The ties that bind

The Compass - - SPORTS -

Deb­bie Joyce, a na­tive of Car­bon­ear, has lived in Vic­to­ria all her life. She has fi­nally been able to in­dulge a long­stand­ing love of writ­ing. Her de­but book is a his­tor­i­cal fic­tional work en­ti­tled “The Ties that Bind.”

“Writ­ing,” she ex­plains, “is a fan­tas­tic means of telling a story. It is a way to keep the past alive and to help peo­ple un­der­stand their her­itage. Roots run deep. We are what we came from.”

Her book tells the story of seven young New­found­lan­ders who board the SS Kyle in Car­bon­ear in the spring of 1948. They travel to St. Fran­cis Har­bour, Labrador, in or­der to seek a sum­mer’s wages. Their lives in­ter­twine as they face life to­gether.

“This story means a lot to me,” Deb­bie says, “as it tells of the hard­ships and joys that my fam­ily lived through, but,” she adds, “it also gives me a chance to em­bel­lish the truth. One can imag­ine the beau­ti­ful blue ocean and the bright blue sky, but to re­al­ize that rape, death and ghosts were prob­a­bly part of their lives makes for the true heart­break that they en­dured.

“I have cut my teeth on th­ese won­der­ful sto­ries. I am sure that salt wa­ter runs through my veins.

“I wanted to make it a ro­mance, as well, be­cause many a maiden met her fu­ture hus­band on those sum­mer fish­ing jobs.

“I made the end a tragedy be­cause there were plenty of tragic things that hap­pened, and not all sto­ries have an end­ing where ev­ery­one lives hap­pily ever af­ter, al­though if we be­lieve in an af­ter­life, they are happy and to­gether in death as the three (Edith, Henry and their daugh­ter) never were in life.”

Deb­bie’s debt to her mother, Har­riet His­cock Dear­ing, is ob­vi­ous through­out. She was raised in St. Fran­cis Har­bour from the time she was three years old un­til she was 16.

“Th­ese sto­ries that I have in­her­ited from my won­der­ful mother are what shaped me, made me who I am to­day,” Deb­bie says. “I owe her more than words can ever ex­press. She has lived for over 80 years, lived through hard times and tremen­dous good times. I can only pray to be as good a per­son as she is. How­ever, this story has many twists and turns that I am sure she would not have even imag­ined.

“She has read the book and told me she could even smell the salt wa­ter and the fish. She could feel the old Kyle rock­ing be­neath her feet. She told me it brought back many happy and yet many painful times.”

The con­nec­tion to the trusty Kyle is strong be­cause, Deb­bie ex­plains, it “was a very im­por­tant part of the trans­porta­tion of peo­ple and sup­plies to and from the Labrador. My mother’s fam­ily de­pended on it year af­ter year. It is a very sig­nif­i­cant part of the his­tory here in this area and it should be told to the younger gen­er­a­tion. Most of the younger gen­er­a­tion in this area can see the old rusty ship in Habour Grace, but they do not un­der­stand just how im­por­tant it was to the way of life of their grand­par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion.”

Deb­bie wants to leave her read­ers with “an un­der­stand­ing that we are what we come from. We are stronger be­cause of the hard times. Love is a won­der­ful thing that can be found any­where. I want peo­ple to see that we can be happy with­out mod­ern con­ve­niences. I want them to see the heart­break that was in­volved with leav­ing home at such a young age, the lone­li­ness, iso­la­tion and tough times that our an­ces­tors lived. I also want them to see the joy, good times and tremen­dous love of the sim­ple things.

“We are so busy with our lives that we need to stop and re­flect on what was, go back in time, breathe the fresh air, see the beauty of the world, and see that the hard­ships en­dured by th­ese peo­ple are the rea­son we are here.”

Now that she’s a pub­lished au­thor, Deb­bie has no in­ten­tion of sit­ting back and “rust­ing on her laurels.” She’s cur­rently work­ing on another book, which “is based in the com­mu­nity of Vic­to­ria. It is the story of a boy born in the 1930s. It tells of his life grow­ing up dur­ing war times and times of feast and famine; his de­sire to get ahead in life with lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion. It shows his stub­born­ness and willpower to over­come many hard­ships and shows the many won­der­ful times, as well.” It also pro­vides an in­ter­twined his­tory of both Vic­to­ria and the prov­ince.

“The Ties that Bind” is a prod­uct of DRC Pub­lish­ing of St. John’s. — Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at


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