Sport Activities


                 Shellback Dinghy – Similar to Johnny Tom Burton’s

       It is difficult today to appreciate what we kids in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s didn’t have in the way of sport and recreational equipment. Sports equipment was practically non-existent and recreational facilities as you know them today did not exist especially in Alder Point and surrounding area. We all had our own means of recreation and sports and were none the wiser as to what we were lacking. Our recreational facility was the whole outdoors. In discussions and racking my brain to recall what we did with our spare time I have identified a number of sports we played and recreational activities that kept us occupied in those days of yore. Our parents were too busy trying to make a living and keeping all of us warm and fed so there was a minimum to no adult recreational guidance. Not like it is today where children will stop playing when the coach or recreational director goes to the bathroom. We were somewhat like the words in the song written by Paul Anka  and sung by Frank Sinatra, we did it our way.”


Fishing and Softball – We Fraser children in summer fished off the wharf,  swam in The Gut or back at the Back Shore and played ball in Phon Plant’s pasture next to Grampa Fraser’s. Later when more skilled we played ball up by the Alder Point School near Henney Young’s before they built the new school.  Once at this ball field we were having a game of scrub and Father MacInnis dropped by and was playing with us. Loretta Jessome hit a grounder and was heading for second and Bernie Walker forgetting that the good Father was on the opposing team was hollering to Loretta to; “ run, for geeses sake get the rag out,  run.” Most everyone except for Father MacInnis and Bernie Walker were collapsing with laughter. By the way I always had a crush on Loretta but was too shy to make the move – she was a beauty. Everyone, girls and boys played Cowboys and Indians and would crawl through the alders and long grass for hours until everyone (except one) was shot. I loved softball and worked hard as a youngster to raise money to purchase equipment. Me and my brother Simon (depending upon who is addressing him he is known as Simon, Doc, Dee Dee or Junior) sold tickets around Alder Point, Mill Creek, Little Pond and Point Aconi to raise money. We even organized a first ever in Alder Point a boxing show at the school, sold tickets and carried it off without a hitch. Fortunately Juck Dugas had an interest in boxing was home from World War Two and provided the adult guidance that was needed to make it a success. 


                                    oops- sorry

          Football – Another time a crowd of us fellows were at the same field and Father MacInnis arrived with a regular football (CFL type) and explained briefly to us how the upper Canadian game was played. He emphasized how you could tackle the ball carrier by grabbing him or tackling him and even to reaching out and making a shoe lace tackle which some of us interpreted as being able to trip the ball carrier. Father, showing us an example of how it was done, had the ball and in his best suit of priestly garb and street shoes flew up the field heading for us would be tacklers. As he passed through us, I stuck out my foot and tripped him. He tumbled head over heals onto the muddy infield, picked himself and his ball up and without a word got into his car and drove off. I never saw a CFL type football again until I went out for the navy football team at HMCS Coverdale in Moncton, NB many years later. The good Father was not at all pleased with us ruffians that day. Ah but he was a good fella.


          Bob Sledding – In winter there was a whole new world of special events and fun. Building snow houses, skating, playing hockey, and coasting. Many of us were pretty good at putting together a good solid pair of “ bobs” (bob sled) which could fly down Phon Plant’s hill and on occasion we would venture down to Arthur Plant’s hill and coast down that and end up going (barring no oncoming traffic) along to Poppa Burton’s brook at a very good clip. Once the roads were well packed and had icy surface you would really rattle down Arthur Plant’s hill and you had to be on the alert for an escape route either to the left or right ditch in case you met a vehicle coming up the hill towards you. There was a long lazy turn at Leander’s road entrance which prevented you from seeing what may be approaching from down the road. We often went down to Pascal’s pit road and waited for a truck to come out and hook a ride up to MacLellan’s where we would let go. This was very dangerous because you hung onto the back of the truck with one hand usually on the dangling chain and the other on the steering wheel of your bobs and often the ice and snow would be coming up off the duals and striking you in the face. But hell you were 10, 11 or 12 and what did you care. If I recall correctly Maxie MacLellan made the very best of bobs. His lead sled was home made and was raised so that if he had a crash the bobs would go up over top of you. Skating parties were great fun and with a large bon fire and a bright moon light night was a wonderful experience for youngsters. Later when older it also provided some small amount of opportunities to get familiar with sexual activities – nothing heavy but some glimpses of what lay ahead in this mysteries area. It never amounted to much more that a little groping through a maze of garter belts and heavy bloomers but an experience not to be missed nonetheless. To a twelve or thirteen year old this was some heavy sexual experience and was much discussed the following day after having achieved some right to brag a little. Many of the other boys who were not so lucky listened with envy as the bragging of sexual conquest was highlighted by those of us lucky enough to have gotten a successful grope or two in the previous evening. Compare that to what goes on today where statistics say children become sexually active as soon as they can change channels on the TV.

