Floating A House from Triton Island to Roberts Arm in 1957

An interview with Eric Watkins, hosted on a MUN website, provides stories of dog teams, floating a house, a near sinking & more

Floating A House from Triton Island to Roberts Arm in 1957

Apparently, you can cook your supper inside a floating house.

Eric Watkins moved from Heads Harbour, a resettled community on Triton Island, to Roberts Arm in 1957.

Hiram Silk interviewed Eric on April 4, 1986. Of the recorded interviews kept in the online Memorial University of Newfoundland Digital Archives that have been explored for greenbayfeed.com, Eric’s 24 minute interview is a favourite.

His age at the time of the interview doesn’t seem to be indicated, but according to the 1921 census for Heads Harbour, an ‘Eric Watkins’ was born in 1912. (It is very likely the same person.)

The first 3 minutes of the interview concentrate on Eric’s relocation to Roberts Arm. He gave the reasons for the move: that there were just 18 families, and the government had refused to provide a school teacher so “younger people had to leave.”

He described in detail the process of moving. It involved 1 tractor, 5 men, 7 days, and 97 oil drums. He added, in a very amused tone:

 “And the contents, everything was left into ‘in. And the dishes, we had them all put down into pans on the floor. The stove was all available. Supper was cooking on the way up. And the water barrel was out, full of water. And we had a beautiful time. From the time that we left Heads Harbour to we landed here just took us 4 hours.”

[The image at the very top of this post, an old house, is a stock photo.]

He also spoke of fishing (at 05:35 minutes ) and of his 16 summers in the fishery. He went on to explain, while nearly laughing, the I.O.U. system (at 05:47 minutes) that was in lieu of fishing pay. (He didn’t seem to think much of it.)

Click this screenshot of the MUN player to listen to Eric’s interview, in a new browser tab. If player doesn’t work well, try another browser.

Other topics in the interview:

  • Hauling wood in winter (at 07:30 minutes)
  • Rabbit catching (at 07:55 minutes)
  • ‘Running dog teams’ to Badger, with freight and passengers (at 08: 19 minutes)
  • Working for Bowaters (at 11:15 minutes)
  • ‘The Lady Baie Verte’ near sinking in 20-30ft seas (at 14:30: minutes)
  • The effects of wood cutting on the environment (at 20:50 minutes)

Hear Eric’s story of floating his house.
CLICK/TAP HERE to listen to the Eric Watkins interview
on the Memorial University of Newfoundland Digital Archives, in a new browser window.