The Crews of Fishermen Series: Post 2 of 3


This is a brief visual caption of Merasheen people and their time from the early 1900’s up to pre-resettlement, a joint effort by John Pitcher and Ernie Walsh was prepared over many chats and scheduled meetings in 2021. All photos and their related captions are those taken or provided by Ernie while some text and poems are arranged and added by John to provide additional related special effects.  The information is subjective but as factual as possible and we hope that it draws added information and discussion. We hope you enjoy the posts!

NOTE: All post material remains the property of the authors and therefore duplication of all original information, poems, photos, and videos must be credited to the owners.

A Tribute with much Gratitude

It is surely promising and gratifying to see some of the new generation of Merasheen descendants interested in their roots.  There seems to be an inherently deeper need for younger persons wanting to know more about their ancestry.  Perhaps they simply feel the need to explore their true identity of which they can feel proud and have that sense of belonging as well.  Our forebears, both men and women, were kind, strong and caring people and many of them were and are true heroes because of their struggles both at home and especially on the ocean where they knowingly faced dangerous conditions day by day, season after season fishing.  It was through their toiling, caring and determination that Merasheen became special as well as other beloved settlements in Placentia Bay.  It is with this pride that we remember them and their contribution to our prosperity, international trade, the local economy that that which gave substance and opportunity for all. It is with sincere respect, thanks, and love that we post this particular tribute at this time. 



The sailing schooner Iris and Verna, a 34-ton vessel in 1938. It was owned by Alberto Wareham, named after his two daughters and operated under assignment through W.W.Wareham & Sons Ltd., Harbour Buffett.  According to Ernie Walsh’s notes, the skipper was his father Din Pat Walsh who skippered this sailing fishing vessel for six full seasons between 1930 and 1938 from April to October. Some of the crew men from Merasheen were Amelius Best, Jack Barry, Jim Ennis, Johnny Barnett, Mickie Connors, Bill Barnett (a seasoned splitter), Tom Best, Jim Connors, Tom Hann, Peter Pittman, Neddy Fitzgerald, Billy Best, Jim Barry, and Leo Pomroy. Just to name a few more from the Bay, the Mate was always Mr. Billy Bennett from St. Ann's whenever he signed on for the voyage. Joining the voyages were Lar Walsh from Beckford’s Cove, Gerald Gambin, St. Ann's; Phonse Lockyer, Martin Gaulton, Jimmy Caul, Isle Valen; Cletus Parsons, Jimmy Follett, Johnny Follett, Neil Parsons, Clattice Harbour; Frank Best, Tacks Beach.



Din Pat Walsh was the local skipper on the Department of Fisheries experimental long liner called the M.V. Hubert G. Smith out of Merasheen in the winter of 1951.  M.V. Hubert G. Smith was owned and operated by Dept. of Fisheries. It involved a governmental experimental team of researchers who returned to Merasheen in the winter of 1951 as well with the first and latest gurdey long liner type fishing equipment to test on an experimental basis. Din Pat Walsh was hired on as skipper during a few winter months of fishing around Merasheen as well as other testing areas. Din Pat was valuable to the experiment being very familiar with the fishing grounds and passage ways in and out of the harbours. According to his son Ernie, while fishing they also trawled for halibut in the deep water channels off Little Merasheen. These were the days when Placentia Bay was hailed in promise of a rich valuable fishing resource and now had to be efficiently managed with the implementation of new ways and means of fishing.



John Louis Ennis, Ernie’s Grandfather, July, 15th, 1870 - July 8- 1948:  RIP “His last trip to the stage.” Perhaps most of us can still remember our grandparents. We didn’t have to be with them very long to remember them today with love and respect. 


Where Have You Gone Fisherman - by John Pitcher 2022

Ahoy grey-faced fisherman
I can still see you smilin’
In a spirited peaceful place
For all your years of toilin’.

Where have you gone - grey-bearded bearer
Cross-handed arms of rubber strong
With gang board battened down now
For rougher weather off the sound.

Have you holy bread and fish of plenty
Where a compass is no longer required 
And do you still roar that hearty laugh 
With ‘nar penny left for God.

What do you think of heaven’s gate
Will your spirt joins some trace of life
To where your schooner is still sailing
With perhaps hope for a better price.



Taken by John Walsh in July 1951. This is a close-up of the 32-foot skiff “SHEENA” built and owned by Skipper Din Pat Walsh. She’s carrying a skiff load of fish for and to help Pat Houlihan’s crew. Ron Walsh is in the pilot house and Tommy Moore is sitting on the port gunnel. It was Ron’s last trip on the Sheena. 

