P.E.I. family moving to Alberta to find work

Brett Poirier
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Rickey and Chancie Cole finished packing the trailer with their children Darrison and Makayla. The family is moving away to find new work because the lobster fishing industry has been struggling in recent years.

SPRING VALLEY — The Cole family won’t be calling Prince Edward Island home much longer.

The family of four is moving to Alberta in pursuit of more financially stable work.

Rickey Cole has been fishing since 1995 and has slowly seen the market begin to deteriorate.

“The industry is at an all-time low,” he said. “I have more money going out than I do coming in.”

Cole has been fishing lobster out of French River for years and says the last two seasons have been by far the worst.

“I haven’t made a profit since 2012. I’ve been going west in the winter to make ends meet.”

The industry on the Island has struggled the past several seasons, however, and the market price this fall is up from last year to around $3.50 per pound.

Cole explained a scenario where the price of lobster could be $4 per pound and he would barely break even.

“I have to pay for equipment, help, fuel, bait, income tax, maintenance and other expenses throughout the year. You’re looking anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 in expenses and you’re only making $60,000 to $80,000.”

Cole and his wife, Chancie, along with their children, Darrison and Makayla, are just about packed up for Alberta. The family has mixed emotions about the move.

“We’re all excited about new opportunities,” said Chancie. “It’s a chance to start fresh.”

She said it’s hard to leave the Island, a place where she and her husband both grew up.

“We’re leaving our home. Some parts about this are difficult but Rickey and I have been positive so our children don’t get upset.”

Fortunately, the parents have an easy task.

Their 11-year-old son is thrilled to head west.

“I’m excited for new opportunities,” Darrison said, smiling from ear to ear.

In addition to making new friends at school, Darrison is also looking forward to new teammates.

“I play hockey and baseball and there’s other sports to try there.”

The Coles aren’t the only Islanders who have been forced to leave.

“I personally know another fellow who just decided enough was enough. After fishing for 20 some years he decided he wasn’t going to work out west to pay for bills he created going fishing,” said Cole.

He said the industry is going to get worse before it gets better.

“I can see a day where the processors own all the boats and no one fishes for themselves. That’s unfortunately where I think it’s heading.”

With her children and husband onboard, Chancie sees this as a chance to have a little fun.

“The kids are young, we’re young. Why not try to make an adventure out of it and enjoy what’s next?”

Geographic location: Alberta, Prince Edward Island, SPRING VALLEY French River

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Recent comments

  • Ms. Cockburn
    August 28, 2014 - 19:05

    It is not better "away" and you will not find the communities we have on the Island anywhere else. Look at the people who are able to make it on the Island they do it and so can anybody else. Islanders are right to take pride that they from here and are not going to tolerate your nonsense about how much better things are away. Why do you think so many people from across the world come here to visit?

    • anon
      August 31, 2014 - 13:58

      Unfortunately this is not the case. Tourism here is dying, all across the island its easier to count homes that are NOT for sale rather then those that are, about 50% of homes and buisnesses in Cavendih our supposed tourist area are for sale....get out while the going is good!

    • anon
      August 31, 2014 - 13:59

      Unfortunately this is not the case. Tourism here is dying, all across the island its easier to count homes that are NOT for sale rather then those that are, about 50% of homes and buisnesses in Cavendih our supposed tourist area are for sale....get out while the going is good! People USED to come here to visit...not so anymore.

  • Jessica
    August 28, 2014 - 13:54

    I lived on the island for three years and finally left after not finding sufficient work and not being included in the community because we were not islanders. While I was there I had met and heard SO many stories of people moving for work. It's too bad for families but for myself I am glad I moved as the people and "community" were very rude to "people from away". There are so many better places in the world and will never return and do not recommend anyone to live or even vacation there.

  • w kennedy
    August 28, 2014 - 02:30

    Migration could mean by the time you return your family left behind are dead. Moratorium on immigration now. Also you may find proportionally the number of other applicants will be greater for this "job" This region had some 300,000 TWFs alone. Go there for the drier climate and 30 degree below zero winters but like the Klondike not all get rich.

