Working on a barge

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I worked on the barge when I was a teenager, when I was about 16 years old. And with that barge, we ferried to all points here in James Bay, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Moosonee, Rupert’s House, and Chisasibi (Old Fort George). We transported all kinds of supplies to those communities where the RC Mission held posts. We even transported cows to Fort George. We ferried cattle here, and only when the weather was good and there was no wind. And those cattle stayed here and were used by the residential school to feed the students. The cows were milked every morning. There was one bull to increase the cattle herd and soon there were many cows. So you can see the fields around here, around the airport, this is where we lived. This is where the cows grazed, around these fields. Also, in these fields, hay was grown. As you can see (in the picture) the cows are pulling a cart full of hay, and this will be their feed for the winter. So, there was a barn were the hay was stored, and the cows were fed hay in the barn. There were many kinds of farm animals in that barn; cows, pigs, chickens, horses, The animals were used for work; the horses hauled hay, there was also a hay harvesting machine, This is what the French introduced. The residential school students grew potatoes, and harvested them, in the summer. And I used to think the harvest of these vegetables was very large, all filled in bags, somewhere around 500 bags. This is what the students ate. These vegetables were consumed by everybody, the school, the French, the hospital, and the Crees would purchase the vegetables as well. As for the potatoes, there was an underground cellar built, deep into the ground, below the freezing point. This is were the vegetables were stored, potatoes, carrots, all vegetables They grew everything, carrots, beets, cabbage, and strawberries, However, there were not able to grow tomatoes, even though they tried, because it is too cold here. So the potatoes were stored in the deep underground cellar all winter, and everybody ate potatoes all winter. No produce arrived from the south. The barge was operated by the RC mission, but was not intended for passengers, only freight. The barge was used during the construction of the St. Anne’s Indian Residential School. Construction material for the building of the school was ferried by the barge. The barge was also used to collect gravel aggregate up river. Eventually I started piloting the barge as I got more experience with it. I would get the fine sand with three other workers. So, the barge was never used as passenger boat, only for freight. There was another boat particularly for passengers. It looked like this...the passenger looked like this. The boat that the students used. This is the boat that sailed on the James Bay Coast; Attawapiskat, in the collection of students for the Residential School. So this boat was for passenger only and the other for freight.


Working on a barge by John Kataquapit


Transportation barge job farm people

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