Charles Pearcey

Designated in 2014 as a Tradition Bearer.

Nominator: Christina Smith, Outer Battery Neighbourhood Association, St. John’s

Born in 1937, Mr. Charles Pearcey is a fisherman, tradition bearer and amateur archivist. He keeps the tradition and practices of the inshore fishery alive in his experience and in his family’s twine store in the Outer Battery. He is representative of the thousands of people who pursued the inshore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. Through his documentation and demonstrations he educates visitors about a way of life that is fast disappearing.

Since 1992 Mr. Pearcey has educated untold numbers of visitors about the inshore fishery. Pearcey’s Twine Store, located in the former fishing village of the Outer Battery, holds a truly amazing collection of the history of inshore fishing in Newfoundland. Mr. Pearcey has amassed and labeled nets of various kinds, gaffs and pughs, handline gear, trawls, block and tackle, squid jiggers, grapnels, collars – everything needed for an independent fisher to pursue the cod. Along with the gear there is also hand-carved folk art and historical photos of the fishing premises and fishermen on the Outer Battery.

The inshore fishery was the pattern of work in Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. Independent fishermen in small boats using handlines and fixed gear sustained generations of families in this province. After twenty years of moratorium, the knowledge and skills pertaining to the inshore fishery are fast disappearing, along with the material culture associated with it.

The Pearcey family has had their store in the Outer Battery since 1891. Mr. Pearcey learned the craft of fishing from his grandfather and his father, with whom he fished every summer. Since fishery was an uncertain way to make a living, and he had a young family, he also took a job with the Golden Eagle Company.

The fishery is not pursued in the way it once was. Fishing inshore required intimate knowledge of the landscape and seascape, knowledge of marks for handling places and trap berths, boat handling skills, making fish, traditional building techniques for stores, stages, wharves and flakes, and uncountable other skills which at one time were in use on a daily basis.

Mr. Pearcey is a repository of all this knowledge, which is fast disappearing from the everyday knowledge of Newfoundlanders.