[PICTURE: PANL MG 85, #2 "A Chart of the Banks of Newfoundland" (1775) (PANL-CMCS) ] 1. An under-water elevation or area of shoal water (usually offshore) with copious sea life and consequently good fishing grounds. Banks are generally named: for example, the "Grand Banks" (see image link above).
Bank cod: Cod-fish populations inhabiting the offshore fishing banks.
Banks fishery: Cod-fishery undertaken on the offshore fishing banks from fishing schooners. Originally crews fished from the deck using baited hand-lines, but from the mid-19th century onwards, larger schooners carried 2-man dories that fished with "trawls" (see below).
[PICTURE: PANL A7-75] Leather, canvas or oilskin apron worn by fishermen and women while cleaning fish in the stage.
Bottom: The innermost part of a bay, harbour or inlet; the land adjoining the innermost part of a bay.
Butt: A type of cask, generally smaller than a puncheon, used to pickle or to store fish or other goods. In certain locales in Newfoundland, a butt was a sawn-off puncheon in which fish was pickled. A butt in Bonavista terminology was a puncheon sawed off at about the 3/4 mark or slightly higher (about ten inches was taken off to make a butt). This cut down puncheon had a wider opening and both modifications made salting easier, especially for women. Even with butts, women still often required some kind of a stand in order to reach down into these large barrels. (See
Caplin: A small, smelt-like fish which migrates inshore during June and July to spawn along the beaches and on shoals (followed by hungry cod). It was and is fished for by various means and used as bait, as manure for gardens, and eaten in salted, dried, smoked or frozen forms. In different communities in years gone by, they were used as food for dogs.
Caplin Scull (or school): The annual migration of 'caplin' from the deep sea to inshore waters to spawn along the beaches in June-July. The arrival of this fish followed closely by hungry schools of offshore cod heralded the start of the busy summer fishing season for inshore fishing communities.
"Choice": The designation of a high quality cure or 'cull' of salted cod-fish.
[PICTURE: PANL B13-141] A type of fishing-gear used in inshore waters. It is basically a large box with a floor made of nets with a small opening on one wall (the doors). A very long net called a "leader" stretched from shore (or a shoal) out to the doors and a short distance into the trap. The fish were led into the trap by this net.
Covel: A half-barrel or tub with handles or rope affixed to the sides or with holes for inserting a staff for two men to carry.
Cut-throat(er): Member of a fish-cleaning crew who cuts the throat of the cod-fish and slits the belly open from gills to vent in preparation for heading, splitting and salting. A two-edged knife used in this process.
"Down": The term "down" reflects local usage which in Newfoundland has two connotations. In nearly all the bays of the island, "down the shore" refers to locations
further out to sea, that is out to the mouth of those bays. The other connotation of "down" is used to describe the direction north, and thus, most places to the north of a particular location are "down" from it, as in "down north", or "down on the Labrador".
Dun fish: A brown fungus which grew on dried fish in damp conditions. It was also a very low grade or 'cull' of cod-fish that exhibited the brown discoloration. It was caused by extended periods of damp weather and/or poor drying or storage techniques.
English Shore: The coast of the island of Newfoundland where English fishing interests held fishing and curing rights. Originally designated from Cape Bonivista to Trepassey, it shifted with the changing fortunes of the various fishing nations (mainly France) through time. This area contained the largest population of English and Irish settlers.
[PICTURE: PANL E27-9. ] A triangular stack of split and salted cod-fish constructed in the early drying phase. As fish got progressively drier, faggots increased in size from a few fish to a sizable pile.
(See image above.)
[PICTURE: Mark Ferguson Collection-MUNFLA.] A fisheries outbuilding: the fish store was often attached directly to the flake via a second-floor door. This loft was used to store fish in the summer and fall and often as a gear storage and mending area in winter and spring.
