Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Black Buoy


Louisbourg April thick fog pervades the town and harbour. In the silence between the foghorn hoots a high-powered patrol boat has looked in the harbour and raced away again. Word spreads It sparks enough interest that a dozen men or so wander down to have a looksee.  Their eyes search the fog again patrol boat looks in at the dock and turns back out the harbour searchlight scanning the foggy harbour slob ice scattering. This happens twice more in the next 2 hours. Then there is a new sound a different boat chugs through the night and carefully emerges through the gloom to tie up as the patrol boat comes minutes later and lays alongside mounties quickly boarding.  

A Mountie runs to the townsfolk. Quick we need a doctor. Is there a hospital four men have been gassed? There is no hospital the men are carried to Bessie Shaw's boarding house almost next to the government wharf. The men are bedded down and the doctor arrives. More mounties arrive from Sydney and take charge everybody else is sent away. The boat is searched and sealed and the house put under guard. Nobody is allowed to talk to the men. When Charlie shaw arrives at the door they have to let him in it is his house.

The gassed men recovered slowly but in a week or so they were recovered enough to sit up and talk and were soon going to be moved to Sydney. charlie thought a little shot of rum might help their recovery and soon he got the story. Before they headed in the Harbour they had managed to put the cargo in a large net and sank it under the ice near black point and marked it with a black buoy. At this point, the men had no interest in salvaging the cargo as they were of getting rid of the evidence.

Charlie soon gathered four friends and a boat and a pile of burlap potato sacks

It made for a long night but they soon had the sacks filled and hidden in the ruins of the fort. So there was no trouble taking the boat home. The next they retrieved their booty. Sacks were buried, bottles stashed everywhere Charlie liked the lumber yard next to his house. Cape Bretoners are generous folks of course and the town was pretty well drunk for the next year or so. Bessie snow soon learned to follow charlie through the lumber yard and one of the McIntyre's was taken to hospital with the Blind staggers.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Back in the 1930s Canada had one of the most efficient ice breakers in the world – the C.G.S. MONTCALM. It was used to break up ice in the St. Lawrence River. Steel and coal were shipped from Sydney and Louisbourg. In the winter Sydney Harbour would freeze so solid that no icebreaker could break the ice so all shipping was directed to Louisbourg Harbour, which was open all year around.
When the C.G.S. MONTCALM sailed into Louisbourg Harbour it was a very exciting moment for the townspeople went to the docks to greet her. She was the most powerful, magnificent icebreaker in the world at the time.
The MONTCALM’s crew were mostly all French from Quebec. The Captain was English and his Chief Engineer was a six-foot, curly red-haired Scotsman from Scotland.
All the crew would attend social events in the town. The Catholic Parish was about two miles from the town. They would put on card games of 45s and make a social evening with the ladies of the church supplying the sandwiches and cookies.
I had never played cards and my friend Margaret Murphy, whose father owned a local grocery store, asked me to go to the card game. She dealt me a couple of hands to show me how to play, so I agreed to go.

The weather became quite mild all day and that evening it started freezing rain – at 6 o’clock everything was sheer ice, and wet. Margaret had her father’s old Chevrolet to take the Captain and Engineer to the card game.

So they were at the store sitting around the old stove talking to Margaret’s father when we stopped the car at what was supposed to be the sidewalk. There was a hill going up to the store from the sidewalk that had an incline of about six feet. It was sheer ice. I went down before I could stand up. Then Margaret went down. It ended up we crawled up that incline on our hands and knees. I opened the door and left it open for Margaret as she crawled up. This took some time with me waiting with the door open for Margaret. There was a conversation going on between the Captain and the Engineer as they walked to the car. The Captain was telling the Engineer he spoke French very well for a Scotsman. “The only thing I noticed is that you roll your ‘r’s’.” As he said this he slipped and landed on his bottom and slid down to the car.

Marg piped up, “Anyone would roll on their ‘r’s’ tonight. You can’t stand up.” We tried not laugh as the Captain picked himself up. Marg’s father took the ashes from the stove and threw them over the little hill so they could get back to the car. I am sure Marg could only drive about five miles an hour and we were a little late.
We got to the hall and everyone was waiting to fill the last open table. We hurried to the table and everyone would ask why we were late and why we were laughing. When we told them, they howled laughing, too. In 45s, when you win at one table you go to the next. So every table heard the story and laughed heartily.

