Tag Archives: sealers

“Representing himself to be another …”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

“Representing himself to be another … Philip Dohey and Charles Foley”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 51; S.S. Bellaventure crew bringing bodies and survivors of the S.S. Newfoundland Sealing Disaster aboard ship.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: LS 51; S.S. Bellaventure crew bringing bodies and survivors of the S.S. Newfoundland Sealing Disaster aboard ship.

One of the men that died in the Sealing Disaster of 1914 was Charles Foley of St. Bride’s, Placentia Bay.  The irony was that Charles Foley did not have a berth on the S.S. Newfoundland; his name is NOT listed in the Sealers Crew Agreement.

The oral tradition in St. Bride’s was that Philip Dohey was one of the crew on the S.S. Newfoundland but at the last minute gave his berth to his friend Charles Foley. This “personating or representing himself to be another” was frowned upon, so much so that the Agreement signed between Captain Wesley Kean of the S.S.  Newfoundland and Philip Dohey on March 4, 1914 read:

 “If any man should sign a false name not his own and shall proceed in the said vessel personating or representing himself to be another, it shall be the option of the masters or suppliers to withhold from him any share of the voyage.”

His determination to find a berth on the S.S. Newfoundland to the extent that he would “represent himself to be another’ may have been a commentary on the economy of the day. The seal fishery represented the only source of cash income that would transition their families from the long winter into the approaching summer fishery.

Between March 31 and April 2, 1914 disaster struck. The men of the S.S. Newfoundland found themselves on the ice, stranded in a blinding snowstorm with freezing temperatures. In the 54 hours they were stranded, many died.

The local paper the Evening Telegram in St. John’s reported in April 1914 about the bodies being removed from one of the rescue vessel, the S.S. Bellaventure that had pulled into St. John’s Harbour.

 “The vision sent a shudder through the crowd. The bodies had been laid there just as they were brought in from the ice, many of them with limbs contracted and drawn up in postures which the cold had brought about.”

The task of identifying the 69 dead and 8 missing men was given to Dr. Alexander Campbell, the port doctor in St. John’s. Using the Sealers Agreement register, Dr. Campbell declared crew member #78; Philip Dohey missing.

It was not until April 30, 1914 that authorities confirmed that crew #78 was in fact not Philip Dohey but Charles Foley.

Crew #78 was the last of the 78 men declared dead.

Sealers Agreement, Philip Dohey #78

Sealers Agreement, Philip Dohey #78

Officially the Sealers Crew Agreement, now  held at the Rooms Provincial Archives continues to read, Philip Dohey missing.

Philip  is not known to have spoken about giving up his berth on the S.S. Newfoundland to his friend. No doubt he pondered what fate had been dealt to him.

Charles Foley is not in the official register but he is  remembered at the “Home from the Sea, Sealers Memorial” in Elliston, Trinity Bay where all those who lost their lives prosecuting the seal fishery in the spring of 1914 are engraved on a stone tablet.

 

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the Sealers Crew Agreement and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross is also included on this collection.

Recommended Exhibit:  The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage. You can also view the short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED by Jenny Higgins (2014) offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  More than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents illustrate this amazing book.

Bodies all identified and sent home

Archival Moment

” deep in silent grief”

April 6, 1914

The bodies of the sealers were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part.

Photo Credit:  The Rooms Provincial Archives. The bodies of the sealers were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part. (Click on photo to enlarge)

On April 6, 1914 the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported:

“Yesterday, there was a wave of sympathy on every street and in every home in St. John’s.  The Grenfell Hall or temporary mortuary room, where the bodies were brought for identification was filled all day with sorrowing relatives and friends of the deceased brethren.”

The bodies were those of the 77 sealers from the sealing vessel the S.S. Newfoundland who had perished on the ice on March 31 – April 2.  The Grenfell Hall was also known as the King George V Seamen’s Institute.  The frozen bodies of dead sealers were thawed in vats of hot water in the basement of the building.

