May 042009
 

Once upon a time there was a fishing village that surrounded a beautiful harbor beside the sea.  The people of the village worked hard to make their living. Everyone was expected to help with the fishing, from the youngest to the oldest.

Fishing village in Labrador

A fishing village

The men built their boats by hand, just as they’d been build for generations.  In the off-seasons they worked to replace and repair equipment. And well before daybreak, every morning in fishing season, they rowed out in a fleet to seek their catch.

The women and young girls helped by cleaning and dressing the fish and preparing them for market. Even the older women helped as needed. And the young boys of the village were used as baiters.  They went out with the older men to bait the lines that stretched across the entrance to the harbor, down beneath the gentle waves.

Baiting was no simple task, especially when done expertly.  To choose and cut a piece of bait just right, to place it well on the hook, and to do this with efficient speed, was the object of the craft.  So developed was the skill that the boys who did the baiting were classified on several levels: novice, apprentice, journeyman, and master.  Few boys achieved the level of master.

But, of course, it was the greatest satisfaction of any boy to become a master baiter.

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