At Home, Part Two: Sunday Morning Walk II

A little later on in the walk I came across the object below. Do you know what it is? It’s currently upside-down, about 1.5 metres in diameter and a little over a metre in depth. They were once common; every fisher needed access to one. These days, with changes to the gear and technology they’re not needed as much but in just about any fishing community you’ll find a few of these lying, forlorn, upside-down in the grass.

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Now, how did I get here? Oh, right–just left the view from the top of the hill (previous post). First stop from there is the Back Cove.

20130901_094716Nice and quiet this morning. It’s not quite like that when the Westerly wind is blowing. With fall coming that probability is increasing day by day. Everything changes.

20130901_100752For now it’s tranquil. Just the faintly kelpy smell in the salt sea air, carried by a gentle on-shore breeze. This is the head of Placentia Bay; a place with a long history.

William Tavernor made his first voyage here around 1716, in the aftermath of the Treaty of Utrecht, when he was commissioned by the British Admiralty to take stock, and either kick the remaining French out or make them swear allegiance to the crown. He called Southern Harbour “Little Sutte Harbour,” and the place you see in the image he called “Great Sutte Harbour.” You can only guess at the origins of the name. Today we call this inlet Great Southern Harbour, maybe believing that Tavernor spelled “South” as “Sutte”. Because he spelled it correctly elsewhere I think otherwise. Maybe it’s an Anglicization of an existing French word–the whole bay had been French for around 200 years after all! All the islands, harbours and coves had preexisting French names.

I have no evidence at all, just a wishful hunch: I think, maybe, “Sutte” evolved from “Souhaiter,” which roughly translates to “Hope” or “to Wish for.” But those are just foolish musings of someone who, himself, is wistful.

Arnold’s Cove and the Come by Chance Refinery are visible in the background.

Now, down to the marina where my header picture comes from.

Here’s what it would look like if you turned around and faced the opposite direction. It’s a breakwater and it was put there one rock at a time; my approach to life, in general. The savage Atlantic winds can stir up powerful seas that will rush right over it. Yes, they may dislodge a rock or two, but the rocks will be put back as soon as possible, and hopefully the structure will be a bit stronger each time.

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Let’s take a good look around…

Walking back toward my in-laws house takes you over the top of the Gulch Hill. My old house is visible at the end of the road (green roof; past the pickup truck).

20130901_104006It’s been unused for the past few years but I plan on fixing it up for use once again as a summer home, over the next year. People often ask why I don’t rent it–after all, with the construction down at Bull Arm, people are getting $500/mo for just one room, so why don’t I just rent the whole three-bedroom house?

Why indeed? Perhaps I am just foolish, ignoring an obvious chance to make a lot of money. That’s not my reason, though. That old house is, to me, a storehouse of memories; a refuge. To me, it represents souhaiter.

The hills in the background, a little right of centre, were the vantage point for the images in the last post.

At the foot of the gulch hill, where the road hooks briefly to the left, is a government wharf.

20130901_104226It’s a working place, managed by the Harbour Authority. You can see piles of crab pots (traps) at the right and boxes for holding iced fish at the left. Today is a holiday and is also a break between fishing seasons so, at least for today, things are quiet.

20130901_104243From here you can see Mike Norman’s wharf with his boat tied up for the moment. Mike has spent most of his life in one sailing vessel or another: boats on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence and on the Ocean. He spends time here in Southern Harbour, in Red Island and in Indian Harbour but I think he’s really most at home on board that boat.

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Just the other side of the wharf is this old rock. As a child, every day on my was to school I would look at it and think of how it reminded me of a submarine. You can see the same rock, top left in the image below.

20130901_104215Next to the wharf there’s a wooden slipway for small boats . Not much there today. Later on in the fall things will be different. This ‘parking lot’ will be filled and on good days you’ll see a fair bit of activity as the season’s wear and tear is repaired, one piece at a time. For now it makes a great platform from which to watch the ebb and flow of the day. It’s a nice place to sit down and, as my friend George Wright says, “just dangle your feet over the side for a while.”

20130901_123440This flat-bottomed rowboat is waiting for a trailer for a ride to its resting place for the winter.

20130901_154853Walking up the road you pass Jack Parsons’ fishing stage. Jack is retired now but two of his sons still carry on the tradition.

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From the same point, turning left also you see Joey Emberley’s stage. Those are traditional dory colours.

20130901_154845Looking down. Just a bit of kelp in the water; no fish to be seen. Hardly a sound; just the scattered plop of water against the wharf; sounds like raindrops.

