Three Nova Scotians were inducted into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame during a Feb. 8 ceremony at the Eastern Canada Fisheries Exposition in Yarmouth, N.S. This was day one of the two-day exposition, which is being held at the Mariners Centre.
The three newest members of the hall of fame are River John, N.S., fisherman Ronald Heighton, who was inducted as a Mariner; Louisburg, N.S.-based processing company leader Joe Anthony who was inducted as a Processor; and Mercury Marine representative Arthur ‘Art’ McNeil of Baddeck, N.S., who was inducted posthumously as a Builder. (SEE BIOGRAPHIES BELOW)
The three individuals were nominated by their peers and chosen by a selection committee. All three are considered to be very worthy inductees who have made major impacts in the marine industries field.
The Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame was developed by The Navigator Magazine, which is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary, in partnership with Master Promotions Ltd.
The hall pays a lasting tribute to those who have made or are making valuable contributions in any marine industry in Atlantic Canada. The Mariner category recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution at sea in any marine field — this could include anyone from a captain or crewmember on anything from fishing boats to cargo ships to oil tankers to Coast Guard and all points in between.
The Processor category recognizes individuals involved in the business of processing/developing marine products from fish and seafood to oil and gas, including everyone from frontline workers right up to company owners.
The Builder category recognizes those individuals who have made significant contributions to any of Atlantic Canada’s marine industries without having necessarily directly participated in them (including, but not limited to, industry advocates, organizers, service providers, marine builders, business people, media, government, etc.)
Online information has been developed in conjunction with the hall of fame and a public display of the inductees is shown at marine shows in Yarmouth, N.S., St. John’s, N.L. and Moncton, N.B.
The Hall of Fame replaces the Industry Achievement Awards that had traditionally been handed out as part of the aforementioned marine shows since 2008. All past industry achievement award recipients have been automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame.
ABOUT THIS YEAR’S INDUCTEES:
RONALD HEIGHTON — Mariner
Ronald Heighton of River John, NS, has spent the bulk of his lifetime working on the water and also striving for the betterment of the fishing industry in the Maritimes. Heighton has almost 50 years fishing experience fishing lobster, herring and he fished ground fish for over 30 years. He has a Fishing Master IV and has taken several courses in leadership and communication.
He is the president of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board (GNSFP), an organization that examines broad based issues and common concerns in the Gulf area and one that looks at ways to improve the area’s fishery including the creation of programs.
Heighton has been the vice-president for the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters (CCPFH) for the past three terms and is a long standing board member of the CCPFH. In addition to serving as president of GNSFP, he is also president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association. For over 25 years he has participated in multiple Nova Scotia Gulf species advisory committees, and he is a member of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association and the Lobster Council of Canada
He has also volunteered to be part of the Technical Advisory Committee for the recently released Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator program, a program meant to enhance the safety of fish harvesters across Canada.
In addition to his direct fisheries work, Heighton also volunteers his time working with harbour authorities and he has done volunteer work for the Northumberland Fisheries Museum.
JOE ANTHONY — Processor
The success story Joe Anthony has written in the seafood processing business is one born of good timing, hard work and finding out that a dream he had as a young boy actually wasn’t for him. Hailing from Sydney Mines, N.S., all Anthony ever wanted to be going back to his earliest days fishing on the salmon rivers was a fishery officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
In 1988 he went off to Holland College with that dream in his sights. He took the fisheries technology training at the college, a course aimed directly at the fish processing business, and started on his way. In the summers, he worked both with the science branch at DFO with a focus on lobsters — but he also worked with Clearwater in the snow crab processing sector. Snow crab wasn’t a big deal at the time, fetching upwards of 30 cents per pound for soft shell and 50 cents per pound for hardshell.
Landing a Fisheries Officer position at the time wasn’t easy, so while he entered job competitions and kept his name on the list, Anthony bided his time working in the processing sector.