The priest, Father Doyle, was not amused, as this was a card game, not a

Circus. There were players that were card shark players that had nothing else on their minds but o win and there were the players that went for pleasure to help with the church funds. Finally Father Doyle asked one of his parishioners what was so funny. He was told the story and he laughed so much he had to go back in the kitchen to straighten himself out.
The game was over and prizes handed out. Everyone started the lunch; it was then more of a circus. Father Doyle said that it was not in good taste for some people at the game to be laughing so heartily when others didn’t know what the laughing was about.
Finally Captain O’Hearn stood up and explained it to everyone and the Chief Engineer stood up and said, “I am so happy that I rolled on my r’s as it made a very entertaining evening for all.”

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Mother went to Glace Bay on the train shopping and bought me a new pair of summer sandals, leather smooth outside, rough inside, a T- strap with a buckle, had little punched out patterns on the front. I was so proud of those sandals as we had to wear laced-up high leather shoes that my father half-soled for so much there wasn’t much left of the shoes for the soles to hang on to.
A beautiful summer day everyone of the kids going to the beach, Mother instructed me under no conditions was I to get those sandals wet, as the leather would shrink and get hard and I wouldn’t be able to wear them. She stressed that from the time I put them on and walked around feeling I had the best pair of shoes in the world.


When I was eight years old I found a young seagull on the beach not far from our house. It couldn’t have been hatched for very long, but it had legs, and could it run. It took me about half an hour to catch it. There were no adult birds around after petting it for a while no mother came to get it. I took it home. A big argument started. Mom said, “You are not keeping that gull in the house.” After a few sad stories, Mom said, “Keep it in a cardboard box overnight and let it go tomorrow.”
It was such a soft, fluffy little creature it didn’t take long for the gull to latch on to me. I was always petting it and feeding it. The next day another fuss was made about keeping the gull for a pet. I was allowed to keep it in the barn. I would take it outdoors and it would follow me everywhere. If I sat down it would get quite close and sit down, too. It looked as if I was going to be able to keep it. I wanted to give it a name so I called her “Biddy.”
My father warned me that they grow very rapidly and would have to have live fish so it could go back to the wilds. My brother and I knew we could catch lots of perch down by the wharf. We would take a pail, fill it with water and very carefully took the hooks out of the fish’s mouths so they would live. When we caught a half pail full we ran home and dumped them into a large tin washtub. The water was too deep and she was slow learning to swim. We would take a fish out and hold it in our hands for her. She would eat every one.
By the time she was about six months old my brother and I felt she should learn to fly. We tried all the silly things. At first it didn’t help so my brother got a ladder and put it up against the barn, took Biddy up with us and we held her over and fly to ground, not very gracefully – her landing was very bad. We kept it up a little each day until she finally took off – she would fly around short trips and come to the washtub and squat until she had her fresh fish.
About 9 a.m. one morning she took off and I called and called. She didn’t come back. I was feeling very sad imagining all the things that could happen to her. At lunch my father came home, when one of the pilots who Papa used to take out in the pilot boat to bring the big ships into the harbour, came to tell him about Biddy.
This pilot and his wife had one of the most tidiest clean properties in town. It had a verandah right across the front of their house and somehow Biddy got in and couldn’t find her way, and she plopped all over the lady’s clean verandah. This is why the pilot was talking to my father. Then the order came, “Go get that gull off the verandah and take a pail and scrubbing brush and wash that verandah ‘till it pleases the owner.” I finally got it washed and cleaned, then rinsed with water from her well, but she insisted that I dry it before I leave. It seems I almost spent the whole day cleaning after Biddy.
Biddy started to fly out with the adult seagulls. She was still in grey and brown feathers. If I called her she would come in to eat and go back. Finally when mating season came Biddy left for good. Every time I saw a Grey gull close I would think it was Biddy and call her but she didn’t come back.
It was lonely after having Biddy. I missed her so much but always hecked every gull for years. It takes a long time for the feathers to turn white.
Biddy gave me many happy hours as I had my very own pet.

