In Conversation with Hedley Brown by Alan Rogers, 1988

The Newfoundland fishing-schooner Janie E. Blackwood left St John’s on 29th November 1929 for the northern part of the island, but owing to bad weather conditions she was driven out into the Atlantic Ocean.  The vessel continued to encounter severe weather conditions which carried away the boat, and on 12th December 1929 she had become unseaworthy and signals of distress had to be made. At 10.30 pm on that date the SS Nova Scotia observed distress flares on the schooner and proceeded to her assistance. The SS Lord Antrim also stood by to render help if required. At 11 pm a lifeboat was sent away from the Nova Scotia in charge of Mr A Hender, Chief Officer. After some difficulty this boat succeeded in reaching the Janie E. Blackwood and took off ten members of the crew. Hedley Brown of Fair Island, was one of the members of the crew of the Janie E. Blackwood.

In 1988 Alan Rogers interviewed Hedley about this harrowing experience. In 2009 Mr Rogers graciously donated the original tape recording to the Archives and Special Collections, Memorial University, where it was digitalized, copies made and the original preserved. The following is a transcription of the interview, which is presented here unedited. Thanks to Audrey Oake who transcribed this tape recording.

The Schooner Janie E Blackwood left St Johns, bound for Bonavista Bay. Green Island is between Trinity and Bonavista, near Catalina, a town a few miles from Bonavista. Fair Island and Greenspond are islands on the north side of Bonavista Bay

Alan Rogers: I am interviewing Hedley Brown of Centreville, formerly of Fair Island, who was a crew member of the schooner Janie Blackwood that was driven off and lost in the fall of 1929. Hedley is 82 years and still active. [1988]

Hedley: I, Hedley Brown, was a crew member of the schooner, Janie Blackwood, that was owned by Captain Charles Rogers and his cousin, John Rogers who was first mate. The other crew members were Israel Rogers, brother of John Rogers, Marshall Brown, brother of Edgar John Brown, Fred Hounsell and in addition to our crew we had three passengers namely Frederick Cutler, Aubrey Cutler and Israel Horlick.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, you were waiting in St. John’s for a number of days for a suitable time to sail to Fair Island, weren’t you?

Hedley: Yep. That’s what we were waiting for and our patience just about wore out, and, a, on a Sunday evening…

Alan Rogers: You were there 9 days was it?

Hedley: 9 days waiting. Yep.

Alan Rogers: And after 9 days you finally left St. John’s. What time did you leave in the evening or… ?

Hedley: We finally agreed to come out and we did of course come out, nice and civil I would say. Nice, nice in regards of any wind. So after we did come out for a couple of hours, we had a nice time along, I would say only it was not as would like have it. What I mean by that is that it was snowing and we didn’t like to see that but nevertheless we were out and thinking that night as we sailed along the coastline that we would be in the vicinity of Bonavista Bay the next morning where we could go into Bonavista Bay, some part of Bonavista Bay, and we surely know the land. We would surely know the land. That’s what we were thinking and of course, of course, that did not happen. Because as we all know, we cannot tell the future we can only talk about the past. It’s only God knows the future.

So finally, in the morning, in the early morning, the wind veered to the west northwest, a terrific storm, we had nothing else to do only just run her before, run her before the mercies of the wind. There was nothing else left to do.

Alan Rogers: Now you were near Catalina at that time weren’t you?

Hedley: Well now, when the wind changed that morning, we were in the vicinity of Catalina. Yes, that’s where we was. I think we did see a light, somebody spied a light once … a light, must have been from, could have been the light on Green Island. You could see that light a long distance. Anyway we all leave for Catalina, and a, as we did with our mainsail and our jumbo up, of course, the jumbo dumb cleat came off of the stanchion and that it came down and no way could ever get it back. So then we just had to get our mainsail down somehow.  We got it down and just had, just  had to run her before the gale and that was enough, I can assure you, even running before the gale with no canvas, that was enough for the schooner.

Alan Rogers: You steered down from St. John’s that night at about what direction?

Hedley: Eh?

Alan Rogers: You steered down from St. John’s that night, when you left St. John’s, you steered down about northeast was it?

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: Northeast.

Hedley: Yes we steered down northeast that night. Yep.

Alan Rogers: And how long was it before the snow came on? Just as you got out of St. John’s?

Hedley: Only an hour and a half, a couple hours at the most. The most, before the snow came.

Alan Rogers: And it looked like a bad night didn’t it, stormy, a threatening night.

Hedley: With the wind on easterly and snowing well you couldn’t tell how bad it could come.

