The Education of Everett Richardson: The Nova Scotia Fishermen's Strike, 1970-71

The Education of Everett Richardson: The Nova Scotia Fishermen's Strike, 1970-71

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"If I was twenty years younger," shouted the woman, "I'd smash right through that picket line: I would!" 

"If you was twenty years younger," snapped a union wife, "you'd fuck your way through it like you did with the crew of that fourteen-dory Yankee longliner that was in here them days." 

As Father Ron Parsons listened with amusement, a woman behind him in the picket line turned to her companion. 

"Isn't that terrible?" she whispered. "You'd think with the priest here she'd at least have had the decency to say 'screw'."

 Telling the story, Parsons rocks with laughter...

 First published in 1977, The Education of Everett Richardson is labour history like you’ve never read it before – profane, poignant, personal. Silver Donald Cameron takes the reader inside the kitchens, the bait sheds, the courtrooms and the company offices to share the human story of an epic struggle in three tiny fishing ports in eastern Nova Scotia. Savagely exploited by the fishing industry, earning as little as $2.01 for ten days of fishing in the mid-winter North Atlantic, the fishermen simply wanted a union. To get one, they had to fight not only the companies, but also the government, the courts, the media, the business establishment, the mainstream labour movement and – mostly – the churches. 

Powerful, vivid characters drive the story. The charismatic Communist union leader, Homer Stevens. The choleric, competitive company president, Donnie Cadegan. And a genial, stubborn fisherman named Everett Richardson, sentenced to nine months in jail for defiantly walking a picket line. But when the courts force the fishermen to stop picketing, their wives and daughters take over. (“The strike was Women’s Lib around here,” says Everett’s wife.) By the time the new picketers are done, we even know the design of a company man’s boxer shorts: blue, with yellow butterflies.

 Readers say this true story reads like a novel, and it’s been named one of Atlantic Canada’s 100 greatest books.  In this second edition, a new introduction by the author reflects on the disappearance of the fishery and the rise of the environmental movement as corporate Canada’s favourite bogeyman. The struggle changes and continues, but the fishermen’s example endures.