Deer Meat and Hungry People

By Celia Shaw LeDrew

Deer season in Cape Breton Island during the Depression was one of the big events of the year. Everyone would be talking about it.
Weeks before the season opened I used to beg my father to take me with him as I loved to see the trees, birds, squirrels, partridges, pheasants- I was fascinated by everything that moved in the woods. My father always refused.
When I was 16 my father bought me a single shot, Colt 22 rifle. My father trained me with the gun to shoot the seabirds that came in the harbour quite close to our house and barn which were built on a breakwater. He taught me with old light bulbs we would get from the Marine Repair shop next door. They would bob up and down in the water with the waves, so he felt this was the best way to teach me. He said I should be able to shoot a few ducks when he was at work and our Labrador dog would fetch them in from the sea.
I had to shoot with a direct hit on three out of five bulbs. At first it wasn’t easy but after three or four times I shocked him by getting five out of five.
I loved tramping through the woods that could be so silent, until an animal or a bird would make a move. You must stand very quiet and still to make sure what you were shooting at. Silence is golden when you’re out hunting for food.
It was after the duck episode that I really wanted to go deer hunting but my father insisted it be not for girls. He said, “Never try to shoot a deer with a single shot 22 rifles, and don’t even try! And remember, there’s no such thing as an empty gun, even if it is empty!” We sure had to treat it as loaded.
The day the season opened my father took his 45 Winchester repeater and went off for a deer. He was gone only six or seven hours when he came home with his prize. All us kids could think of was a good hot dinner in the winter and we all seemed to be very happy about my father getting the deer so early in the season.
It didn’t take my father too long to prepare the meat for Mother to put in preserve jars and when the meat was prepared to her specifications out came the Mason jars, the big boiling pot to cook the meat. She would put in one row of meat in the jars and one row of bay leaves until the jars were full and added water. Then the jars were put in the big pot and boiled till the meat was cooked. Usually we had enough meat to do us for the winter but those who never went hunting or never owned a gun came to our back yard where my father was cutting the deer, everyone asking for a piece of the meat. No one was refused, but Mother was giving my father heck because she didn’t have enough preserved for the winter as he gave so much away.
My father told my youngest brother to get a license and asked him if he would try to get another deer to please my Mother. My brother took two days to get a deer and brought it home where every cut had to be perfect.
As he was cutting the meat, there had to be thirty or forty adults with a pot or pan or new paper saying, “I hope you have a piece for me.” I don’t think my brother ever looked up to see who he was giving the meat to. Most of the deer was given to other hungry people. Everybody shared food when plentiful, but he realized that he did not have very much left for my Mother.
There was lots of talk about giving away the most of the deer. Finally, my father said to my brother to take me up to the business office and get me a license (one deer one license.) This was my big chance. My father had taught me and trusted me with the gun and it was O.K. to go look for another deer. They were very plentiful that year, and this was the last day of open season. My father gave me his 45
Winchester repeater.
My brother took me through the swamp. Brush and woods so thick I thought I’d never get out of it. When we came across a small clearing, there were deer everywhere. My brother said, “Aim for the shoulder.” One shot and it dropped right on the ground. My brother said, “Get right over there and put another shot in the head “ (he had to point out where), “and kill it outright. Not a bad shot for a first time.” Then the worst thing happened that could happen.
My brother put his hand in his back pocket and pulled out the hunting knife and said, “Now go slit its throat, and bleed the animal.” I went around the deer in a few circles but fell to the ground. I don’t know how long I was there. My brother kept looking after the deer but stopped once in a while and with his hands scooped up some dirty swamp water and threw it on my face. When I came to my clothes were wet with swamp water, and mud all over me. Everyone in town ribbed me for years about always wanting to go deer hunting.
I never went deer hunting again and never killed a deer since. It was only for food, which meant so much to all of us in the depression in our town.
Many seasons afterwards the people that got some of the meat would always make sure when they saw me to ask if I would be going deer hunting this fall. Never! Never! Never! Once was enough to live down.
When mother prepared the deer meat, every piece of fat or sinew had to be cut off. The meat was soaked in salt water over night, then parboiled in baking soda, to take the game taste off the meat, then into the oven to roast. She always saved bacon fat to baste the meat so it wouldn’t be too dry. The same treatment was given to the sea birds to take away the fishy taste of the fowl. The birds were always roasted with bread dressing. We had much to be thankful for as the Depression was more of a case of survival and we were all made aware of it, and we were all in the same boat.
My parents were always teaching us to make things out of nothing. Mother was an excellent sewer and we wore hand me overs and hand me downs but Mother would make them to fit us kids so that we weren’t too poorly dressed. We never had new clothes for years. Mother would card wool and spin the yarn and we always had sweaters for the winter. She would dye the wool Royal Blue and Cardinal Red and the sweaters would always turn out to be red with blue trim or blue with red trim.