  • R.U. Serious
    August 27, 2014 - 16:49

    The only thing wrong with PEI is the people that complain about it. On PEI you have a community and a sense of identity. You could break down on the road and knock on the nearest door and somebody will help you. The communities of Alberta are made up of TFW's and immigrants from everywhere not just the maritimes. Twenty years ago we were accused by Albertans of coming to steal their jobs and they made fun of the way we talked now it is all Filipinos and Somalians and it looks good on them. Can't get good milk or ice cream here and the health care is no better then PEI even if your in the market for an abortion the people in northern Alberta will drive further to Edmonton then you would to Fredericton for it. As for the Harpercons posting about how lazy and backwards Islanders I tell them we finished all our work down home and we're here to help you fellas out. PEI is better then anywhere else.

  • Islander
    August 27, 2014 - 07:20

    Yes there are certainly people leaving for better opportunities. I was born in Toronto in the mid-60s when many Islanders went there for better prospects (my dad was a fisherman who had to work in the winter). That being said, I understand there was an increase in the Island population due to immigrants coming to PEI for better prospects. Perhaps a positive story on someone coming to PEI would balance some of the negativity.

  • Disappointed.
    August 27, 2014 - 06:42

    30 years ago my husband and I left P.E.I to join the military.Not only were there no jobs but we also could not stand to watch the patronage of our government.we moved back 10 years ago to our beloved Island with our now grown children.Our children both left.Once again no jobs and still the patronage goes on.I know several government officials who have their nieces, nephews, sons and daughters in great govt summer jobs then step into full time work.We are actually considering leaving to where our children are, never to look back again.Very sad the way this Island is run!

    August 27, 2014 - 06:31

    His numbers don't add up and He would easily have the summer and winter maxed out fishing EI claims that would put 15 k to 17 k right in his hands . and if his wife was on the books and went in the boat a few times a week she would have the same two fishing EI claims .

  • Susan Aylward Tierney
    August 27, 2014 - 02:13

    "The Cole Family won't be calling Prince Edward Island home much longer"? You got that WRONG... Some of us may live in the West, but when you are born on PEI; PEI will always be HOME! The Coles have chosen an awesome province to move to, although I can't say the same for their chosen city! Welcome to Alberta folks... Peanut is beyond excited! Let's get together and plan our next trip home so we can spend lots of hard earned Alberta dollars just trying to boost our beloved homelands economy... We do it every chance we get, as do most of us transplants! Can't think of a better place to eat, drink and be very merry! Love and miss u BEAUTIFUL ISLAND...

  • Reggie Smith
    August 26, 2014 - 23:36

    First off the Guardian should be doing more stories like this because it is news. Out west is not always so great let me tell the truth now. It is very dry and dusty. People don't keep their yards beautiful like PEI. You can't just go off to the beach unless you live on BC coast. You can sail your boat in a lake with hundreds of other boaters and wait for hours at the single launch. Work pays good but the home prices are high and so are the groceries. There is no red roads and beautiful scenery or sense of community or identity anywhere else in Canada the same as PEI. You can't get good donairs, Seamans orange pop, or decent milk and ice cream. If you can make it on the Island stay because it is a better way of life.

    • Are You Serious Reggie?
      August 27, 2014 - 11:05

      Alberta pays top wages, has great health care, and is a good place to raise your family. But it is still hell because you can't sail a boat, eat donairs or drink Seaman's pop??? Wow some people's priorities are messed up. So what you are saying is that you would rather stay on the Island and collect EI while scoffing down donairs and pop instead of going somewhere to work for good money and support your family. By the way Reggie, I think Alberta has pop.

  • Garth Staples
    August 26, 2014 - 20:18

    I left Nova Scotia for Ontario to nearly double my salary many years ago. It wasn't a big deal to leave. PEI refuses to change so consequences must be accepted. Best wishes for all the families who go west. It too is a great place to live and raise a family.

