Ah, those sure were the days

Ma­rine At­lantic work­ers and his­tory buffs join in ‘his­tory cir­cle’

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CLASSIFIEDS/FEATURES - BY MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Til­man Gal­lant has some mem­o­ries from which he still gets a chuckle from the time he worked for Ma­rine At­lantic.

“One time, I re­mem­ber I was stand­ing on the bridge of the Abbey II. I heard this splash and saw what I thought was a trash bag. I thought some­one had dumped a bag of their garbage over­board.”

Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw some­thing else.

“This guy jumped over­board. And then I re­al­ized that the other thing in the wa­ter was an­other guy,” he said with a laugh.

It was a dan­ger­ous thing to do, he added.

The Abbey II was in the process of dock­ing at the time.

“I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be be­tween a ferry and a dock.”

Gal­lant, who worked for Ma­rine At­lantic for 24 years, said it caused quite a stir.

“I had to tell the cap­tain to stop and we re­ported it. I re­mem­ber giv­ing the po­lice a state­ment.”

Shortly af­ter, one of Gal­lant’s co­work­ers told him that they saw a girl or two run­ning down the stairs with pants and shoes.

“Let’s just say you don’t fall over­board with­out your shoes.”

Re­cently, Gal­lant was one of about 20 peo­ple who turned out to the his­tory cir­cle, hosted by the Bed­eque Area Mu­seum, to dis­cuss the Bor­den fer­ries and share sto­ries.

Ger­ard Sex­ton, a Ma­rine At­lantic worker for 38 years, re­mem­bers the time one cap­tain was hung from his feet to fix a sec­tion of the ship where a pin had come out of place.

“Cap­tain Don­ald Gra­ham was a big man. His shoe size was like 11 or 12. But he was a great cap­tain. One day the mates tied a rope around his an­kles, and helped him over the rail. A pin had dis­lodged. So there he was over the rail, head first. He had to wait un­till we came to high seas be­fore he could even fix it,” Sex­ton ex­plained.

Then there was the time that Barry Cur­tis’ fa­ther was go­ing to make it onto the ferry one way or an­other.

“My dad had a com­pany where he would trans­port live­stock and other ship­ments be­tween P.E.I. and New Brunswick,” said Cur­tis.

“This one trip was on a week­end or some­thing like that so he let me come with him.”

But as they neared board­ing the ferry, things seemed to hit a snag.

“Big trucks like this were asked to come into the truck lane and other ve­hi­cles stayed in the other lane. But my dad had been on the ferry enough times to work out that if he went in the other lane we wouldn’t make the cross­ing.”

So in­stead he stayed in the car lane, ex­plained Cur­tis.

“You need to get in the other lane,” an of­fi­cer told Cur­tis’ fa­ther.

“We’re not go­ing to do that. I’ve got my fam­ily with me and we need to make this cross­ing,” his fa­ther replied.

Even­tu­ally CN po­lice of­fi­cers stopped them and said they weren’t sup­posed to be in the lane.

“I’ll shoot your tires out. You’re not get­ting on this ferry,” said the of­fi­cer.

“You can shoot my tires out but I’ll still make it up that ramp,” Cur­tis’ fa­ther fired back.

The CN of­fi­cer stepped aside and let the el­der Cur­tis drive onto the ferry.

“There was no stop­ping him,” said Cur­tis.

MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Nikki Gal­lant looks at pic­ture of her fa­ther, Til­man Gal­lant, which was taken while he was work­ing on one of the Ma­rine At­lantic Fer­ries.

MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Til­man Gal­lant points to a model of the MV Abeg­weit II. Gal­lant re­calls the time two men jumped over­board while the boat was dock­ing.

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