Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

cTrevor GauthierWEB

Trevor Gauthier

 

There was over fifty kids in just four families in our street. There was fifteen kids in our family; across the road, seventeen; the next-door neighbour had nine; and there was another family up the street with eleven. There was a lot of lonely nights I guess.

Growing up in a large family was quite an experience. I remember sleeping five to a bed; a double bed with three at one end, two at the other. And a set of bunk beds with seven boys in one room. There was never a dull moment. None of us ever got in trouble with the law, we were raised, I’d say, top notch. I think there was only six months that there was fifteen kids home. After the youngest one was born, the oldest one moved out. After that, we were never ever all together until my father passed away.

Mealtime was a free for all, if you didn’t get your food first time around, you didn’t get anything. There was some pretty big meals cooked; potatoes and fish, that’s what we were brought up on. My father was a fisherman, and they traded fish for potatoes with the local farmers.

Every chance I got, I was out fishing with my father, from the time I was four years old. I loved the outdoors, and the water. He died in 1989, and left my mother the gear. My brother Pat and I fished the gear for my mother fer a coupla years, and she wanted out. I said to Pat, “You’re older than me so if you want to buy it…” It’s easier if one person has control of the show, especially in a family. So I fish with him, and this is our twenty-fifth year fishing together. We always got along, Pat and I.

Pat is one of the kindest fellas in the harbour; he’d give you the shirt off his back. We’re all the same, there’s not a mean bone in any of us. He watches my back, I watch his, mind you we don’t usually get into trouble, so there’s not much watching backs.

There’ve been a few scary days, dirty days out there. Once there was a two or three day sea storm on, and we went out when the wind had died. There wasn’t a breath of wind, but there was a heavy roll coming in. Mountains coming at you, but it wasn’t rough. We had gear in shallow water and had to move it out. Anyway we looked and there’s a great big mountain coming at us, had to be twenty-five feet high. We didn’t get the boat swung around fast enough, the wave hit and spun us right around. Water come right aboard. Scared the crap out of us. We wheeled it around, got outta there and come home. That was enough fer that day. That was the only time I been that scared out fishing.

I love fishing. I’ll do it til I die.

Trevor Gauthier

Prince Edward Island, 2010


cBlythe GauthierWEB

Blythe Gauthier

 

I don’t have any traditions and superstitions; I just work hard. I get up in the morning and go. I’ve been fishing thirty years, I started fishing because I loved the water. I was always around the water ever since the time I was a kid, always around fishing boats.

I grew up in Rustico, with four brothers and two sisters. I know most of the guys in the harbour, 90% of them I grew up with. Thirty years ago we were able to fish cod and mackerel, but in 1993 or 1994 there was the cod moratorium. There are only a couple of fishing industries left, and they are short seasons. It’s hard to go out to fish for nothing. Now lobster season’s finished and we have to tie up the boat and sit all summer. Some guys do deep sea fishing tours, but I don’t like hauling the tourists around.

I’ve always fished lobster, but I’m not a lobster eater. I love fresh fish but I’ve never been a lobster eater.

Barely Legal is my own boat, I’ve had it for seven years. They are trying to cut out smoking altogether, so I made a statement by painting pipes on my boat and calling her “Barely Legal”. I have three people on my boat. We have three hundred traps. You can catch between twenty and thirty-five thousand pounds per season; it depends how hard you work. Before her, I had a few old boats. Now, a new fibreglass boat is a quarter million by the time you get it fitted out with an engine and electronics.

My father’s father fished, and my father worked for the fisheries. After the war my father went to fishing. I used to fish with him, and got my licence through him. My wife’s father fished all his life too. There are only a certain number of licenses, and most are passed through families. If you don’t get one from your family, you have to buy it from someone else.

I love the solitude and quietness. There’s never too much hustle and bustle around the wharf. I will live here forever. What I don’t see, I won’t miss.

 Blythe Gauthier

Prince Edward Island 2010

 


scVance CourtWEB

Vance Court

 

With the mackerel it was much the same, we’d salt them in puncheons, the ones we didn’t sell, and last of October, November we’d take them out and put them in barrels. They’d go to a broker in Halifax, go on a big boat, and then down to West Indies. What I understand, it’s so hot down there and with their cravings for salt, they’ll take the mackerel and that salt pickle, put it on two slices of bread and eat it as a sandwich. Then the pickle itself, the liquid pickle, they’d just drink it. That was back in the 1940s.

