‘Tragedies on the Unforgiving Seas’
Lockeport fisherman releases book recounting disasters
While Lockeport fisherman W.A. “Bill” Williams never set out to be a writer, he’s proud and “relieved” that his first book is now in the hands of readers.
Tragedies on the Unforgiving Seas, which was launched December 16 in Lockeport, is the result of years of personal experience at sea combined with decades of material collected by himself and his father before him.
The South Shore of Nova Scotia is no stranger to the deadly power of the icy waters of the North Atlantic and in his book Williams shares his knowledge of these disasters.
Having spent almost five decades in the fishery, Williams knew many of the sons, fathers and husbands who went to sea never to return to their families. He is familiar with the heartbreak that gripped the entire area when word spread about these tragedies.
In doing the book, Williams explains he wanted to preserve the memories of these lost men and make sure these important events in the community’s history were never forgotten.
Drawing from his personal experiences at sea and his many years on the boats, Williams paints a vivid picture for the reader who will be drawn into the collection of stories by the screeching winds, the gigantic walls of water, and the desperation of men facing a certain death.
Born and raised in Lockeport, Williams is proud of years in the fishing industry pointing out that for all but seven of his 46 years on the sea, he owned his boats. Going to sea at a young age, he worked in a variety of fisheries including dragger fishing, long lining, ground fishing and lobster fishing.
Growing up in the coastal Nova Scotia fishing community of Lockeport, Williams was inherently drawn to the sea. So it comes as little surprise that his life’s work has revolved around boats, fishing gear and salt water, the bio in his book reads.
“From his earliest days as a hired hand aboard the fishing dragger Karen B to his 20-plus years behind the wheel of the Christina & Sons II, his ties to the East Coast fishery span six decades. Though he retired his sea legs following the sale of his boat and lobster license in 2011, the longtime Allendale resident continues to serve as chairman of the Southwest Nova Fixed Gear Association.”
“It’s in my blood,” he says, admitting that while it was hard to retire in 2011 he knew it was time. “I just knew it. It was time to say enough.”
And while earning a living from fishing is an honourable profession most who do it agree that it’s hard and dangerous work. Williams says he decided to do the book to remember those who lost their lives doing their jobs and in most cases, doing what they love.
The material for his book mostly comes from newspaper clippings, personal accounts and photos that his father, Albert Williams Sr. — also a fisherman — had collected in scrapbooks from 1929 to 1955 and from his own scrapbooks that he started in 1961.
“It started with my father and then I started collecting everything about the fishing in- dustry and the tragedies that hit the community,” Williams says. “Honestly, I saved anything about the fishery that I could get my hands on.”
The idea to do a book using this material actually started to come into focus many years ago when he was attending a ceremony in Shelburne to unveil a monument dedicated to all the fishermen from the county who were lost at sea over the years.
“Really, two tourists from the US heard me and another fellow talking about all these stories and the men who were lost,” Williams explains. “They suggested that somebody should write that stuff down and keep a record of it before it was all forgotten and that got me to thinking about a book.”
It took years for the project to finally come together, he admits, but now that it’s out for people to read, he’s relieved that it’s done but he’s proud of the book which he describes as a memorial to the men who were lost at sea.
“This has gone way beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” he says while quickly adding that he feels good about the end result.
“It’s good to see it done,” he explains. “And I couldn’t have made it happen without the help of some key people.”
One of those people is Melda Clark, who Williams says recognized the potential of the book and helped to pull the material together to get it ready for release.
“I could not have done it without her,” he says. “She did a fantastic job and it never would have happened without her.
Anyone wanting more information on how to obtain a copy of the book can email [email protected]daroacheclark.com.