1959: A year of celebrations

Snow turned the ground white on November 30th 1958 and light snow fell during the month of December.

First snowstorm of 1959 occurred January 5th and lasted into the next day. Blowing and drifting snow had John Angus MacMillan going steadily with his snowplow.

My father and mother, along with Duncan Rankin and Alvin and Lois MacLean, went to Archie Macdonald’s home to play cards on the night of January 10th. What better way to spend your time when snowed in on a small isolated island?

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The weather cleared on the 11th and clear skies with cold temperatures prevailed over the next week. January thaw started on the 16th and continued until the end of the month. A deep freeze set in the next day and it remained very cold with temperature ranging between 10 to 12 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Lots of frost in the ground and my father, Arnold MacMillan, Duncan Rankin and Alvin MacLean were in the woods together cutting trap bows.

Another snowstorm occurred February 15th. The strait ice is beginning to move March 5th and the ice broke the submerged telephone cable. We then had no communication with the mainland for the rest of the winter. Another snowstorm occurred March 10th and 11th but it remained mild and the snow quickly melted. The Northumberland Strait was still white with ice on March 25th but the days were sunny and mild.

Carolann Rankin and Elda MacCallum spent the night with my sisters Rita and Rosemary on March 24th. These four young girls made a lunch for my father and walked to the wharf where he was painting his boat. There was a lot of scattered ice on April 6th but  my father launched his boat and he, along with Arnold MacMillan, Dougie Patterson, Charlie MacMillan, Melvin MacDonald, Harold Bennett and Dollie Ward, sailed through and around the ice to Pictou. He and Scott Falconer returned the next day. Robert Rankin suffered an injury on his fathers’ farm that day. My father made a quick trip back to Pictou through and around the ice with Robert. Robert was then admitted to the hospital with a rupture.

No ice to be seen in the strait on April 11th. Buck MacFarlane walked to our place from the East End on that day to celebrate his and my father’s birthday. Trap day was on April 30th however, it was blowing hard and my father didn’t get all his traps out until the next day. I don’t believe that there was a trap limit during that time.

My father fished approximately 800 lobster traps. Dad’s first haul on Saturday, May 2nd had 435 pounds. He hauled again Monday May 4th and had 750 pounds. Price that year was canners 33 cents pound, markets 35 cents pound.

Arthur Ferguson Sr. passed away on May 15th. Art was an island resident but had moved some years earlier to Pictou.

Telephone repairmen were trying to restore the telephone system to the island May 20th. The system was repaired but island residents had to go to Duncan MacCallum’s place in order to make a call. Duncan and Janie were Pictou Island’s telephone operators. Ford Kennan drove my mother to the MacCallums on May 23rd so she could call her parents in Pictou.

My sister Rita and Scott Falconer were united in marriage in Pictou on July 10th. A grand celebration was conducted on Pictou Island that evening. Every household on the island provided something in the line off food for that celebration. My mother and father spent the next few days returning cookware to Pictou Islanders. Viney MacLean had a wedding shower for Rita a few days prior on July 8th and the names of those who attended are too many to mention.

Another grand celebration occurred July 17th on the island after Anderson and Joyce MacLean were united in marriage. Rita and Scott left for PEI on their delayed honeymoon on July 22nd and my other sister, Rosemary, left with the Hooper twins, Doris and Doreen, for Freeport that same day. There was a party at Hughie MacFarlane’s on August 27th for Wilma, Audrie and husband Ted. I believe that Wilma and Audrie had previously moved away but had returned to the little island for a visit. Lauckie Dan took a bunch of people over from the mainland in his boat for the party.

1959 was a year for celebrations on Pictou Island. Ronnie MacDonald and Eleanor Smith were united in marriage on September 12th. A great celebration was held for them on Pictou Island at the home of Ronnie’s parents, Jack and Margaret on September 15th.

Dave MacKay’s wife, Ann, was expecting a baby and was experiencing complications on September 27th. During the early morning hours, my father took her across to Pictou in his boat. Ann had a son exactly one month later on October 27th.

First snow to turn the ground white occurred on October 19th. It remained cold over the next few days with some snow flurries but turned milder on October 23rd. There was a snowstorm November 20th & 21st but next day it turned to rain and this weather continued into December.

It is quite apparent that there was never a lack for something to do on Pictou Island during those years.

 

 

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.