Fishing station: A fishing cove or harbour where a fishing crew or crews set up fishing rooms (stages, flakes, etc.,) to prosecute the fishery. A fishing station was generally a locale travelled to and fished from on a seasonal basis: Labrador "stationers" fished from the land "down on the Labrador" but lived in fall and winter in various communities on the island of Newfoundland.
[PICTURE: PANL B3-226] An outdoor platform on which fish were dried, built on posts and shores (that is, bracing poles on angles), with a floor constructed of longers. In most locations they were spread with boughs (which kept the fish off the longers that in hot weather could "burn" the fish). There were various styles of flakes used in different locations, including "beach flakes" and "bawns" where fish were laid directly onto beach rocks.
Floater: A fishing schooner whose crew prosecuted the seasonal migratory Labrador "floater fishery" along the Labrador coast. These crews lived aboard their vessels all summer long, differentiating them from Labrador "stationers" who also fished seasonally down north but from "fishing stations" on the land. See also "fishing station," and "livyer."
Floater fishery: A seasonal, small-schooner, mobile cod-fishery based in Labrador waters. It used cod traps for the most part. It was prosecuted by Newfoundland crews who remained aboard their schooners all summer, following fish from place to place. The crews generally brought their heavy salted catch back to the Island to have it dried in the fall.
Flogging: To work on a merchant's premises handling, packing, and moving dried cod as a daily occupation.
Floury: Term used to describe the surface condition of a well-made or choice salt fish. Salt which came to the surface of such fish had the look of fine flour (though it was not loose on the surface).
Foots: The bottom of nets, where leads (weights) are attached to keep the net down in place.
French Shore: The coast of the island of Newfoundland where the French held fishing and curing rights (usually seasonal rights). The designated area shifted regularly with the shifting fortunes of the nations with fishing interests in Newfoundland. From 1783 to 1904 the French Shore ran from Cape St. John on the Northeast Coast to Cape Ray on the southwest tip of the Island. After 1904, the French were permanently denied access to any part of the island, but maintained control of St. Pierre and Miquelon.
Gang Boards: In an undecked fishing-boat, wooden plank(s) placed over the midship compartment or "room" in which fish are stowed.
Green fish: Cod-fish, split and salted, but not dried.
Gully (stick): A barrel or half barrel/tub with handles or rope affixed to its sides, used as a receptacle for salt, fish, bait or cod livers. They were usually constructed from a shallop's tub -- see below. A gully stick was a long stick run through the rope handles allowing two people to carry the gully with either end of the stick resting on their shoulders. See also "hand-tub" for a photograph of a gully.
Hand-bar (-barrow): [PICTURE: Natl. Archives of Canada PA139025, (Quidi Vidi)] and [PICTURE: PANL VA91-18-1 (PANL-CMCS)] Flat wooden barrow with handles for two people. Used mainly for carrying dried fish. A "draught bar" was a slightly larger, stronger hand-barrow/hand-bar for carrying a draught (two quintals) of dried fish and was used mainly on mercantile premises.
Hand-Line: See Hook-and-line.
Hand-tub (handle-bar tub): [PICTURE: PANL A20-44 (PANL-CMCS)] Wooden hand-barrow with two handles betweeen which a tub was fitted and carried by two people. They were usually constructed from shallop's tubs -- see below. Used mainly for carrying round or green fish, and sometimes used for carrying fish manure to the gardens.
Header: Member of a fishing crew who removes the heads, livers, and entrails of the cod brought ashore to be cleaned and dressed.
Hogshead: An archaic unit of volume of approximately fifty imperial gallons used for measuring large amounts of fishery salt. It also pertains to a puncheon-like container (though smaller than the puncheon -- see below) which was used to measure this volume.
Hook-and-line: A single fishing line with hook attached used manually in the cod-fishery, especially from small boats in inshore waters.
(See also "trawls.")
Hungry Schooner: Descriptive of a vessel without (a catch of) fish or seals. A schooner returning from the voyage with little or no fish.
