Submitted by M.Lenz, Collections Assistant
This week’s artefact was used to make the weighted ground line, or ‘lead line’ of gillnets. A rope would be threaded through the metal mold, which would then be closed tightly with the handle on the far right closing over the top. Once sealed, molten lead would be poured through small openings over the line which would solidify rapidly over the rope. Once cool, the mold would be opened and the net maker would move the line further down and continue casting along the rope. The lead line would then be attached to the bottom of a gillnet, to weigh it down in the water.
Lead is still commonly used in the fishing industry, although Environment Canada estimated in 2009 that fishing gear accounted for 18 per cent of our lead pollution. However, lead is a cheap and dense material, well suited to weighing down a net, and today has been spun into the interior of lead lines themselves, making them less likely to be lost in the water.