Alan Rogers: And Hedley, when you left St. John’s there was other schooners too. There was nine schooners at that time, wasn’t it came out?

Hedley:  Nine schooners at that time but after we came out , there was nine coming out anyway, cause they left in the harbour of pumping their anchors and so forth when we leaved, we were just about ahead of one and Mr., poor ol’ Mr. Barbour, Captain Barbour, he came with us second, yes, he came out with us. We passed along by her after we came out, she’s out. We sailed a little bit and we passed by her and that’s all I know of any other schooner or anything from that on. Never, ever see a boat on the water. Never, never see anything whatsoever from that till we arrived home again.

Alan Rogers: So you didn’t see any schooners no more except the Neptune, the one you passed that night.

Hedley: No, no.

Alan Rogers: Now you got down by Catalina and your, your rope broke on the dumb cleat. Do you think you would have made Catalina if that never did happen?

Hedley: Yes, Yes it’s possible we could have made Catalina if everything had holdfast. As I said, it is possible we could have made it. Yes, we’d a continued on, pretty, on the schooner, pretty hard for to try to reach Catalina that was our only object of course, to try to press on her to, in order to try to make it. But instead of that we could not when the jumbo come down there was no way we could make it then. That finished it in regards to making Catalina. We had to just go. As I said, we just had to get our mainsail down and let her go before the wind.

Alan Rogers: Now that must have been a hard time to get your mainsail down.

Hedley: It was a very hard time, very hard time getting down our mainsail. I can assure you, a very hard time. You had to work as hard as you ever possibly could. Do what you wouldn’t feel like doing. You didn’t know the minute you were going to be knocked over with a canvas bleating with the wind. You’d to be very, very careful. But thank God we got it down and got it latched up and that was it. Of course, she was alright then we had no canvas to worry about, only keep her before the waves and the wind. And that was just about all we could do. Nothing else more you could do and, look after yourself as well. Oh ‘twas a very trying time.

Alan Rogers: And now by this time you were driving off the coast, now right?

Hedley: Hm.

Alan Rogers: You were driving off the land now with the wind. The wind was northwest, a storm.

Hedley: The wind west northwest. The wind was west northwest. West northwest, the wind was. We often wondered to ourselves when we were out there, where all the other boats were. We knew they didn’t all get back. We certainly knew that they didn’t all get back to St .John’s anymore than we did. And of course, they didn’t. But regards of  seeing anyone on the water, not one item we saw. Not one item in the blessed world. We thought we were in a world of our own. Didn’t thought there was anybody else living in the world only ourselves so to speak.

Alan Rogers: And a, all this time you were driving off and the waves were still strong and high and you had to run for bare post now, right?

Hedley: On the bare post. We were running on the bare post all the time. For four days. Three days and a night we were running on the bare post and then the wind subsided a bit. So of course, we put up, we got the foresail up…and we keep her up, we could manage that, so we said bring her to the wind so we wouldn’t drift anymore. That’s how we, you bring her to the wind so she wouldn’t be drifting anymore. That’s, that’s all we could do, of course.

Alan Rogers: Now…

Hedley: There was really too much into it for her to put up a mainsail or stuff like that…….just stand up…… It was still blowing hard but when it weren’t blowing so mighty, even if it did die down a while, you hardly could tell the difference. You were so much use to it then. You know, you didn’t know whether it was gone down or not. It did of course, it did go down.

Alan Rogers: Now those three days and nights, you were running a bare post(?) Did the waves do any damage to your lifeboats?

Hedley: Oh yes, Allan. There was two wheels drove over, two and we had to scramble to the rigging otherwise we would have been gone, I’m sure. No way we could have survived on the deck cause she was just about submerged. She was just about submerged. Finally she came up. So when we came down now, the boat was smashed in across the mainsail to…, awful stuff to look at. Now we had to muck into the boat and of course she was already partly beat up across the mainmast, where she burst up her lashing which we weren’t expecting her to do. But, of course, with the waves breaking over the boat so much, (stop in tape) could stand. The rope couldn’t stand the boat so when she went in across the mainmast, we knowed she was partly broke in two. We had to take the axe then, we had a couple of axes aboard, we use to chain them one to the other and beat it up and try to throw it overboard. Well you didn’t have to throw it very much cause I can assure you now, when you heaved it out of your hands, it washed overboard. You didn’t have to throw it very far. Then the engine. We had to beat that one up to get she out. That was the hardest problem of all. Beaten up that, that engine. I never believed an engine could so hard a knock for to beat it up, at that time if I hadn’t seen it but really you were tough to break up.