Our family has been on this property a long, long, long time, and fished. It was granted to us, by Queen Victoria, for the yearly rent of one peppercorn.

As my wife will tell you, my family started as farmers up in Cavendish and the one son, our grandfather, decided he would like to be a fisherman. Eventually he married and had a son, Beecher, and also a little daughter. Sadly, the mother and little daughter died. So, he raised Beecher on his own and used to take the little chap out fishing, and tie him somewhere on the boat so he wouldn’t go overboard. Roughly four or five years old.

Beecher grew up fishing all his life. He eventually met a lady from down Dunstaffnage, Ella. He used to go down by boat, tie up, go across the fields and court the eventual Mrs Court. They raised seven of us, five boys and two girls.

We fished lobster, mackerel and cod. We took the fish in, cleaned them, got them ready for fish peddlers, and they’d peddle them on the road. We were also cutting ice at that time, and the fishermen and farmers all around came down. They had no fridges, and no other way of keeping their milk or cream cool. We had different sizes, three or four cents a cake. Electricity finally came to this place in the 1950s.

Eventually we had boats taking out passengers. We charged something like $2.50. I’m seventy-five, and I’d be eighteen or nineteen years old at that time. Families were coming to the Island and enjoying what we had, and fishing was a big part. When we came in, we’d have a little stove down there and cook mackerel, get them to taste it, and enjoy it.

As my wife will tell you, our dog Heidi was just a little handful when she came off the plane from Courtney BC. That’s a long flight for a little doggie. She will be ten years old in March. We have a birthday party for her on St Patrick’s Day every year, an Irish party. Even though her friends are told not to bring anything, Heidi gets given these little outfits that are hanging up. In this house in the wintertime it’s quite cold, so she wears the little sweaters around. She likes them.

Vance Court

Prince Edward Island, 2010


cPat GauthierWEB

Pat Gauthier

 

No such thing as a best day on the water, they’re all good. You’re always waiting for the next day to come.

My mother was a Gauthier and my father was a Gauthier. Growing up in a family of fifteen wasn’t bad, I was third oldest. There were eighteen years between the oldest and the youngest. Large families were normal back then, there was one family right next door to ours that had twenty-one. She had twenty-one births, but I think a couple died shortly after.

In a large family you had to eat it while it was hot, or you mightn’t be able to eat, so I wasn’t slow. We’d all be bringing friends home, l’d be in one school, my sisters would be in another, and my brothers in another because of the ages – it was fun meeting so many people. I’m shy though. Some people from one and two person families would think a big family was awful strange, they’d all be amazed at it.

Fishing was always in my family, for three or four generations. Dad started fishing when he was a kid. Pretty well always knew I wanted to fish, I started when I was sixteen. I went west two years, and I didn’t like not fishing. I love the freedom. Out of all of us, just Trevor and Michael fish. I took over my father’s license when he passed away; back then the others didn’t really have any interest in it.

I ain’t a scientist. I don’t know why PEI grows such good lobsters. As for what makes for good fishing, we just follow the lobsters and put bait out. You don’t know where they are, it’s just luck.

I build my own traps. Some people use oak, some people use softwood, some people use juniper, all different. We buy the bows, they’re made already; they gotta be steamed. How long they last depends on the weather. I got one there with the plastic bows that’s fourteen years old. I decided to try it one year. Not tempted to go with all plastic because they’re hard to build with them. The traps stay outside through the winter, under the snow. Some people put them in but I don’t, I leave everything out all the time.

Life has changed since growing up here. We got bathrooms now, instead of outdoor toilets. We had that outdoor toilet until I was sixteen. We had wells in the house, and a pump, but there was no room for a bathroom. Mom hardly knows how to cook a small meal now. Now it’s usually just her, and one of the girls’ll come over.

 Pat Gauthier

Prince Edward Island 2010

 


scMary KaysWEB

Mary Kays

 

It was bad when we were just a minority, we used to be called “blackjew”. There was a few there at school that would taunt us. It was terrible, I used to go home crying. When you’re a child, you didn’t know why they called you “blackjew”. Nowadays, we have more multiculture. You’ve got to respect all, really.

