… traps and rope piled everywhere …

Online First Pictou Island Memories

I received a call some years ago from a Laura Graham who lives in Sunnybrae. She has been reading my stories in the Pictou Advocate and has seen Harold Bennett’s name mentioned a time or two. She had known of a Harold Bennett back many, many years ago and was wondering if perhaps this gentleman was the same…

The following information was taken from the diary of Howard and Jessie McCallum’s 1953 diary.

Lester Hooper and Fred Magee both passed away on May 5 1953. Howard McCallum’s first haul of lobster traps was May 5 and he had 769 pounds. Clarence Nicole and Skit Herring sailed over from Prince Edward Island for Lester’s funeral on May 7. Lauchie Dan MacCallum and Logan MacDonald took the minister back to Pictou the next day and with him were Anderson MacLean, Bush and Jimmie (Happy) MacDonald, Mrs. Heck McCallum and Gerald MacLean.

Blowing hard from southeast on May 24th and all fishing boats had to come ashore. Lauchie Dan’s boat broke its lines at the east end and the boat was found wrecked at Big Island the next day. It was a terrible storm and many lobster traps were lost. Howard has written, “It is a hellish sight with traps and rope piled everywhere along the island’s shore”.

May 25th. Pie Social was being held at the hall tonight. Anderson MacLean, Howard McCallum and Harold Bennett sailed over to White Sands PEI the next day to see the Dare Devils. All fishermen finished taking their lobster traps ashore on July 2nd 1953.

Ford Keenon, Jack Rankin and Eddie Glover sailed over to Murray River with Charlie Munro on July 6th. Vincent Turple, Dougie Patterson and Harold Bennett sailed the Slo-Mo-Shun over to boat races in Wood Islands on July 8th

It was a beautiful fine sunny day on August 22nd. Frank MacDonald and Annabel MacLean became husband and wife on that day in1953. Unfortunately their marriage was short lived as Annabls passed away with cancer on June 3rd 1954. Ernie Rankin had been operating the Pictou Island Ferry service for just a few years with his new boat the Pictou Islander. He transported Logan MacDonald’s new tractor back to the island on the next afternoon.

The pea factory in Pictou was in full operation and many Pictou Islanders sought employment there. Harold Bennett was one of those Pictou Islanders. Bennett (as he was known) had grown up in the Sunny Brae area. I visited with Bennett and Beatrice and he recalled those years when he lived in the little village of Sunny Bray. He recalls Reid’s little store at the bottom of the hill and the William Burke family that were his neighbor’s. J.J Cooley’s had a lumbering operation at Sunnybrae says Bennett. He hired me to work his yard horse for a dollar a day. Bennett says that he became adventures one day around 1947 and sailed across to Pictou Island. There he met Howard and Jessie (Boom) McCallum’s daughter Beatrice and thereafter made several more trips to Pictou Island. Bennett and Beatrice were married in 1949 and the rest is history.

It was now late August 1953. Bennett had returned to the island from working at the pea factory and was now preparing for the fall herring fishing.  He and his wife Beatrice with their two baby boys Harold and Ralph lived in their fishing shanty at the Pictou Island’s east end. A party was being held that Friday night at Archie MacDonald’s place for John and Lexie Harris.

At that time, a number of islander’s and mainlanders were beginning the preparations for construction of the East End Breakwater. The first load of rock came on a barge for the breakwater on September 17th. It was a large crowd that gathered for the party on that night. I can envision the great time that party would have been as I sit and write this story. Past parties on Pictou Island were something not to be forgotten. I don’t know what the occasion may have been but the island ferryboat went to Pictou the next day to pick up furniture for John and Lexie. John Harris taught school on Pictou Island 1949-1953.

Bennett took me back to one day during that winter when he along with Spike MacDonald, Tom Flynn Munro and Heckie Patterson made a crossing in the Pictou Island iceboat. The return trip was a cold wintry day with lots of heavy pan ice in the Northumberland Strait. The four of us decided that a couple bottles of rum might be a good thing to take along to help keep us warm. The only problem being states Bennett was that Tom Flynn wanted to be real warm and had downed most of one bottle when we were only about half way across on the ice. By the time we realized what was happening, Tom didn’t know whether we were going or coming. We couldn’t make him understand that we were going to Pictou Island and not back to Caribou. Tom got in a real argumentative state and wanted to drown us all. What could we do? Spike, Heckie and I decided to keep moving assuming that Tom would follow us from a distance. It was getting pretty late and we were about a mile from the island shore.  We stopped but we couldn’t see a sign of Tom anywhere so we ended up going back. We found Tom right where we had left him only now he was lying sound asleep on the ice. We placed him in the bottom of the iceboat and dragged him and the boat on the ice over to the island.

More great memories of years gone by.

Jimturple4@gmail.com