p. 2058

are continuously placed on top, a fathom apart, to finish the flooring of the staging.  In the middle of these cross beams, large poles, of twenty-five or thirty feet [in length], are placed upright to support the ridge of the edifice ;  the larger ends of these rest upon the ground and are nailed to each alternate one of the cross beams, beginning with the base of the triangle and extending

CONSTRUCTION  OF  THE  STAGING USED  IN  THE  COD-FISHERY
Copperplate from Deny’s book

(Reduced to about three-fourths the original size)

towards the land.  All this having been finished, little poles, the longest that can be found, are obtained and laid lengthwise upon the cross beams, where they are arranged as closely as possible one against another, from [95] the point thence upward as far as the ridge other poles are placed at a foot from one another, nailed above and below, which shorten with the pitch of the sail.  The same is done with the opposite gable, where, however, the poles run from

p. 2059

the bottom to the top.  After this [98] the ends and the sides are lined with branches interwoven as compactly as possible between these poles.
Whilst all this work is under way, the captain does not fail to send the boats to the fishing just as soon as the carpenters have put them into condition so they can go.  The fish which they bring back every evening are dressed upon boards which are placed upon barrels.  These form a sort of temporary tables which they use until the staging and its appurtenances shall be completed.  This fish is salted and put into a pile exactly as if everything were in condition to receive it, as I shall tell you in the part to follow.

The staging is no sooner [99] finished than they set to work to fill it up inside.  There a table is made, of four feet wide and about three feet high, removed three feet from the partition of which I have just been speaking.  This table is called the splitting-table [étably].  In the space between this splitting table and the partition are placed the throaters [picqueurs] and the headers [decoleurs], and on the other side are the splitters [habilleurs].*  These splitters are five, six, or seven, according to the size of the vessel.  Each splitter has a throater and a header.  The splitters have on their right side a kind of trough or box of wood, about a foot and a half wide and a little longer ;  its bottom is tipped up about clear to the end towards the land.  This makes an efficient flooring for the staging.
From these two stakes of the point, which determine the breadth of the staging, and extending on both sides towards the land, there are placed little poles which run from the ground straight up to pass above the flooring about four feet ;  they are distant about two feet from one another.  At the upper ends of these little poles, which make the two sides of the staging, another large pole is nailed to their tops, and this holds them crosswise from one end to the other.
Upon those large poles which are nailed to the middle of the cross beams, are placed other poles which are nailed upon their [96] top ends from one extremity to the other, and these poles form the ridge.  Then other poles are arranged which extend to rest or fall upon those other poles which are elevated four feet on the sides of the staging ;  and these serve as rafters.  This being done, a mainsail of the vessel is placed on top, with the seams running like the rafters in order that the water may run off more easily.  To effect this the sail is stretched as much as possible by means of cords which are fastened to the poles on which rest the rafters.  If the sail is not large enough to cover the whole staging, the end towards the land is left uncovered, for the chief place is the opposite end, where the hardest of the work is done.  [97] To close the two gables and the two sides of four feet in height, one begins with the gable towards the point, which is at those two large stakes which deter-

* I have given here the modern English equivalents, used by all the English fishermen, for these three important terms, though they are not exactly translations of the French words.  A picqueur, literally translated, would be a slitter, decoleur would be a beheader, while habilleur would be a dresser.  The picqueur is called a cut-throat in Newfoundland, but a throater in Nova Scotia and New England.  The French of Newfoundland do not now use the term habilleur, but trancheur or splitter.  The étably, or splitting-table, is called by the French fishermen étal, as our author also calls it on page 155.

p. 2060

mine the breadth of the staging.  For this a large pole is nailed from one stake to the other, with the exception of the breadth of a door which is left on one side to lead out upon the point.  This pole, which is nailed underneath is raised some two feet* above the floor, while half a foot towards the floor, facing [100] inward,† and the side towards which the bottom inclines is closed by a slide, and this is raised and lowered between two guide pieces.  This is in order that the fish may fall of itself and all at once into the barrows, as I shall explain more at length when I speak of the dressing of the fish.  At five or six feet farther on towards the land, in the middle of the building, there is made a kind of enclosure for containing the salt which is used to salt the fish.  This enclosure is called the salt-bin [saline], and is situated exactly under the ridge.  Thus the stakes which support the ridge pass through the salt-bin, which may be twenty to twenty-five feet in length and more, according to the size of the vessel to which [101] it is proportioned, and it is about four feet wide.  This bin is made of long stakes laid one upon another up to the height of a foot and a half or thereabouts.  On the two sides of this building there are two doors, which are used in discharging the staging of fish when it is necessary to carry them to the water to wash them.  And that is about everything which can be said as to the staging, in order to give an understanding of it.


[102]CHAPTER VI

Containing the method of obtaining the oil from the livers of Cod, with a description of the instruments and tools which are used in dressing, salting, and washing the fish :  what flakes and beach are, their construction and their use.

