First TV on Pictou Island was a big hit

My father built a new boat, “EMMA ROSE”, for Leonard Turple the summer of 1956. That year saw a very mild fall season.Leonard and Vernon came over to Pictou Island from Pictou on October 6 and with help from other Pictou Islanders, hauled the new boat to the shore and sailed her over to Pictou.

The first blizzard of 1957 occurred January 8 followed by exceptionally high tides. The road was blocked with snow and school was cancelled. The men were at the wharf all night keeping an eye on their boats that had been hauled onto the shore for the winter. The high tides had the water up around them.  Island resident Willard MacLean died the next day, January 10, at age 53. Visitations for Willard’s remains were prepared in Arnold MacMillan’s new house. A winter thaw began on January 20 and it rained for five days. Turned colder on the 26th and the pond area below John Angus MacMillan’s place was excellent for skating.

Ernie and Vernie Rankin were the first ones to get a television set on Pictou Island. Other islanders would go to their homes on certain nights to watch whatever might be showing on those black and white screens. I am reading in mother’s diary where Arnold, Loraine, along with my mother and father went to Ernie’s to watch television the night of February 1. The Ed Sullivan show was a big event.  Rita, Rosemary, Vincent and myself went to watch television at Vernie Rankin’s that same night. Ernie lived close to the west end while Vernie lived close to the east end.

Pictou Island resident Bella MacLean suffered a stroke on February 1 and died February 8.  Second snowstorm off the year started the morning of February 16. My father drove his tractor with trailer in tow into the storm the one-mile east to the school and brought us kids home.

Ernie and Janet Rankin’s 10th wedding anniversary March 3. My mother and father, along with Arnold, Loraine, Bill and Lena, went together to their place to a party. It turned very mild during March and my father was at the beach painting his boat on March 15. There was a little scattered ice in the strait and Dad was preparing for his first sail to the mainland. The island mail plane had been dropping the mail because it was to soft to land in the field.

The weather changed and it turned real cold on March 27. The plane was able to land the next day and picked up the outgoing mail. The east end lighthouse keeper Archie MacDonald’s wife Charlotte was terribly sick the month off March. A helicopter was summoned to transport her to the Pictou hospital on April 1.

The third and last snowstorm off the winter occurred on April 10 and the strait was full of ice. Scattered ice once again on April 17. Anderson MacLean rowed a dory over to Pictou Island from Caribou on that day. My father and Harold Bennett sailed their boats through scattered ice from the beach to Pictou the next day. These were the first boats to sail in 1957 with exception to Anderson MacLean in his dory. The mail plane landed on the island April 26th. First time the plane landed since March 28th.

There was still some scattered ice on May 1st but Dad put some lobster traps out anyway. Snowing and blowing a gale May 2. Dad put the last of his traps out May 3rd and hauled the ones that were out. He had 40 pounds. He didn’t go out the next two days but hauled on May 6th and had 202 pounds.

This was the first year for Dave MacKay to teach in the island school. He gave us Pictou Island kids a couple days off so he could put traps out with Vernie Rankin. I guess those days could be called trap days rather then storm days. Our island nurse Margaret Jack MacDonald was admitted to the Pictou hospital May 13th with a knee problem. Upon her release, she and husband Jack Happy hired my older sister Rosemary for the summer to help with chores around the house. Jack Happy was the west end lighthouse keeper at that time.

Mother has written in her diary that Dave MacKay, our schoolteacher, took all us school kids over to Pictou on Ernie Rankin’s ferryboat on May 22 to get our first needle.

Jumping ahead to December 25, 1957: No snow yet and very mild. Kenny MacDonald was having severe stomach pains and nurse Margaret Jack was summoned. Upon her request, Arnold MacMillan took Kenny across to Pictou in his boat early in the morning off Dec. 29. Kenny had emergency surgery for appendicitis that same day.

Those were the GOOD OLE DAYS …


Dave MacKay and family. INSET: Vernie and Isabell Rankin. (Submitted photos)

jimturple@eastlink.ca

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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.