The Nunans of Cape Porpoise
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
The traditions and culture that get passed down through multigenerational families are integral elements of Maine’s fishing communities. This heritage and these stories are emblematic of Maine’s fishing tradition and are worth preserving. Maine author Shelley Wigglesworth examines one such fishing family’s legacy in her book, “The Nunans of Cape Porpoise,” - the stories of eight generations of a fishing family beginning in the mid 19th century through today. To further the preservation of Maine’s fishing heritage, Shelley is dedicating a portion of the book’s profits to Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
Wigglesworth is a freelance writer who has been writing about fishermen and the fishing industry for over twenty years for publications like National Fisherman, Commercial Fisheries News, and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s newsletter, The Landings. In addition to writing, she works aboard the 42-foot F/V Nor’easter with her boyfriend. She is also a fourth-generation native of the Kennebunks and grew up alongside the Nunan family.
The book includes a series of profiles of 14 members of the present-day Nunan family accompanied by beautiful photography done by local photographer Bob Dennis. From Charles and Emily Nunan, immigrants from Ireland who moved to Maine in 1861 and whose son Richard started working on a dragger at age 9, to Yogi and Keith who currently run the iconic Nunan’s Lobster Hut, the personal stories of each member of the family come alive in this book. “The Hut,” now a thriving seafood restaurant nestled in the fishing village of Cape Porpoise, began in 1953 as Yogi’s grandfather George Nunan’s workshop where he used to sell and cook lobsters for local customers. The Nunan family was instrumental in the development of a thriving fishing community in Cape Porpoise - from the purchase of wharves and fish houses to the establishment of a church and school.
Wigglesworth’s book doesn’t just focus on the past. It also tells the story of the younger Nunan generations that have both incorporated the traditions of their family while also developing new skill sets. For example, Cooper graduated from Maine Maritime Academy with a degree in Vessel Operations but returned home to lobster. Colby earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and came home to manage Three Seas Lobster and Fish Market with his brother Cody's fiancé. Part of Wigglesworth’s focus on the future is her dedication to supporting today’s fishing communities by donating a portion of the proceeds of the book to the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association (MCFA). “These are the types of stories that need to be told,” says MCFA’s Executive Director Ben Martens. “This family has been an integral part of the community in Cape Porpoise from the beginning and still is today. Seventh generation Cody Nunan is a new member of our groundfish sector, for example. MCFA is grateful to Shelley for supporting our work to sustain fishing communities and fishermen along the Maine coast.”
“The Nunans of Cape Porpoise” is available at a number of locations, including Goose Rocks Beach General Store, Nunan’s Lobster Hut, Bradbury Bros. Market, Cape Porpoise Kitchen, Three Seas Fish and Lobster, Langsford Road Lobster Company, The Whimsy Shop, Dock Square Emporium, Fine Print Booksellers, Morph Gallery, Luke’s Lobster, Annie’s Book Stop and online at kportimages.com.
Together, we persevere.