Lists: Rows on a flake formed by loose longers that held the flake boughs in place and between which fish were laid. Also known as "panes." (See "flake" for an image that displays lists.)
Livyer: A permanent settler of coastal Newfoundland or Labrador (as opposed to seasonal, migratory fisherman). Usually applied to a year-round settler on the coast of Labrador (as opposed to summer, stationer fishing crews from Newfoundland).
Longer-(lunger): A long tapering pole, usually from a spruce or fir
treewith bark left on, used in constructing the rooves and floors of stages wharves, and flakes.
"Making fish": The process of preserving fish by salting and drying.
Mud fish: Cod-fish partially split, salted, and placed in pickle. Cod-fish caught in the autumn too late to cure and kept in salt brine all winter for spring curing. It is often kept for home consumption.
"Offer": Offshore, away from the land; the further seaward of two (or more) objects or features; islands. Distant fishing ledges.
Outport: A small fishing community. A term applied to Newfoundland fishing communities other than St. John's.
"Packing (back) fish": a method for keeping partially dried and dried cod-fish from spoiling or developing "dun" when damp weather conditions prevailed that did not allow for spreading. Salted and drying fish would be "unpacked" from one pile and repacked into another to keep "dun" and other conditions from harming the fish.
Pew: [PICTURE: PANL va14-193] A fish fork with a long stick handle and a sharp prong or tine affixed to its end. Used to prong fish from the boat onto the fishing stage.
Pickled fish: Fish salted in watertight containers in a brine composed of salt and the fish's own water content (drawn out by the salt). A thick, very light-salted fish resulted but took longer and was more difficult to cure.
Planter: A fisherman-owner of a fishing room (or "plantation") and boat, who, supplied by a merchant,
engaged a fishing crew.
Pound: A temporary compartment or bulk constructed in a fishing stage from boards etc., in which to salt fish. The pounds utilized the existing walls and framing of the stage.
Premises, fishing or mercantile: The waterfront stores, sheds, wharves and other facilities of a merchant or planter. Generally a larger-scale waterfront operation-property.
Puncheon: [PICTURE: PANL, still from the film "Handling of Salted Codfish") (depicts a puncheon-like container or hogshead).] A large watertight barrel/cask used for storing various items such as molasses, rum, and pickled fish. Puncheons could be up to five feet in height and could hold anywhere from 44-140 gallons though in this century, ninety gallons was the average size.
They were commonly used on the stage for any number of purposes. Often sawn in half to make two "puncheon tubs" which were used for washing fish in and sometimes for pickling fish, etc. A "butt" in some places was a puncheon sawn off at the three-quarter mark and used to salt fish as well.
Quintal: A measure (112 lbs.) applied to dried and salted cod-fish ready for the market. Two quintals was known as a "draft/draught". The common measure used in Newfoundland to quantify large quantities (such as a season's catch (or "voyage") of cod-fish. It generally only applied to fish in the dried state. So a "voyage of 500 quintals" represents approximately a quater million pounds of fresh round fish.
Ram's horn: [PICTURE: PANL F51-9 (PANL-CMCS)] A box with slatted sides for washing fish. "A ram's horn was made...about twelve feet long and eight feet wide and two feet deep. The boards would be one inch apart and there were holes bored through the bottom in the contraption. There were rope straps in both ends This ram's horn would be placed in the water with the rope straps tied to the wharf [or side of a schooner]. Four men would throw the fish down in this ram's horn and get down and sit on the boards around the edge and wash the fish with scrub brushes" (from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, p. 405).
Resettlement program: The provincial and federal governments initiated a "Centralisation Programme" which resettled residents of "isolated" communities into "growth centers" starting in the 1950s and running through to the early 1970s.
[PICTURE: Still from PANL film "Handling of Salted
Codfish"] The bark of a fir tree removed in one piece from a standing fir and used for
mainly for covering fish piles. Also used in building to cover surfaces (rooves
Room, fishing: A tract or parcel of land on the waterfront of a cove or harbour from which the fishery is conducted; the stages, stores, and 'flakes' and other facilities where the catch is landed and processed and the crew (or family) housed.
