Digby man recognized for 30 years with Coast Guard auxiliary

Published on March 6, 2017

Austin Denton, with his certificate honouring his 30 years of voluntary service. His truck also sports a license place with a photo of his boat, Little T.J.

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, NS - A local volunteer has received recognition for 30 years of service, and has no intentions of stopping any time soon.

Local fisherman Austin Denton, of Little River, received honours in February in recognition of his voluntary service with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

First started as a volunteer in 1987. At 71-years-young, he’s now the director for Zone 13, which extends from Cape St. Mary’s up into the Minas Basin.

Denton’s whole life has revolved around the ocean. He bought his first dory at fourteen, and his first lobster fishing license when it cost 25 cents. His current boat, Little TJ, is named for his children Tracy and Jason.

He sees his volunteering as a “necessity,” and started because he “was already helping out when accidents would happen on the water.” He joined as a volunteer so he could get formal training, which he feels is the most important part of the job.

“The formal training we receive with the Coast Guard lets us communicate and work with them using rescue strategies,” he says.  

“When they mention a quadrant, we go there.”

The zone Denton directs has received particular attention for its efficacy on the water. Around ten years ago, Denton received a letter from a fulltime Coast Guard member regarding a rescue mission he’d missed. It congratulated him on running the best team of volunteers the officer had ever worked with.

“We are one of the best trained zones around, and I take more pride in that than in the medal,” says Denton.

Denton’s boat, Little T.J.


Recently, Denton and other volunteers docked in Yarmouth for three days during the start of the lobster season. He says this went largely unnoticed, like much of what the volunteers do.

“It’s a safety thing – people need to know the ships are ready to go when they need them,” he says.

“It’s a job that’s got to be done, and we do it.”

He’d also like to see volunteers get more recognition, referencing other volunteer emergency responders, like firefighters, who get specified license plates.

New volunteers who have experience on the water and access to a fishing boat are always encouraged to call Denton at 902-834-2039 if they’re considering joining, and want to work within Zone 13.

Calls for distress are placed through the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax.