Pat Quinlan, Nov. 8, 1929 – Dec. 15, 2017
After writing so many letters over the years about the fishery and rural Newfoundland and Labrador, I would be remiss if I didn’t write this one.
Although I didn’t know Pat personally, I know a lot about him. He is one of the outstanding Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have kept this province alive by investing a lot of time and money into the inshore fishery and rural N.L.
There are many more in this province I could mention, but space won’t allow.
I would like to relate the kind of contribution he made to the situation in Little Bay Islands, three miles away from where I was born and raised. In my young days, it was the hub of the Green Bay area.
There were two business families, the Strongs and the Jones, who provided employment for many people in the Notre Dame Bay by building schooners and fishing them all the way off the Labrador coast. Strong’s, at one time, had 40 schooners in the salt fish trade. As the market for salt fish declined, so did the Strongs’ family business.
As a young boy fishing with my grandfather, Edgar Rice, out of Lushes Bight, we would deal with S.T. Jones & Sons in Little Bay Islands, getting our supplies in the spring (on credit) and selling our salt fish in the fall.
I let home after school and went away for 23 years. But the call was too great and I finally had enough money to buy a boat, so I returned to the Green Bay area and went fishing again. Quite a difference in 23 years — instead of schooners, longliners had taken over the inshore fishery, and instead of salt fish, cod was sold fresh and a brand new fishery had opened up. S.T. Jones & Sons had opened a canning factory in Little Bay Islands, buying and canning snow crab, also canning cod liver, seal meat and pickling the large cod britches (or spawn) in barrels; all these products would have been thrown away only for this plant. People from all over the bay got employment there, and fisherpeople made extra dollars by being able to sell this byproduct.
This plant operated until the Jones retired and there was no one else in the family to take over. The business went downhill, although the plant went through a couple more buyers before it finally failed. Because the entrepreneurial spirit had died with the Strongs and the Jones, Little Bay Islands today is on its last legs, as are many communities in the province today when their main industry — the fishery — fails and the plant is closed.
There are many communities surviving today because of the wealth in the ocean; Fogo Island and Bay de Verde are prime examples, all because the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and looking to the future.
To the family of Pat Quinlan, you have my greatest condolences. He was a great man with a lot of vision, who did a lot for this province, and hopefully the family will carry on his tradition.
Capt. Wilfred Bartlett (retired)
Green Bay South