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The Blackfish

For several years, when one entered Évée Amirault’s store, one could see a big fish tooth on the wall, upon which was registered the following date: 19 June 1919. This tooth belonged to the famous Blackfish that was caught that day in the harbour.

Until 1908, there were only sail boats in Pubnico. It was during this year the first gas-powered boat made an appearance. This boat was built in Yarmouth, perhaps by Gilbert Amirault. It is thought that it would have been built outside Pubnico since there were very few materials to build boats at that time in our village. The boat measured 34 feet in length and 9 feet in width. On its board, it had a Knox engine, manufactured in Rockland, Maine (Rockland being in the county of Knox), bought in Yarmouth. One Mr. Johnson was an agent of this company. The engine contained 2 cylinders capable of 9 horsepower and could attain a speed of 6-7 knots. It had a hold in the shape of “V”, which required ballast. Today, such boats as the “Cape Islander” have a flat hold that does not require ballast. The engine is in the back, the rudder on the back left side. The kitchen and the berths are in front (forecastle). – Translated from Les oubliés de notre patrimoine written by Roseline LeBlanc (page 121).

The big fish had beached on the edge of the channel, just west of Corn Island, in Pubnico Harbour. François, son of Fulgence d’Entremont, saw it first. He had enrolled himself in the American army at the time of World War I and had returned home disabled. He never ventured too far from his house and entertained himself by observing the harbour; they had such a good view of it from their house. On this particular day, he saw something black on the edge of the channel around Corn Island and looking through his binoculars he noticed a large fish that couldn’t get dislodged because the tide was going down. François informed his neighbours of this and after dinner the four of them

(Raymond Amirault, Alcide Amirault, Joseph Eloi d’Eon, and Abel à Vincent d’Eon) took a large dory and decided to go see the big fish up close. They brought a long cable, a couple of large hooks, (like one would use to paint a house) and a gun. As it was low tide, they had to push the dory through the mud flats to the channel. Abel took the rifle and fired a few shots at the head of the fish; it made no response. The men realized that they would not get anywhere that way, so they decided to tow the fish alive when the tide was sufficiently high and everything was ready. Two of the men stayed in the area. According to them, it would have been easier to tow a house than the Blackfish. The Blackfish was by no means laid out to be pulled around.

They called it “T Eaton”, son of David-Léon (son of Simon-Germain). Rather, it was a small store; one could buy candies, non-alcoholic drinks, general necessities. Mr. Amirault was also a practicing barber here. The former Post Office of Upper West Pubnico was also in this building; this division was eventually abandoned. Évé Amirault’s store closed its doors many years ago. – Translated from Histoire civile de Pubnico-Ouest written by Father Clarence J. d’Entremont (page 164).

Meanwhile, two boys of the village, Adolphe d’Eon and his cousin Désiré d’Eon, had left with another dory and joined the group. They added this dory to the first one, but even with four pairs of oars, the Blackfish would not be subdued. However, when the tide had risen a sufficient amount, Justinien, son of Pius d’Entremont, came with his gasoline boat to see what he could do. He changed places with the dories and the struggle continued. At times, the boat gained headway, at times, it was pulled back. With enough effort and patience they managed to tow the large fish to the shore, below David Amirault’s house.

The next morning, despite having spent the night on the shore, the Blackfish was still very much alive. To finish it off, they decided to “bleed it”, as they did with the pigs, which old Elie d’Eon accomplished using his scythe.

During the evening of 9 June, as well as the following day, a great number of people from the village came to see the large fish; it was indeed the largest that was ever caught in the harbour. It measured about eighteen feet in length.

“Blackfish” was the popular name given to the creature by the English. Its true name was “Grampus” and it is a member the whale family.

Evée Amirault’s store.These mammals have a thick layer of “bacon” (fat insulation) on their back, which provides good oil. Unfortunately, the two barrels of oil they extracted was somewhat “burned” and they could only obtain two dollars per gallon. Our watchmaker, Jérome d’Entremont, had more success. He managed to save some bottles of oil taken from the jaws of the fish and made use of them at work.

N.B. The tooth which was at Évée Amirault’s store is now at the museum of the village; gift of Robert L. d’Entremont, nephew of The Amirault family. Eugène d’Entremont had another one at his house on the Argyle Sound Road.

Amirault’s Hill (Buttes Amirault)

Joseph Moulaison III (The Ancestor of all Moulaisons of Nova Scotia) The exploits of Joseph Moulaison at the time of The Dispersion are shrouded in mystery. A native of the Pobomcoup area where his fa


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