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New book looks at groundfish fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia

Donald Doucette with his new book. It’s the third book written by the Lower West Pubnico resident.
Donald Doucette with his new book. It’s the third book written by the Lower West Pubnico resident. - Eric Bourque

Lower West Pubnico resident Donald Doucette pens his third book

A Yarmouth County man who worked in the fishing industry for three decades or so has written his third book on the fishery.

Donald Doucette’s latest volume is The Fish Draggers of S.W. Nova Scotia, which will be available in various locations from Shelburne to Annapolis counties.

While the focus of the book is on this region of Nova Scotia, Doucette notes that the history of the vessels he writes about can have a broader geographical scope.

“Boats don’t stand still,” he said. “Some boats (for example) ended up in Newfoundland. Some Newfoundland boats ended up in Yarmouth ... So this is about 400 boats, the people who manned the boats, the owners. Unfortunately, some (of the vessels) have sunk, some have burned. There has been loss of life, but in general it’s the story of our groundfish fishery.”

Doucette spent over five years researching and writing the book, which covers the period from the 1945-46 to 2018. A book launch is planned for Friday, Jan. 11, at 1:30 p.m. at the Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos.

Doucette’s first book, which came out in 2008, was his memoirs and offered readers a look at the offshore scallop industry, in which Doucette worked for many years. His next one, published in 2012, was The Schooner Era and Harpoon Swordfishing.

The response to both of those books was good, he said, and both are out of print.

A Surette’s Island native who lives in Lower West Pubnico, Doucette moved from his native village to the Pubnico area in the early 1960s. He was one of a number of men from Surette’s Island who made the same move at around that time to work in the fishery.

Reflecting on his own industry experience, Doucette said, “I was involved in pretty much all aspects of the fishery, but it was really offshore scallop dragging for 20 years and the fish-dragging industry for seven years, and in between you worked at a fish plant or you did whatever it took to put bread on the table.”

Doucette eventually left the fishery and got in the life insurance business. He has been retired for about a decade. He also is a former Argyle municipal councillor.

Asked to compare the fishery of today with the one he participated in decades back, he notes that the boats are bigger now and safety is more of a priority, with better equipment and training.

Doucette’s new book is 271 pages long and will be available at various locations, including Coles in Yarmouth, Spencer’s in Shelburne, Wilson’s Home Hardware in Barrington, Pharmasave and the Red Cap in West Pubnico, Clarence’s Shopping Mart in Saulnierville and Bainton’s in Annapolis Royal.

Book launch Friday, Jan. 11, at Acadian museum in West Pubnico:

J. Donald Doucette’s new book – The Fish Draggers of S.W. Nova Scotia – will be launched Friday, Jan. 11, at 1:30 p.m. at the Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos.

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