The Telegram continued:

“Standing outside the Hall all day was a multitude deep in silent grief.  The solemnity of the occasion will be remembered for generations to come.

At 5’ o’clock all the bodies were identified. Thirty eight bodies were sent home by special train. The corpses were taken away from the hall in sleighs. In the entire procession thousands of men and boys took part.

One body was drawn on the gun carriage of the H.M.S. Caypso, the departed sealer being a member of the Naval Reserve.  The bodies numbering 25, belonging to outports where there are no direct train communication, were hermetically sealed and brought to the morgue last night and will be sent home by steamer.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the  Sealers Crew Agreement  and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross  is also included on this collection.

Recommended ReadingPERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014) offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  More than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents illustrate this amazing book.

Recommended Film:The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, uses animation, survivor testimony and archival footage view the short film from your own home: https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

 

Father and son embrace.

Archival Moment

March 31, 1914

Sealing DIn 1911, Reuben Crewe was one of a handful of sealers who swam to safety when their vessel sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Afterwards Reuben’s wife, Mary, insisted that he give up sealing. She could no longer bear the sleepless nights of worry for his safety.

It was a rite of passage for the young men of Newfoundland to try and find a berth on one of the sealing vessels going to the ice to prosecute the seal fishery.  In March 1914, Albert John Crewe  had just turned 16 and he was determined that he was going to go.

His mother refused to listen to her young son. The boy insisted, he was determined go.  Finally she relented but she insisted he would only go if his father took him under his wing.

Ruben Crewe agreed. He and his son signed up on the S.S. Newfoundland with a group of other men from Ellision on March 4, 1914.

On March 30th, 1914,   Ruben and his son John Albert with another 164 men left the SS Newfoundland and headed towards the SS Stephano seven miles away. For the next two days they were lost in a vicious blizzard; the captain of each ship assuming the men had found refuge on the other.  78 men were to freeze to death, including Ruben and Albert.

Cassie Brown in her book ‘Death on The Ice’ wrote about the father and son.  They had struggled for hours to stay alive, the father encouraging his son to walk to move.

“But now, father and son were unable to encourage each other any further. Albert lay on the ice to die, and his father lay beside him, drawing his son’s head up under his fishermen’s guernsey in a last gesture of protection.  They clasped in each other arms, they died together.”

Rescuers from the S.S. Bellaventure found Reuben and Albert John frozen in an embrace, the father attempting to shield his teenage son from the elements.

Mary, the wife and mother, recounted later that she was awakened the night of the disaster to see Reuben and Albert John kneeling at her bed and that she was struck by the look of peace on their faces.

The embrace of father and son has been immortalized in a statue that was created by renowned bronze sculptor and visual artist Morgan MacDonald. The statue was erected in Elliston, Newfoundland commemorating those lost in the tragedy.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the Sealers Crew Agreement and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross is also included on this collection.

Recommended Film:   The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, uses animation, survivor testimony and archival footage to create the story of the Newfoundland Sealing Disaster.  View this  short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED by Jenny Higgins (2014) offers a unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.

 

Consecration of the Basilica

ARCHIVAL MOMENTS

September 9, 1855

The Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s, NL was consecrated on September 9, 1855.

Four Roman Catholic bishops arrived in St. John’s for the consecration of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica)  early in the night of Monday, September 3, 1855, and proceeded immediately to the Cathedral, amid the tumultuous welcome of a large and enthusiastic throng of spectators. Every available space along the route of the procession was densely packed. The great bells of the Cathedral, together with those of the Old Roman Catholic Chapel on Henry Street and of the convents, pealed forth. The windows of the houses along the route were brilliantly lighted and the streets were illuminated not only by the gas lights but also by flaming torches, giving a most picturesque appearance to the town.

The procession wended its way to the recently completed Cathedral, where the bishops knelt in prayer. After a blessing was given to the congregation, Bishop John Thomas Mullock of St. John’s spoke to the crowd, thanking them for the warm reception they had given the visitors. All then dispersed for the night.

