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Arisaig mourns loss of community pillar

Stephen ‘Stevie’ MacInnis of Arisaig, Antigonish died in a fishing accident Oct. 6. He was 68.
Stephen ‘Stevie’ MacInnis of Arisaig, Antigonish died in a fishing accident Oct. 6. He was 68. - Corey LeBlanc

Stephen ‘Stevie’ MacInnis dies in fishing accident

It would be safe to say that no one adored Arisaig more than Stevie MacInnis.    

“He was a wonderful guy who loved everything about his community – the ocean, the fishery, the forest, the park, the people and his family,” Municipality of the County of Antigonish District 1 Councillor Mary MacLellan said of her friend.    

MacInnis, who lived his whole life in the Antigonish County coastal community, died Oct. 6 in a fishing accident off Port Hood, Cape Breton.    

He was 68.    

A commercial fisherman for more than 50 years, he was owner and operator of MacInnis Bluefin Tuna Charters.    

As a highly-respected member of the industry, he was well-known for helping others, giving generously of his time.    

“He would always share the information with people [about the lobster fishery] – he wanted everybody to do well,” Donnie Ross, a fellow fisherman and friend of more than 50 years, said. 

He also noted his great knowledge of the tuna fishery.    

“Stevie knew it very well,” Ross said, recalling some of their trips around the province.    

MacInnis was a member of the Harbour Authority of Arisaig, Gulf Nova Scotia Tuna Association, Canadian Auxiliary Coast Guard, an industry representative for ALPAC (Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee) and part of the bluefin tuna tagging project – Tag-A Giant.     

“He was terrific – he would do anything for you,” Ross said.    

As an example of that selflessness, he remembered MacInnis offering his boat after Ross blew the motor on his vessel.    

“He would drop everything to go help,” he said, noting MacInnis’s countless efforts in helping colleagues land tuna.    

MacInnis, who played softball and hockey for many years, also coached several teams.    

“He was a terrific volunteer,” Ross said, noting his many contributions to a variety of community initiatives, including the refurbishment of the Arisaig ballfield.    

MacInnis was also front-and-centre for construction of the lighthouse, interpretive centre, community hall and trails in the community.    

“He was one of those strong, quiet gentlemen who built community – physically – and, intrinsically, through his many acts of kindness and caring; ploughing snow for neighbours, coaching ball, rescuing those in danger on the water, helping anyone in need and supporting causes in various ways,” MacLellan said.    

In his off-season from fishing, MacInnis worked for the past 46 years with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation.    

He also enjoyed the outdoors.    

“We spent a lot of time in the woods – hunting rabbits, deer and all that stuff,” Ross said, recalling times together as teenagers.    

MacLellan said “the community mourns his loss and will miss him.”    

“I valued his friendship, his support, and his calm quiet, wise demeanor.     

“He won’t be forgotten,” she added.    

Ross agreed.    

“There will never be another Stevie,” he said.    

MacInnis’s funeral Mass took place Oct. 12 in St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in Arisaig.

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