They Tied Themselves To The Mast And Steering Wheel So Not To Be Washed Overboard
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, April 25, 1989
In the second part of last century, especially in the 60's and 70's, the Pubnicos experienced one of the most prosperous periods of its history. From 1854 to 1855 were built 105 fishing vessels, at an average of three or four a year; one year even nine of them.
These vessels were built in the winter-time, when the cod fishing season was over. The previous winter, the people would get the timber from across the Great Pubnico Lake and bring it to a mill nearby. There were two of them in the vicinity of the lake; one was located just west of the lake, at the end of the Lake Road, which belonged to François-Jaçques d'Entremont's family, called "Françisson". The other was on the other side of the lake, some two or three miles in the woods. Some of the timber was worked by hand, as the keel, the bowsprit, the knee, called also the timber or the rib, and the mast. It was left to dry in the summer-time, for the following winter.
This was taking place at a time known as the "booming period", which followed the Treaty of Reciprocity of 1856 between the Untied States and the provinces of Canada what we call no Free Trade. It is not surprising to read that in 1876, there were as many as 35 fishing vessels belonging to the people of Pubnico anchored in the harbour.
One of these vessels was the schooner Manzanilla, of 60 tons, built in 1869. It belonged to the following people, all of West Pubnico. The four brothers François-Xavier, André, Jeremie and Simon-Pierre d'Entremont, sons of Maximin (himself a son of Jaçques); their three cousins, Is
c, Ambroise and Archange d'Entremont, sons of François-Jaçques (himself a son of Jaçques); their brother-in-law, Denis Amirault, son of Louis-Justinien (himself son of Cyriaque) who had married Natalie d'Entremont, daughter of François-Jaçques; Remi d'Entremont, son of Dominique (himself son of Charles-Celestin); and David-Leon Amirault, son of Simon-Germain (himself son of Simon.)
As the fish market in the U.S. was better than in Canada and on account of Free Trade, these fishing vessels would spend the summer on the fishing grounds off the coasts of Gloucester and Boston, even though these grounds might not have been as rich as those in Nova Scotia, but time and money were saved by the fact that they stayed in that vicinity till Autumn.
Unfortunately, the Treaty of Reciprocity lasted only a little of twenty years, when the booming period died down. Some vessels kept on fishing on our shores, others were effected to other purposes. The Manzanilla became one of them.
In 1880, she left Pubnico for Boston to get some flour. The Captain was Hilaire d'Entremont, 51 years old, brother of some of the owners, son of Maximin. He had with him Henri d'Entremont, 25, son of Guillaume (William), (himself son of Charles-Celestin) and John Seeley, 42, son of George, whose family lived on the Lake Road, at a place still often mentioned by the French people of Pubnico as "La Butte-a-Seeley", (Seeley's Hill). There was also a cook.
Leaving Boston on a fairly nice day, it was not long before the wind started to rise, and it rose till it reached hurricane force, with waves of ten and even fifteen feet, accompanied by a torrential rain, pitching the vessel up and down, tossing it right and left.
John Seeley and the cook barricaded themselves in the hold, nailing down every entrance. Henri d'Entremont, on the deck, so not to be washed overboard, tied himself to the mast, while Captain Hilaire d'Entremont tied himself at the wheel. Henri said that he could see the Captain being washed over the rail, one side or the other, and then pulling himself back to the wheel. The vessel, being out of control, was carried away toward the Gulf Stream.
When the storm struck Pubnico, the people, knowing that the Manzanilla had probably left Boston just a few days before, got very worried. They sent a telegram to the lighthouse in Boston harbor, giving the description of the Manzanilla. The answer was that such a vessel had passed the lighthouse a few hours before the storm started. As the days went by, as they prayed Heaven harder and harder, and as the Manzanilla was not coming, people started to lose hope, till finally they presumed that she had been lost.
Days went by, maybe weeks, but lo and behold, one nice day a young boy aroused the village; he had just seen far out, heading for the harbour, a vessel with a large black spot on one of her sails: it was the "trade mark" of the Manzanilla. The news spread through the village like lightening.
As she moored alongside the wharf, she was greeted by a huge crown of people, some shouting with glee, others crying with joy, others thanking God for having heard their prayers. The Captain and his crew had arrived home miraculously safe and sound, into the arms of their loved ones, while the crowd cheered, clasped their hands and shouted for joy.
I heard this story from my uncle Raymond N. d'Entremont (1875-1974). He, himself, heard it from his father, François-Xavier, one of the owners of the Manzanilla.