The NOVI DIRECTORY Issue 123 - 2008
by Sandra Phinney

Joan Baez once said, “To sing is to love and to affirm, to fly and soar, to coast into the hearts of people who listen …” Laurie Blackwood Pike knows what that means. He lives it. Furthermore, he’s using his talent to help others. 

Laurie, a.k.a “Grandpa Pike”, recently produced a CD titled The Will To Live. With each sale, $10 goes to the Children’s Wish Foundation, which in turn gives some very sick kids a chance for a wish to come true.  

Laurie has strong links to the sea. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Captain Ned (Edward) Blackwood, from Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland.  Ned had a coastal freighter, and traveled regularly to the West Indies with salt fish. He brought back salt (for “making” fish) and consumer goods like molasses. “It’s possible that a few bottles of ‘wobbley pop’ got buried by accident in the bulk salt in the holds,” Laurie says with a grin. 

The marine connection actually goes back a bit further on the Pike side of the family. In 1602 Sheilagh Nagueira, a young Irish woman and descendant of the Celtic kings, was spirited out of Ireland to safety in France. En route the ship was captured in the English Channel by Dutch pirates and sunk after all passengers and crew were taken prisoner.  

At the same time there were three ships in the Channel commissioned by Elizabeth I to go to Newfoundland to enforce the law. They happened upon the Dutch ship that was holding Princess Sheilagh, freed the captives and took them to Newfoundland. The convoy’s chief Navigator was one Gilbert Pike. He and Sheilagh fell in love and were married at sea.  

Gilbert could not go back to England with his Irish bride—so they stayed in Newfoundland. It is said that their child was the first of European ancestry born in the new world. Laurie tucks in, “Personally, I reckon that the Vikings who settled at L’Anse aux Meadow on The Great Northern Peninsula circa 1000 A.D. did a bit of procreating in their sod houses during those long brutal Newfoundland winters.”

Fast forward to 1959. Laurie moved to Yarmouth with his family when his father, Reverend Rod Gordon Pike, reopened the Yarmouth Town Mission under the wings of The United Church of Canada. 

In grade 12, Laurie went lobster fishing for a couple of weeks with his brother-in-law Ross Goodwin—and quickly acquired a respect for mariners. “We were off Argyle Sound in a small Cape Islander when the engine lost power in very high seas. We went from being so high you could only see sky, to deep down in troughs, with walls of water around us. I expected to die but I put my trust in Ross. He slashed ropes off the lobster traps we had on board and lashed them all together into a “sea anchor” and tied that huge bundle to the prow. We then hove the bundle into the sea and it quickly pulled the boat around to where we were cutting the waves instead of rolling in them.”

Eventually, they tied up to the buoy close to his home, and the two of them got into a small boat to go ashore. Alas, within a couple hundred yards from shore, they ran out of gas! “We had no oars, and the wind was coming from off the shore, driving us back to sea. There was a plastic bucket on board used for bailing, and Ross used that and I used both arms to manoeuver the boat to a bar where we could ground it and get ashore,” Laurie said—but that’s not all.

“After we got ashore Ross handed me the gas tank and hose. Then he unhooked the motor, picked up the boat in one hand and the motor in the other, and we walked to the high water mark. He was carrying about 300-400 lbs, and I could barely keep up with him.” Walking behind him Laurie thought, “That’s a man. What the heck am I?” 

Fond memories one and all. Laurie hopes to move back to Yarmouth when he retires. Meanwhile, he is focused on selling the CD and raising funds to make some children happy. Everyone involved in this venture—other musicians, the photographer and graphic artist—donated their time and talents. The Will To Live can be purchased directly from the Children’s Wish Foundation (1-800-267-9474) or in Yarmouth at South Ohio Esso, Ocean Blue, C.D. Plus, Runner’s Attic and Pharmasave. You can also contact Laurie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.