Cabot Island Memories

(Robert Tuik)

In the early days of lighthouse keeping the keepers brought along their families while attending their duties. On Cabot Island there were usually two families. At one time Ephriam Blackmore and Norman Gill were keepers of the light.

While the families were living on Cabot Island they would be isolated forlong periods of time. Because of this problem and the lack of education facilities, a school was started by Ephriam Blackmore. He taught his own children and some of Norman Gill's family. Ephriam only had a grade two education but he was gifted in writing, reading and arithmetic.

He taught the basic skills of reading, writing and adding. The school was started in the Sailor Home located on Eastern Head. The pupil 's were Marjorie Blackmore, Jesse Blackmore, Hariand Blackmore, Ike Gill and possibly Albert Gill.

While living on Cabot Island Jesse Blackmore had a close call. He almost drowned. He was walking along the shoreline when a huge wave came in and swept him off his feet. When the wave receded it took him too. He was swept beside a crevice in the rock where he was able to get a grip and hung on until his father came to the rescue. He was a very frightened and lucky boy.

According to the Blackmore family, life on Cabot Island was a combination of good times and bad. Lack of activity would result in boredom among the younger ones, especially when the weather was bad. But an active mind can result in many pleasant hours. It was because of boredom Jesse and Hariand Blackmore built a boat that was unlike any other.

According to Jesse, six pieces of one by two were driven into the ground in the shape of a boat. It was then sheeted up, pulled up out of the ground, the ends cut off and then the bottom was put in. Rags provided by their mother were used to seal the seams. It was twelve feet long. The boys spent many enjoyable hours rowing their boat in the small pond on the island.

When the weather was good and the sea calm they would take boat rides and cod jigging trips in a dory powered by a 3 HP Acadian engine. Trips would be made to Pinchards Island for supplies and to visit people.

Drinking water was delivered to the island by Mr. James Hill from Wesleyville. The mail was delivered by Uncle Benjamin Sturge from Pound Cove. Visits by these people were looked forward to because of news from the mainland. Many a good yarn was told.

Vegetables were grown on the Island to supplement their food supply. Bakeapples grew out there too. Sea birds and seals were killed for meat.

In the spring seals would appear on the ice. Once they lost their dog because of the seals. The dog spotted two seals and went after them. It killed the whitecoat and pursued the older seal in the water until they both disappeared from of sight. Guns were fired to try and lure the dog back, but it didn't work.

A couple of weeks later they heard on the Doyle Bulletin that a dog was found alive on the ice near Happy Adventure. They had no way of knowing if it was the same dog.

Ephraim retired from his job as lighthouse keeper later on in his life, but his children still have fond memories of life on the Cabot.

Questions:

  1. Name the pupils who attended school on Eastern Head.
  2. What did Jesse and Harland do to relieve their boredom?
  3. Do you think the dog found on the ice near Happy Adventure was the dog from Cabot Island?

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