 Fun Hockey

                                         When Hockey was Fun (Note: no adults)

          Hockey – As it is today we were all crazy about hockey and would walk miles if we found out there was a pond of ice frozen with space for hockey. Later we played in Bras d’Or at Father Swan’s rink and then at Andrea’s rink. Father Swan’s rink was great it had boards and nets and it was in our opinion very “professional.” Not wanting to be outdone by those places we set out to get our own rink. The construction crews were moving and erecting the new school and they had heavy equipment on site. I approached a bulldozer operator one day and asked him how much it would cost to push the earth back and make a rectangle that could be used for a rink. He told me a $100.00. So we set out to collect money but Fall was approaching and we were desperate. I went down to Ludgie Arsenault and asked him if he would loan me $75.00 to go with the $25.00 we had raised. I promised to pay him back within the year. I got the money, hired the bulldozer operator and he went to work. I have always been very disappointed with the adults that were associated with and knowledgeable with what we were about but were not supportive by any stretch of the imagination – none. The operator did a terrible job and just pushed mud up in any which way and left the scene with our money. With very little effort he could have squared the corners and made a barrier along the sides which would have been great for us as a rink. We purposely selected the spot because it was a bit of a bog and always had water there. It was on the Little Pond Road just before you got to Peter Powers but on the right hand side going out to Little Pond across from McGrath’s. We did get ice on it and we played there on a number of occasions. I worried a lot about the $75.00 and when I returned from my first year on the Lakes one of the first places I headed for was Arsenault’s Store and gave Ludgie the $75.00. I think he was surprised to get it but he nevertheless took it.


          One afternoon when we were out of school early or were let go for disciplinary reasons Ronnie MacLellan and I were alone on a very cold sunny afternoon on the ice at Pascal’s. We were playing one on one. With our boots marking the goals, we would skate down and try to score on each other alternatively. In those days with the poor sticks and poor ice surface it was a rare occasion that we got to raise the puck or as we used to say, “a lifter b’y.” Well I was coming down the ice and let a shot go and it immediately raised off the ice and hit poor Ronnie in the middle of the forehead. Since it was so quiet you could hear the puck against his skull make a very loud cracking noise and I for a very brief moment could see the cut clearly and then the flow of blood. We finally got it stopped but there was blood everywhere, on his clothes, on my clothes and all over the ice. Once the blood stopped we resumed our game and had a good laugh– he was a tough little nut.


          Right after the war the Cape Breton Senior Hockey League started with the Glace Bay Miners, the Sydney Millionaires and the Northside Victorias (Vics). It was not easy with the way transportation was or wasn’t in those days to get to a game but when we did it was a tremendous thrill. It was especially fun during the pre-game warm-up when you could get down to ice level and feel the breeze of the players skating by. Once the game started of course you had to get back to your seats. Our seats were normally “rush” which was the wall behind the seats. I still remember some of the players: Jack Dyke, Bob Verrier, Bob Bangay, Legs Fraser, Moe White, Gallagher (we used to chant his name ‘Cross Eyed Gallagher’), Nick Pedinsky and many others. Angus McNeil had season tickets right down at the ice level and often David would get a stick from one of the players which for a small price he would sell at school next day. I remember buying one and it was perfect. I treasured it for a very long time. I got to several games with Gratton O’Shea and Daddy and then once we were a little older we went regularly and went up into the “bull pen” at the end of the rink where we were able to throw peanut shells down on the opposition when they were in that end and sometimes pennies. They then put a constable up there with us and that brought the nonsense to a halt. There were some pretty good rows in the bull pen and outside as well. It was expected of course the mixing everyone together from North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Bras d’Or, Florence etc., was bound to stir up animosities between districts. It was all good fun though and nobody got more than a bloody nose and if you lost, a little hurt pride on occasion. No knives or hand guns in those good old days just a “give me a show b’y” and you squared off and went at it. Ah, what a great feeling it was to get into a good scrap once in awhile. And then the slaps on the back by your buddies if you gave a good account of yourself. I think the girls enjoyed it too because they were always supportive and quick to wipe off the blood when it was over.


