Celtic Tradition: The Land, the Clan and the Community
Living with the Land
As important it was to our Celtic anscestors, living with the land is an integral part of our heritage. Oshan Whale Watch has been touring the waters of Northern Cape Breton, Nova Scotia since 1998. However, Captain Cyril Fraser has been a professional fisherman since 1969. Captain Fraser has participated in nearly every form of fishing available in the waters off the port of Bay Saint Lawrence, but has since settled into eco-friendly Lobster fishing and Whale Touring. Captain Fraser’s fishing experience makes him an invaluable Whale Tour Captain. He knows the waters, he knows the winds, he knows the patterns of fish and he knows the patterns of the whales. While on a whale tour, the Captain proudly imparts the lessons of fishing, from the importance of conservation, to stories of storms and the geological wonders of the Nova Scotia’s Northern Coast.
Oshan is name of a branch of the Fraser Clan who lived in Northern Cape Breton and were known for the size. Oshan is Gaelic for standing above, or tall. Being a Whale Touring Fisherman means that Captain Fraser is carrying on a long-standing Celtic tradition to live with the land and respect nature. Captain Fraser's father Simon Fraser and his Grand-father, Archie Fraser were fisherman-farmers who both lived and died in Northern Cape Breton. Captain Fraser's mother, Annie Beatrice, was a MacKinnnon from the famous blood line of Peter Mac Kinnon. Both of Captain Fraser's fraternal and maternal blood lines originated in Scotland, spoke Gaelic on a daily basis and played tarbish every night, which makes Captain Fraser a modern-Cape Breton Scotsman. Most importantly, Oshan Whale Watch is a locally owned and operated family business. Each member of the Oshan Clan is trained to serve on the Oshan and take the helm if need be, but it's hard to take the wheel away from Captain Fraser.
The importance of the Clan extends beyond one's personal family. In Celtic tradition the Clan extends to the community at large and the health of the Clan is the health of the community. In fact, the "modern" Localtarian movement is a resurgance of clan based life, but on a larger scale. In a tiny, village at the end of Cape Breton it is hard to be one-hundred percently locally based, but at Oshan Whale Watch we remain as local as we can possibly be. Our boat was built in Cape Breton Island. We buy parts and safety equipment either directly from the Fisherman's Co-op in Bay St. Lawrence, or as close as possible. We try to shop only at our small, local stores as much as we can, and, most importantly, we are family of volunteer who help fight fires, support local community centres and tend to our local harbour.
Angus, Captain Fraser's Father in Law, at his home in Meat Cove (left), illustrates the importance of the land, clan and community.
Like Angus, current generations of the Fraser clan have travelled, worked abroad, attended university, but have returned to their home in Northern Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Film Courtesy of Harold Guillemette.