Whilst this work is being done, others are engaged on the preparations necessary for making oil, which is accomplished in three ways.  The first is a kind of bin like that of a wine-press [103] in which the vintage is pressed, but in which the sides are very much higher all around.  There are three planks, and four if they are narrow, one above another, well joined, well caulked, and well pitched, both on the bottom and on the sides, so that the oil cannot run out.  This may be six to seven feet square.  At one of the sides there is placed a wicker or basket-work, with mats of straw, of the height and breadth of the bin, inside along one side of the press.  Between this wicker and mat and the side of the press, there is a little empty space.  This is made to prevent all the cod livers, which are thrown every day into that large space which remains shut off from the empty space, from passing through, and [104] that there may remain a space for the oil in proportion as it is made.‡  This happens

* This space of two feet, as our author tells later at page 159, and as is shown both in his own figure and in the Moll engraving at page 311, is left open for the admission of the fresh fish.  At the back gable, however, this space is not needed and is filled with poles and branches.
† This trough is well shown in the Moll engraving at page 311 of this work, where it is made plain that it was raised considerably from the floor.  It faces inward relative to the staging, not to the table.  The mode of emptying it is explained by our author at page 163 of his book.
‡ As our author’s drawing further shows, the wicker acted as a strainer to keep the livers thrown into the larger space from entering the smaller, which therefore contained only oil readily drawn off as described and as shown by the engraving.

p. 2061

only through power of the sun, which makes the livers melt.  For the bin, or kind of press, is placed outside the staging in the most convenient place possible.  The oil always rises to the top of the blood which the livers yield, whilst the water which falls when it rains settles below the oil ;  the latter is in the middle between the water and the livers which are thrown in there every day and float upon the oil.  When it is desired to draw it, a hole is made in the side of the press at about a foot from the bottom on the side of the wicker, whilst another hole is made lower to empty the water and blood.  In these holes is placed a good plug or a faucet, and the oil is drawn off in [105] proportion as it is formed ;  and then it is placed in barrels.  All of the livers do not melt entirely, and there form over the oil many vile matters which it is necessary to empty and throw away from time to time ;  otherwise this would form a crust by virtue of its drying up, and this would keep the sun from melting the livers which are thrown in every day.  There is hardly anybody except the Basques who make this kind of presses, and they are only necessary, moreover, for large vessels.  Others make use of a well-caulked boat, which has one end placed some little higher than the other ;  at the lower end is placed a wicker with mats, as in the bin or press, to prevent the livers from passing.  At this end are made two holes, [106] one to empty the water, and the other to draw off the oil, which are emptied from time to time [respectively] above and below, as in the bin or press.  In default of boats or press, use is made of good barrels, knocked in at one end, and placed upright upon stocks, somewhat raised.  A wicker is placed therein, from top to bottom, with mats, which make an empty space of about a half foot in breadth from the top to the bottom of the barrel.  Two holes are also made in the lower part to empty the water and the oil, and one empties also from time to time all the filth or the residuum, which is formed on top.  A barrel of this oil is worth as much as twenty to twenty-five écus.  All these three sorts of vessels which are used [107] for making oil are called a Charnier by all the fishermen, with the exception of the Bretons, who call it a Treüil.*
Just as the entire crew does not work all at once upon a single duty, so each one has his special work.  Let us look at those who are employed with the appliances which are used for preparing the Cod, such as the galaire ; † this is a kind of little staging which is made on land at the edge of the beach.  For this there is made a foundation of stakes planted upright like those underneath the staging ;  they are increasingly tall towards the sea, in order that the flooring may be level.  It is made in the same way as the staging, both as

* By the English fishermen it is called a liver-butt, and is commonly made from a hogshead, at least on the fishing vessels.  It is illustrated, along with some other articles used in the fishery, on the plate in our author’s book reproduced herewith.  By the French fishermen of Newfoundland it is called a foiessiere.
† This galaire, which serves, as our author tells us on page 202 of his book, for a support to the pile of fish while draining after being washed clear of salt, finds its equivalent in Newfoundland in a small platform placed near the flakes, but I have not been able to find its name.  The piles of draining fish are said to be in water-horse, an expression used also in Nova Scotia, and by the Acadian fishermen are said to be en fumier.

p. 2062

to the foundation and also as to the flooring of little poles, with the [108] exception that it is only twelve or fifteen feet both in length and breadth.  The latter is a double one ;  the single ones have the same length along the beach,
ARTICLES  USED  IN  THE  COD-FISHERY
Copperplate from Deny’s book

and half the breadth towards the sea.  Some are made like this, but only three four feet across, according to the size of the vessel, and always more rather than less through fear that bad weather may prevent the fish being spread out to dry.  This galaire is covered above with poles in the form of an arbour, upon which are placed plenty of branches to prevent the sun, when striking upon the fish, from overheating them, something which would spoil them.
There are also needed some barrows [boyars], which we call handbarrows [sivières à bras] in France.*  Everybody [109] knows what they are.†  There are also wickerworks which are flat, made from long rods an inch thick, inter-laced like a wickerwork for cleaning clothes, but they are much larger and stronger.  They are used to throw the Cod upon when it is washed, in order that it may not take up sand.  Another is also made of about a fathom and a half square.  It is formed like a cage, except that it is not closed on top ;  the sticks in it are as large as the thumb, and it is bottomed with boards.  This is placed in the water, the fish are thrown inside it for washing, and it is called a Timbre.‡

* Called civiadières by the French fishermen of Newfoundland.
† If he does not, he will find one illustrated in the Moll picture (on the beach) later at page 311 of this work.
‡ Shown by our author’s figure.  This washing-box, the use of which is explained by our author at page 101 of his book, is still in use and called, in Newfoundland, a rams horn. It is not placed on the beach, as our author describes, but is lowered from the staging by a proper tackle.

[1927lab]



 

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