More of the good old days on Pictou Island …

The fall season was very mild and there was no snow on the ground for Christmas Day 1957. Enough snow fell on January 3, 1958 to make the ground white but it melted over the next few days.

Bert MacLean sailed from Pictou over to Pictou Island in his boat on January 3 and Scott Falconer came with him. Scott had come over to the island on that day to help my father bend lobster trap bows in the boathouse. Scott became my brother-in-law the following year and I can’t help but wonder if perhaps bending trap bows was just an excuse to make the trip to the island.

Bert MacLean made another boat trip over to Pictou Island on January 22 and Scott went back to the mainland with him. I’m wondering how many trap bows were bent over those 19 days. There was no snow yet and the weather continued to be mild.

The plane made its first trip in over a week on February 1. Bush, Flossie, Ernie, Melvin, Cassie and Dave MacKay went over to the mainland in the plane. Again on February 11,  enough snow fell to make the ground white. There was still no ice in the strait between Pictou Island and the mainland.

The first snowstorm of 1958 occurred on February 13 and lasted into the next day. Strong northwest winds blew and the strait ice came down on that day. Longtime Pictou Island resident Big Duncan took a stroke on February 23 and passed away March 7. The weather had again become mild and the snow had quickly melted. Big Duncan wasn’t buried until March 14. My mother and father went up to the funeral on the tractor since the road was so muddy.

The second snowstorm of the year occurred March 16. The plane made its first trip since 11 days on March 17 and was able to land on the snow with skies. Archie, Punch, Roy, Jessie Boom, Kenny MacDonald and Ann MacKay with son Billie came back home from the mainland. Beatrice Bennett went over to Pictou in the mail plane that same day. My mother, Verna Rankin, Loraine MacMillan and Lena MacDonald together with many other island ladies went to a quilting party at Margaret Jack MacDonald’s on that night.

There was no ice between Pictou and Pictou Island on March 27 but Pictou Harbour was still full. My father had already painted his boat and was ready to sail. He and Arnold MacMillan made their first trip that year from Pictou Island to Pictou in Dad’s boat, Slo-Mo-Shun, on March 31, no ice visible anywhere. I can visualize those two sailing together on that day for where one was, the other was never too far away.

My dear mother started to shear our 21 sheep on April 26 and finished two days later. As I stated in a previous story, my mother didn’t have electric or hand clippers but used only a pair of scissors for shearing those sheep. Boy, wouldn’t that be fun!

Trap day in 1958 was on April 30. It was raining and blowing hard but my father and brother Vincent, who fished with Dad, put out 250 traps. Their remaining traps were put out May 1. Dad and Vincent’s first haul was on May 2 and had 504 pounds. Price for canners was 31 cents per pound, markets sold for 33 cents per pound. Pictou Island resident Eddie Glover passed away at his home on May 12.

The wind was blowing hard on May 19 and when rowing ashore from where the Slo-Mo-Shun was anchored at the beach, my father’s dory tipped over and Dad had to swim ashore. Dad was wearing hip waders and the first thing he had to do was kick them off for fear of being dragged to the bottom. Boy that would be one heck of a cold swim.

Art Acorn and a Mr. Compton from PEI had their boat smashed on the rocks at the north side of Pictou Island on the night off July 26. They walked the mile through the woods behind our home and spent the night at our place. My father took these men to Caribou in his boat the next day so they could catch the car ferry back to PEI.

Island residents Spike and Thelma were married in Pictou on July 31. They came home to Pictou Island after their wedding on Ernie Rankin’s ferryboat. Many islanders were at the wharf to greet the newly married couple. A wedding dance was held at the island hall with The Munro’s and Rankins providing the music. A wedding feast was also served at Duncan and Janie MacCallum’s house.

Another celebration dance was held August 5 at the island hall for Rankin Keenan and his new bride Jean. Rankin is the son of Ford and Dolina Keenan and Rankin now makes his home on PEI. The Kennans at that time lived in a big house down by the area known as the beach. Ford and Dolina also had two daughters, Marilyn and Gail. Marilyn also makes PEI her home and Gail, who was the younges,t was killed in a car accident many years ago.

The summer of 1958 was hot and dry. Pictou Islanders were always freely giving their time to assist each other. Teddy and Margaret Hooper assisted my father and mother to make hay on August 11.  Their daughters Agnes and Jennie, along with my sisters Rita and Rosemary, brother Vincent and myself went to the beach swimming. I am speculating that we had a better time swimming then our parents had making hay on that hot day.

Moving ahead to November 30 saw the ground being covered with snow. Snow storm and blowing hard from the north on December 12. The strait ice came down on December 14, 1958. Another snowstorm occurred on December 16. It snowed again December 18 and 20. There was a Christmas dance at the hall on the night off December 25. Dougie Patterson invited us to his place for a meal of chicken and duck after the dance.

Those were more of the good ole days while living on Pictou Island…

 

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Jim Turple
Jim Turple is a retired councillor for the Municipality of Pictou County who has ties to Pictou Island. His column, Pictou Island Memories, appeared in The Advocate for many years and is now living on through social media via our website.