p. 2063

The wheelbarrows [broüettes] are nothing other [110] than two pieces of squared wood, as large as the arm or thereabouts, of four to five feet in length, [and having] the form of a crook at one end.  On these are nailed staves of a foot and a half in length, the ends of which are nailed to the round part of these bars to form a bottom.  In order that it may form a hollow, staves are also placed on the two sides, of which one end of the stave is nailed against the end of the crook, and the other end of the stave in the middle of the bar where it commences to lose its curvature.  Hence the curvature of these bars, when thus prepared, makes a large hollow like a wheelbarrow.*  In place of a wheel there is added a large roller of wood [111] pointed at both ends, which are passed into two iron eyes attached underneath this wheelbarrow.  Thus when it is dragged this roller serves as a wheel, which makes it more easy to move.  Its use is to carry the fish from those troughs, which I have described as used by the splitters.  This barrow is placed under the troughs, and no sooner is the slide raised than the fish fall therein without being touched.  This is done to save time and expedite labour.
Whilst all these works are being constructed, the doctor, with some of the boys, is working to build the flakes [vignaux].  For this they have a quantity of little poles which are cut into pieces [112] of about five to six feet in length and pointed at one end ;  these are driven into the ground, so that there remain about three and a half or four feet above the ground.  These pickets are distant one from another about a fathom ;  they are all arranged in a single line, and are all of the same height.  They continue about twenty-five, thirty, or forty paces in length according to the extent of the place, which requires them sometimes to be longer and sometimes shorter.  This first line of pickets being completed, another is made of the same sort, with a distance between the two lines of about five feet, a little more or less.  Then long poles are placed in position and tied to the top ends of these pickets, [113] from one end to the other of the two sides.  The strings which are used are threads of rope-yarn.  All these poles being in position, others are placed across them, the ends of which rest upon those poles of the two sides ;  they are tied at each end to those poles at distances of about one foot from one another.  This being done one covers all this length and breadth with branches, from which all the foliage is removed in order that the air may circulate as well from below as from above, whilst the Cod are upon the flakes to dry.†  There are needed for one ship about thirty, forty, or fifty of these flakes, according to the bigness of the vessel, and also according to the extent of the place, which is sometimes of [114] thirty, fifty, and even of a hundred paces in length.
In another place the steward has some of the boys, whom he makes work

* Its construction is made plain by our author’s plate.  Such rolling hand-barrows are still in use, and in Newfoundland are called drudge-barrows.  The French fishermen call it by the same name as our author.
† These flakes are made in substantially the same way at the present day.  They are always a conspicuous feature of any fishing village or station.  They are figured, though not well, in the Moll picture at page 311 of this work.  They are still called vignots, or vigneaux, by the French and Acadian fishermen.

p. 2064

on the gravel beach [grave*] if there is no other business more pressing.  But let us look at the work on the beach, and then I will tell that which is done in having this beach prepared.  That which is called beach is the little pebbles which the sea throws upon the coast.  This is flattened as evenly as possible, and if there is too much in one place it is removed to fill up the hollows in other spots ;  or else the boys go to fetch it from the shore in hampers [mannes] (which is a kind of basket, round, and without handle),† and carry it where it is needed.  If the beach is old, and has not been torn up [115] during the winter by the sea, grass is found coming up amongst the gravel, and it is necessary for the boys to tear it all out shoot by shoot, so that none at all is left.
The duty of the steward, aside from the work on the beach, is to take charge of everything connected with the cooking every day for the whole crew, and to go occasionally with his boys, in a boat which he has, from land to the vessel to fetch wine, biscuit, pork, butter, oil, and all other provisions.  He goes to the spring with his barrels to fetch water to make his drinks, and for the kettle.  He goes also to the ship with his boat to fetch salt, and has it carried ashore and placed in [116] a little pile by the boys, until the time when the staging may be finished and the salt-bin ready to receive it.  This salt, which is thus brought, is for salting the Cod which are caught while this work is going on.  This is done by the boats which go to the fishery, as I have said, in proportion as the carpenters get them ready ;  and it is these fish which I have described earlier as dressed upon those boards which are laid upon the barrels.