10 Point Buck
My father went deer hunting the next year. He was way back in the bush probably 5 miles from the road when he brought down the biggest deer he had ever shot. It was a ten point buck and he was very pleased.
He no sooner started to clean it when an American hunter came on the scene and offered him a hundred dollars for the deer. Papa said no thanks although it was very tempting. A hundred dollars went a long way in the thirties. But the pride of getting such a big deer won out and he had to cut it up into 3 pieces and make three trips to the road to take it home. All his life he would tell this story and finish it by saying. That deer was tough you couldn't stick your fork in the gravy.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Hockey Game

                  My father, Charlie worked for a ship chandler that supplied the pilot boat to put the pilots aboard any ship entering the harbour to the docks.  He also put all the stores on the ship for the ship.
            My father met a lot of Merchant Marine ships carrying coal to American and Canadian ports and became friends of the captain of the local tug boat which had to dock the larger merchant ships.  The captain and the engineer loved to listen to the hockey games on Saturday radio (a battery radio). They always wanted to play cards (45’s) in silence while the game was on.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Our First Xmas Tree

by Celia LeDrew

Christmas Eve 1929 the temperature was 7 below and the sky was cold and clear and there was lots of snow. It had snowed for three days and the snow crunched under your feet when you walked. My father had come home from work early that afternoon and talked to mama on the back porch before he came in to get a gun to go hunting or tomorrow’s Xmas dinner.

Papa always kept his guns strapped high on the wall so us kids couldn’t reach them. We watched as he took down a shot gun and he started out the door. He said to Mama as he left, “If I can’t get any partridge, I know I can get us a few rabbits”.

Mama was in the kitchen making dinner - she could make a meal out of almost nothing. She told us to go to the dining room window and watch for Papa to come home and hope he shot some Xmas dinner. My brother and I looked in to the sunset, the tops of the spruce trees silhouetted against the bright red sky looked just like a Christmas card. There was a little hill on the road and we saw something move on top of the hill. We yelled to Mama that Papa was coming. She came into the dining room to look. “That’s not your father, there’s two people there and your father went hunting alone”. She went back to the kitchen. My brother and I looked and looked, It must be Papa but who was with him? It was getting dark and we knew the figure we saw was too big too be Papa.