    • yepper
      August 27, 2014 - 06:00

      I agree. Islanders still absolutely hate the free market and want some benevolent soviet government where all economics is controlled by the government. Why do I say that? When the economy is down, no one ever mentions the need for the private sector to innovate to create new jobs, or soes anything themselves. They point the finger directly at the government, and blame them for the private sector not innovating and not creating jobs or because the private sector doesn't pay enough. They would not do this, if they were not convinced that we need politicians and civil servants to do central planning and run the economy. I have also found, that unless actually forced to, most islanders have an irrational fear of having a useful skill. a business who wants to run a business that needs more than basic menial labour would be hard pressed to operate here, because many islanders REFUSE to get trained in anything unless the employer pays or is guaranteed by the government of a really high paying job and provided EI funding. Alberta is attractive to islanders because they get so much tax money from the tar sands that they can afford to may more for unskilled labour. I doubt they look to us for anything that required anything other than that. If we had that, someone might come up with a business idea that doesn't involve sucking tax dollars out of the government.

  • Frankie
    August 26, 2014 - 14:41

    Oh well...one less big, expensive truck to be driving all around the Island this winter like they own the roads...

    • As always
      August 27, 2014 - 07:00

      As always when there is a story about a fisherman someone has to make an idiotic statement about a big truck. Not bright enough to come up with something original to show your hatred for the working class?

    • Jennifer
      August 27, 2014 - 07:34

      Pretty sure it does not say anywhere in this article that he drives a "big, expensive truck" .. AND if he does, who cares...I'm sure he makes payments on it the same way you probably make payments on your "small, cheap car?" .. stop being jealous of other peoples bills.

    • To Frankie
      August 27, 2014 - 10:57

      And the award for the dumbest comment ever goes too.............FRANKIE!!! That a boy Frankie.

  • Islander
    August 26, 2014 - 14:30

    Just because it is happening everyday does not mean it is not news maybe not new news but needs to be heard just the same. It is sad to hear and see so many young couples with their children having to up root and leave the island and friends and family behind and only because our greedy gov. has run the island into the ground with his greed for himself and his friends and all islanders are now paying the price by not having enough to pay bills or be able to support your family and the elderly have to watch their young leave for the west to live to be able to survive .I know there is ones who will comment there always has been ones who left to work in the west and this is true but not to the vast amount of families now leaving because they have no choice. So be kind on this comment board and wish your fellow islanders good luck on their new venture to the west for work. All the best Rickey and Chancie Cole and children I hope the west is good to you .

      August 26, 2014 - 15:36

      Islander... How is this the fault of the government? I also would question their figures on income and expenses. If they are showing a loss, why is it that they paid income taxes? And what about all the EI they have been drawing? I,m glad that they finally smartened up and moved to Alberta where they can earn a good living and have access to good health care and all the amenities Alberta has to offer, instead of hanging on in PEI with only EI in the winter, abysmal health care and the highest cancer rates in the country. PEI cannot exist as a stand alone province, surely this must be evident to all by now!

  • willy
    August 26, 2014 - 14:20

    We did this last year. BC is a great place, sure it costs a little more to live here, but opportunities out weighs everything. Good luck safe travels

  • paulgr st
    August 26, 2014 - 14:17

    this is not news. Lots have been doing this for years. Why work here with your time-off from fishing for 12.00 an hour when you can make big moneys in west. Most of them still engage in the fishing so they cant be making out that bad at that either.

  • TM
    August 26, 2014 - 12:34

    This is NOT news. Hundreds of Islanders have been working out west; travelling back and forth for years. Also, many uproot every month to move out west. Unfortunately, it has become common place.

  • Todd Langdon
    August 26, 2014 - 12:31

    Its so sad to see this, and this is not the only family that has got to do this. I'm not originally from here, but I have been here for over 12 years, and this is the worst that I have seen our economy. I will be packing up my family as well, within 2 months, to head west for permanent employment. As there's just not a high enough wage here on the island to take care of my family. Sad to say, but we'll be gone too, amongst thousands of other families. :(

  • breaking news
    August 26, 2014 - 12:28

    Why is this news? Its happening everyday!!!