R.A. Squires

by Lester Green, 2003

Gordon Banton’s First Schooner

Gordon Banton, (1919-2014), St. Jones Without. The house in the background belongs to Azariah Green.

Gordon Banton, (1919-2014), St. Jones Without. The house in the background belongs to Azariah Green.

 

I remember my first schooner. I was only about 17 at the time but I wanted  to get a schooner. I got her from Uncle Adam Green and how I got her, she was laid up. They were gone to Labrador. So we was trying around for an old schooner. I went away in the woods, down in Terra Nova, working on the dam down in John’s Pond. We put in the summer drilling and I came home in August month. I said that’s it for me. I said now I am going to get something that floats, I am going to have myself a schooner. Dad was getting up in age. We looked at one in Perlican named the Grielse but we didn’t like she. So we came back and said we would have the R. A. Squires from Uncle Adam. Now Uncle Adam was on the Labrador but told us if we wanted her to rig her out and use her. We got Uncle Josiah Norris to come over from Little Heart’s Ease and put a log into her and an old 5 Hubbard engine that we bought of Eli Tucker. We thought we had a wonderful thing this 40 tons schooner and 5 Hubbard. I got ready to go to Clarenville and Father said “We’re you going to Gordon?”  And Mother said “let him go on wherever he is going.” Cause she knew that’s where I was bound. So we went to Clarenville and sometime that morning I went into the custom house and I told him what I was there for. He looked at me and said you’re young to be cleared for skipper. I said “yes, but I am gettin older bye.” He said alright I’ll have to givey clearance. So I got straightened out and came home.  We went to Deer Harbour and started cutting wood with the axe and lugged it out on our backs. That winter we cut about 2000 wood and put on the banks in Deer Harbour. We made about 3 to 4 thousand hoops and cut birch in St. Jones. Now that was me and Father because Fred went away in the woods. In the spring we had to saw them into nugs. We took the punt and loaded up the schooner with the hoops and junks and stored them in the hole and headed for Deer Harbour to get the wood. We put the wood on deck and while we was doing this, the wind came up. In the evening the wind dropped and I said “I think we’ll try to get down home. So when we got a mile outside of Shag Rock, Father sung out “Gordon come half, there’s something wrong.” We had a small boat in tow that we built that winter, the schooner had spin around and we were headed back to Deer Harbour. We dropped the mainsail and had two pumps goin and water was roaring in her. We didn’t know what was wrong. So we towed her back into Deer Harbour and put her ashore in Southwest Arm. We took half wood off her deck and put the rest up on the head to raise the stern out off the water. We rose her up and looked at the rudder case. The water was pouring in. We got the staves put back in the rudder case and filled up the rudder case with sawdust. Next day it was flat calm, so we got her out and down to St. Jones Without. We had two fellows all the time on the hand pumps. We got her home and kept the pumps going all night. The next morning we got ready and headed for Trinity. Down of Ireland Eye, we put ashore and got some more sawdust and put into her. We stogged it in the rudder case and got a little rest that night. Next morning, we set of for Trinity. We got to Trinity and got rid of all our nugs, hoops and wood to Mr. Ryan, the merchant in Trinity at the time. So I said to Father you go up and get the check and I’ll change it at the bank. When I goes up to the bank, he looks at me and says, “Is this your check?”  Cause it was a little bit of money back then. So I said, “Yes, Sir.”  He goes away with the check again and comes back and says, “you wouldn’t be telling me a lie now.”  I looked awful young in his eyes.  I said, “No sir, I would not tell you a lie.” Well he said, “here is your check and you can take it and go on now.” I went back and said to me Father “bye you’ll have to go up and get Mr. Ryan and go back to the bank with me.” When we got up in the bank, the bank manager came out and Mr. Ryan said “You won’t change the check for this young man. So pass out the money ‘cause that money is my money. This young man worked hard enough for it.” We then left Trinity and headed to Catalina with the eggs. We got rid of all the eggs and rest of the freight. We then came out of Catalina and headed for St. Jones again. We put her ashore and finally fixed the leaky rudder case. Then I proudly handed Uncle Adam the money for the boat and I had me first schooner.

R.A. Squires under full sail leaving St. Jones Without for the Labrador fishery. This was the schooner purchased by Gordon Banton from Adam Green.

R.A. Squires under full sail leaving St. Jones Without for the Labrador fishery. This was the schooner purchased by Gordon Banton from Adam Green.

 

Note: This interview was conducted with Gordon Banton in 2003. He truly re-ignited my interest and inspired me to continue with collecting, recording and writing historical information about St. Jones Without. Thanks for all the photos and yarns.