“I was one of the very few girls down in the stage…” said Rhoda, sitting at the table in her home on Pinhorn’s Beach. It overlooks the landwash where her family operated their fishing premises for decades. “I used to love to get the prong to help with the fish. I pronged hundreds of fish from this point [the stage head] to the barrel, to feed the fish to them… But the prong wouldn’t be in my hand very long if one of the boys saw it.”
Rhoda talks about working in the fishing stage.
Rhoda Hedd was born and raised in Winterton, Trinity Bay. She worked as a teacher, spending most of her career in Northern Labrador before retiring in her hometown in 2008. Growing up on Pinhorn’s Beach, Rhoda spent her time helping her family with the fishery, attending school and playing games with her friends on the beach.
“One of the most happiest times would be when you look out and there wouldn’t be a breeze on the water, flat calm, and you’d see his motor boat coming in. You knew the sound of the boat before you saw her, the sound of that motor… and she’d come in and all you could see were the gunnels down to the water. We knew they had a load and we’d all get ready, because we knew we had to be down there to help. It meant that times were gonna be good.”
The fishing premises was run by her father, Henry, and his brothers, George and John. Before that, it was owned by their father, James. Several generations of Pinhorns have owned and worked out of this stage. The building was roughly twenty feet long and twelve feet wide, with the stage head extending another twenty feet into the water. The stage head was in two separate pieces, allowing for removal of the outermost piece to protect it from the pack ice and harsh wind often seen in winter storm surges. Rhoda told me about one particularly bad storm that damaged the stage head.
“After [my father] retired and he stopped fishing, the stage head was not taken in and I remember we had a big old wind storm one night, and I looked out the next morning and I saw the stage head was gone. I could see the longers floating around. Every morning I would go out to the house and I’d go in and spend some time with Dad because he just lived next door to me there. He was having his breakfast and I sat down, and he looked up at me and he said, ‘The stage head is gone, isn’t it?’ and I said ‘Yes Dad, it’s gone’. ‘I figured that’, he said.”
Until the 1992 moratorium, the Pinhorn stage had been used to process codfish and store fishing gear. Located near the shoreline, stages were a hub of activity in fishing communities throughout the province. The place where fishermen unload their daily catch and store supplies, these outbuildings were often passed through families of fishermen, as we see here.
After the Cod Moratorium, the Pinhorn stage was left vacant and eventually torn down. This video tour was taken by Randy Pinhorn, Rhoda’s brother, and shows the interior and exterior of the structure which once stood on Pinhorn’s Beach in Winterton.
“Most of the times I can recall in the stage were happy times,” says Rhoda, “because when I was allowed to go down to the stage to help out, they were busy. There was lots of fish on the go… Every stage that was here has its own story; has its own legacy, whether it was a small one or a big one or whatever… it was put there for a reason and the reason mainly was to make a living off the water.”