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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

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