By Sandy Richardson
This spring I found some interesting additional information about the fishing station on Main Station Island. I offer it here as an addendum to the article
that appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Qayaq.
In late May I participated in an event at the Huron Fringe Birding Festival called “The Bruce Re-Beckons”. It was a day-long “quest to rediscover Sherwood Fox’s Bruce Peninsula, based on his landmark 1952 book, The Bruce Beckons.” Leader Willy Waterton, a local photographer and author, led participants to a number of sites Fox wrote about to see how things had changed or stayed the same over the last 60 years. At each stop he gave a brief talk and presented interesting information from The Bruce Beckons and other sources.
At Oliphant, Willy talked about the Fishing Islands and showed us, among other things, an 1836 report, including a map, by John MacDonald D.P.S. on Captain Alexander MacGregor’s Huron Fishing Company that a friend of Willy’s found in an archive in the United Kingdom. Following the event, Willy graciously provided me with copies of the report and the map.
The map and notes suggest that the fishing station on Principal Island as it was called, now Main Station Island, was a much more substantial operation and settlement than either Norman Robertson in History of the County of Bruce (1906) or Sherwood Fox in The Bruce Beckons (1952) indicates. Beyond the large stone building described by Robertson and Fox, and whose ruins I found, the map shows 5 buildings and the notes in the report list 11. (Perhaps the map does not show the residences.)
The map shown here has, as many maps at the time did, north at the bottom. The notes describe the fishing station on Principal Island (None of the dimensions match those of the building given by Fox?).
No archaeological investigations have been done on the site, but this information suggests such research might prove very interesting.
There are upon this Island, the following buildings, viz.:
4 Log Houses, inhabited by fishermen’s families.
1 Small Frame House for Superintendent.
1 Large Log House for Fishermen.
1 Cooper’s Shop.
1 Cook House.
1 Large Stone Store House, 40 ft. by 24 ft.
1 ” ” walled Shed, 50 ft. by 40 ft. for packing fish.
1 ” ” ” ” 64 ft. by 20 ft. for gutting fish.
A wharf from the packing shed into 11 feet water, 150 ft. by 20 ft.
2 Large nets on reels.
4 Boats on the beach.