Probably my first experiences in seeing changes taking place within the local fisheries was with rope in the late 1950s or early 60s. Fishermen up to those years used a cotton rope for all purposes.
Around the late 1950s or early 60s, a much lighter plastic rope was introduced. Lobster trap trawls usually require a full coil of rope, which the lobster traps and buoys, are tied to. That cotton rope was not as strong as the more recent plastic ropes and was much heavier. Those cotton ropes had to be dried after lobster fishing each year to prevent it from rotting. The heavy wet coils of rope had to be spread along wooded fences, on rooftops or on woodpiles which allowed the rope to dry in the sun. The rope would then have to be recoiled after two or three days of drying and stored where it would remain dry until the next spring. This was usually a job given to me by my father when I lived on Pictou Island.
I am reading in mothers’ diary July 9th 1964 where my brother-in-law (Scott Falconer) hired and paid me $2 to do his rope. I remember jumping at that opportunity without blinking an eye. Not only was $2 a lot of money, but Scott had a new half-ton truck and he was allowing me to use this truck while doing his rope.
Scott had placed all his wet coiled rope beside his trap house after the fishing season finished a few days earlier. Each coil of this rope would probably weigh about 40 to 50 pounds. Those heavy wet coils had to be put into the back of the truck and hauled to where I would spread it to dry. My father had erected wooden fences around much of our property on Pictou Island. Dad had also built wooden fences along both sides of our long dirt driveway. It was on top of these wooden fences where I would spread the rope. Boy did I think that I was somebody being able to drive Scott’s truck on the island all by myself at 12 years of age!
James Jeremiah Turple (1888-1972) from Dartmouth along with his daughter Sheila, son-in-law Clifford Worden and their three young sons Dale, Jimmy and Barry came over on Ernie Rankin’s ferry boat on July 12th to spent a few days with us. Two of Pictou Island’s East Enders, Ross MacDonald and Charlie Munro, came to our place on that same night to visit with my Uncle James. James was my dad’s fathers’ brother and had taught in the Pictou Island School 1910-1911. I am assuming that Ross and Charlie were probably former students of his and wanted to reminisce about former days. Uncle James was the seventh James Turple and I was named after him.
Cliff Worden had previously built himself a 14-foot plywood speedboat and had taken it over to Pictou Island with him. I believe Cliff powered his speedboat with a 30hp Scott outboard motor. Cliff, Sheila and my brother Vincent spent the next couple of days water skiing and scuba diving the waters around Pictou Island. I was mesmerized by Cliff’s speedboat and I just about freaked out when he allowed me the complete use of his speedboat when they became bored with their water activities. I don’t believe that the outboard motor was ever shut off over the next few days. I remember sailing all around Pictou Island at least three times and continually sailing back and forth from the East End Breakwater and back to the West End Light. I was forever looking for a race whenever I would see a fishing boat pull out of the island wharf. Marked gasoline cost about .06 cents a litre or .28 cents a gallon and my caring father kept me supplied with that necessity.
A sever thunder storm occurred on the morning of July 22. Lightening struck Jack Rankin’s barn and killed three of his sheep. The weather cleared up in the afternoon and I went to Caribou with my father in the DreamBoat after a load of lumber. Vincent and Hughie Turple met us at the factory wharf in Caribou and helped dad and I load the boat. Arnold MacMillan, Punch Patterson, Spike & Melvin MacDonald and Cally MacCallum met and helped us to unload back at the island wharf. That lumber was for the construction of my father’s new trap house that was constructed on the bank above the wharf where it stands today.
Duncan “Peep” MacCallum began to build dad’s trap house on July 28th and finished on August 5th. My father, mother and I put Dad’s 800 traps in that building the next day.
July 25th was a warm sunny summer day and my mother had a birthday party for me on the beach below our house. This was the last year that we would spend on Pictou Island and I was going out with a party. These people attended that party in 1964. Elwood, Robert, Nina & Judy Rankin, Billy, Ann, Debbie, Sandra & Jackie MacMillan, Ralph & Eric Bennett, Alice MacDonald, Ralph and Caroline Hemmings. The Hopper twins, Doris and Doreen from Freeport were in attendance with my sisters Rita and Rosemary. My brother Vincent sailed up to the beach in his boat Slo-Mo-Shun and with him were Bruce MacDonald, Sharon Burke and Dorothy Lewis. These are just more memories of Pictou Island …