Flying for the mission
There were many places I had to go to now and then along the Labrador Coast. The list is long if I can remember them all:
Henley Hr, Pitts Arm, Pleasure Hr, Mary’s Hr, Lodge Bay, Cape Charles, Fox Hr, Petty Hr, Murrays Hr, Sandy Hook, Fishing Ships Hr, Francis Hr, Francis Hr Bight, Port Hope Simpson, Williams Hr, Georges Cove, Ship Hr, Occasional Hr, Charlottetown, Triangle, Dead Islands, Square Islands, Pinsents Arm, Venison Tickle, Snug Hr, Tub Hr, Triangle, Hawks Hr, Squasho Run, Boulters Rock, Seal Island, Frenchman’s Islands, Partridge Bay, Sandy Island, Batteau, Black Tickle, Spotted Island, Cartwright, Paradise River. I flew to these communities in the summer on floats and to some in the winter on skiis. (There maybe a few I have missed.)
In winter I would go to, Pitts Arm, Lodge Bay, Marys Hr.,Fox Hr., Port Hope Simpson, Williams Hr, Charlottetown, Pinsents Arm, Norman Bay, Partridge Bay, Black Tickle, Cartwright, and Paradise River. All on the harbor ice before any airstrips were constructed.
But my favorites were Triangle, Dead Island, Square Island and Venison Tickle. They were in my mind, beautiful little communities, occupied only during the summer fishing season, but they were just lovely as far as I was concerned.
Triangle was a small place with only one way in and one way out , with high cliffs on three sides and a small sheltered harbour with only one opening. You either had to land outside and taxi in or try and dive down over the Cliffs and round out in the small harbor and land with full reverse on the propeller. It all depended on the wind direction. I’d wait until a boat came out either to pick up or take off a patient.
Dead Island was a small place with one or two families from Charlottetown there for the fishing season. It was at the mouth of Michaels Bay. I would land in the small sheltered harbour and wait until a boat came out to meet me with the patient or to pick up the patient. It was quicker to wait rather than try and dock the airplane and a lot easier in quite a number of those communities.
Square Islands was a sheltered community where the Powells of Charlottetown used to collect fish and salmon from the fishermen fishing in the area. Quite a few people lived and fished there for the season. I can recall on one occasion in the spring when the salmon were numerous along the coast, one fisherman I knew asked me to cash a couple of cheques at the bank for him and bring the money back sometime when I was passing through. I told him I would and he passed me the cheques and I almost died! The value of the two cheques was in excess of $30,000. . . . . .
I returned to St. Anthony and the next day I took the cheques to the bank and spoke to the manager about them. He picked up the phone and called the branch of the bank in St. Johns where to cheques were written. He found out the cheques were bad as there was only $1500.00 left in the account. Besides that he pointed out the cheques only had a stamp on them from the fishing company and no actual signature! Sadly within a few days I was back in Square Islands and returned them to the owner. The fishermen had a chance to make
lot of money that spring, but I believe most of them lost it to this company. I remember that fall they were still trying to recover their losses, and this happened in the spring. I went ashore that day and the salmon were stacked about 3 feet high in the stage waiting to be cleaned. “OK,Tom”, he said “How many salmon do you want”? I declined as I don’t like fish.
Venison Tickle was a place I grew to like very much and went there quite a few times. I went there one day to pick up a fisherman from Carbonear. His name was Jim Forward, a nice gentlemen, who had arrived there in the spring on the “fisherman’s special”. This was a coastal boat that used to pick up fisherman from Newfoundland and bring them to places where they fished along the coast for the summer. Jim arrived and they put his trap boat over the side. Jim got in it and proceeded to start it up. It was a “make and break” engine and as sometimes happens, the pin flew out of the motor when he cranked it over and broke his leg. Not the first person this happened to. So Jim and I became great friends that year with me picking him up and bringing him back and forth after a doctor’s visit in St. Anthony. It was a year or so later that I took an Ottawa artist, Richard Gill, into Venison Tickle, among a dozen other places one summer’s day. I had taken my son Peter and Martin Penny along for the ride, Martin and Peter were about the same age, and Martin was the only one on the list for home that morning. He lived in Port Hope Simpson. I remember when we landed and tied up to the same trap boat Jim broke his leg on, Peter and Martin went missing. They were up on the hills surrounding the harbor. They came back and we had a great dinner at Jim’s house and soon after we left. That same house caught fire one spring day a few years later and was completely destroyed. The coastal boat had left Carbonear, and they turned it around to go back and pick up the makings of a complete house and deliver it to Jim in Venison Tickle. People came from everywhere to help in the construction of the new house. It was up within a couple of days. Sadly, Jim passed away a few years ago.
Those were the few places I really liked on the south east Labrador Coast. Now hardly anyone goes to those communities because of the shutdown of the fishery.