Burgess, Capt. John Seldon “Junior”, 88
On March 17, 2022, with fair winds, a high tide and the sun on his back, Dad set sail for his final voyage to the Grand Banks.
Junior was the first child born to Seldon and Edith Burgess. He grew up in Southwest Port Mouton surrounded by a huge family.
In Junior’s early years, he spent a lot of time either at the hunting camp with Grampie Arthur, picking blueberries with Grammie Effie, at the store with Uncle Freddie, or back to the bungalow helping Aunt Gertie cook for the men in the woods. The old people seemed to drag him around wherever they went, I guess that’s why he did the same with all of us. Grampie Arthur even took him out of school to go fishing, and since then, he never looked back.
He spent his entire career sailing all across the Scotian Shelf from Cape Hatteras to the Flemish Cap. Dad started out fishing smaller boats, the Peppy, Bonnie & Marilyn, Pat & David, and one more that didn’t actually have a name. Leave it to Dad. He made quite a name for himself as a fishing captain on the Roland & Sister’s catching either swordfish, halibut, ground fish or hake, the Liverpool Bay and Eastern Provider fishing for offshore lobster. His last boat was the Roland & Sister’s 2. When he wasn’t inshore fishing, he was taking people on tours around the harbour and Port Joli head.
Dad was admired and respected by all of the men that were fortunate enough to sail with him, especially when he was able to get them safely back to shore after a few storms that others didn’t make it through. He often talked about those times, with one in particular, when he took sheets of plywood on board. He said the “old fellas” thought he was crazy (of course everyone was old to him, even in his 80’s). Well those sheets of plywood were used to board up the windows in the wheelhouse and mattresses off the bunks were used to patch up a hole in the side of the boat enough to get him in to Teddy Snyder’s. The wave also shorted out everything in the wheelhouse, so he used the foil out of a package of cigarettes to make a fuse for the radio to call in to shore and let them know he was on his way. We always knew when it was Dad calling from the boat when Mom answered the phone and would say, “I can hear you, can you hear me”.
In 1961 Junior took on his greatest task, marrying Muriel and becoming a father to first Heather, then Cavell, Karen, Roland, and Wendy. After that, the grand and great-grand children started rolling in. There is quite a bunch and he was proud of every single one.
It was always the little things that were important to Dad, Sunday dinners, going for drives and stopping for fish ‘n’ chips, a Christmas tree at the fish house decorated with swordfish hooks and “gangions”, making a lean-to for us to sleep in when we went camping on the island in Path Lake, playing cards and spending time with Tom and Joan, as well as lots of others, making an Easter basket out of an old pear box and stuffing it with moss, letting the grandchildren cut down trees with a bait knife, or pretty much anything they wanted to do. Like riding on the back of the truck all the way to the camp, as long as they laid down of course. And don’t think that didn’t have Mom chewing at him. He would just grin like he always did when she got mad, never stopped him though. “Goddam fool” she would say. Speaking of gangions, many a pair of pants were tied up with gangions if you didn’t have a belt.
Lots of time was spent on the Goosehills, up the fire road with Willie, setting eel pots, clamming, moose hunting in Cape Breton, trout fishing in Cox’s, deer hunting on Moodies Barrens (his happy hunting grounds), camping at Sandy Bay, Louis Head beach, Johnson’s Pond or pretty much anywhere he could find a spot, boat trips to Port Mouton island, or Port Joli head, and maybe even a lobster or 2 cooked on the coals amongst the rocks. There were also lots of cookouts at his beloved fish house. He enjoyed going to the rink to watch the kids play hockey and ring his bell, Mom didn’t think much of that though.
Dad loved to help Roland cut wood on his woodlot, read, especially stories of the sea and of course “the daily paper”, cook bacon and eggs for the grand & great-grand kids, shop at the Dollarama, and go to McDonald’s for a muffin and tea and chat with whoever was there. He wasn’t shy about talking to anyone and made friends wherever he went.
Dad had many challenges over the years but nothing could keep him down, not the storms at sea, the cancer in 2001 that the doctors said he would only live for 3-5 years, or the near drowning in the lake when he fell out of the boat with hip-waders on. He was a tough old bird and worked hard all his life, probably would have still been fishing if it wouldn’t have been for his wooden hips.
Junior is survived by daughters Heather (Richard) Whynot, Port Mouton, Cavell (Gary) Nowe, Chelsea, Karen (Chris Hatt) Burgess, Milton, Wendy (Blair) Whynot, New Grafton, and son Roland (Denise) Burgess, SW Port Mouton. Grandchildren Matthew and Mark Whynot, Lindsay Lowe, Jeremy Thorbourne, Ethan Whynot, Shannon Nowe, Madison, Chloee and Liam Burgess and 12 great-grandchildren, sister Bonnie Jippes, Port Joli.
He was predeceased by his parents, sister Marilyn Cassidy, Pa’s old dogs Holly and Maggie, and of course, the love of his life, companion, and partner in crime, Muriel. Mom and Dad went everywhere together, you didn’t see one without the other. So of course they wanted to be laid to rest together.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Chandlers’ Funeral Home, Liverpool. There will be a family service at a later date. No flowers, donations of kindness, a wave, and offer to help anyone who needs it would be greatly appreciated. Online condolences may be made to www.chandlersfuneral.com
Thank you to home care, VON, the second floor nursing team, Dr Morash for the many years of care and a very special thank you to Dr Burrill, Dad thought the world of you.
Keep sojourn’ along Dad, we’ll see you bumbye.
A Fisherman’s Prayer
God grant that I might live to fish
Until my dying day,
And when my final cast I’ve made
And life has slipped away,
I pray that God’s great landing net
Will catch me in it’s sweep,
And in His mercy God will judge me
Big enough to keep.
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