The next thing we knew there was Papa coming in through the back shed door with four rabbits. Mama was pleased as that was to be our Christmas dinner. After dinner, Papa lit a lantern and said he would clean and skin the rabbits so Mama could prepare them. When the shed door opened we saw something in the shed. A few minutes later Papa came in with a little three and a half foot fir tree. He had strapped the tree to his back and that is why we thought there was two people. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life, it was a lush green and every branch was even. I don’t think we had ever had such an exciting moment than that. All of us kids were yelling at one another, we were going to have a Christmas tree. The only Xmas tree we had ever seen before was at the Mayor’s house.
In these tough times not many people had them. Mama told us to get the dishes done and then we would decorate the tree. Everyone pitched in. We all knew we didn’t have any decorations and I wondered how we were going to decorate the tree. We finished the dishes and gathered together in the dining room. Mama came in with darning needles and a spool of thread. She gave me a bucket of cranberries we had picked earlier in the month and showed me how to string the berries.
My brother was given a pot full of popcorn. We’d never had popcorn before, it was a luxury. I watched my brother to see how much popcorn had on the string. He only had strung about a yard and my cranberry string looked about three yards. We were so excited and busy getting these done. I looked over at my brother and saw he was putting one popcorn kernel on the string and two in his mouth. I told Mama and she switched jobs. No one liked eating cranberries raw. When we finished Mama told us not to put them on the tree that she would do it. She strung the strands across the tree and stood back to look at it. She decided that it need something else. She gave my brother 10 cents and sent to the store to buy 10 cents worth of molasses candy kisses wrapped in Christmas paper and twisted on both ends. I tried to figure out how to put them on the tree.
Mama came back with the spool of thread and showed us how long to cut each piece of thread to tie on the twist of the candy and make a loop so it would catch on the branches. We thought it looked great as we sat by an open Franklin stove where we burned soft coal and the embers were glowing red. We sat admiring our first Christmas tree and we were excited as no one in town had one except the mayor. My brother and I thought it needed a star on top. We found an old cardboard shoe box that was so old it started to crumble when we cut it after we had drawn the outline of a star on it. As we were pasting it together my brother and I got into an argument about how many points should be on the star. My brother’s had four points and mine had five.
Mama, the referee said mine was the best, but that it was too big and I would have to cut it smaller. All the points must have been pasted about three or four times as we weren’t the best when it came to cutting with scissors. My brother said the star should be silver and we used to save the foil from cigarette packages when people threw them away, but it wouldn’t stay on the cardboard. Then we remembered that Mama always bought Red Rose in a one pound foil package and she put the whole package into the tea can. We dumped the loose tea directly into the can and absconded with the foil wrap. Two sides of the foil had Red Rose tea signs from end to end and we couldn’t pull them off or we would break the foil. We soaked the foil in warm water and we tried to it off with our fingernails. Mama was always there to rescue. She told us to use the inside of the package. Now we had to put it on the top of the tree. Mama told us she would put it on and out came the needle and thread again. She punched a hole in the bottom two points, but it just flopped over. This time Papa came to our rescue. He said he had some stove pipe wire out in the barn and that it bends easily. He lit the lantern, took his pliers and went to the barn.
Mama threaded the wire through the bottom of the star, but it still flopped over. Papa strung the wire from the bottom of the star to the top making it firm and at long last our star sat on the top of the tree like an angel. We couldn’t take our eyes off of the tree. To us it was the most beautiful Christmas tree in the whole world.

No one in our town had a Christmas tree. They couldn’t afford one. I had only ever seen one Christmas tree in my life. The mayor in our town had electricity in his house. They had four windows side by side in their living room and we could see it from the street decorated with red and green ropes, Christmas paper bells, gold, red and green balls. We knew we would never have a tree like that, only rich people had them. We had never asked for a Christmas tree because we knew we wouldn’t get it.

It didn’t take long to ask all the kids on our street to come see our tree. We were so proud of it. All the kids got a Candy Kiss, but not from the tree. Mama got the remainder of the bag of candy which was almost still full even after we had put them on the tree. All for 10 cents. From that year on we always had a Christmas tree and all our decorations were handmade. Mama could teach us everything that was possible under the conditions of the depression.

My father was earning $150.00 a month but when the depression hit, his boss told him he would have to let him go unless he was willing to work for $50.00 a month which he did and 10 cents for a spool of thread was a lot of money and we couldn’t waste one inch of it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Mother's Blue Ribbon Cow