During the next few days, the prelates were entertained at various functions, and received addresses of welcome from the Benevolent Irish Society, and other groups.

A LABOUR OF LOVE, WAS AT LAST ACCOMPLISHED.

On September 9 the day of Consecration, great crowds of people flocked into St. John’s, from remote as well adjacent settlements. It appeared that the entire Catholic population of the island had come to participate in the ceremonies. The Consecration of the Cathedral was carried out by Bishop Mullock, with all the solemnities prescribed in the Roman Pontifical. Twenty-two of the thirty priests in Newfoundland were present, as well as the Secretary-Chaplain to Archbishop Hughes, and the Chaplain to Bishop MacKinnon.

The celebrations with which the day of Consecration came to a close were truly impressive. That night, the entire frontage of the Cathedral and adjacent buildings was decorated with 1500 coloured lamps, while the Catholic people in every quarter of the town vied with one another in illuminating the windows of their houses. Tar barrels blazed in the streets, firearms were discharged, and sky rockets streamed through the air. Every available means was employed to proclaim the prevailing joy and thanksgiving that the great work, which was truly a labour of love, was at last accomplished.

The four visiting Roman Catholic Bishops were: Most Rev. John Hughes, Archbishop of New York; Bishop Armand-Francois de Charbonnel, of Toronto; Bishop Thomas Louis Connolly of New Brunswick; Bishop Colin Francis MacKinnon of Arichat (Antigonish),Nova Scotia.

Archbishop John Hughes of New York was so impressed that such a substantial cathedral could be built in a town of the size of St. John’s (approximately 25,000) by sealers and fishermen that he resolved when he returned to New York that he would commence the construction of his cathedral that we now know as St. Patrick’s Cathedral on  Madison Avenue in New York.

The Basilica has undergone many revisions since its completion in 1855,  its very existence represents something more durable even than stone, as this simple verse describes:

“The fishermen who built me here
Have long ago hauled in their nets,
But in this vast cathedral
Not a solitary stone forgets
The eager hearts, the willing hands
Of those who laboured and were glad
Unstintingly to give to God
Not part, but all of what they had.”

Recommended Website: History of the Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s, NL: http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/basilique-basilica/en/index.html

Recommended Reading: Fire Upon the Earth: the Life and Times of Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming, O.S.F.  by J.B. Darcy, C.F.C.: Creative Publishers, 2003.

Book Launch TONIGHT: You are welcome to the official launch of The Story of the Basilica of St. John the Baptist by Susan Chalker Browne Wednesday, September 9, at 7:00 pm at the Basilica Museum, Basilica of St. John the Baptist, 200 Military Road, St. John’s.

 

The response of some Irish Newfoundlanders to the Great War

April 30, 1917

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division A 58-152, For Victory, a Newfoundland infantryman in field dress standing in front of an unfurled Red Ensign containing the Great Seal of Newfoundland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division A 58-152, For Victory, a Newfoundland infantryman in field dress standing in front of an unfurled Red Ensign containing the Great Seal of Newfoundland.

On April 30, 1917 Revered Daniel O’Callaghan, Parish Priest of  the  the R.C. Parish in Flatrock wrote to Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche of St. John’s complaining:

 “ For months the people in Flatrock have been subjected to a deal of scornful remarks, and to unfair and unjust treatment from so-called patriots because our men have not volunteered.” Father O’Callaghan was particularly incensed that “the Flatrock men have been refused berths to the ice-fields”

The letter is evidence that those who did not volunteer in the war effort were discriminated against.

The Irish born O’Callaghan had at the beginning of WWI discouraged the men of Flatrock from volunteering for the war effort. He is reputed to have told his parishioners that there was no pride “in standing under the British rag.”

