Sherwin Saunders was born in Main Brook, on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, in 1950. Around the age of nine, he moved to St. Lunaire with his parents, Fred and Olive. “Dad used to fish summertime and he used to work in the woods wintertime with Bowater. I would have been nine or ten years old when we moved here [St. Lunaire] permanently,” said Sherwin.
Sherwin was sixteen when he started fishing full-time with his father. “[There were] four of us: me and my older brother [Herb], and Dad and his younger brother, Uncle Eric.” They fished with cod traps and gillnets from a 28-29 foot trap skiff, built by Fred. “Everyone had to build their own boats then,” Sherwin said.
Fishing in Labrador
“In the summer we used to go to Labrador. First when I fished with Dad. He had property down there [Indian Tickle]. He had a house – well, a shack – and a wharf, and stage… Fished the shore [in a] twenty-eight foot boat. Then when we went on our own after Dad gave it up, we went on our own and fished from a forty-five footer.”
When the fishery failed in Labrador in 1971, Sherwin moved away in search of work, but returned to the fishery a few years later with his oldest brother Herb, and youngest brother Wade. In 1980 they purchased a forty-two fishing boat from Little Bay Islands and returned to fishing in Labrador.
When their boat was damaged by fire a few years later, the brothers decided to build a replacement. In 1985, they launched a forty-five longliner, which they used for the next eleven years. Built from timber harvested themselves, they upgraded the engine and fiberglassed the hull before selling it to replace with a larger boat. “She’s still on the go somewhere. Someone up in White Bay has her now,” said Sherwin.
“The forty-five foot one was the first one we built, and then built a thirty-five footer. And we rebuilt a couple. We rebuilt a forty-five footer. Made her wider, deeper, longer. And then we bought a 65 footer and we rebuilt that one.”
With his brothers, Sherwin fished for cod, turbot, crab, capelin, herring and mackerel. He retired from fishing in 2005.
“First when I started fishing with dad we’d start off with salmon, and then cod. And that’s pretty much all we fished. And then when we went out on our own…”