Bank Sliding – We had a crazy and dangerous game that we participated in normally in the spring if I recall and that was sliding down a grooved track on the side of the bank leading to the shore up at the school bank. The steeper the part of the bank the more challenging it was. We created this groove so that it would fit the heels of your boots. You hunkered down as if sitting on your heels and flew down this track until you hit the shore. To make it faster we spilled water in the track which caused you to fairly fly. It was a dirty process and you invariably got full of mud and sometimes ripped the heels off your boots. As I recall Barney LeBlanc and Jimmy Pacquet were the champions because they were fearless.


Clamper Hopping – As well in the spring of the year when the drift ice came in we participated in another dangerous but thrilling sport and that was clamper hopping or clamper frisking. The idea was to line up where the clampers were and how far they were apart and you determined what your chances were to be successful in getting from one to the other. You then started out by jumping from one to the other in order to see how far you could go normally out into the centre of the gut. Some guys got out in the middle of the gut and then on a good run could make it back to the shore without missing a beat. Other times you would get so far and have to stay on the clamper until it lined up and provided you a route back to shore. Remember now these clampers were out in the harbor and often in 12 to 20 feet of water so if you missed or slipped you were in trouble especially if the tide was coming in or going out. Strange though it seems, I can’t remember anyone ever falling into the deep water but certainly did in the shallow water near the shore. Again as I recall Barney LeBlanc was without doubt one of our champions because at this he was also fearless.


Rock Throwing – Throwing rocks was a never ending pursuit of some of us boys. It seemed we were always throwing rocks and trying to get one that would go across the gut and land on the Millcreek or McCreadyville or Point Aconi side. We took this seriously and were always on the lookout for a champion rock and if you found one you immediately picked it up for safe keeping so as to have it available at the next opportunity. As I recall Andy Jessome could as we used to say, “fire a rock further than anyone.” He often made it across the gut with his arm and could have been a great ball player. By the way it wasn’t considered sporting if you threw rocks at low tide because the shores were closer together and just about anyone could  get a rock across at such times.


          Super Sling Shot – I remember some of the MacLellan boys (Eric and Maxie MacLellan) created a monster sized sling shot down by their bank in the woods. It was designed and created with the sides of inner tubes discarded from a truck tire so they were large about four or five feet long on either side together with a pouch made out of the back of a leather jacket. This contraption was fastened to two trees much like a hand held sling shot. It needed a couple of us young fellows on both sides to pull it back and normally another fellow at the back to aim it. We eventually got around to testing it and boy were we surprised when we could get a rock the size of a softball and fire it almost across the gut. Poor old “Gerry Tiny ” LeBlanc was going up the gut one day in his boat with a one lunger motor and we let go a rock which went right over his boat and the splash scared him a bit. So we let another go and it landed on our side of him. He just gazed around wondering what the hell was going on. We thought we now had something. A few days later we were jigging around and saw one of the Coal Boats coming in the gut heading for Burchell’s to load coal.  We waited until she was abeam of us and let go this geesely big rock which hit the deck of the ship and bounced over the side. There were some crew members aft but I don’t think they saw it. But we looked at each other and realized the success of our venture and that it was dangerous and now could be reported and get us into trouble. We immediately dismantled our howitzer and buried the parts. We swore that it would be our secret and we were not to breathe a word about what we had done to anyone. We never did to my knowledge and this is the first time I have spoken about it. The rock hitting the deck of that coal boat certainly provided a good laugh and a good scare which was more exhilarating than the laugh. We imagined out loud, what if it had hit the wheel house and drove her ashore, then, we would have been in a fix? Thank God that didn’t happen.

