John Philpott

Hello, my name is John Philpott and I am from Cottlesville, New World island, on the Kittiwake Coast of Newfoundland. At the age of forty-four I returned to school to try and finish my education. At that time I was between jobs. Finishing my education was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I felt it would broaden my employment options.

I had heard about the Laubach Organization through a friend, so I contacted Ida Reid and she became my tutor. I really appreciate what Ida did for me. She made me feel comfortable and I didn't mind asking her questions when I was unsure about something.

From there I went to night school at G. Shaw Collegiate. I was a little worried about going back to school, but I soon realized I had nothing to feel bad about. Everyone there was in the same situation as myself.

I found math hard but the teachers were really helpful. I guess they knew I was there because I wanted to learn. As I saw my work improving, I began to feel good about myself. I don't think grade nine was very far to get, but I had worked hard and felt proud to have finished it.

Before I decided to go back to school, I worked with the St. John's-based Crino Company for ten years. I was a deck hand on one of their boats. I've worked on three different boats that took me to many parts of the world. In the early 1980's I worked on a 350-foot boat that was looking for oil on the Grand Banks.

Sometimes we ran into rough weather. We'd have to set anchor and sit it out for two or three days. The time was long, but I had a hobby to occupy my mind. I built little boats and dories, I also built boats and put them into bottles... I used to rig the masts and sails to have them pop into place when I was ready; the whole process would take days to complete.

We left the Grand Banks and went to the Ross Sea in Antarctica. The home port of the boat was Ponta Arenas, Chile, and it was chartered by the American Government. There, we did geological work such as taking the water temperature, gathering rock samples and checking the bottom of the ocean ... looking for signs of oil.

Whales, seals and penguins were really plentiful. I found the penguins quiteinteresting because they looked like little people wandering around. While Ididn't like being away from home, I found my job very interesting. After that trip, Chino registered the boat under the Norwegian flag and I found myself laid-off.

In 1994 I went to work with McKiel Marine from Hamilton, Ontario. This job took me away from home for longer periods of time, but it also took me to the Great Lakes and a job that I really like. Here, I work on a tugboat that pushes a 315 foot long barge. The barge contains liquid calcium fluoride that it delivers from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to as far as Quebec City.

We travel down through all the locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The locks look like big square boxes; when the water is low the boat drives into them, the door closes and water gets pumped in through valves until the level reaches sixty or eighty feet. The door on the other end opens and the boat continues on.

There are seven locks from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and it could take from six to eight hours to make the run, depending on the traffic. There are twelve locks from Lake Ontario to the salt water.

I would like to work in Newfoundland but only if I could go home every night. While I do get some Newfoundland food when I'm away, I really look forward to coming home to a good salt beef dinner. If I had to work away from my hometown, I would just as soon stay with the work I'm doing. I am quite happy with my work, it has allowed me to see much of the world while I making a good living.

But in the midst of all this, finishing my education has always been in the back of my mind. Because I don't have a high school diploma, I've never had the confidence to write the Mate's Ticket that I've always wanted. If upgrading is offered in my area during a time when I'm off work, I will definitely take advantage of it.

My goals for the future are to finish grade twelve and to get my Mate's Ticket.


  1. What is one of the disadvantages of John Philpott's job? What is one of the advantages?
  2. What are John's goals for the future?

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