cecil. This, coupled with a change of schools from Freeport to Digby in March, got me so far behind my class that first year of lobstering that I decided to quit school. However, with an understanding teacher the next year, I got my Grade 10 even with the two months off. I don’t regret the loss of a year one bit as this was a time when I had a bigger responsibility to my family than to my schooling. So with that brief time in this fishery I will try to give you a glimpse of a day in lobstering from lot #14 landing in the mid to late 50’s.

The day would start before daybreak by either walking straight to the shore or if the weather was doubtful, meeting in one of the fishermen’s homes to discuss if it would be worthwhile walking all that way in the hopes that we would get off the shore. If the decision was to go, we walked a quarter mile along the main road with lunch bucket in hand and our 25 cent lobster licenses in our pockets to a shortcut that intercepted the road to 14 landing. This was located between where Linden Patterson and Tony Thurber live today. It was then a long walk of approximately one and a half miles following the cart road to the shore. On arrival we gathered our cold and damp oil clothes from the camp where they had hung since their last use and pulled on the pants and for those who had them, the coats. Next we cleared any snow or ice from the boat, topped up the fuel tank and loaded the bait bags for that day’s work.
         Our boat was approximately 20 feet long and powered by a 4 cylinder British Prefect gasoline car engine. No electric starter! Hand crank only. Those who remember these British engines will know that they could be very temperamental, especially when cold and damp. To start ours, we had to remove the four spark plugs, heat them in a small can of burning gasoline, then quickly re-install them and give “her” a crank… or six, or eight, or ten… After starting, we warmed it up for awhile then shut if off until ready to launch. All three crews co-operated in the big push to the top of the skids and then each crew eased their own boat down to the water. With the engine re-started, off we would go.
       Now there is one important step that I omitted in the launching process. That is because we would sometimes forget to perform the little task of installing the wooden drain plug in the bottom of the boat before pushing off into the surf. By the time we would notice that it was not in place, it would have either floated out of reach under the engine or have hidden itself in some remote corner of the boat. I couldn’t leave my position to find it as I had to hold a mitten over the hole with my boot to stop the incoming water and Cecil had to steer the boat out through the rocks and swells. We never ever filled the boat, but came close to stalling the engine a couple of times due to the water being thrown around by the belt. I don’t know why we never carried a spare plug. I guess we just liked a challenge.
           Once launched and under control, we would go to one end of the string or the other, depending on the tide, sometimes towing one of the boats from #12 landing that did not have an engine. For those of you who know the shore, our string ran from “The Caves” to “Pyne’s” (“The Farm”) and we had an outside string between #19 and “The Caves”. Once there, the fun of hauling 150 traps by hand began. We wore large woolen mittens, specially made for lobstering by Annie Bates of Freeport, and these kept our hands warm while helping us grip the ropes. They were usually wet and cold when we put them on but they soon warmed up and were actually quite effective, especially when they got a coat of ice on the outside of them.
Cecil (Captain and Engineer) steered the boat and ran the engine while I (Deckhand) gaffed the buoys and took in the slack rope. We then hauled the trap together in tandem with the rope over a stern roller and when it came up to the stern Cecil would lift it into the boat. He took out the lobsters, re-baited the trap and pushed it over again. I plugged the lobsters (no bands then) and looked after the ropes and buoys. The lobsters were stored in a barrel in the bow and extra precautions had to be taken to keep them from freezing on very cold days. Very rarely would we stop for lunch but would try to “catch a bite” on tide changes when we would have to run to the other end of the string.
      Towards the end of the day, Daniel Kenney would appear from the South as he rounded Dartmouth Point and headed up the shore. He would pick up the lobsters from each boat in turn as they signaled that they were finished and occasionally would have to wait around until all the boats were done. Sometimes when it was very cold, we would go aboard for a few minutes to warm up with a cup of tea. His arrival was usually the highlight of the day as it was always great to see him and his “big” boat and watch our day’s work be credited to our tab. The price at that time was around 40 to 50 cents a pound and the catches averaged between 50 and 75 pounds a haul. Divided by two, minus the expenses and that was the day’s pay…..
       The day of hauling finished , we would go ashore, get the haul up winch started and pull the boat to the top of the skids for the night. The infamous plug was removed to drain the water and left where we would be sure to not see it the next morning. The boat was cleaned up and the worst part of the day began. We had to fill 150 bait bags for the next day’s fishing. Outside in the open! We dipped our bare hands into the bait barrel and filled each bag in the wind , the cold, and the snow or rain. No rubber gloves. No hot water to warm our hands with. Some at our camp did use hot water for their hands on the colder days, but tough old Cecil would not use any nor would he let me use any. “It would ruin our hands for cold work later,” he said. And he was probably right. He was the boss and like all 15 year olds in those days, I listened, but I swear that this job was the prime reason that I did not stay around and fish after finishing high school. With the bait bags filled, we would remove our oil clothes and walk home in the last light of the day, tired but satisfied with a good day’s work.
          When I think back to those days, I do not regret the lost year of school nor of having to endure this rugged work. I look at the time with pride for being able to experience this way of life. I have very fond memories of the men I worked with and of the stories they told of lobsterin’ and the practical jokes they pulled on one another for entertainment.
         In later years while flying for the Royal Canadian Airforce, at every opportunity I would fly over the island, my parent’s home, the cove and then rock my wings as I flew past any fisherman whose boat I recognized. As I departed the area, I would always fly up the South Shore and tell any crew member on the aircraft who might listen, “You see that small shack down there on the shore? Well I used to……..

