January 2nd ... a time to remember lives lost
by Sandy Lindsay

December 2, 2017


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In Pioneer Park, Southampton, on the shore of Lake Huron, is a commemorative plaque, erected by the Propeller Club, that holds the names in memoriam of those who perished in the depths of the lake's grasp.

From the 1800s to as late as 1979, the plaque lists the lives of those men who captained, served and fished on the Great Lake.  There are 26 names who were mainly fishermen, rescuers and one or two loggers.

Among those who were lost on this day, January 2nd 1979, were Captain Ed Jackson of Jackson Brothers Fishing and crewman, Lavern LaFrance, ages 43 and 27.  The men were on the board of the 60 ft. fishing tug, 'Jackson Bros.'

In the words of local songwriter, Mike Goodwin, there was a time when the "lakes were the highways", when all commerce and industry was dependent on shipping and fishing.

For Southampton, at the mouth of the 'mighty Saugeen River', where a working harbour was established, trade and fishing were the very beginning of the community and its prosperity.

In its busy days of fishing commerce, the harbour was lined with drying reels where the fishermen would unload their nets to be dried and mended.  The reels were an integral part of fishing and the harbour.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

As with all 'progress', materials developed and changes began.  The result was that a bit of history began to be lost.  The reels, once made of wood that deteriorated, began to be made of metal in the 1960s; the nets became made of a microfilament or plastic, which no longer required the drying time that the reels afforded.

One of the last original wooden drying reels can be seen today at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre but to see the actual design and size, there is a final metal reel in Southampton, although it seems that very few people even know of its existence. 

Metal Drying Reel

January 2nd, a day to remember two of the men whose names are now part of a list written on a plaque ... a list of those who made their livelihood on the lakes and who have become part of the Great Lakes' and Southampton's history.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017