I was lucky to live in a resourceful family during the depression. We lived by the sea and my father was lucky to have his job, but he had to accept $50 a month, a third of his former salary. He was also an able hunter and fisherman. We had a small fishing boat to catch our own fish, so we had food on the table. We always had a barrel of salt cod or mackerel and we had a small barn where we raised two pigs for meat and a cow for milk, cream, butter and cottage cheese. We were always reminded of how lucky we were to have all this.
We had a beautiful Jersey cow named Blossy and it was my job to take her to the pasture every morning before school. I would lead her on a rope to the pasture which we rented for $3.00 a year.
Blossy was a kind, gentle cow, with the most beautiful eyes. It was always a pleasure to look after her. She never gave us any problems. At 5 o’clock, I would go back to the pasture and bring her home for the evening milking – keep her in the barn till morning. Caring for the milk was a chore. My mother mostly looked after her. We had to separator so the extra milk was put in large black pans till the cream separated from the milk. Mother would scoop it off with a spoon. That cream was so thick. Jersey cows were well noted for their cream.
Later in the day we had the old wooden butter churn to make our butter. The milk that the cream was taken off was put in a large pot on the stove until it became curdled. Mother would put the curds in cheesecloth and on a fine day hung it on the clothesline to dry for cottage cheese. Curds and cream was a delicacy in our household. Even though we had lots to eat and home-made bread made twice a week, we had salt fish and pork. Mother would always say ,”Go easy on the butter.” When the bread was hot we kids would love to smother our bred with butter when Mother wasn’t looking. She sometimes took the butter off the table if she thought we used too much. We had a chicken pen. Mother would put down eggs in Isinglass for the winter, occasionally a chicken was killed for dinner on Sundays. We raised our chickens with a clucky hen. I remember my mother borrowing a clucky hen to sit on the eggs to get our chicks and when the chicks were on the their own take the clucky hen back and give the neighbor a few young chicks for the loan of the hen. We sold a few quarts of milk a day, never got much money for ti. A few people paid and lots of time we were paid nothing. Mother never complained.
One day when my mother was walking home from helping some lady who had had a baby (Dr. O;Neil would always call my mother if he needed help) she was passing a house where a woman had six children, all very young. She called my mother and told her, “We don’t have even a piece of bread to feed the children.” So Mother asked me to take a double loaf of bread up to her. “Put it under your coat so your father won’t see it.”
The door opened as I was going out. When my father saw the bread, he said, “Where do you think you’re going with that loaf?” He took me by the hair and turned my head to where Mother was, and said, “Look what I caught this child with going out the door.” Mother told him she was sending it over to Mrs.X who didn’t have a bite for the children . Mrs.X had a husband who drank every cent he ever got his hands on . My father said, “Put the bread back. I am not working to supply the drunk’s family with food.”
Mother gave my father his supper and when he went back to work Mother said, “Put that bread under your coat and take it over to Mrs. X and don’t let your father see you.” My father never did find out that Mrs. X got the bread. Depression affected a lot less fortunate but Mother could never see children hungry.
In 1932 the worst thing happened that could happen. Our vegetable peelings were put in a bucket by the back door for Blossy’s treat. She loved vegetable peelings. I brought Blossy home from the pasture one night at 5 o’clock. That night, someone forgot to take a potato out of the peelings and Blossy swallowed it. That night she bloated and was choking. Mother sent for a neighbor, a blacksmith, to help us. He put a broom handle town the cow’s throat to push the potato down. It failed, and she died that night.
We kids were crying our hearts out. It was the biggest blow my mother and father had during the whole Depression. No milk, no cream, not butter, no curds and cream. It was a disaster.
My father was talking to a man off a vessel that was bringing produce from Prince Edward Island and he said that they had black and white cows that gave three times the milk of a Jersey cow. He said the cows were not that expensive. So Papa borrowed $50 (a month’s salary) from his boss and sent Mother up to the Island on the produce boat to buy a cow.
The owner of the boat charged a small passenger fee for herself and guaranteed Mother he would bring a cow back for her. I can still see that two-master little vessel leaving the harbour right from our kitchen window. It left all of us kids in a turmoil – the boat was old and it leaked and it always had the pump going .
After five days the boat came back and we saw the black and white cow on the deck strapped to whatever, we scrambled to the wharf so fast. My father got the hoist that they haul up fish, got a piece of canvas to put under her stomach, and put it on the block and tackle. At last she had her legs again. A halter was put on and a rope to take her from the wharf to our barn. We never saw so many people going in and out of our barn to see that blue ribbon cow that Mother paid the full $50 for the cow
We kept her tied on a rope and stake for a few days to eat the grass behind the sheds and stores not far from our house. The first bucket of milk Mother milked she kicked it over and we lost all the milk. We lost a few more pails of milk before we could manage her. We had to hold a dipper in one hand, milk with the other hand, and keep the milk pail far away from the cow’s hooves. She was a real kicker.
At last when Mother thought I could handle the milking, she sent me out to milk. She watched when I started. After a few kicks at my milking stool I managed milking in the dipper. I found it so strange as old Blossy would let us put the pail down and milk with both hands, plus we got the job done faster. We always had deadlines to meet – pasture and school. One evening when I was alone I rigged up two poles and drove them under the cow to the barn wall. I nailed them on a 2 x 4 of the barn. I brought them across her legs to see if I could hold her legs back and milk with both hands. I had nothing to fasten the poles on the other side I milked from. I found an old anchor and strapped it by the door and tied the poles to that. It wasn’t long when she kicked them right off the wall, and the anchor came down and spilled what milk we had. After six months we finally got the cow tamed down to milk with both hands. We found she was a real milker we never had enough pots and pans to keep all the milk. We sold more milk which gave Mother a few cents to buy extras like a spool of thread, etc.
We kids were starting to grow up a bit, too. We had an Aunt in Boston who sent all their old clothes to us and my sister Carrie found a beautiful blue Celanese dress in the bundle and it fitted her. She washed it and hung it on the line outside to dry. Our beautiful Blue Ribbon Cow was grazing close to the house and spotted the dress and by the time we got to her, half the dress was chewed right off to the waist. We had to watch the cow and tie her away from the clothesline. This cow was something else. The cow was forever knocking down fences and my poor father would get home from work only to have to go and fix them. Milk or no milk he cursed that Blue Ribbon cow every day.

