Memories from an old scrapbook …

Online First Pictou Island Memories

I was very fortunate to be able to borrow an old scrap book from Raymond Gregory who is a long time friend from Pictou. To me it was like finding buried treasure that was hidden years ago. I would like to share some very interesting material taken from that treasure.

There were 10 beautiful young ladies vying for the 1977 Pictou Lobster Carnival Queen with Vickie Langille being crowned. Jayne Barkhouse, age 18, from Pictou, Zelda Gillis, age 19, from Pictou, Deirdre Knowles, age 18, from Pictou, Vickie Lee Langille, age 20, from Pictou, Maxine Charlotte MacDonald, age 18, from Pictou, Janet Arlene Redmond, age 18, from West Branch, Catherine Wallis, age 17, from New Glasgow, Susan Alexa Waters, age 18, from Scotsburn, Barbara Wisener, age 18, from Pictou and Kathy Roy, age 19, from Stellarton.

 It was 1976 and new Pictou Lobster Carnival Committee members were being recruited for the many different organizations. My wife Joann and I volunteered to organize and run the Pictou Carnival lobster boat races. It was something new and proved to be very interesting and challenging to both of us. I remember Pete Van Veen being the chairperson of the event that year. Joann and I continued to chair the lobster boat races until 1981 and over that period worked with Ray (Labman) Gregory and Vernie Shea who acted as chairmen of the carnival. We had a great crew of members on the Carnival committee during those six years.

I remember June Babinec and Diane MacIntosh being in charge of the queen pageant. Billie Battist donated his time being  in charge of transportation. I recall Keith Bowen being the parade marshall. Gerard MacIssac was the town’s recreation director and organized the kayak and canoe races from New Glasgow to Pictou.

I will never forget the cheerful Jessie MacMaster being on the committee. She would always greet me by calling out “hello Jim” when our committee would meet. I recall Cathy Sharp being a jubilant committee member. I can recall the parties that we members would have after each successful carnival year. Cathy and I would pretty well always start the dancing off. Cathy went on to participate in the 1979 Lobster Carnival Queen Pageant and placed first lady in waiting but she was always queen to we carnival committee members. 

David Ferguson was another who seemed to always be there at the right time. Dave was in charge of getting visiting ships into he port for the carnival. He always managed to get many vessels into Pier C for that event.  There were three  individuals in particular working with us who were respected and admired by all. We the Pictou Lobster Carnival Committee would probably never have been as successful if it were not for the guidance, patience and understanding of those three people. First of all there was Wilfred Wallis who was always there to lend a helping hand and to make sure things got done. I clearly recall Wilfred being one of the first individuals to establish  a fisherman’s museum in the town of Pictou. He was I believe the first to collect artifacts from our local fisherman and display them in a small room in the old CR station. It was his vision that has produced the magnificent Northumberland Fisheries Museum that we have today.

Veronica Thompson with help from her husband Alex was our carnival treasurer. Veronica always had a smile to share. Her guidance and endless hours of support made the Pictou Lobster Carnival a success over those years.

There is a section of the 1979 committee meeting minutes that bring back memories and I must share with you. My brother Vincent began racing the Dream Boat ‌‌‌in 1976. He went into the races that year with the cabin still installed and crates of bait aboard. The Dream Boat was wet and heavy and placed fourth. The Dream Boat was hauled from the water the following year and became lighter. Her cabin was removed and the 440 magnum that powered her was overhauled. Dream Boat easily placed first in all races over the next three consecutive years. Now Joann and I were going to every merchant in Pictou County looking for donations for the boat races and I must say that we were very successful.  I even tried a different approach and at one committee meeting I stated that there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind who has the fastest lobster boat. I stated at that meeting that my brother Vincent, having won the lobster boat races for the past three consecutive years, would not race this year unless the prize was a $1,000 bill. It was pointed out by other members that the prize value was already in excess of $4,000. I guess that my theory worked for we gathered over $5,500 in prizes for the 1979 lobster boat races. The overall winner in 1979 was Albert Falconer with his 30-foot boat Brenton powered with a 440 Dodge Magnum.