My dad came here from Syria, to make a better life for his family. He then had to earn enough to repay his cousin for his fare, and to bring Mum, his brother, his daughter, and son out. So he was here ten years before Mum. In those days you had to peddle. Dad carried suitcases in each hand, and one on his back. He sold clothing; like boots, shoes, and everything. He was jack-of-all-trades.

In that ten years, Mum and her two children lived with her mum and her brother. It was hard when she left home. Imagine leaving your family behind to come to a new country. It wasn’t a first-class voyage either; with the children, it was hard. She was on that boat for twenty-seven days, didn’t speak a word of English. She’d only be twenty-eight; she was married when she was about fourteen. Then after she arrived, she and my father had to reconnect. It was difficult; after ten years you’d be strangers.

It wasn’t too nice when she came, cold, February, but she adjusted. She had no choice, I guess. They stopped peddling, bought a place, and opened a variety store, work clothes, everything in it. They had a good, successful business and got into real estate. She ended up having five more children. Mum and Dad were quite strict. We worked hard, studied, and went to church. I worked in the store, did yards for neighbours, that’s about it.

My father did his own slaughtering. One morning he said, come on Mary; let’s go do a chicken. I said, “Oh my God,” to myself.  He had this big block of wood, put the chicken’s head on, and chopped. He let it go, and the thing chased me out in the garden with its head off. I was screaming bloody murder. About ten at the time.

Dad got me to do everything with him. We had this lovely lamb, poor little thing. You had to hang them upside down, bang them over the head, then, he slit their throat. I had to watch Dad do it. Then we had to cut him up, and put him down for the winter. Those days we didn’t have deep freezes, so, we did our own thing for the winter, like jams and pickles, and we preserved all our vegetables. I had to help my mother do all that. 

That was the way of life. That’s why I’m not a meat eater too much. I would say 80% not a meat eater. It’s the smell. So, we do up a cinnamon, sort of kills the taste and smell of it.

Mary Kays

Prince Edward Island, 2010


csKekee SaulnierWEB

Kekee Saulnier

 

It was the next day, all the doctors come and congratulating me; I got embarrassed. I said, “Anybody can do that.” They said, “There’s not everybody can do that.”

I had kinda brought a kid back to life, she took a cardiac arrest. The technician was holding her head up, and the kid turned blue. I said, “Gimme a hold of the kid, she’s not breathing!” So, I put her on the x-ray table, and started to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. By that time, the emergency team and radiologist come in. One of the technicians said, “I’ll take over.” Radiologist said, “Leave him alone, he’s doing great.” By then, the kid had survived. When I looked at those big blue eyes come to…

I liked working at the Children’s Hospital in Montreal. We were classified as orderlies, but we were really assistant technicians. I used to go up, get the kids from the wards, and hold them on the x-ray table.

I grew up in Rustico. There was nothing around here in the 1930s, hardly any houses, no cars. We were all delivered by midwife, pretty much. The wharf was shanties on sticks, with poles running out like a stage. They used to haul the boats up with horses, take the engines out, and turn them upside down. We’d be playing hide and seek, trying to get a girl in there.

In those days, we never seen anything all winter long. To see a plow, or something like that, was big time. The only thing we used to see was a man coming with the horse delivering milk, if he could get through. He’d drop your two quarts of milk or whatever at the door. I used to go outside and grab the milk. You got all that cream on the top; it was frozen but it tasted some good, I tell you.

When I was sixteen, I went away up to Goose Bay, Labrador. They were building a big airbase. I was the youngest, and was working in the post office, and the Hudson Bay Company, as a clerk. There was nothing up there, just tents. Would see the Eskimos coming in there, they couldn’t speak the English at all. They’d come, point their finger at what they wanted in the showcase, and start laughing. Chewing twists, and spitting on the floor, and the old women with pipes. They had their own village; near the campsite that I stayed at. It was in 1952, I think.

After that I was in Montreal for twenty-five years, then my dad wasn’t feeling well, an Mom wasn’t feeling all that good; couldn’t take care of the place. I figured maybe I’d go home, and started fishing. Oh it was fun, I like fishing.

I don’t fish any more, but I spend a lot of time at the wharf. We all get along good together, all the fishermen. We have a great time down here in the wintertime, chatting, telling stories and telling lies. 

Kekee Saulnier

Prince Edward Island, 2010

 

 


cMyron TurnerWEB

Myron Turner

 

My favourite part about the Meat Market is the excitement. I thrive on excitement; like fifteen people talking at once, and action, just the action.

