Cookin' For a Crowd

By Charlotte Curl
Researcher: Doris Roberts

I worked in a cookhouse for one summer cooking for seven men. I was 21 years old at the time. It was over at Loder's Point at Fox Harbour. Fox Harbour is my home. There was no such thing as hamburgers and hot dogs. I used to cook fish, salt meat, whatever you could get to cook. I worked hard but never got paid much for it, about $5 a month. It was real hard work. I used to bring water and cook for seven men and one woman. I used to get up 6 o'clock in the morning. They used to have breakfast, dinner, supper and lunches at 10 o'clock and 3 o'clock. I used to do all of the dishes. I would work until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I worked every day clear of Sunday. I washed clothes on washboards in the wash tub.

When the men was home they would hunt and trap and they would supply the partridges and rabbits. Some meat would be in the shop but you could not always run to the shop. There would always be so much on hand in the cookhouse. The cookhouse had everything: fish, salt meat and anything you wanted to cook. There was no schedule for what had to be a certain day, you just had to make sure you had a lot of food. I was there two more years after working in what they called the bunkhouse. I had my husband and five men there. I still had to wash clothes on the washboard in the washtub. There was no such thing as an automatic washer. I also had a small child, about two years old. I was married when I worked in the bunkhouse. When I worked in the cookhouse and I got up in the morning for breakfast, I used to cook bologna, ham, toast, whatever I could get. I made the bread too. My boss used to be there helping me when I worked in the cookhouse but when I was in the bunkhouse I was there myself. I got $10 a month when I worked in the bunkhouse.

I used to work in the stage at fish when I was home. We'd have the big scoffs cooked up: Fish & Brewis, Salt fish, sometimes you'd have fresh salted fish, soaked for a day or so. I'd put brewis in soak the night before and let that soak all night. Then you'd fry out your pork for srunchins'. Then you put on your fish and boil that but your brewis, you'd only boil that for about 10 minutes. Then the brewis is ready to eat. It's a good feed. When I was cooking for seven men, I'd have about a bag and one half of hard bread, for sure, and a boiler full of fish. You'd have to have that much!

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