Memories… when Bert Hardy and Captain Guy Earle met.
Captain Dowden was onboard that day on the Thomas S. Gorton when Guy Earle and company made port at Battle Hr. back in 1953 as they were working their way home to Carbonear . Along the way from Salmon Bight near Black Tickle while buying dried saltcod from the various harbours, islands and tickles on the way. Earle was known as nomadic showing up wherever he thought to gather some fish from other fishermen. The Earle’s were like their father after all fishermen themselves from childhood.
The firm, Baine Johnston and Company, were very much established in Nfld. and certainly at Battle Hr. the jewel in the crown of their fish operations in Labrador. Managers hired were well versed in the mechanics of accounting, retail and in this case the fishery. At that time Battle Hr. operation was the biggest on the coast and stood ground with some of the largest on the island of Nfld. .
The fishery was competiitive! Here you had the company with salt, fuel, groceries and fishing supplies out on credit all season awaiting the local fishing crews to clue up and clear their accounts. On the other hand here was Earle going harbour to harbour buying from these same fishermen with cash .
Mr. Guy might have been a bit wound up when they tied on that evening after 6 pm. at the firm’s salmon wharf at Battle Hr. On the other hand it was Bert Hardy’s job as manager to uphold the companies interest . To have the competition to use the companies services and certainly without permission was against policy. Bert ( my father) went out and hailed to Guy that they could not tie on and had to leave the wharf ! ( according to Charl Dowden)Guy on the other hand wound up by those watching from shore and on the wharf made mention he might come ashore and toss my father over the wharf!My Dad according to onlookers that included Charl replied that if he thought to try it was up to him! ( Normally a gentle quiet man.)Guy moved the vessel out in the middle of the harbour where they anchored for the night.
My father never once brought up the story again however Battle Hr. residents along with Charl had mentioned over the years.During the winter Earle found people not banks willing to invest in their taking over Battle Hr. The owners wanted out of that type of business so to spend more time at other interest and investments.
Earle’s people tackled the operation for one year on their own. Great navigators, good fishermen and so on but were not trained in the day to day business end of such a large operation. I heard stories of them giving out endless fishing gear on memory and not entered in the ledger. The end of that first year with IOU’s written on cigarette packs and brown wrapping paper.During this time Bert Hardy was still a full time employee of Baine Johnston working with that company at St. John’s .
Guy, in a proper way, inquired with that firm if he could approach Hardy to run Battle Harbour? Hardy had the accounting skills. Hardy and Earle met for the second time where a friendship and keen interest in Battle Harbour and Labrador in general was formed. Our Dad really enjoyed his many years at Battle Hr. while working with the Earles .
The first year or so father boarded here while mom and my two older brothers remained in the new Mont Pearl. He then moved them to rent on the crossroads in Carbonear . They searched for the new type bungalow coming out in the mid-1950’s however neither close to work to be found. Guy suggested the high roofed home that was recently closed and up for sale at 148 Water Street. Right in front of Arthur Earle’s or Fred’s house . Well in conclusion father had 35 years at Battle Hr. Guy, Fred and a few years later our dad also passed away. I am sending you this little note on the story you mentioned …. you guessed it …. from 148 Water St., Carbonear. Charles Dowden can still remember and detail the chain of events that led to this neighbourhood we all still call home. He can detail far better than I would put to paper!
Keith Hardy July 1, 2013
I might note that to my limited knowledge the SS Kyle had a great and extended career. Mr. Guy Earle had a vision that she could still have some life in her at the seal fishery. Kyle Shipping Ltd. a division of The Earle Freighting Service Ltd. used her to seal, fish, freight and contract out. However, due to her age and expensive requirement for coal as fuel she had a hard time making a profit. Certainly only my limited understanding.
She likely was about to end her days in a few more years before the iceberg damage off Labrador. She could have just as easily have been left on the bottom there however they survived, made a trip of seals and got back to homeport.
I know you live for the SS Kyle so to speak . One might consider that it was luck for the Bull Dog of the North that she did hit bottom in Hr. Grace. One that allows all of us more than memories of earlier transportation in this province.
Talking With the Captain! July 2, 2013
Captain Guy Earle likely would be busy trying to get as much as they could from the salmon season in Labrador . Hoping that now that the caplin have landed that the cod would soon be in the traps around this province, delegating his fleet of schooners and traders to get salt and fuel out to the coves, islands and inlets of Nfld. and Labrador. He had his key people positioned to deal with the fishermen with supplies. One of the boys just saw the Thunderbird go flying by. Apparently he is driving to Clarenville with a cylinder head for the Round Hill. Known for his fast driving you better give him room.
In regards to Captain Charl Dowden we must understand he earned his title as well. Came from the dory in Rock Harbour to be ship’s master on the great ferries on the Port aux Basques run. He is a wealth of knowledge on the marine side of Earle. He can fully detail what is required in crew to operate a ship. In my case I sailed from Carbonear for over 40 years while hardly knowing the north direction from the south. I was only a passenger on the ship of life!( Lots more like me . )
Charl has the stories!!!