The winter snow and ice in the Northumberland Strait started leaving early in the spring of 1962. Most of the winter snow had gone during March and the strait ice was breaking up.
Cecil Rankin and my brother Vincent made the first strait crossing from Pictou Island to Pictou that year in Cecil’s boat on April 6th. Pictou harbour was also clear of ice and they were able to sail right up to Magee’s wharf. The mail plane flew to Pictou Island that same day but had to drop the mail because it was to soft to land on the field. Harold Bennett and Alvin MacLean sailed their boats to Pictou through some scattered ice on April 10th. Something mechanical happened to Alvin’s boat motor and he got hurt that day while working on it.
There was a lot of ice in the strait on April 16th. My father, mother and I, however, sailed through and around the ice the next day on our way to Pictou. Ethel MacMillan was sick and was in the Pictou hospital during that time. My mother first went to visit with her and we then all went to see her parents, Billy and Annie Jane.
Arnold MacMillan and Punch Patterson also sailed their boats over to Pictou from the island that same afternoon. The next day was fine with light winds. Our three boats left together to return to Pictou Island. There was a lot of scattered ice and it took us nearly three hours of sailing through that ice before reaching Pictou Island.
On Good Friday, April 20th, the Northumberland Strait was again solid white with ice. Easter Sunday saw scattered ice and Scott Falconer and my sister Rita sailed over to Caribou Island in Scott’s boat. Lawrence Johnson, Gordon Langille and Lorne MacMillan were at our place that night watching the Stanley Cup playoff between the Black Hawks and Toronto.
Young Rollie MacDonald fished the first part of the lobster season that year with my brother-in-law, Scott Falconer. Rollie had gone over to Pictou Island on April 23rd with Alec Falconer and Bobbie Ferguson to help Scott get the gear ready for fishing on May 1st. Rollie, Scott, David (Burgie) Davis, Alec and Bobbie were at our place that evening for supper after spending a long day of tying traps on the wharf.
There was still some scattered ice in the strait on April 30th but lobster season started that day. My father put 100 lobster traps out April 30th and secured them with ice poles. Dad went out the next day, May 1st, and hauled 45 of those traps and caught ONE lobster.
Still scattered ice on May 2nd and Dad put 50 more traps out. He hauled the first hundred lobster traps and had 15 pounds. No ice visible on May 3rd and just about all other fishermen put some traps out. My father hauled all his traps that were out on May 5th and had 44 pounds. Double haul of traps on Monday, May 7th “this meaning that the traps were untouched for two days” and dad had 47 pounds.
It was very cold and snowed all day on Wednesday, May 9th. The weather began to warm up the next day and the strait ice has not been visible for several days. Double haul on Monday, May 14th and my father had 361 pounds and my brother Vincent had 47 pounds. Lobster catches remained constant during the remaining days of May.
The month of June saw the daily catches drop to an average of 200 pounds. The price of lobster went up that year to 37 cents per pound for canners and 40 cents per pound for markets. Rollie MacDonald had other commitments and finished fishing with Scott on June 12th. Sandy Young from Three Brooks who was a good friend of Scotts finished the lobster season with him.
The popular annual Pictou Island box social was held at the hall on July 12th and was attended by many as usual. The Hooper twins, Doris and Doreen from Freeport, were again spending the summer with their grandmother, Bell Hooper. Most of their time however was spent at our house. They and my two sisters, Rita and Rosemary, had been best friends for many years.
Scott Falconer and Charlie MacMillan sailed to the mainland on July 16th and took the lumber back for Scott’s new house. Pictou Island ladies held a baby shower for Eleanor MacDonald at Bill “Cole” MacDonald’s house this same night. Eleanor and Ronnie MacDonald’s son was born on August 7th.
Another grand celebration occurred on Thursday July 19th when Pictou Islands Cecil Rankin and Shirley Munro were united in marriage in Pictou. The wedding party returned to Pictou Island that afternoon for a wedding feast followed by a dance at the hall.
The Women Auxiliary drew a large crowd at the island hall on July 31st with its annual ice cream sale. This was an annual event that the ladies put on during those years and was always appreciated by everyone. Ten cents would buy an ice-cream cone that would sometimes be too big to eat.
These are more wonderful memories.