Fishing stages grab spotlight
Wooden Boat Museum shines spotlight on seaside sheds
The Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador recently launched a new exhibit focusing on the importance of fishing stages to rural communities. It includes a map identifying the location of 51 stages that used to occupy the shoreline of Winterton. Only three of those 51 stages remain today, two of which are pictured above.
A few decades ago in Winterton, local harvesters occupied more than 50 fishing stages along the shore.
Today, there are only five, but the local Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador is making sure people don’t forget about their historic value to rural communities.
This summer, a new exhibit — “They Came for the Fish and Stayed for the Stages” —shines a light on those small buildings elevated on platforms along the edge of the shore.
Wallace Pinhorn, a professional engineer who serves on the museum’s board of directors, came up with the initial idea for creating a fishing stage-centric exhibit. Over 100 people came out for its formal unveiling June 27.
“It was essentially the heart of the economic drive here on the island,” Jeremy Harnum told The Compass during a recent tour of the new exhibit. He’s the museum’s manager and a folklorist who helped conduct research for the exhibit.
Several panels were created for the exhibit, including a large aerial image that maps out 51 fishing stages that existed at one point in Winterton. An archival interview with the late Raymond Parrott provided the informa- tion necessary to identify those stages. People can use a touchscreen device nearby to learn about the people who owned the stages and their ancestors.
Only three of those 51 fishing stages are left, with two others built in 2010. As Harnum describes it, fishing stages became less of a necessity for harvesters once companies started to use refrigeration and factory freezers.
“People kept a few just for fishing supplies, but they weren’t for the processing anymore,” he said.
Harnum interviewed John Pinhorn last December to learn about the Pinhorn family stage, and he also gained perspective from Pinhorn’s niece, Rhoda Head.
“He’s grown up around it, and it’s something that I’m so far disconnected from, and to hear that from his perspective as a 93year-old man now to say this is how things were, it was interesting. I was captivated the entire time I was speaking to him, and to be able to get that from him was important … to mark down and preserve that.”
Although he may not have grown up in an environment where fishing stages were a big part of the here-and-now, Harnum does have some roots in the fishery — a point made apparent in the exhibit itself. Jeremy’s uncle, Abe Harnum, built a model fishing stage displayed in the corner of the room where the new exhibit is set up.
“It was here in our museum, so when we put together the room, I said, “Hmm. That makes sense. I can just slide that out here and it fits in.’”
Museum folklorist Crystal Braye handled the writing for the exhibit. Board member Bruce Whitelaw did the design and layout work, and museum boat builder Jerome Canning took care of much of the physical labour involved in setting up the exhibit.
“They Came for the Fish and Stayed for the Stages” is a new exhibit at the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, located in Winterton.
Only five traditional fishing stages still exist in Winterton.