Bell Island ferries collide

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

November 17, 1940

Bell Island Tragedy, November 10, 1940

On Sunday, November 17, 1940  Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche of St. John’s, accompanied by Rev. R. McDermott Murphy, visited the Parish of Portugal Cove for the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation. By the express wish of the Archbishop, all signs of greeting and rejoicing, usually associated with visits of this kind, were omitted, because of the many families in the settlement who lost relatives and friends in the disaster of November 10th.

Addressing the  parish priest of Holy Rosary Church in Portugal Cove  Archbishop Roche said:

“after the dreadful tragedy which had occurred so near them a week ago, he felt that at the earliest possible moment he would like to tender the heartfelt sympathy of the Church to those who had been bereaved by this terrible disaster.’

There were many sad homes in that section of Conception Bay, many who were mourning their friends and loved ones who had been taken from them with such tragic and appalling suddenness.  The Archbishop said

“To one and all, deepest and most heart-felt sympathy went out.”

The tragedy was the collision of the M.Y.W. Garland, and the little Golden Dawn. Two ferries that were serving the Bell Island. 26 souls who had sailed on the ferry the Garland from Portugal Cove were drowned.

There were only four survivors.  The four survivors were Norman Ash, owner of the Garland, Harbour Grace, Gerald Tucker of St. Philips and two brothers, John and James Quilty of St. Thomas’.

Recommended Reading: THE MINERS OF WABANA by Gail Weir,St. John’s (Nfld.), Breakwater Press, 1989. (Canada’s Atlantic Folklore and Folklife series).