[155]CHAPTER X


On the method of dressing and salting the Cod, and of making the oil which is obtained therefrom :  how one prepares the roe, what the latter is, and what it is
used for.

Just as soon as two or three boats are unloaded, and there are fish upon this point or stage-head, and the boat-masters and the stowers are upon the staging, then each according to his duty begins to prepare himself to go to the fish-table [aller a l'etal], that is, to take his place around the table.  For this purpose the splitters commence with their [156] knives, which are furnished them by the captain.  They sharpen them, and their sharpener is a piece of flat wood, four inches wide, three thick, and as long as the arm, upon which they place the sediment of a grindstone.  This sediment is made by the action of the carpenters in sharpening their iron tools upon a large millstone, which is used up by dint of use ;  that which is consumed falls into the trough in which is the water.  They take care to collect this, and some of them even carry it from France ;  with it they sharpen their knives which cut like razors.  They

* There is no exact English equivalent for this word grave, which our author applies to those accumulations of pebbles without sand which are formed only upon shores exposed to a strong surf.  Its exact use in the drying of fish is described later under page 212 of our author’s book.  Being thus economically important it has passed into a place-name (as Grevé) in Gaspé and elsewhere.
† These brackets are our author’s.


p. 2065

each have two of them.  As soon as these are sharpened they put on a large leather apron, which takes them [157] under the chin, and extends to the knees.  They have also sleeves of leather or of tarred linen.  In this garb they take their places in barrels which come up to the mid-thigh.  These barrels are between those little boxes which are attached to the table, and of which I have earlier spoken.  They place their aprons outside or above the barrel to prevent the water, the blood, and other filth from entering it.  Such are the splatters, arranged ready for work.*  But they each need a throater and a header.  These have also a big apron and sleeves like the others, but they have no barrels.


ILLUSTRATION  OF  METHODS  USED  IN  THE  COD-FISHERY
From Moll’s Map of North America of about 1713.

In addition, those who work on the water have their boots, which they never leave except to sleep.  Those who stay on land and take part [158] in this work, do not have them.  The header has no knife, but the throater has one,

* The various operations of the fishery are shown, with pre-Raphaelite detail and clearness, upon the accompanying picture, reproduced from Moll’s map of North America of 1713 (or thereabouts).  Its agreement with the descriptions of our author is so close as to suggest some connection between his work and the picture, or else a remarkable uniformity in the methods of the fishery as practised by the French in Acadia and the English in Newfoundland.  It is to be noted, however, that while the picture is very like our author’s description, it differs in some details, such as in showing several salt-bins instead of one, the table set at right angles to the end partition instead of parallel, the door to the stage-head in the middle instead of one side.  It is possible the picture is much older than Moll’s map, but if so I do not know its origin.  It is reproduced, reduced, in Prowse’s History of Newfoundland (page 22), while the same picture, crudely re-drawn and in greater part reversed, is given in Winsor’s Narrative and Critical History of America, IV. 2, where it is said to be taken from a map of America of 1738 in Keith’s History of the British Plantations in America, Part I. 1738.


p. 2066

different from that of the splitter.  That of the splitter is square at the end, and very thick on the back in order to give it weight that it may have more power to cut the spine of the Cod.  That of the throater is longer and pointed, the point rounding on the side towards the edge.  The throaters and headers are on the other side of the table near the partition, which is on the side towards the sea, adjoining that point on which the Cod are unloaded.  Being thus all placed, the boys and others are also upon the point of the staging with their pews, with which they pierce the Cod in [159] the head, and thrust it near the table under that partition or gable which I have earlier described, and in which is left an opening of about two feet in height.  Having thrust it there, other men who are between the throaters and the headers take the Cod and place it upon the table near the


[207]CHAPTER XIV

Of the work on land which is done in washing the Cod, carrying it to the galaire, to the flakes, to the beach, in turning and returning it, and placing it in piles.