A Nearsighted lobster?

 Walter Crocker spins a tale of dubious origin and authenticity

 This is a story that I heard my father tell, It is about an old fisherman who lobstered from “Choc’lat Holler” on the south shore in the 30s…. I think. (It was a long time ago and I was quite young when I heard the story). Anyhow, one day as this fisherman was pulling up a trap and peering eagerly over the side to see the catch, his wire rimmed glasses slipped off and sank into the water. He was quite distressed over this as his eyesight was quite poor without the glasses and in those days you couldn’t pick up the phone and order a new pair overnight. It would take weeks for a replacement pair. He told everyone he saw of his plight.

 Another fishermen from the same area who was a practical joker heard the story. then searched until he found a pair of discarded glasses resembling those that were lost. He wired these glasses to the head of a large lobster, pulled a trap of the week-eyed fishermen, placed it in a rope and then reset it. You can imagine the surprise when the trap was pulled and eager fishermen peered down at the spectacled lobster staring back at him from inside the trap.

 True story; must be because my father told it to me.

Editor’s Note: When I read Walter’s Nearsighted Lobster story I remembered from doing research, this story that was in the Digby Courier Feb. 1947. Maybe the one who played this prank might of just been down the shore a ways from ‘Choc’lat Holler”. Playing these pranks on one another sure took their mind’s away from the cold and dangerous hard work. I all ways think of the wives at home having to deal with keeping the home going, looking after the children, and worrying about their husbands doing this dangerous work. It must have been very stressful. No phones then to communicate back and forth.

Boats were getting bigger and more powerful, one by one these fishermen started fishing from the cove in Freeport. Westport boats started going out farther, and Tiverton boats came down both shores further.

  Lobster fishing from these “Landings” came to an end at the close of lobster season 1964. I only remember Harry Crocker and Georgie Crocker (Georgie Porgie) still fishing from landing #14 at this time and this was the last landing camp to operate. Why I remember it so distinctly is because my sister and George were married and my sister had just given birth to their first child. My brother Greg Stark went back to the south shore to tell George he had a son. This was December 2nd 1963. He waded in snow to his hips all the way back to the landing which is about one and a half miles from the high-way.

Now there are good years and then bad years with lobstering. The bad years you ask yourself “why am I doing this?”. I paid my $ .25 to buy my lobster license and gave lobstering a try in the 1966-1967 lobster season. I went lobstering with my father-in-law, he had an old boat and an engine that you couldn’t trust. You never knew when it was going to stop. Half way through the season he decided to quit, too many things breaking down and not enough lobsters.

I thought I would give it a try. I took the engine from my car and put it in the boat (this would stop the engine troubles, we were having). I then had to walk to and from the boat then.

I tried this for a few weeks and I soon realized how much money I was taking home. I was taking home $20.00/week or I could of taken $26.50 unemployment a week and I had to walk to and from work. It wasn’t hard to made the decision, I never tried lobstering again.

A good number of you Islanders will remember all the fishing boats moored in the cove at Freeport, the boats all moored in their harbor and Tiverton with their boats all moored in their harbor. Fishermen used to go off and return to shore in tender boats (row boats). Today all these tender boats (row boats) have all disappeared. The fishermen have better harbours to leave their boats, where they can walk aboard their boats at any times of the tide and go or return from fishing.

 To get in this fishery today you would probably need a $1,000,000 to get started. A lot of the fishermen now have either been in the fisheries a long time and have built their business up over time, or are struggling to build their companies.

The boats go a lot father from port now to catch lobsters. They mostly take three or sometimes five crew. Some fish around the clock, only coming to port to sell out, or for fuel, bait, food, etc. They run their traps on trawls, that have 2, 4, 7, or any number of traps all connected together. If some of the previous lobster fishermen could see how much lobstering has changed over the years.

 Lobster landings have increased over the years, as the amount of predators have decreased. The one predator that has decreased is fish. Our fish stocks started to decrease in the 60’s and lobster landings have increased dramatically since. The price that fishermen get for the lobsters doesn’t seem to be adjusting the same as the cost to catch them.

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