Red Tape and Torpedo Nets

Celia LeDrew nee Shaw

During World War II shortly after VE day the Canadian Navy dumped tons of torpedo netting into Louisbourg Harbor. Torpedo netting was made of hawser steel wire and each link about twenty inches in diameter, which made a mesh buoyed at the waters surface and dropped to the bottom of the harbour to prevent torpedoes from entering past the torpedoes gate. The loaded merchant steamers were remaining at anchor to wait for convoys and orders.

WE lived in old frame house handed down from our grandmother on Commercial Street right by the government Wharf. The lot was 50 feet deep and right on the harbour with 180 feet of shore. Below our house was a beautiful sandy beach where we learned to swim and played in the sand that beach was our pride and joy our whole lives depended on that beach the beach processed every thing that children loved it was heart breaking to see the Royal Canadian Navy dump all this wire mesh on the beach I knew the first gale we would get the under tow would spread all over the whole shore line, not only the shore line would be messed up the lobster fishing that the fishermen depended on for there livelihood would be lost forever I spoke to my father that something should be done about it and he told me I would be wasting my time he said there was a war on and besides you cant fight the Royal Canadian Navy my attitude was how will I know if I don’t try he first person went was the Commander in charge of the Navy in Louisbourg he was very snarky and told me there was a war on and he had no time for such nonsense From there I went to talk to our mayor he to went down to speak to the Officer in charge same answer its impossible as there was a war on then I went to see the harbour master we had a long conversation about what the wire would do the lobster fishing he agreed that it would be disastrous so off he goes to the commander only to get the same answer this time words flew from both of them the officer walked away went to office and slammed the door there was about 160 men working on the marine repairs refitting the mine sweepers and other naval ships. I caught them all on there lunch time although they agreed it was wrong Celia we would like to help you and you cant buck the R C N This all happened from 9 am now its 1pm Mr L H Cann the owner of the marine company that serviced the naval ship she was reluctant to help me I asked him if he would give me the phone number of the naval headquarters in Halifax he gave the phone number perhaps only to get rid of me before I phoned the navy I went to the harbour master to get the phone number of the DEPT of Fisheries He agreed that I should carry on I asked to speak to the Commander of the navy when this commander got on the phone I was a little on the nervous side I explained all that happened I never used so many yes sirs and no sirs in my life This Commander was very sympathetic to my concerns about the fishing and the destruction this tons of wire will cause
It was 3.30 in the afternoon and the commander said he would give it his immediate attention I then asked if I could have his name and rank in case I needed to contact him again.
A navy minesweeper was in for refitting and the Captain and his wife were boarding with us. I couldn’t wait to tell them the good news and everyone laughed their heads off when I showed them the name of the man I was talking to in Halifax ‘Rear-Admiral L.W. Murray’. The Commander of the mine sweeper said we don’t ever get to talk to him. At that time I didn’t know the difference between a Sub-Lieutenant and a Rear Admiral no one wanted to believe me. I felt like a damn fool but I only had to feel like a damn fool till 8 o clock the very next morning my father called everybody to the window and before my eyes was a large scow with a large derrick lifting the discarded nets onto the scow. My fathers expression was I’ll be damned you did it a little girl you beat the Navy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Black Buoy

  Louisbourg April thick fog pervades the town and harbour. In the silence between the foghorn hoots a high-powered patrol boat has looked i...