Harold Chesley Bull
One Hundred Years and Counting
Birth Date: 20 Jan, 1920
Harold Chesley Bull was born at Rocky Cove (Eastport) on January 20, 1920 to Susanna and George Henry Bull. At the young age of 13, Mr. Bull began working on The Magic, the family-owned Labrador schooner. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and served on a Corvette, protecting convoys and on a mine-sweeper in the English Channel.
After the war, Mr. Bull returned to Eastport and married Viola Turner. They built a home and welcomed their daughter and only child, Marion. Mr. Bull had a varied career; he worked as a farmer, a logger, a truck driver and a postmaster. He rounded out his working years as a commercial fish harvester.
Throughout his life, Mr. Bull has been entrenched in his community. In 1959, he became the first Mayor of Eastport. In the 1970s, he took on the role of President with the Eastport Peninsula Committee for the Development of Progress. It was in this position that he worked tirelessly on the development of the Eastport Peninsula Interfaith Seniors’ Complex – the building which he now calls home.
Mr. Bull was always an eager volunteer. He was a Charter Member of the Eastport Lions Club, a dedicated member of the Royal Canadian Legion, a board member of the Eastport Credit Union, a Vestry member of Holy Cross Anglican Church, an active member of the Society of United Fisherman and he was instrumental in the formation of the Eastport Peninsula Volunteer Fire Department. A busy man indeed!
His commitment to his community was always his passion. He continues to be an inspiration to other leaders in the community and province.
Mr. Bull is a very healthy Centenarian! He is still active in the community, drives his own car, lives independently, has become a hobbyist brew master, is nearly unbeatable in Cribbage and still enjoys hunting and fishing.
The Mayor, Councillors and Staff of the Town of Eastport wish Mr. Bull a very happy 100th birthday. We are honoured to celebrate with him. We thank him for his immeasurable contribution to his community throughout his remarkable 100 years.
The following is the transcript of an interview that Yvonne Powell did with Mr. Bull.
I was thirteen years old when I went fishing with my father and two uncles on the schooner Magic. She was just sail, no motor. She was registered at 54 tonnes in 1926 after being repaired and 'built up' by Edgar Dawe. The bunks and cookhouse were in the forecastle. There were three bunks, so two men slept in each. There was a cabin on the back where the skipper and the rest, including the cook, if female, slept. Each crew member was responsible for bringing his/her own pillow and bedclothes. We had two motor boats, one thirty feet long and the other twenty-five feet long. We also had one punt which was about thirteen or fourteen feet long. We towed the motorboat with the bigger engine behind the schooner; the other motorboat and the punt were stored on deck. The crew the first year I went was: Jabez Bull, my uncle, the skipper Harold Bull, my uncle George Henry Bull, my father Neil Bull Clyde Bull Reginald Bull Cyril Bull Norman Dyke Chesley Bull (me) Clara Bull, the cook Clara was my cousin (Uncle Christopher's daughter). Uncle Christopher didn't go fishing; he stayed home to tend the farm. Cooks changed over the years. Others who cooked on the Magic were John Brown, Hedley Hunter, and Martha Dyke (Sandy Cove). I fished with father for seven years until 1940 when I enlisted in the British Navy to go overseas in World War II. The Magic was kept in Upper Happy Adventure during the winter. Several schooners were overwintered there; it was a sheltered place. All of our gear – sails, traps, etc. - was kept in a store in Rocky Cove. Uncle Jabez didn't work in the lumber woods in the winter; he stayed home and did what needed to be done to be ready for the fishery in the spring – building boats, mending cod traps, etc.
We went 'in collar' in May. The schooner had to be rolled over on her sides to be cleaned and painted. The bottom was painted with copper paint so the barnacles wouldn't grow so quickly.
When everything was ready we left for St. John's with a load of birch junks and wharf sticks to sell for local people. We picked up our supplies for the Labrador from Munroe. That's who we dealt with in there. The main food items we bought were tea, salt meat, salt pork, beans, rice, molasses, sugar, flour, yeast, salt, and, of course, we bought the salt for salting away the fish. The flour was in 196 pound barrels and the salt beef was in 200 pound barrels.
We used three cod traps and, if necessary, jiggers. We used the traps first and then if we needed more fish, we used the jiggers. When we got to where we were going to fish, we anchored off the schooner. We went in the motorboats to set the cod traps and then each day to haul them until we got a load.
There were two splitting tables on the deck of the schooner for cutting open and splitting the fish. I was the cutthroat for the first two years. Uncle Jabez and my father were the splitters. We kept the cod livers, too. They were kept in puncheons on deck and sold, as well, when we went to St. John's.
The fish would be split and salted away in the hold each day. When we got the hold filled, we would put the salted fish on deck. When what was in the hold had settled, we would put what we had on deck down in the hold before leaving for home.
The first year (for me) we left Eastport on the 10th or 12th of June and we were back on the 23rd of July with a full load; that was 1000 quintals. We fished in Fish Cove which is in Groswater Bay. George's Island is just seven miles off. We offloaded in St. Chad's for people to dry. They had lots of flakes there. When the fish was dry we loaded it onboard the schooner and sailed to St. John's. We sold it at Munroe's. Joey Smallwood's father was culler for Munroe during that time. We got $1.80 a quintal that year. We picked up our winter supplies which included molasses, sugar and tea in bulk to share amongst the three brothers. The other crew were on their own, buying individually.
Some of the years that I went we fished around Fish Island which is approximately 100 miles further north down the coast from Fish Cove. We worked from daylight to dark. On Saturdays, we had to make sure we had all the fish down in the hold by 12 midnight because of Sunday observance. We never fished on Sundays; we would never leave the harbour on a Sunday. Now, if we were sailing, - well, we kept on when Sunday came.
With regards to how we got paid - one half of the catch went to the schooner and the other half was shared amongst the crew. I got a half share the first two years (that's half of what the other men got). The third year I got a full share. The schooner got one half of the catch because the owner bought all the needed supplies for the Labrador trip – food, traps, sails, motorboats, punt, etc., and he had to stand to any repairs needed on the schooner. The crew didn't pay for any of the food.
Weather played an important part in whether we had a successful fishing season. Westerly winds were bad. They made the water slubby, so the traps got too slubby for the fish to go in. Also, the fish would go deep in a westerly wind.
One year it was the 7th of October before we got home. There was bad weather that year. We shipped our fish 'green' at Valleyfield. Munroe had a plant there with large flakes and lots of workers for drying the fish. That was 1940, the last year I fished on the Labrador. There was also another year that we shipped our fish 'green' because we were late heading for home.
After I retired from Canada Post, at 60 years of age, I went at the inshore fishery. I fished for salmon and lobster with Lloyd Moss for one year and with Lorne Moss for part of a year. Then I went along with Eli Powell of Happy Adventure. We bought five gill nets, a boat and an engine. We had cod and salmon licenses.
Mr. Bull and his relatives are pictured here, working the potato gardens in the 1930s. The family resided in Rocky Cove at that time, but their gardens were located on the area that is now Burden’s Road and Church Street in Eastport.