The Victoria Co-Op Fisheries plant, which had never done lobster or crab, wanted to get into that business so Anthony spent five years with them running that operation. The manager of that plant, Lloyd Laney, bought a plant in Cheticamp, N.S., and he went off and ran that operation for a couple of years.
Finally, the call came and Joe landed the job as a Fisheries Officer. But it turned out to be like the old adage: A dog can chase a car, but what will he do when he catches it? After only six months in his dream job, Anthony decided it wasn’t for him and he quickly returned to his real love: seafood processing.
A relatively new but redundant groundfish plant went up for sale in Louisburg, N.S. Anthony and Laney went to the provincial government and borrowed $900,000 at 9.25 per cent interest to buy the facility, which had been completely gutted, and went about setting up a processing operation focused on snow crab. In a stroke of good fortune, during that first year of operation, crab quotas off Louisburg tripled, the company took N.L.-based Quinlan's as silent partners and the rest is history — the debt was paid off without ever missing a payment, and the operation continues to be a Cape Breton success story today.
Anthony said when he finally decided that processing was the life he wanted he had two simple goals: make the best of it and to love his job.
He did, and he does.
ARTHUR “ART” McNEIL — Builder: Inducted posthumously
Art began his career in the marine industry at an early age with a summer job at the Baddeck Marina in his hometown of Baddeck, Nova Scotia. He soon developed a love of everything boating and quickly became very adept at repairing marine engines. This first job was followed by a certification in engine repair from Sir Sanford Flemming College in Ontario.
From there Art decided a move to the British Columbia coast was in order, where he worked using his expertise in marine engines at several marina operations. His talents were soon recognized by Mercury Marine and an appointment to that organization in Vancouver soon followed. Mercury Marine is where Art would spend the rest of his working career.
Art’s love of Baddeck and Cape Breton was too great for him to stay in British Columbia and he returned to Cape Breton. Here, Art continued with Mercury Marine as the Business Development Manager, sales and service for the entire Atlantic Region. He also married his long time friend Rosanne. Art and Rosanne had two sons, Dennis and Donald.
Now firmly settled in his home town, Art was able to become fully involved with the marine industry in Atlantic Canada and would go on to become the most recognized, knowledgeable and respected industry representative in the region. His territory was the largest in the country for Mercury Marine. Also instrumental in the ongoing training and education of marine technicians, Art established, ran and taught at Mercury University, a marine engine training facility established at the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Art was a tremendous supporter of his product, the industry, his dealers and customers and could always be found at a boat or commercial marine show, fishing tournaments, boating events, marine dealerships, wharfs and yacht clubs solving problems, supporting fundraising and industry events or just hanging around boats. His friendly manner and wealth of knowledge drew people to him.
Art was a member of the Atlantic Marine Trades Association, serving in several executive and committee positions, member of the Nova Scotia Yachting Association, member of the Bras d’Or Yacht Club, the Barnacles Diving team, St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge and the Baddeck Royal Canadian Legion.
Art, sadly, passed away at the early age of 55 while enjoying a sport he loved, scuba diving, on Sept. 16, 2012 near his home in Baddeck. He will be greatly missed by local community and the hundreds of friends and business associates throughout Canada.
THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE HALL OF FAME ARE:
Mark Small, Vernon Petten and Wilfred Bartlett from Newfoundland and Labrador (2008);
Ashton Spinney, Henry Surette and Denny Morrow of Nova Scotia (2009);
Frank McLaughlin and Delma Doucette of New Brunswick and Doug Fraser of PEI (2010);
Don Best, Gerard Chidley and Jack Troake of Newfoundland and Labrador (2010);
Dick Stewart, Hubert Saulnier, and Jean Guy d’Entremont of Nova Scotia (2011);
Jim Bateman and Paul-Aimé Mallet of New Brunswick, and Francis Morrissey, Norman Peters, and Robert “Bobby” MacInnis of PEI (2012);
and Ross Petten, Alec D. Moores and Henry Vokey of Newfoundland and Labrador (2012).