My family wasn’t in the wholesale or retail side of the business, they all had slaughterhouses. I grew up around the slaughterhouse, in the yard you may as well say. I just kind of grew into it, I guess, I don’t know much else.

I peddled meat out of the trunk of a car when I was twelve. On Saturdays, my father’d be butchering and I’d buy a quarter from him. One thing led to another, I worked around, in the slaughterhouses around Toronto, then part time jobs around Ontario and Calgary, meat counters for the chains and all that. When I met my wife she was in Toronto; she’s from here though.

We’ve lived in the same house since we got married, about thirty-five years or so. I was raised on a century farm; at least five generations of Turners have lived there. They worked for a landlord and paid rent, year after year. Then there was a rebellion and everybody quit paying. It was the same across Canada; they forced the landlords in England to sell them the land. Those five generations are buried in the local cemetery, that’s where I’m going.

In 1973, we bought the business. It used to be on Queen St. It started out, back years ago, a fella I think he was Hungarian or something, on North River Rd.; then somebody else took it over. They were down even on Grafton St. at one time, then Henry Peters moved it over to Queen St. I bought it from Henry, the city bought the building, and I had to move.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, that was the toughest time we went through. I remember paying 22% interest when interest rates went high. We were raising a family then. Our children have no interest in the business. I worked the devil out of them when they were home, now they they all got good jobs, making good money. They work five days, and they go home. There’s no plans to retire, I would sell the business but I’m not advertising it. My wife’s got a year or two to go before she can get Canada pension. It wouldn’t be a big check, but it would help out.

We work hard at it, we make mistakes too. It’s whatever the consumer wants. There’s different strokes for different folks, that’s what makes the world go ‘round. Perhaps I am a step back in time. With sawdust on the floor you don’t have to scrub. If you get nice fresh sawdust it’ll soak up the odours and is great for slopping up messes to boot. If we didn’t have sawdust there, it’d be greasy from the fat coming off, and you’d be slipping.

If there’s anything else I can tell ya, I’ll be darned to tell ya, if not I guess I’m done.

Myron Turner

Prince Edward Island, 2010

 


cKaren CheverieWEB

Karen Cheverie

 

He asked how big the leaves were, how tall they grew, whether they bloomed or not, so I just explained to him that white potatoes bloom white blooms, and blue potatoes bloom blue blooms.

This fella from Ontario had come in yesterday, and he had asked myself and my son if we could describe for him what a potato plant actually looked like.  It caught me by surprise because he didn’t know, when I thought they grew potatoes in Ontario.

My oldest son, he’s almost nineteen, and he is really, really into farming. I had him when I was sixteen, and was fortunate enough that my family accepted it. So we grew up together, and we’re still growing together. Being on the stall is kind of an experience for my sons; I think that they really enjoy it. They get to meet the different people and they’re getting a feel for what we’re appreciated for.

People come in from North Carolina, down in Florida and California, and they’ll come in, and they’ll say that our produce here is even nicer than some of their own in some of those places. And we get people who come in with their pets, and their dogs eat peas and carrots. It’s funny isn’t it. It’s amazing where people come from, and how nice they are. And they come in here, and they want to tell you stories, like one person, they sold their home, and they bought an RV, they’ve been travelling for years, and that’s what they do. It’s amazing, they’re on a constant journey.

Some of my memories of the farm, from when we were quite small, are feeding the cows and pigs, riding a couple of ponies that we loved, picking turnips and cabbage, being out on the potato digger; and you know, just trying to scatter the potatoes from the rocks as fast as you could so they didn’t get into the big truck, being out so late at night, and always being so dirty and full of the red mud.

We’ve had this stand here for well over ten years now, from June the twenty-fifth every year until Labour Day in September. My father sells to stores, we also work at the Farmer’s Market in Charlottetown which has been an ongoing process in his life since I was thirteen, so that’s twenty years now.

It’s nice being in the garden. I put on an old pair of jeans and just a t-shirt, spray down with bug spray, go bare feet, and stand in the garden for two or three hours just weeding or picking the peas, picking beans, weeding the potatoes. I love vegetables and fruits. I have to say there’s not too many that I would ever turn away.

I’ve been doing this my whole life. My father’s always been a farmer, so now I’ve brought that onto my children. I never thought I would, but I’ve now passed this onto them.