It is necessary now to follow the work of those on land.  Having arisen, the first thing that they do every day is to go to the staging to get the pile of Cod which is to be washed, carry it to the water, [place it] in that timbre, wash it and carry it thence to the galaire.  There is also on the galaire every day some [208] which must be carried to the flakes.  That is loaded upon the barrows, and is taken to the flakes.  Those who take it arrange it upon the flakes tail against head, the skin upwards.  When one flake is all covered, they commence to place it upon another.  When there is a question of carrying the barrow there is nobody exempt, not even the captain, except he be some aged captain who has [long] had command and who has seen the world.*  During this time those who have brandy drink a little dram of it by stealth without leaving their place at the work.  [The fish] having remained thus up to nine o’clock, when the skin has had time to dry, they go and overturn it flesh upward, and there [209] it remains until about four o’clock, when they go and overturn it, skin up, thus to pass the night.  The flesh is never left up during the night, because of the dampness.  That is repeated every morning—the washing, the carrying to the galaire, and from the galaire to the flakes.  All the Cod that is upon the flakes, as well those of that day as of the preceding, is turned flesh up every morning about nine o’clock or thereabouts, when the sun has acquired the force to dry up the dew and the dampness of the night.  Thus they are left until about four o’clock in the afternoon, if there does not appear any rain or appearance of rain.  For once the Cod has been placed to dry, it must no more [210] be wet.  And even if the rain continues it is always left with the skin up, and that which is upon the galaire remains there also, and that which is in salt remains unwashed.  There occur sometimes six, seven, and eight days without the possibility of placing them upon the flakes, washing or

* Such seems to be the meaning of the expression, obviously local, qui a veu le loup.

p. 2067

overturning them.  When that happens, which is rarely, the Cod runs great risk of heating ;  and if that happens, they are obliged to throw it away.  Even when this happens for two or three days [only], the Cod is never so good, and it is nearly always waste at the sale, when it is then necessary to give two quintals or two hundred pounds of it for one.
When that which was first placed upon the flakes commences to be a little dry, and [211] when the beach-master judges that it may be in condition to be placed en mouton, instead of overturning it at evening in the usual manner, skin up, he has them placed, up to eight, ten, and twelve, tails against heads, one above another, the foundation of this little pile being only two Cod, which are called mouton.  They are placed thus in order that they may preserve their heat, which they cannot do when overturned singly, for the reason that the night is always cool, and this moistens them too much in the open air and in the moist wind which strikes them from underneath upon the flakes.  They enlarge these moutons every evening up to fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five Cod.  When these have been [212] placed in this fashion inlarge moutons,* at evening instead of being replaced upon the flakes, they are carried to the beach to unload the flakes and make room for others.  Of two moutons they make only one upon the beach.  Then every evening there are removed from the flakes only those which are placed upon the beach.  Every day some are placed on the flakes, and some are removed from and some are placed upon the beach, and so on to the end of the fishery.
Having thus all the flakes and the beach covered with Cod, every morning after having washed and carried that on the galaire to the flakes, and having overturned all of that other flesh up, they overturn likewise that which is on the beach ;  and that which is there [213] in moutons they spread out one by one, skin upwards.  Then they go to overturn that which they had brought from the galaire in the morning, flesh up, like the others.  After this they return to do the same thing which they had just been doing [viz., turning the Cod flesh up] to that on the beach, which was in large moutons that had been selected and placed skin up.  Presently all the Cod of the flakes and of the beach has all the flesh upwards.  Such is the work that is done every day in the morning before dinner.  I do not doubt that they have a good appetite for having done their duty well.  But if, during the time of the dinner, there appears any sign of clouds, or if there is any appearance of rain, it is necessary for them to leave everything and to run [214] swiftly to the Cod and to turn it skin up, for fear lest the flesh become wet.  This being done, they go to finish their dinner.  And if that cloud does not bring rain, or only a little, and the sun comes out again finely, it is necessary to leave their dinner yet again and go back to place the Cod as it was before, where it remains until four o’clock in the evening or thereabouts.
From the time of the dinner until the time when it is necessary to overturn the Cod, the captain visits everywhere, seeks whether there is anything to be done, goes to have the Gaff Cod changed to another place, has that resalted

* These piles are called by the English fishermen of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia faggots, but the Acadian fishermen still call them moutons.

[1927lab]




 

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