Born in South Down, Ireland in 1875, Daniel O’Callaghan, the young Irish Priest in Pouch Cove may have been taking his lead from what his ‘clerical’ contemporaries were doing in his home country,  Ireland. Within the Roman Catholic Irish hierarchy, there was disunity and a lack of a common purpose about the war. The leading archbishops in Ireland in 1914, Archbishop Michael Logue of Armagh and Archbishop William Walsh of Dublin were not in favour of the war or were at best ambivalent and refused to support recruiting or indeed lend any support at all to recruiting. The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Edward Thomas O’ Dwyer, was openly anti-British.

The refusal of the “so called patriots” to give a berth on the ships going to the ice fields to prosecute the seal fishery would have meant economic hardship for the Flatrock men.

O’Callaghan is also  given credit for establishing the tradition of having the famous Regatta Crews from Outer Cove carry there boat to Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s on Regatta Day. Many saw it as a ploy to keep the crew members away from drink on the big day.

Recommended Reading: “Lives Recalled: Deceased Catholic Priests Who worked in Newfoundland 1627-2010”  by Rev.  Francis A. Coady, St. John’s, NL.

Recommended Website:   Find  the Regimental Records of the men of the Newfoundland Regiment here. This is a work in progress not all records are on line. http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part3_database.asp

 

 

Exiles in Boston join in the sorrow of thousands of Newfoundlanders

Archival Moment

April 12, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50 . Bodies of sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50 . Bodies of sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

The news of the death of the 78 sealers who died during the sealing campaign March 31 – April 2,  1914 made international headlines.  Messages of sympathy were being sent to the local government and local newspapers from throughout the world.

The people of the Boston area responded not only with letters of condolence but also with offers of financial assistance to help the families who had lost a loved one.

P.A. Buckey, a Newfoundlander who had emmigrated to Lynn, Massachusetts wrote:

It is with the deepest regret that the Newfoundlanders who reside in Boston have heard of the terrible calamity that has befallen our Island home. The first news received in itself was terrifying but when later messages announced the possible loss of the Southern Cross with 173 souls on board, the Newfoundlanders of Boston assembled decided to take immediate action in making necessary arrangements to help the bereaved so a public meeting of all Newfoundlanders was called for shall now business transacted.”

Buckey reported that on April 12, 1914:

  “a masss meeting of Newfoundlanders in Boston, ladies included assembled in the Paine Memorial Hall, Appleton Street to devise any means of providing a relief fund to help the families of our stricken countrymen at home.  Fully 500 Newfoundlanders were present which showed the sympathy expressed for our loved ones. Upon entering the hall each one was eagerly scanning at each other, either to form an acquaintance or to meet a friend that they have not seen but known since childhood days.  A reunion of Newfoundlanders such as it was never seen in Boston before, and the one topic of discussion was the dreadful tragedy that left so many homeless, destitute and fatherless.”

The meeting was chaired by another Newfoundlander who had emigrated to the Boston area James P. McCormack  of East Cambridge.  The aim of the gathering he explained was for the Committee to raise at least $20,000 that would be given over to the Newfoundland Marine Disaster Fund.

$20,000.00 in 1914 had the same buying power as $466,098.00 in 2014.

Among the ex-patriot Newfoundlanders attending the meeting were FitzGerald’s, Mansfield’s, Curley’s,  Power’s, Cantwell’s, Somerville’s, Hogan’s, Mulcathy’s, Molloy’s Kelly’s, O’Rourke’s, Halleran’s, Puddister’s, Williams, and O’Connell’s.  Also among the crowd were Bemister’s of Carbonear; Moulton’s  of the West Coast; Farrell’s  of Ferryland and Vinnicombe’s of St. John’s.

Newfoundland has had a long relationship with the Boston States.  Although Newfoundland and Labrador people moved to other countries for a wide range of reasons emigration occurred on the largest scale during the last two decades of the century when the cod fishery fell into severe decline and caused widespread economic hardship.

The largest concentrations of emigrants were going to Boston and other Massachusetts cities. Between 1885 and 1905, the number of Newfoundland and Labrador people living in Massachusetts jumped from 2,851 to 10,583.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts  census for 1915  reports that  there were 13, 269 Newfoundlanders in the Boston area.

