Paul Gallant, with Fan MacIntyre and Roy Lambie
Souris by the Sea: Home of the Dragger Fleet, by Paul Gallant, with Fan MacIntyre and Roy Lambie, is a new book about the dragger fleet out of Souris. It is being launched July 8, 2 pm at the Souris Legion.
The full colour book tells the history through interviews transcribed verbatim, with captains and crews; plant workers, owners, and managers. It features over 150 colour photos and newspaper articles, and includes a detailed summary of the wooden and steel draggers built in the Maritimes.
The town of Souris, near the eastern tip of PEI, has a long history of fishing and processing. In the 1950s its transition to dragger fishing ignited the economy for fishermen, processors, and plant workers. Over the next decades, boats got bigger and stronger—from 60- and 65-foot wooden draggers, to 92-foot steel side trawlers. Usen Fisheries upped the ante by purchasing larger mid-water stern trawlers which sailed home with their holds brimming with redfish from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Cape Breton and Labrador.
The local economy was booming. “When we had two shifts going we had well over 300 people in the plant, while the people in the draggers would be another 60 to 65 people,” remembered Roy Lambie, manager of Usen Fisheries in Souris. But in 1992 a moratorium on the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada rang a warning bell that fish stocks were being depleted. When the Usen fish plant in Souris was destroyed by fire in 1993, it was a fatal blow.
The stories in this book give the reader a knowledge of the inshore and offshore groundfish fishing industry in Souris. Today, the community’s harbour enjoys a vibrant lobster fishery, a snow crab fishery with inshore groundfish, herring, tuna, scallop, mackerel, and a capelin fishery.