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Bluff Head Cove - Part 6

James Ivany

(from The Fisherman's Advocate, March 5, 1965)



The exodus of Absalom Cooper from England to Bluff Head Cove I cannot give in detail, because it was to late to be written in the Cooper family history and much too early for me to be a witness. Moreover, his four children, who were born in Englewood, are long dead and so are the others who were born afterwards. and as many of his grand-children with whom I could conveniently communicate didn't know or they did know and forgot to tell me.

Also of what he began to do as the first settler in Bluff Head Cove, I am not sure. but I can draw a fair conclusion by the cove's appearance from 1912 to 1920 after its king was dead and I was old enough to have other thoughts besides boyish foolishness. However, whatever his intention was, whether it was to fish, farm or saw lumber, I am sure that his first task was to cut down trees. For at that early date a dense forest of fir and spruce came down to meet the salt water's edge, with not an open spot in sight.

And so the picture of Bluff Head Cove, between those two dates I mentioned above, was identical to all the other little places in Smith Sound, and my description of one as I saw and loved it in the summer time, goes for all.

First let me begin by mentioning the old English-style, two-story, white-painted house in a small garden set apart only for a square of carrots and cabbage which, nine times out of ten, was bordered by a three-sided row of small fruit trees and flowers that betokened his housewife's taste.

To write them in rotation, there were black currants, red currants, and the gooseberry. And where the fruit trees ended, flowers of loveliness began such as the red poppy, the tall ladies' slipper, the yellow, orange, or red marigold; the garden blue bell and last, but not least, the perfumed, fernlike plant we used to call "boy's love" which so often graced the lapel of a swain's Sunday coat or the bosom of an attractive country girl. and I must not forget the lilac tree that held an exclusive spot by itself which was as near the parlor window as possible. the reason for this, I think, was to fill that special room with its sweet aroma when the wind was right, and perhaps, to please the nostrils of a visiting guest on a Sunday afternoon.

But as a double precaution, this important choice of fruit, vegetables and flowers was protected again, from anything destructive, such as roving animals, but another fence that took in a great deal - if not the whole content - of a man's granted land. Inside this fence were one or more potato squares, a turnip square, more cabbage and the rest was grass land for the provision of domestic animals of what ever kind a man was inclined to keep.

In describing the rest of a man's homestead as I knew it, in the years mentioned above, I can't leave out the fact that it carried four seasonal aspects: one in the winter; one in the spring, and one in the fall.

Of course, the winter scene is easy to describe, for it was nothing but snow, snow, snow. But, in the spring, when April showers and warm sunshine were vanquishers of the white invader, a description is more difficult and fancier. It was then that brown spots of land appeared like burnt holes in a white blanket and on the semi-green slopes a half-dozen sheep could be seen feeding ravenously (for that was the extent of a man's flock) and, perhaps, twice as many lambs prancing as if to amuse a noon-time sun. and, by the way, since I have come to know this dance they call "the twist" I have wondered if they didn't get the idea from a flock of frolicking lambs. By the outside garden gate, or maybe the stable door, stood a cow waiting sorrowfully for what might be his last hand-out of eats for the season.

In another category by itself was the murmuring brook, on which stood the old familiar sawmill, and who can forget, if he ever knew the sound of rumbling wheels and the tune of a whirring saw.

In the summer, when everything had on its best apparel, the scene was delightful. Long green grass waved and waltzed to the touch of the four winds, and the flowers in the garden already described, stood out as nature's challenge to artificial beauty. Even the unsung potato bloom demanded a second look.

Within eyesight from the parlor window - and for a reason which I can't explain - there was a family graveyard where no one lies buried but Coopers and where the bones of Absalom now rest.

Also in Bluff Head Cove, no one else lived but Coopers and over this tiny kingdom Absalom was lord and king. He made the laws; gave the laws, and saw that they were kept. If he made a promise - he kept it and I am led to believe that he also favored the old Biblical law: "an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth". But after he died in 1902, it seems that the kingdom began to fall apart, and by 1920 the last soul was gone.

And so, standing on its naked sod today - especially for one who knew it - there is room for many thoughts. He can look at the pebbled beach and reflect the picture of a schooner being built called "United Brothers". Turning to where the house and garden used to be, he sees nothing but empty dust. Stroll along to the family graveyard and he realizes that it's not a graveyard any more, for all that remains are the scattered pieces of headstones and trampled ground where members of the Cooper family were buried long ago.

The old familiar sawmill is gone too, but the gurgling brook remains. And over it all, as one stops to ponder, there seems to steal a kind of deathly silence which is broken only by the twitter of a young sparrow or the call of a lonesome robin. and so, with the exception of one more paragraph, this is the end of my story.

As one would rightfully thing, the Cooper family spread out, through marriage, in all directions. The boys, of course, holding their own surname and the girls changing theirs for others. and so it is that, ask a Frampton today who his mother was, and he will proudly answer, "a Cooper". Ask a Laite and you get the same reply, and the same goes for the Stones, the Bugdens and others.

So now I have come to the end of my story and if anyone wished to write me either to praise or criticize, it will be accepted in the same light and be assured that I will reply.

James Ivany
120 Raglan Avenue
Toronto, Ontario.

Return to Bluff Head Cove Index

Page Transcribed by: James Butler 1998
Page Revised: July 2002 (Terry Piercey)


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