 Diving Boys

                            Diving off the Wharf


          Swimming – Swimming and diving off the wharves or at the back shore was great fun and was usually combined with a picnic. Anytime of course was swimming time at the wharf. We weren’t particular about bathing suits – whatever you wore was good enough and normally dried before you got home.


          Snow Ball Fights – Snow ball fights were well planned and took time. It could be dangerous if you froze the balls overnight as well which some fellows did. Frozen balls were not often used because of the consequences of getting hurt. You might get one off and hit someone but you were just as liable to be slugged with one yourself so it was like the U.S. and the Soviets, we agreed not to use these lethal weapons. Instead, we used the soft snow balls which enabled us to roll more and get more off in a shorter time. It was fun to plaster one of the wholesale trucks from town who we didn’t know and they didn’t know us. We would ambush them especially if there was a lot of snow down and the roads were bad which caused them to slow down. The drivers often got out and threatened us but we usually pelted them with snow balls until they got back in their trucks and went on.


          Pop Shopping  – In the winter when the roads were bad with snow drifts and in the early spring when the ruts were deep the pop truck drivers barely crawled through these obstacles. Back in those days the pop trucks carried their pop cases out in the open and on a slant for easy access to the driver for loading and unloading. As the truck was obliged due to conditions to slow down to a crawl we in the pretense of walking alongside to provide a push helped ourselves to a couple of  bottles of pop. The drivers either never caught on or didn’t care. We never got in any trouble for it and it was sort of considered pay back for the push whether needed or not.


          Modified Cricket – I was racking my brain trying to remember a game we usually played early in the spring before the ground was dry enough for ball and it was a modified version of cricket. I could remember it slightly but remembered Harley Boudreau always play acting the announcement of a major league baseball game at times and I seem to remember him playing our cricket game so I called him. Harley immediately said, “yes that was cricket.” It was usually played two on a team. One pair was “up” at bat and the other two consisted of a pitcher and a backstop or catcher. You agreed to where the base would be and where the pitcher would pitch from and then you lined up three cans. Usually large carnation milk or bean cans just in front of the catcher. The player at bat defended these cans by hitting the ball. The pitcher rolled the ball (usually a red and white sponge ball which cost 10 cents at the Five and Ten in Sydney Mines) towards the cans and attempted to knock one or more of them down. Each one knocked down counted as one out – three outs the sides changed. One of the pair at bat tried to hit the rolled ball and if he did he ran to first base as many times as he could counting for one point for each complete circuit. That would be the score but he had to complete the circuit – out to first and back safely. If he hit the ball he had to run. If the ball could be played and thrown back in to the catcher before the runner returned the catcher could knock over the cans and retire the side. It was a good fun game and there were always a couple of pairs standing by ready to challenge. Because it was played before the ground was really dry it was a dirty and muddy game but I don’t recall anyone being concerned about being muddy and dirty except for I suppose our mothers.

 George Box

                                           Himself in Charcoal

          Boxing -We were all enthusiastic supporters of boxing and as a result the conversations dwelt on Jack Dempsey and then Joe Louis. Years later when Jack Dempsey was referreeing a fight card in Sydney I got his autograph. As I youngster I read where this big hotel in Hamilton, ON (Connaught I believe) would not allow Joe Louis to enter because he was black. Here he was the Heavy Weight Champion of the World and being snubbed like that – to me it was devastating. When I first went away on the Lake Boats the first time we went into Hamilton with a load of ore I went directly to that hotel and asked to see the Manager and proceeded to tell him how disappointed I was that they should act that way in treating my hero the Brown Bomber – Joe Louis. I dont even know if it was the same manager but I felt good telling them off – I think I was 16 or 17 at the time. We bought Ring Magazine  and studied the fighters of the day. We went so far as to buy boxing gloves and made a make-shift ring in our field which attracted tons of guys from as far away as Little Pond. I used to train and walk and run thinking one day I would get the chance to fight in a real ring and in a real bout. When training I would walk the distance of two hydro poles, then run four and then sprint one. I did that for many years even after I left Alder Point. I had heard about old time fighters who to toughen their hands would soak them in brine. I would go down to the fish house on the wharf and stick my hands in the barrel of pickled herring for five or ten minutes at a time to tougher them. I pretty much did the same thing on the Lake Boats especially the bigger one the SS Royalton where there was plenty of room. Eventually after joining the Navy I got my chance and boxed on the Navy Team throughout Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Once married, I was quickly “retired”. I am still a fan of the sweet science of boxing – not kick boxing which should be outlawed.


