The Salmon Traps - Leighann Diehl
(Photo assignment: Leighann Diehl (AVC 2015) writes about a photograph or photographs, that depict a meaningful moment for her.)
These pictures capture one of the most memorable moments I had up North: the boat ride to the salmon traps. Everyday to every other day some of the men in the community would take a boat ride to check the salmon traps along the shoreline during the summer month. Since we had been working hard in the clinic and didn’t have much time for sightseeing, they offered to take us along on our last day in Rigolet.
After a quick morning at the clinic, we were taken down to the dock along the water’s edge. Upon arrival to the dock, there were several small, wooden speedboats in a line. We were told that these were the boats we would go on and warned they could be a “little” bumpy. Life jackets were handed out along with waivers we were required to sign just in case anything happened. We all exchanged hesitant looks as we boarded the boats fearful of severe seasickness or falling overboard.
As soon as the boat took off, I was thankful for my life jacket. With each small wave we hit I was lifted off my sit and slammed back down. My stomach went up and down with it. It was as terrifying and thrilling as a roller coaster ride. After I got over the initial anxiety of potentially falling overboard, I was allured by my surroundings.
Rolling mountains blanketed with pine trees lined the water’s edge. The boat whizzed by the occasional remote house, and I wondered how anyone even got to those houses; I didn’t see any roads. The guide told us that these houses were mainly used in the summer for vacation. I could understand why people would want to be there; the scenery was picturesque.
After twenty minutes, the boat slowed down as we neared a cove. Along the shoreline of the cove were a several more houses and an abandoned broken-down barn. Our guide told us that this was where the first salmon trap was. The water was shallow, so we all could look down at the net and see that there were salmon trapped. He explained to us that the location of the traps depended on the migration patterns of the salmon and the current of the water. This location was passed down through the generations, so the traps were placed in the same spot every year. He pulled up a thick rope that was attached to netting to catch the salmon. There were several salmon caught in the line, so the guide collected them and put them on the shore. He proceeded to skin and gut them right there on the shore. The boat ride lasted for a total of an hour and a half, and we stopped at two more salmon traps collecting a few more salmon on the way. At the end of the trip, we were given the salmon to take back to Prince Edward Island with us.
Being from New Jersey, I am accustomed to a fast paced, convenient lifestyle, so going to Rigolet was truly a cultural experience for me. I felt that the boat ride allowed me to appreciate the charm of their community and way of living. I am grateful to everyone in their community for this experience and for all of their hospitality while we were there.