Passed On: John Crosbie – St. John’s, N.L. politician, former N.L. Lieutenant Governor and Federal Fisheries Minister
Crosbie, 89, passed away on January 10 in St. John’s. He was born in St. John’s on January 30, 1931, to a prominent business and political family. He was the son of Chesley A. Crosbie, the head of the Crosbie mercantile group and leader of the Economic Union Party, which favoured free trade with the United States. His grandfather was Sir John Chalker Crosbie, a cabinet minister and caretaker prime minister in pre-Confederation Newfoundland. He attended St. Andrews College, Queen’s University, where he was awarded the Gold Medal in Political Science and Dalhousie University, graduating in 1956 as the University Medalist in Law. He was also awarded the Viscount Bennett Scholarship by the Canadian Bar Association, as the year’s outstanding law student. He moved on to postgraduate studies at the University of London and London School of Economics, and was called to the Bar in 1957, practicing law in St. John’s before and after political life.
At the age of 34, his first elected position was to municipal government, where he served briefly in 1965 as deputy mayor of St. John’s. He moved to the Newfoundland House of Assembly a year later. As a provincial Liberal cabinet minister under Premier Joey Smallwood, he railed against the practices and policies of the government. In this well-documented battle, he returned from lunch one day to find that Smallwood had moved his desk across the floor of the House. He joined forces with the Progressive Conservatives to defeat the government and served in the cabinet of Premier Frank Moores as Minister of Finance, President of Treasury Board, Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Mines and Energy, and Government House Leader.
In 1976, he was elected as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for St. John’s West. He served as Minister of Finance in the eight-month Joe Clark government, which he memorialized as “long enough to conceive but not to deliver.” In the government of Brian Mulroney, he was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where, among many accomplishments, he ended discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the RCMP, the military and throughout the public service. He also served as Minister of Transport and Minister for International Trade, responsible for the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
His last official responsibilities before retiring from federal politics in 1993 included the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Fisheries and Oceans. As Fisheries Minister — which he described as his toughest job in three decades in politics — he faced the unenviable task for a son of Newfoundland of imposing the Northern cod moratorium. Having executed this with courage and grit, many believe no other politician of the day could have successfully delivered the substantive Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program, “The Package,” to assist fishers, plant workers and their communities. He was an architect and signatory of the pivotal Atlantic Accord, which established joint management and guaranteed that Newfoundland and Labrador would be the principal beneficiary of its offshore oil and gas development.
He was instrumental in securing an essential federal equity share in the Hibernia project, which fostered the province’s offshore oil and gas industry.
After retiring from federal politics, he served for 14 years as the Chancellor of Memorial University. He also worked as legal counsel and director of several institutions, community organizations and private companies. From 2008 to 2013, he represented Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II as the 12th Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Among his honours were Chancellor of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador; Honourary Chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary; Honourary Colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment; Officer of the Order of Canada; Queen’s Counsel; Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada; and Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John. He also held many honourary Doctor of Laws degrees.
Passed On: Wayne Ralph – Conception Bay South, N.L. labour leader
Ralph, 68, passed away on January 28 at home in Conception Bay South. A life-long union organizer, Ralph is best known for his tenure as a former president of the United Food and Allied Workers Union (UFCW) local 1252. He led the union, which represented fish plant workers among others, at a particularly difficult time in the province’s history. He joined the union in 1988 when the Northern cod fishery was in decline and often went head-to-head with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Unions (FFAW), a rival union in the province’s fishery. He stepped down as union president in 2002 after six years at the union’s helm.
Passed On: Randell Meadus – Gooseberry Cove, N.L. fisherman
Meadus, 62, passed away on January 13. Born in Loreburn, Trinity Bay, he was the son of Herbert and Martha Meadus. He spent a lifetime on the water, starting fishing at a young age as a boy and continued until his death.
Passed On: Perley Baker – Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S. fisherman
Baker, 81, passed away on January 26 at the Dartmouth General Hospital. Born in East Jeddore, he was a son of the late Earl and Stella (Jennex) Baker. He followed his father’s legacy of fishing at a very young age and by 19 he had a boat built and named it Wendy. He had a variety of deckhands, including his wife for many years. When daughter, Wendy, was old enough, she too entered the boat to be with her dad. Years later, his son Tommie joined the crew. He purchased the vessel Who Cares with Tommie and passed the fishing legacy on for his son to continue the family tradition. He was dedicated to selling his catch to Baker’s Point Fisheries. At the age of 67, he retired from the fishing boat due to kidney failure. He was a man that even though he was unable to fish, still found a way to be connected to the ocean. He was deeply involved in his home hobbies such as painting lobster buoys, rigging trawl, tying snoods and mending nets.
Passed On: John LeBlanc – Yarmouth, N.S. fisherman
LeBlanc, 70, passed away on January 14 at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. Born on July 18, 1949 in Windsor, N.S., he was the son of Marjorie (Mosher) and the late Paul (Tommy) LeBlanc, Yarmouth. He worked as a fisherman all of his working life.
Passed On: Roland Stuart – Lockeport, N.S. mariner
Stuart, 78, passed away on January 13 at the Roseway Hospital. Born in West Green Harbour, he was a son of the late Lenwood and Irene (Scott) Stuart. He obtained his captain’s papers and spent most of his working life at sea, on tugboats, the Bluenose ferry and Saint John dry dock.
Passed On: Christine Carroll – St. Anthony, N.L. fish plant worker
Carroll, 77, passed away January 22 at the Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony. She was born on July 5, 1942 in Cooks Harbour, N.L. She had many jobs through her life including working at the St. Anthony Motel, Flavour Crisp Chicken and Fishery Products where she worked until her retirement in 1992.
Passed On: Herman Nickerson – Shelburne, N.S. fisherman
Nickerson, 87, passed away on January 18 at the Roseway Manor, Shelburne. Born on October 26, 1932, he was the son of the late Bernard and Doris (Stoddard) Nickerson. He started his working career in New Brunswick and then returned back home to Cape Island to earn a living as a fisherman. He also spent time on Seal Island with his son-in-law, Clayton Penney and daughter Amber, helping them with the running of the lighthouse.
Passed On: James Williams – East Green Harbour, N.S. fisherman
Williams, 78, passed away on January 4 at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. In his early years, he was a fisherman and also managed Pierce Fisheries in West Green Harbour.