Fisherman’s Life Museum tells of a life many of us can relate to – a family working hard to put food on the table, house maintained, family dressed, and a few small luxuries for special occasions. In the 1800s and early 1900s many Nova Scotian families, like the Myers, lived in homes and farms like the one preserved at Fisherman’s Life Museum. In 1915, the house and eight acres of property it sits upon was passed from James H. Myers to his son, Ervin. A second-generation inshore fisherman, Ervin and his wife Ethelda, would together raise their thirteen daughters in the house (although all thirteen daughters never lived there at the same time).
Looking at the scenic landscape, it is easy to understand why families had such a strong connection to land and sea. Today, you will still find a welcoming home, the farm outbuildings (including a barn and chicken coop), vegetable gardens, plus the fish shed and slip dock used to moor boats in the winter. Families would also keep animals such as horse, cows, ox, and pigs. This allowed inshore fishing families to both work and support themselves close to home.
Although self-sufficient, fishing families were also part of a community. Supplies were bought and sold at the local general store, children attended the local school house, and going to church on Sunday was an important part of family life. For the Myers family this was W. L. O. Mitchell’s General store just across the Navy Pool Bridge, a one-room schoolhouse for Jeddore-Lakeville students, and St. James Anglican Church in Jeddore-Oyster Ponds. Families would also have commercial and social exchanges with the members of the local Mi’kmaq community, and welcome travelers such as Lebanese peddlers.
The story of the Myers family is typical of that of most inshore families in Nova Scotia in years past. One of the daughters summed up life as follows “We were poor in many ways but we were rich – I wouldn’t change anything.”