Darkness lifts and so do fishermen’s hopes on setting day in French River

Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

Forty boats left from French River port for ancestral lobster grounds just as dawn broke at 6 am Monday, April 30. Hundreds of people watched the boats from shore, many snapping photos of the vessels as they passed.

Fishermen from ports throughout the Island headed out on setting day of the spring lobster fishery, hearing reports before they left of favorable conditions for a strong lobster catch. Days earlier fishermen were busy getting traps loaded onto vessels after they were baited.

Getting ready to launch. French River fishermen load up for setting day

Launching into a new season

Friends and family of lobster fishermen fill the shoreline, arriving on a fog shrouded morning just as the darkness lifted

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    Job seekers head to North Rustico job fair

    Story and photos by Jim Brown
    Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

    Islanders looking for jobs had pretty good odds of landing one on April 21 at the North Shore Job Fair, held at the North Rustico Lions Club. Dozens of businesses from throughout the province had booths at the fair, with several having more than 20 positions to fill.

    That could mean only one thing – summer is on the way.

    The job fair participants were: Barachois Inn, Blue Mussel Cafe, Boomburger, Brackley Beach Northwinds Inns and Suites, Carr’s Oyster Bar, Cavendish Pizza Delight, Chez Yvonne’s Restaurant, D.P. Murphy Group of Companies, Emerald Isle Property Management, Employment Standards Branch, Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, Fun Food PEI, Grandpa’s Antique Photo Studio, Inn at the Pier, Kindred Spirits Inn & Cottages, Lakeview Lodge and Cottages, Maritime Fun Group, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, New Glasgow Highlands Campground, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, PEI Preserve Company, Piatto Pizzeria & Enoteca, Razzy’s, Resort at Cavendish Corner, Richard’s Fresh Seafood, Sandpiper Cottages and Suites, Stanley Bridge Country Resort, Stanley Bridge Studios, Subway Cavendish, Sundance Cottages, Sunset Campground, The Ship’s Company Pub and Galley, Tourism Cavendish Beach/City Beach Express, Twin Shores Camping Area and Wind & Sea Restaurant.

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    Hundreds of friends, family members and supporters turn out to Joan Harding’s benefit

    Story and photos by Jim Brown

    You are truly blessed in life if you have many friends. And that’s certainly the case in spades for Joan Harding.


    It was turn away crowd at the New London Community Complex on April 6 for a benefit thrown by an army of volunteers, many of whom were friends and family of Joan, to help cover her health care related expenses. Cars jammed the parking lot and were parked on the road on both sides of the complex.

    So many people attended several had to be turned away, including parents who brought their young children with them, since children under 19 were not allowed inside. It was difficult finding a chair to sit on to enjoy an impressive lineup of musical entertainers or to take a break from looking at long tables filled with scores of donated auction items.

    Joan was unable to attend, since she was in Charlottetown receiving treatment for cancer.

    Audrey Paynter and Dick MacDonald donated more than $500 in winnings from the evening’s 50/50 draw to their dear friend, Joan Harding.

    Among the 300 or so people who attended was a couple soon to be married, who travelled all the way from Cornwall. Dick MacDonald and Audrey Paynter donated 50/50 winnings of $520 from the evening’s draw to their dear friend. The two are longtime friends with Joan, who helped Audrey through her own battle with cancer.
    “She came to see me when I was fighting cancer, so we have to come and do these things for her now when it’s her turn,” said Audrey, who sang at the benefit.

    “We donated it to a great friend. Joan’s been a buddy of mine and Dick’s for many, many years,” she said.

    “She is a good friend of many, many people, that’s why this place is overfilled tonight,” said Audrey.

    Joan Harding is employed at the New London recycling facility and is the treasurer of the Stanley Memorial Society, which has operated a farmer’s market at the Stanley Bridge Centre for the past several summers, as well as hosting history circles, musical shows and other events.

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    Danger continues to lurk underfoot

    Story and photos by Jim Brown

    In mid-April of last year I wrote a column warning about the serious threat to youngsters and others posed by jagged, broken slabs of concrete along the banks of a stream in North Granville, at Taylor Road and the Rattenbury.

    A few days ago I went down to the same location I had warned about last spring, to see if smelt might be schooling early, since there was a warm break in the weather.

    Both banks were covered by snow almost as high as my knees, but it wasn’t the snow I was worried about. I knew there was something treacherous hidden underneath and I watched every step I took to the streambed.

    I thought I had taken every precaution.

    And yet as I crept closer to the stream, I felt my foot slip.

    My heart stopped as I tried to regain my footing. Fortunately, I escaped injury, although my dip net fell into the snow and slithered to the water’s edge.

    That close, I thought. What if it were a child standing there, or a senior citizen in frail health?

    I’m actually quite surprised there hasn’t been a serious accident yet.

    Last year I wrote:

    “For years now I’ve headed down there, carefully watching my feet so they wouldn’t slip on bare, often jagged cement blocks lining the bank…Less than a week ago I had a scary misstep within five minutes, my feet sliding off a slick, rain-soaked block of cement. I banged my knee in the process but suffered no lasting injuries. Over the years I’ve been very fortunate, despite many slips, to suffer nothing more serious than cuts and bruises.”

    Things obviously haven’t changed in the year. The broken, jagged slabs are still there, they are still a threat to anyone who casts a line or pokes a net into the water.

    Not even a sign has been erected to warn anglers of the peril underfoot.

    There are big liability issues at stake and I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been several injuries since the slabs were laid, hopefully nothing worse than bruises, scrapes and cuts.

    We simply don’t how often this happened, because it’s likely the injuries happened to people visiting from other parts of the Island or perhaps from away.

    I also wrote: “What happens when an excited youngster rushes to the water’s edge to dip their net into a school of smelt or land the first trout of the season when the banks are still covered in snow? Will they conk their head and see stars? Will they get taken to the hospital with broken bones or worse? What if they slip and end up in the fast rushing early spring water?”

    I believe the residents of this area have been very lucky over the years that nobody has been seriously injured, or worse. How much longer is it realistic to expect that run of good fortune to continue?

    It’s up to our provincial government to do something now, before tragedy strikes. And take my word for it, it will.

    If anyone thinks it’s costly to remove the slabs now, likely using a winch and a crane, wait until someone gets hurt and lawyers start circling like sharks.

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