Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WHERE ONCE THEY STOOD, I WISH TO STAND

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We managed to salvage Monday. The rain stopped and the rain and the sky cleared up enough to allow for a run in the dad's boat up to Lange de Cerf.

Lange de Cerf  is the ancestral home of my father’s family. 

In 1765 Captain James Cook reported the existence of a small fishing village near Lange de Cerf Head. 

The community was never large, comprising of 45 people in 1898 but by 1935 it was down to under 24.  Many of those residents moved to nearby St. Bernard’s in 1947.

The cove and barrasway were first used as a fishing station by the French in the 1760's. Captain Cooke mapped the existence of fishing stage here in his records of 1765. At the mouth of Fortune Bay lies St. Pierre and Miquelon, France's last colony in North America.

My great- grandfather Whittle's family moved to Lange De Cerf  from Flat Island in Placentia Bay in the 1800’s to participate in the cod and herring bait fisheries. They became great Cod and Lobster fishermen. 

My father and his brothers continued the tradition of making a lucrative living from the sea. That tradition will end with my Uncle Tom - the last of Whittle fisher folk.



From what I can gather, they lived a pioneer and cooperative life. 

All hands worked at some aspect of the overall operation that provided a sustainable life. 

There was a trading relationship with St. Pierre. My grandfather often talked of rowing to the islands to purchase tubs of flour, sugar and other provisions.

Suffice to say although the community was abandoned in 1947, there remains a strong sediment. It is a touchstone, a reality check of where we came from, what we endured and provides a benchmark of simpler times.




The touchstone is a really a rock in the cove west of the main settlement.  

 Scattered inside and outside of this rock are the weather worn stumps that were the beams which supported my great grandfather house/fishing store and wharf.  

 Above this section of beach is the reminisce of a rock walkway leading to the many gardens that combed the hills. It was here that the potatoes, cabbage, turnip and carrots were grown and stored for the winter months in various cellars around the hills.


My brothers and I romanticize every year about building a cabin on the beach at Lang De Cerf.

God willing, I'll retire and die on that beach surrounded by the wind, the chirping of birds, the rolling of the waves and the whispers of my ancestors.

2 comments:

fisherman's girl said...

I remember rowing there with daddy, your Pop Whittle. We had a few mug ups on that beach. I hope you make the dream a reality and build on it's shores.

Pop Whittle, was quite the rower, definitely an olympic contender! He didn't much care for the motor boat.

fisherman's girl said...

I remember rowing there with daddy, your Pop Whittle. Had a mug up or two there as well. Pop Whittle was quite the rower, definitely an olympic contender! He didn't much care for the motor boat, preferring instead, the physical labour to the modern convenience. It was his way; embracing life at his own speed.

I hope you get to realize your dream and build your cabin amidst the friendly ghosts of our ancestors!

Beautiful snaps too Peter; thanks for sharing.