          Movies at School – Some movie projectionist gentleman from Florence came on occasion along with his projection equipment to our school and showed movies which was great entertainment for us and gave us a break. I can still hear the whirr of the projector and watched in wonderment when the reels were changed or spliced following the inevitable breaks. Every one of us looked forward to these and enjoyed them greatly.



Shows in Town – It was a rare occurrence before the bus service (Robinson Bus Service) came to Alder Point after the war that we got to Sydney Mines to the see movies at the Strand Theatre. We did on the rare occasion and boy was that an experience to last a life time. I recall the first time I went to the matinee it cost twelve cents. Our favourite movies were: Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Red Ryder, Tarzan and the Bowery Boys. They always had a continued serial which of course encouraged you to return the following week. Once Robinson’s Bus Service started then it became more prevalent on a more regular basis to go to the movies at the Strand in Sydney Mines – “goin to the show b’y.”


The Ice Cream Parlour – After the movies and if we had spare change we would go into Rahey’s Ice Cream Parlour which reminded us of the Bowery Boys’ hangout in their movies the “East Side Kids or the Bowery Boys.” It was indeed a pleasure palace if you could afford an ice cream Sunday or a milk shake with a couple of large scoops of ice cream – whow! Couldn’t McDonald’s learn from that era and from Rahey’s instead of serving their plastic milk shakes? If you were really brave and overcame your shyness you could take a seat in a booth and for change you could play the Nicklelodium or as some called it the Juke Box. The lady who owned the Parlour and operated behind the counter if I recall correctly her name was Maria. As we got older we would visit one of the three Chinese Restaurants in town and have a big slice of banana or Boston cream pie before catching the bus home – delicious and the end of a perfect day.

 Dory Racing

                                                                    Dory Racing

Rowing – Many of us had fathers who were fishermen so it was relatively easy to get the loan of a dory or a small row boat. We used to read about dory races in Lunenburg and Gloucester and I was sure one day I would get there. So when rowing the dory I would feather the oars after my stroke and each pull would be a mighty pull keeping her straight by watching your wake. I was quite confident that I would compete one day against the best. To this day I always look with distain at people rowing with their oars lifted too high and splashing the water and failing to feather them. It is strange how ideas and events stick in your mind. Sculling was an art that I never quite mastered but practiced often. Sculling was the act of placing one oar in the slot at the stern of the dory and with one hand twisting the oar in such a manner in the water that it propels the dory along. I thought I was doing well until I saw Newfoundland fishermen push off a dory and scull across the harbour in quick time. I immediately recommenced my practice – these guys along with the Dutchmen from Lunenburg and surrounding area were without equal at sculling.


Pirates – Alvin Pattengale and others from the area would always have access to small punts. Poppa Burton built punts and always seemed to have one under construction in his shed adjacent to the house. In any event, we – Alvin and me – would go down to the shore and play pirates against each other for hours in and around the little inlet that formed the shore at Poppa Burton’s and Jack Pattengale’s. We could row out along the shore towards Leander’s and be able to hide in the overhang of trees and pounce in surprise on each other. It was great fun and we would discuss and make up stories of how we would attack and bury treasure etc. Speaking of buried treasure, Phonse Theriault once when he was home on leave when he was still in the Navy gave me a pocket watch. I thought it was too valuable to carry around so I placed it in a can and buried it in the front yard of Poppa Burton’s property – Alvin Pattengale lives there now. As far as I know the pocket watch is still there.