Din Pat Walsh sold the Sheena to the Lockyer’s’, along with a deep sea cod trap he used in Golden Bay, complete with all anchors, kegs & moorings.  Ernie says. “I understand the Lockyer’s’ had good success and brought in many more loads of codfish like this photo. I'm guessing the Lockyer’s’ later moved to Arnolds Cove area and I suspect that the Sheena ended her days there.”



Jack Hann’s skiff  "Mary Maureena" with its dory loaded. Mike Fulford’s punt is to the left. The lady is Joan (Furlotte) Walsh weighted down in fish in 1952. Visiting from away, she is overwhelming happy to be on the Island and down around the wharves and boats.



Mack and Vic Best and trap crew caught 90 quintals of fish on that day in 1954. Many other crew members used their boats to help bring in the exceptional large catch. After a long hard week of work, it was common to see crewmembers having a little snooze or just relaxing on the stage bank on a scattered warm summer afternoon and sometimes they would stare across the harbour inlet watching Lockyer’s coasting boat, the James and Lucy pulling away from Jack Hann’s wharf.



Skipper Din Pat Walsh is shown here leaving Merasheen to fish off Cape St. Mary’s on the M.V Glider, owned by W.W.Wareham & Sons Ltd., Harbour Buffett. On the bottom left corner of the photo is a skiff called Sheena manned by John and Ernie Walsh. Skipper Din Pat made many voyages to Golden Bay to engage in the trap fishery from 1930-1960. Din Pat skippered the “M.V. Glider “for four full fishing seasons from 1945 to 1949, April to October. Some of the crew men from Merasheen were: Jim Gardiner, Johnny Barnett, Mickie Connors, Jim Barry, Leo Pomroy, Mickie Corcoran, Jim Connors, Bill Barnett, Din Pat Gardiner, Jack Barry, and Lar Pitcher. Walsh’s cousin, Lar Walsh from Beckford’s Cove just inside Presque, was a crewmember as well. When they returned home after each trip one would often see them sit around together and talk about their voyage in between a laugh and perhaps a song in the spirit of comradeship is the parlor, stage or store loft.

According Ernie, the forty-two ton Glider in just one fishing season brought in 2300 quintals and in another season caught 1800 quintals of codfish. We should remember now that this was not all fun and pleasure. It was hard work and dangerous too. Both Stan Bennett from Isle Valen and Skipper Din Pat Walsh, fishing the Glider on the Grand Banks in 1949, had to ride out a storm for eleven days. 

The banker Glider was acquired by Merchant W.J.Bursey in early in 1952. He hired Din Pat Walsh as skipper. They fished out of Bay Bulls carrying eleven crewmen and four dories to fish off St. Mary's, Cape Pine, St. Mary's Banks and adjacent areas. The first voyage for the season was in April and in just three days her crew secured 40,000 pounds of prime cod and flounder. The Bursey fishing operations have two focal points - the premises at Bay Bulls where the fish was landed and filleted, and the plant at Fort Amherst in St. John's Harbour, where it was further processed, packed, frozen and from which it is shipped to the New York market. The first trip of the Glider represented the first fish to be processed at the plants that year and the work on plants meant a great deal to workers, crewmembers, and families in the surrounding areas.

In the Fall of 1949 , Skipper Din Pat let his young son Ernie come aboard with him, as he brought crewmen back home to Presque, Isle au Valen and Clattice Harbour.  Ernie recalls, “For about ten minutes coming back to Merasheen, he let me get behind the wheel and steer for the point on the compass. As a six year old, this was indeed a big deal. I don't remember seeing anyone else in the pilot house, but I'm sure father was behind me. Being excited when I landed, there were lots to tell my school buddies come Monday morning.”

The Old Seaman’s Answer - by John Pitcher 2022

The seaman spoke of comfort
At a ripened old age he was
He lit his pipe with confidence
But to my question he did pause.

What is there to life Grandpa
Was the question that I asked -
For all my formal learning still
Surely life seemed oddly masked.

To me he said with wisdom
No hope, no joke, nor lies
The answer we will find me’son
The day we close our eyes.

For I think I’ll sail on me’ boy
I suspect you’ll do the same
Far beyond this port of calling
We will never again feel pain.

This is what the old man said
‘Twas what was oddly spoke
Then with a wink, he disappeared
Behind a cloud of “backey” smoke.