Acadian Lives: Maria Goyetche

The book Acadian Lives includes an interview with Maria Goyetche of Isle Madame.

The book Acadian Lives consists of interviews with Cape Breton Acadians and was collected and edited by Ronald Kaplan, with Rosie Aucoin Grace. The book was published in 2004 and included an interview with Maria Goyetche of Isle Madame:

“The poor fishermen… in the time of my grandfather Boudreau, he told me that the lobster did not sell. At that time, lobster was a pest. They were so plentiful, they would get tangled in the fishing gear. Robert Boudreau he fished mackerel and herring using a hand line. He had lots of lobster but it did not sell. They got $2.50 for a boatload of lobster, a boat of 10 to 15 feet… When my father fished it was $2.50 for 100 pounds. Now if you want a meal it costs $2.50 for a pound. My father fished with a handline the lovely cod, the steak cod, as they say in English, ‘the best” sold for $4 for 112 pounds. Now at the price you can’t have some to eat. It’s too expensive to eat now.

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“There was nothing but fish and land. And the land there wasn’t too much. They weren’t equipped to work the land. They didn’t have the plows and yokes to work the land well. But they had an advantage, for example, there was a market for the produce. My grandfather Boudreau had a boat and he fished la Baie du Nord in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and in the fall he went to l’île Saint- Jean [Prince Edward Island] and he took all his produce for the winter. Potatoes were 25 cents a bushel. And the turnips were the same, 25 cents for 50 pounds… Imagine the difference now with potatoes and turnips. And it was the same with cabbage… the fishermen didn’t have time to plant and didn’t have to plant. They went with loads of fish to [PEI], barrels of salt herring and they brought back their produce for the winter. They would get it all for 200 pounds of salt herring, that was $4.

“[The boat] it wasn’t too big. It was called the schooner Maria. That was the name, the grandmother was called Maria and the daughter was called Maria… He called [the boat] a goelette, a boat for fishing. It was 25 years old I think or more than 25 years. It was for going to les Iles-de-la- Madeleine in the Baie du Nord.

“It was a sail boat, it was not powered… He never went to school… He learned by experience. He began to sail when he was very young. When I stayed with them, I worked for them when I was 13 or 14 he was still going to la Baie du Nord. He went as a pilot with other captains. He went as a pilot because he was well known.

“My mother used to say when she was old – she died when she was 87 – she’d say it was terrible to be old and helpless. I’ll be 95 in October. That’s too old. I have to be thankful that I have not too much pain , very little pain. But it’s hard to be going blind, though.”