Marbles and Jack-Knife – In the spring of the year we played marbles (or glass allies) everywhere we could find a solid board on the side of a building. It helped if you had a wide span between end of your thumb and your little finger. These digits were used to determine whether you could touch your opponent’s alley and if you could you claimed it. Marbles was played by boys and girls. Mostly boys played jack-knife. Nowadays it would probably be viewed as dangerous but in those days everyone had a jackknife and kept them so sharp that you could shave with them. When we played marbles the point was to win marbles whereas jack-knife it was if I remember based on skill and what you could do with the knife that determined whether you were good or not. With the jackknife you had to tumble it forward and backward, over your shoulder, off the top of your hand and so on and so on. We played both games for hours.



Cowboys and IndiansWe boys spent many hours playing Cowboys and Indians around the woods and alders surrounding where we lived. We formed up teams if there were a number of us but normally we were pretty much on our own. In preparation for such games, we fashioned our own guns (revolvers) whittled them down in the shape of a pistol or revolver and generally spent a lot of time and effort on their creation. It was a lot of fun and on the rare occasion where you were the last man standing you felt a great accomplishment. On a rare occasion someone might turn up with a real toy gun with caps. Once the caps ran out we tired of these toys and went back to our homemade wooden ones.


           “Russell the one on the left, Willy the right, I’ll get the centre one”

Hunting – I often hunted with my father following closely in his footsteps and trying to be quiet and not break a twig as we approached an area frequented by deer. One experience I had which I shall never forget and that is with my father, Uncle Willie R. and Russell Fraser. We all landed back at the back shore near Arthur Plant’s pasture. Russell and Willie were in their Buick and Daddy and I on foot having come through the backwoods to meet up with them. It was a few weeks before the deer season was to open so we were not yet legal. Everyone was standing around when Daddy quietly said, “geeses, be quiet and look over there b’y.” When we looked over in the pasture there were seven deer standing there looking at us. I remember Daddy saying I got the buck there on the left. It was as if it had been planned as the three rifles went up as one and five deer were shot and two got away. Of course then the panic set in where it was thought that we would be arrested, lose the rifles and have Willie’s Buick impounded. Russell was convinced that he shot and killed Cyprian ‘Cippy” LeBlanc who would have been hoisting coal over the hill down at Pascal’s. It didn’t happen and we dragged off our prizes and headed for home. Willie and Russell cleaned their four, skinned them and put them in the car and left. Daddy and I dragged our big buck into the woods and skinned him and hung him in a tree. Once everything quieted down we returned early next morning and took a number of trips but got him home and hanging in a tree near our place.


Another hunting experience we had which was not planned occurred at the bottom of Cape Smokey. We were sword fishing and on our way in to Ingonish when Daddy saw a deer up on the side of Smokey two or three hundred feet or more up the side of the mountain. Willie was of course a crack shot and immediately went below and got the 303 rifle and came up on deck and in a moving boat on the water fired one shot and down went the deer. Of course now was the job of getting him down off the mountain. Russell rowed and since there was very little sea running was able to get the dory close enough that Daddy could jump onto the rocks with a coil of rope and his knife. He managed to climb up and dress the deer and lower him down the side of the mountain and eventually into the dory and to the boat. It was an experience to see my father up on the side of that mountain managing the deer carcass and getting back into the dory – it was an event of Olympic proportions to say the least.


Rabbit Snares – It was a job for many young fellows growing up in Alder Point to have rabbit snares and the job of visiting them each morning during the fall and into the winter months. You made your rounds, picked up your catch, reset the snares and headed for home in time to leave for school. If you had a good catch for the day, mother would always have someone identified that was in need of a pair of rabbits. Unlike deer hunting snaring rabbits was not a blood sport. I didn’t particularly care for cleaning them but we managed nonetheless because it was fresh food and it was your job.


