John (Jack) Thomas Casey was born on July 2, 1922 in Conche, a small fishing community on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. One of eight children born to Michael and Nora Casey, Jack started working in the lumber woods at only seven years old and was fishing with his father by the age of thirteen.
The Casey family, including Jack’s grandfather Michael Casey, moved up the coast from St. John’s to Conche in 1850 to be closer to the Labrador fishing grounds. Jack spent all his life in Conche, earning his living as a fisherman in the summer and working in the woods in the winter.
Going to Work
“Coming through the thirties, that was a rough time. We would go up in the lumber woods every fall. There was no school up there, so we would get a month in the fall of the year before we went and a month when we came home in the spring. I was only seven years old then…”
With the 1992 Cod Moratorium, Jack was forced to retire from the fisheries and relocated to Pasadena with his wife Edna in the same year. A skilled woodworker, Jack has continued to make wood carvings and build wooden boats. Over the years, Jack built a number of rodneys, punts, trap skiffs, motor boats, speed boats, and longliners. “Sometimes when I’m going to sleep at night I try to count up how many I’ve built, but I always lose count around thirty,” Jack laughed.
Jack’s first boat was a rodney that he built at twenty-five years old and used for hunting seals. His largest was a thirty-five foot longliner he built for his son in winter of 1987-88, “It took us six months from laying the keel to putting her in water,” Jack said.
Casey Family Settlement in Conche, 1850