Many of the men and women who attended the meeting on April 12,  1914 were  new emigrants to the Boston States. Newfoundlanders who were living in the Boston area but their hearts were in Newfoundland.  Before the meeting adjourned $560.00 was raised ($560.00 in 1914 has the same buying power as $13,050.74 in 2014) for the disaster fund.

Mr Buckely wrote:

  “We exiles in Boston join in the sorrow of thousands of Newfoundlander both at home and abroad.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the  Sealers Crew Agreement  and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross  is also included on this collection.

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014)  offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  A first for the Newfoundland and Labrador publishing industry, as readers turn the pages of Perished they’ll find maps, log book entries, telegrams, a sealer’s ticket for the SS Newfoundland, and more that can be pulled out and examined.  These are the primary source materials that ignite the imagination of history buffs and students alike and are among more than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents that illustrate this amazing book. (NEW PUBLICATION)

Recommended Exhibit:  Death on the Front:  The Sealing Disaster 1914.  March 26 – November 16 – Level 3 Museum Alcove. This small display features artifacts from the Rooms Provincial Museum and archival imagery from The Rooms Provincial Archives connected to these tragedies. One of the artifacts featured is a  flag that was once flown on the Southern Cross. The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage will be running as part of the Death at the Front exhibition. You can also view the short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/

“Tears stood on the cheeks of men …”

Archival Moments

April 2, 2014

Photo Credit: the rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50.  Bodies of the frozen sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

Photo Credit: the rooms Provincial Archives, LS 50. Bodies of the frozen sealers on the deck of the S.S. Bellaventure.

On April 2, 1914 news about the disaster on the icefields that would claim the lives of 78 men of the sealing vessel the S.S. Newfoundland began t reach St. John’s. The St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported:

“The waiting rooms of the Postal Telegram Offices were thronged with anxious mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, who made heart rendering entreaties of the clerks for the lists of the dead.

At 9:30 p.m. the clerk of the Postal Telegraphs amid a breathless silence posted up another message that was forwarded on from the Fogo Station.  After a short silence, the following was read:

On Board the Bellaventure are fifty eight dead and thirty five survivors, on board the Florizel, five dead. On board the Stephano, one dead and two survivors.

Tears stood on the cheeks of men who had often trod the frozen pans and knew well the nature of the experience of a night on the ice, particularly during such as blizzard as we had on Tuesday. Woman gave expression to their grief by weeping and could only with great difficulty be consoled at all.

Shortly after the forgoing message was read it was reported that the steamers Bellaventure, Stephano and Florizel were passing Cape St. Francis and would arrive here (St. John’s) about midnight. Hundreds wended their way to the waterfront, regardless of the weather conditions and for several hours patiently waited for the coming of the ships.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the  Sealers Crew Agreement  and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross  is also included on this collection.

Recommended Reading:  PERISHED  by Jenny Higgins (2014)  offers unique, illustrative look at the 1914 sealing disaster through pull-out facsimile archival documents.  A first for the Newfoundland and Labrador publishing industry, as readers turn the pages of Perished they’ll find maps, log book entries, telegrams, a sealer’s ticket for the SS Newfoundland, and more that can be pulled out and examined.  These are the primary source materials that ignite the imagination of history buffs and students alike and are among more than 200 rarely seen archival photos and documents that illustrate this amazing book. (NEW PUBLICATION)

Recommended Exhibit:  Death on the Front:  The Sealing Disaster 1914.  March 26 – November 16 – Level 3 Museum Alcove. This small display features artifacts from the Rooms Provincial Museum and archival imagery from The Rooms Provincial Archives connected to these tragedies. One of the artifacts featured is a  flag that was once flown on the Southern Cross. The National Film Board’s documentary 54 Hours written by Michael Crummey, using animation, survivor testimony and archival footage will be running as part of the Death at the Front exhibition. You can also view the short film from your own home at https://www.nfb.ca/film/54_hours

Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/