Wilson Vey

Life History of a Newfoundland Seaman

by Lloyd Vey, July 13, 1979

Wilson Vey and his boat

Wilson Vey



This is the life-history of a retired Newfoundland seaman, Wilson Vey, who lives in the community of Long Beach, Trinity Bay. The community in which he lives is small, with a population of approximately 300-400 inhabitants. With the decline of fish stocks, the inshore fishery is no longer a viable operation in the community. As a result of this, the majority of working men have to leave the community in order to find employment. These men usually live close to their place of work during the week and return home on weekends. However, in the past when cod stocks were plentiful, a different style of life existed. The inshore fishery was active and a large number of residents participated in the annual Labrador fishery. The life-history recorded on the following pages is a reflection on that way of life.

Wilson Vey has been connected with the sea in some capacity or other for a period of over 65 years. His experience and activities include the inshore fishery, the Labrador fishery, and coasting freight around the bays and inlets of Newfoundland. In addition to these activities, he is an accomplished boatbuilder, sawmill operator, and woodsman. He served in the armed forces during World War 1 and has been shipwrecked several times, once even presumed lost at sea.

During the interview, I specifically asked him to elaborate on the last of these experiences and therefore it takes up a major portion of this paper. Very few people have ever heard the complete story, and in my opinion it serves to illustrate the life of this man. It is my belief that this almost legendary experience should be told and not forgotten because it will serve to remind us of the type of men who were much as part of everyday life in Newfoundland’s past history and who are sadly disappearing.

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Special thanks to Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive for providing us with a copy of Lloyd’s paper…. 

Vey, Lloyd. 1979. Life History of a Newfoundland Seaman. Unpublished research paper. Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) ms 79-520.