     Small Sailing Vessel –  Similar to Poppa Burton’s

Sailing – I was very fortunate to have had the experience of sailing on the ocean on a number of occasions under conditions that were not unlike those of the olden days – no power but wind power. For example, I went out setting trawls with Captain Jim Hardy, from Rose Blanche, NF, in his two masted schooner – his ‘Newfoundland Jack.’ We went out on the tide and under sail. The only time he used his motor was if he was becalmed or was forced to come alongside with power or to make way against the tide. The sound of the rigging, rope against wood was awesome and today when I lay in my hammock I can conjure up those sounds.


My grand-father Johnny Tom Burton fished in a small fourteen foot skiff with one sail. On two different occasions we sailed out of the gut and across the mouth of Sydney Harbour and he landed me on the shore at the Low Point lighthouse. My uncle Willie Joe Campbell operated the lighthouse during the war years and a couple of years after the war. Poppa Burton simply lowered the sail and using oars backed the boat in to the shore. At the appropriate time between breakers I leaped off with my ditty back and was safe and sound and ready for a couple of weeks of great vacation with my cousin Len. It was a great place to vacation with lots of things to explore. The war had just got over and there were still sailors stationed there with unlimited amounts of goodies and cokes. This was my introduction to the 6 oz bottle of Cocoa Cola which had a taste that doesn’t exist today. Then we had the lighthouse itself where we could walk up the very long steel stairs and help Jack Vigneault the lighthouse handyman wind up the weights and clean the reflectors. It was strange at night with the fog horn sounding and the light circling in an ever lasting cycle one would think you could never get used to it. After a couple of nights you hardly knew the light and fog horn existed.


Low Point Lighthouse – Keeper Joe Campbell

Years later I sailed in the Navy and again when stationed in Bermuda and again in Saint John, NB – I really miss it.


                               Tommy with his Catch

Mackerel Fishing – Many boys out of the gut had the opportunity to mackerel fish. I went often with my grand-father Burton. To him it was a ritual. He had a large log which had been cut on end and a hollow in it. In the hollow he threw herring and chopped them up into very small pieces – this he called pogie. When we went out fishing mackerel we took along several buckets of pogie, hardtack and a large jug of water. The hard tack and large jug of water was for an emergency in case the wind came off the land and blew us off shore. In addition, we had a proper lunch and some cold tea. Once on the grounds we watched for a school of mackerel. Mackerel generally schooled onto the surface in a boiling mass of fish. We simply sailed over and lowered our sail and readied our mackerel lines which consisted of weighted lines with multiple hook. We threw out a scoop of pogie and the hooked lines into the pogie spread of bait. You hauled back and normally had numerous mackerel to unhook and do it again. Some evenings you could have swamped the boat they were so plentiful. To get ready here in Ontario to go fishing where if you are lucky over a weekend you might catch a couple of uneatable sunfish and maybe a small bass has never turned me on. Mackerel fishing was great fun. Once we caught what my grand-father considered to be sufficient we hauled in our hooks, hoisted the sail, set a course for the gut and laid back and had our lunch as our little skiff took us home. After our lunch Poppa Burton would let me steer on a course for The Gut and get out his pipe or put in a finger full of snuff under his lip – happy days they were.

Ready for Fun

Home from Church, lunch & ready for Summer Fun

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Maureen on September 5, 2009 at 16:00

    Really enjoyed this…many of these things were still being done when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Of course being a girl I was often just watching…or was absolutley forbidden to do these things by Mama. We thought we were gonna be killed by everything…and if we didn’t get killed doing it, we thought she would kill us if she found out. Some things were just too much fun to be obedient though!


  2. Posted by Mark Watson on September 5, 2009 at 19:30

    Wow…its really great to see all the stories finally in writing. I have enjoyed our time on the long drives….and remember most of the stories fondly.
    I love all of them and and glad they are in a place where i can read them any time i like…thanks keep up the great work ! Unc.


  3. Posted by Wanda Pearo on September 6, 2009 at 23:26

    Thanks for sharing your childhood memories…very interesting stuff!


    • Thanks Wanda – we had a lot of fun. We didnt have much in the way of material things but we did have fun and went to bed exhausted each night as I recall.


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