Collapsing Fish Stage in Red Bay, Labrador

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“Stages” such as this one now collapsing in Red Bay, Labrador, once housed the lines, nets, anchors and equipment for the cod fishery on which the people of Newfoundland and Labrador mostly depended for 400 years.

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“Stages” such as this one now collapsing in Red Bay, Labrador, once housed the lines, nets, anchors and equipment for the cod fishery on which the people of Newfoundland and Labrador mostly depended for 400 years. An entire way of life for thousands of people was destroyed on July 2, 1992, when the government finally closed the fishery after allowing large-scale factory trawlers to take so many fish that stocks collapsed. The summer fishery was hard and sometimes dangerous work, but gave people a rightful pride in their skills, courage and warm humanity for which these communities are still famous.

Men and boys would go out in boats from stages such as this one, from before dawn until the boats were full to the gunnels with cod caught one at a time with hand lines. Wives and daughters were responsible for cleaning, drying and salting the fish back on land – as well as baking bread and cooking endless meals of fish on wooden stoves and for all other household chores!

Red Bay is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, not for the remnants of the fishery, but for the artefacts found in the earliest known factory established by Basque whalers, who crossed the Atlantic each spring from Spain, in the 16th and 17th centuries, to slaughter thousands of whales and render their blubber into oil to light the lamps of Europe.

I took this photograph while sailing in Labrador in my steel sailboat. I’m a full-time sailor, author, illustrator and marine mechanic. I’m currently creating the drawings for my Marine Diesel Basics project – a series of visual guides to all aspects of marine diesel systems. We remember faces much more easily than names, so it makes sense to learn and to remember using as much visual information as possible. Thanks for supporting the Marine Diesel Basics project.

• Paper thickness: 10.3 mil
• Paper weight: 5.6 oz/y² (192 g/m²)
• Giclée printing quality
• Opacity: 94%

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