Salter: Member of a fishing crew who applies salt in the processing of dried cod.
Salting stage: Storage building where split fish was salted away in pounds or barrels before drying. Generally such a stage or store was necessary in locales where the splitting stage was vulnerable to storms.
Shallop: The shallop was a large fishing boat (likely over 35 feet) and partially decked -- a vessel type between a skiff and a schooner. The term went out of common usage in the late eighteenth century though similar boat types continued to be built well into the twentieth: for example, the "jack-boat" and the "bully" (the bully was partially decked in some areas of Newfoundland).
Shallop's tub: A shallop's tub was, in this century, usually a sawn-off, 200-pound flour or salt-meat barrel with rope handles (approximately a quarter sawn off its top). They were put to many uses, though most frequently were used to carry fish of various types, including bait and cod at different phases of processing. Carrying the shallop's tub was very heavy work, usually done by men. Women used instead a hand-tub (a shallop's tub sawn in half).
(See "hand-tub" and "gully above.)
Shore cure(d fish): Cod-fish prepared for market with light application of salt and extended drying period.
Splitter: Member of a fishing crew who cuts out the back or sound bone of the cod-fish and opens the fish to the tail for salting and drying.
[PICTURE: Still from PANL film "Handling of Salted Codfish". ] Final step of cleaning cod for salting: involves splitting the fish to the tail, and cutting out a good portion of the back or sound bone, opening the fish for salting and drying.
Splitting stage: A small stage built on the water where fish were gutted, headed, and split prior to salting. Splitting stages were required in unprotected locations where sea conditions posed a threat to structures built on or near the water.
(See "stage" for image of a splitting stage.)
Stage: [PICTURE: PANL E32-19] A building or structure built along the shore and out over the water to allow boats to land fish. It contained a splitting table or tables, tools, fishing gear, etc., and was where fish were cleaned and split before salting. Depending upon the location, split fish were salted and stored in this same building (before being dried) or were taken further back on the land to a salting stage or store.
Stage head: End of fishing stage which extends over the water where fish is landed.
(See "stage" for image.)
Station(er): See "fishing station"
"Steady go": A term applied to work etc., implying busy-ness or steady activity. During the caplin scull, it was "steady go" day and night.
Store: An outbuilding used to store various items. A fish store on a fishing room was often attached directly to the flake via a second-floor door. This loft was used to store fish in summer and fall and often as a gear storage and mending area in winter and spring. [See "fish store" for photograph.]
Summer house: Living quarters for the fishing season. A house from which the May to October cod-fishery was conducted. Many crews and families moved to summer fishing stations and lived in these houses on their fishing locations.
Trawls: Type of fishing gear used by offshore (banks fishery) and inshore fishermen. Trawls employ the baited hook. A series of long strong lines (each one approximately 300 feet) with short three-foot "sud" lines, evenly spaced at six foot intervals, were set on the fishing grounds and moored with weights and floats just above the sea floor. Each sud had a baited hook at its end.
Water-horse (fish): A stack of salted cod-fish piled in layers to drain, having recently been removed from salt and washed clean of it and any remaining dirt. After
the piling and draining (or "pressing out") water-horse fish was taken up onto the flake to dry. Water-horse can also be used as a verb: to water-horse fish is to pile the just-washed split, salted fish in a stack to "press out" or drain. Water-horse fish was very susceptible to damage of various kinds and had to be carefully tended for a number of days.
Yaffle [PICTURE: PANL VA91-18-1 (PANL-CMCS)] A yaffle was an armful of dried or nearly dried salt fish -- the amount that could be comfortably carried under one arm. It was also used as a verb, as in to take up an armful of fish. It also had a more general usage as a verb, referring to the work of spreading, gathering and piling fish.