20130901_124640Further up the road, at Bests’ Cove all is still quiet. The crab quotas are all caught, lobster season is long closed and the fall cod fishery has not yet begun. The traditions have been carried out here for centuries.

Just follow this link and take a peek at a painting by Gerard Van Edema, Now take another look st the scene above. Pay attention to the shape of the hills and the shape of the inlet. Don’t they look much the same?

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Alright, then, how about from this angle? Any better? The rocks in Edema’s painting? Alec had them blasted away in 1968. The fact that the inlet looks shallower in Edema’s painting? The marina has been dredged several times; widened too. The hills tell the story. It’s the same place. I’m sure of it. Some say it was western Placentia Bay, but I figure it’s just as likely to be this place, near the head of the bay.  That picture was painted in 1690, back when the French controlled this whole area. A secure, calm place to leave the boats and from which to work ashore. Good beaches and plenty of woods nearby. Plenty of Fresh water. Oh, and plentiful fish very near by. Why would they not want to stay, year after year?

20130901_124317But nothing stays the same for long. It wasn’t so many years ago that my Father-in Law would go out in this speedboat, day after day, after he retired. No longer, at least not in this one.

But he has plans. There’ll be another. Maybe we’ll call her “Phoenix.”

Oh, and the ‘object’ from the start of the post is located just past here; beyond the sawed-up remains of my Father-in-law’s old speedboat. It’s a tanning pot, or barking kettle, used for curing nets. With nylon rope and gear there’s really no need any more.

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Down over the hill takes me to my Father-in-Law’s fishing stage. It’s a working shed; a place where things get changed for the better. See that speedboat just in front of it? It, too, is a work in progress.

Let’s take a look inside…

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About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
This entry was posted in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Society and Culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to At Home, Part Two: Sunday Morning Walk II

  1. Mjollnir says:

    Fascinating stuff Maurice. Nice to see a glimpse into a working community and get a feel for the area you live in 😀

  2. Lovely and lovingly told! I’m sure you are right about the painting (liked it a lot!), it looks to be the same place. This is all new to me and very interesting reading. And trust me, after reading this, I understand why you want to refurbish your house and not just rent it out. Later this week and next, I will revisit my childhood environments, and as I have found out during every previous visit, everything changes. You are so right about it. Last year my grandma’s house, where I spent so much time, was gone. The apple tree garden had made way for a supermarket’s parking lot. I’m looking forward to checking how it all looks now. At least I know our house and the lake will still be there!

  3. kanzensakura says:

    I had so much fun! Let’s do this again on a different type of day. I’d love to smell, hear, and see all of this in the snow. Thank you for taking me along. This was truly lovely. I could spend more time here.

  4. jennypellett says:

    Enjoyed the ‘then and now’ comparison with terre sauvage – so satisfying when you find the match!

    • Thank-you! Yes, I came across that picture around 12 years ago, somewhat by accident and immediately said, “I know that Place.” It was originally said to be of Petite Plaisance (now called Argentia) but I knew it was absolutely not! Since then I have had ample time to compare the picture to the modern reality and am absolutely convinced it is Bests’ Cove, in Southern Harbour, Placentia Bay. The place is also evidently French, owing to the type of Flakes (drying racks for fish) used. Generation after generation….it makes you feel so small.

  5. elkement says:

    I admit I had no idea what the object presented at the top of the post was. At first glance (not having read the text referrring to the size) I figured: “What’s this – half a coconut”?
    I think you are doing a great job for your local community here – I believe this is what people in 100 years will enjoy to read. This is probably a strange comment… but I might be influenced by a story about a project in Austria: Students interview the oldest inhabitants of their village in order to preserve their stories as videos.

    • Thank-you. It is so very easy to lose track of the old stories, old points of view. It is generally so common in our time to treat older people as if they are no longer relevant, rather than the wise storehouses of knowledge that they really are. I particularly enjoy talking with Alex, my Father-in-Law. Each time I do, I learn much more.

  6. Nice. Very nice indeed. Thank you for the continued tour around a part of the world which looks familiar to me. Have I told you that I grew up on Boston and summered on its south shore? When in high school I was a scuba enthusiast and spent time along shores to the north. And then there is Star Island which I’ve already mentioned. Yours is the sort of world which I miss … especially when I gaze out my back window into a hillside blanketed with trees … and no water, let alone salty water, to be seen. Thanks much. More please.

    • My Dad, who taught from 1920 until 1968 interrupted his teaching career for five years, during the thirties, which he spent working for Western Electric in Boston. I have never been there but hope to soon.

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