My brother-in-law Scott, son to late Ernest and Hazel Falconer, was raised on Caribou Island. His home was on a farm that was situated along the south portion of Caribou Island. Their long driveway protruded through the woods and connected onto Caribou Island’s only dirt road.
Scott calls to mind when the Caribou Island School was closed for lack of attendance. He and his brother and sisters were then required to attend Waterside School. Transportation was provided to those kids as per road conditions. There were weeks, however, during winter months when the road was unusable because of snowdrifts. Scott’s father Ernie owned a few horses and he delivered the local rural mail with one of those horses. Scott would hitch another one of the animals to a sled during winter months. He, as an 11-year-old lad, would transport his brother Alec, sister Janet, and neighbour Douglas MacLean to the Waterside School.
School for Scott was not a priority and he began a career in fishing when he was 14 years old. Caribou Island resident Rollie Mackenzie required help with lobster fishing and also chores around his farm. He hired Scott with a payment of $100 per month. Scott would fish during most of the day and farm Rollie’s fields until dark. He did this for only one year. The following year provided better opportunities for him. Milton Scanlan offered Scott $200 a month and a bonus of another $200 if they landed over 18,000 pounds of lobster.
Now, as luck would have it, Milton took a job loading deal boats in Pictou two weeks prior to lobster season ending. Deal boats were large vessels that shipped pulpwood to other countries. Milton informed Scott that he would have to finish the remaining lobster season alone. Scott was determined to get that $200 bonus and get it he did. Some believed him to be like a hound dog and he could smell where the lobsters were.
Scott quickly learned the tricks and ways of fishing and decided it was time to buy his own fishing gear. He bought a small 29-foot boat from Prince Edward Island and began to fish the waters behind Caribou Island. This boat was a little bit small so Scott purchased a 37-foot boat from Pictou’s Ansel Robinson in 1957. He began exploring the waters and lobster bottom around Pictou Island with this bigger boat. He was fishing lobster off Pictou Island’s West End on May 6, 1957 when the steering rudder broke on the boat. The broken rudder prevented Scott from maneuvering the boat and left him stranded on the water.
Duncan MacCallum from Pictou Island was fishing near Scott and observed what had happened. He came to Scott’s aid and towed the disabled boat over to Caribou with his boat. Now it just happened that Dancan’s wife Janie had a baby son earlier that morning. She named her new son Bradley. Duncan wouldn’t take payment for towing the boat into Caribou. Instead he asked Scott if he would drive him and his other two sons Albert and Martin into the Pictou hospital so they could visit with his wife and new son.
Scott owned an old 1950 Ford and it wasn’t in the best of condition. There was no such thing as a motor vehicle inspection during those years. A vehicle could be driven if it had four tires that turned. There was no Trans Canada Highway and the shore road through Bay View was the main route. It turned out that there were no brakes and very little floor left on the old Ford. When a puddle of water was hit on the road, most of the water splashed up around your legs. When a stop was to be made, Scott would slowly gear the car down to a slower speed. Then when it was time to stop, he would ram the old girl into reverse. Maybe that’s where the slogan came from, “FORD TOUGH”.
Scott was able to finish the lobster season with this boat but now herring fishing was drawing near. Scott believed that a newer, bigger boat would be better for this task. Vernon Turple from Pictou was considering selling his boat Tonka and Scott jumped at the opportunity. Tonka was a big-bellied boat that would carry at least 50 to 60 barrels of herring. Herring fishing began that year on August 20 and Scott had hired his brother Alec to fish the herring with him. On their first night, they netted 14 barrels of fish off Pictou Island’s backshore. A barrel of herring would probably weight approximately 350-400 pounds and sold for $2.50 per barrel. The herring run appeared even better on the second night, August 21. The fish hit the nets early and most boats at Pictou Island’s West End were loaded.
Aubrey Heighton from Cape John was also fishing herring and had just unloaded his catch of herring at MacGee’s wharf in Pictou that morning. Scott and Alec were sailing into the wharf with their load of fish when Aubrey had just finished unloading. Aubrey had a suction type water pump in his boat. The top would have to be unscrewed from this pump and any water within the boat would be sucked out as the boat sped along. Aubrey had just reached down to open the pump and didn’t see the Tonka lying in the water ahead. Aubrey’s boat went right through the back end of Tonka.
Luckily, Scott and Alec were unhurt but the only thing salvageable was the motor. Scott needed another boat immediately and I’m guessing that his good friend Arnold MacMillan from Pictou Island took pity on him. Arnold sold Scott his boat the Rocket. The Rocket was a 38 footer that my father had built for Arnold in 1953. Arnold purchased a new 40-foot boat called the GEA but he kept the motor from the Rocket for the GEA. The herring run was just beginning and Scott’s new boat Rocket was without a motor. The motor from Tonka was still in the boat which was sitting on the shore in Pictou. Each night missed from fishing meant money and Scott didn’t want to loose out.
On September 4, 1959, my father towed the Rocket without motor around to the backside of Pictou Island with the Slo-Mo-Shun. Here he and Scott set their herring nets at John Dan’s Cove. The herring hit their nets that night and both boats were loaded. My father again towed the now loaded Rocket into Pictou where the boats were unloaded of their herring catch. I suppose that was one way for Scott to save gas money. Vernon Turple took Scott’s boat motor over to Pictou Island two days later and they installed it in the Rocket.
Scott caught more then fish from around the shores of Pictou Island for he and my sister Rita were married on July 10th 1959.