Rencontre East, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Isolated and Loving It
Memories of an Earlier Time
In the year 1923 the bay was full of drift ice and people came here from all over the bay, travelling over the ice by dog teams.
by Amelia Mullins
Mr. Edwin Collis was the Justice of the Peace at that time and he also gave out the welfare papers to people all around the bay. There was no doctor stationed here but there was one in St. Jacques and he came around in a little boat. The people didn't have any money to pay for his services or for drugs so they would give him dry fish and vegetables. He was 81 years of age when he delivered my first baby, Hilda.
In 1926 there were four vessels fishing from Belleoram and they would bring their fish here and wash it out and the women would take a couple of dory loads of the fish and dry it on flakes for five dollars a dory load.
Four or five vessels would be brought here and moored up over in the Brook and Mr. Steve Giovannini would look after them all winter. The owners from Grand Bank came for them in the spring.
In 1927 there was no church here. There was a one room school. (It later became a two-storey building.) Besides being used for regular instruction, the school was also used for church services and concerts. Construction on the Anglican Church started in 1926 but the building wasn't finished until 1930.
At Christmas time. no one had a Christmas tree. Everyone would hang up a stocking and hope for an apple or an orange. The Orange Lodge (which was located at the present site of the Parish Hall) would be open for dancing. Children were permitted to attend these dances, but only for a set time each night.
During the summer months the women went fishing and some carried their babies in the dories with them. One woman took her baby along when he was just three weeks old. He was placed in the stern and covered with blankets. The women did quite well with the fishing. My grandmother would split the fish for them.
At that time of year you never burned wood. The men cut boughs and dried them and that's what was burned all summer long. People were busy with their gardens, growing enough potatoes and turnips to last all winter. There was plenty of herring and the men brought in doryloads and sold them for fifty cents a barrel. The herring was then packed by the women in vinegar at a shed in the Brook.
During the winter of 1939 a large steamer called the Elizabeth Rivers spent a large amount of time here waiting for herring. Four smaller steamers came here that same year but they didn't stay very long.
When I think about the early days in Rencontre, many things come to my mind. I recall the wire bridge across the brook. There were three families living over there, Mr. Thomas Oakey, his son Bill. and Mr Joseph Quann. They sent their children over across to go to school at a one room school on this side of the brook. Aggie Giovanmni taught school over there.
I recall the first engine to be used in a vessel. It was owned by Mr. Joe Mullins who put it in a small row dory. Everyone wanted to see it.
I also recall packing lobsters at the lobster factories. Charlie and his father had a factory in Gravel Cove as did Walter Hardy. The big barrel they had outdoors held a barrel of lobsters at a time. We packed three or four cases a day. Charlie's mother and I packed them in cans twice a week. The price was $2.00 a case.
All these things are gone now but for me they will never be forgotten. They were a big part of my life.