Alan Rogers: And Hedley, if you didn’t get the boat off the deck and finish beating the boat up, she would a done more damage to your…

Hedley: Oh she would have done more damage…

Alan Rogers: …to the railing.

Hedley:… to the schooner of course and if we hadn’t a gotten it off the deck, my dear, she’d a beat the schooner up of course, no other redemption only to beat her up. So we was, the faster we could get her out of the way you know, we was anxious to get it off the deck as quick as we could.

Alan Rogers: And now this happened, what, the second, the second…

Hedley: Because, because she was no good for safety because she was already broken up and therefore what could you do other, only, she was gonna beat up the schooner, that was our, our, our last safety, the schooner.

Alan Rogers: That’s right.

Hedley: That was our last safety if we ever hoped to reach land again were the schooner, our only shelter we had.

Alan Rogers: Now did you have another boat besides the motor boat on deck?

Hedley: We did. We had a, what we call a follow, a follow boat around 17 feet and we had she bottom up on the deck and tied down and she’s flatten right down with the wind and when the wind broke over the boat , flatten her right down on the deck and broke her, split her right in two. Yep.

Alan Rogers: So now your two boats were gone.

Hedley: Two boats were gone. Two boats were gone completely.

Alan Rogers: Nothing now except….the schooner.

Hedley: So we had to trust to the schooner. Now I already said, we had to trust to the schooner for safety and of course, she proved, she proved very well. She did, she did leak a bit but not serious. Well we didn’t want it to be serious now as far as I’m concerned cause we were rowing out without pumping water. We did have to pump every, every hour, couple of hours pump that water out. But that was enough.

Alan Rogers: So she didn’t leak too bad for out in a storm.

Hedley: No

Alan Rogers: Now then you had your water I suppose in barrels, did you on the deck?

Hedley: No we didn’t have any barrels, Allan. We didn’t have any barrels. We had, there was a hundred gallon square tank placed along by, placed along by the end of the cabin house and there was an iron band around ‘em. An iron band and that was screwed down to the cabin house. So the waves broke over and took him away, took away that tank. So all we knew, he went away almost unnoticed. He went away over the side. All we knowed, he went away almost unnoticed.

Alan Rogers: Now did that tank do any damage to the railing?

Hedley: Oh yes, yes.

Alan Rogers: Got more damage done now.

Hedley: Oh yeah. He broke the rail down, broke the rail down, oh about two feet when he went over. .. This iron tank, tell you on account of the water, cause we filled up in St. John’s for our safety, for our water supply coming down. And we thought, and so we did, we had a good water supply thinking that, of course didn’t think it was going to happen as it did.

Alan Rogers: Now by this time you had no fresh water.

Hedley: Now, we was empty and there was no freshwater whatsoever. None, none, none. We had plenty of drinks, we, cause the general cargo we had consisted of drinks, and rum, and fruits, well hardly anything you could mention that we didn’t have in, in regard to supplies. We was very well there, good that we were of course, but in order to get at that supplies down in the hole we had to cut a, we had to cut a hole through the bulkhead and down the forecastle and that’s how we use to go out and get our supplies with a flashlight, now. A flashlight that’s what we use to use. That was our only means. So no way that we could get down through the hatch. He was battened and nailed down so tightly, and he had to be of course, had to be.

Alan Rogers: Cheese (whispered)

Hedley: Well our most, our most diet I would say, that we liked at that time was cheese. I think most every, all of the crew liked the cheese so well. I knows I did.

But now it wasn’t so keen as when it left the store. I can assure you. We had that cheese face down in the forecastle on the table. This round cheese now. Now you take a knife, take, everybody taking a knife now and cutting it off now, and that’s it. Heave the knife down, somebody else come along with a , or even sometimes you had to have your mitts on, cause it was not that warm out. I can assure you, was not that warm. Ice making on the schooner and we would be up knocking off some of that, when we’d get a chance. So, you were really employed. You didn’t have no time to lie down, nowhere to lie down. You could lie down in the forecastle, but there was no way you could get to sleep. No, you wouldn’t, you were too uneasy to go to sleep, didn’t know what the next thing was going to happen… with your rubber pants on all the time.

Alan Rogers: You had to sleep with your rubber clothes on.

Hedley: And rubber clothes as well, the jacket too. Sometimes you’d take off your coat when you’d go down to the forecastle, you might take off your coat for a minute and put it on again when you go up.

As I said before we had lost our water supply. What were we to do in order to get fresh water? Speaking for myself, I didn’t know a thing only I was trusting to the rainfall from the blessed sky. That’s the only thing I knew. We could catch a bit of water in our mainsail to quench our thirst. But Aubrey Cutler, Aubrey, he said to me, Hedley, he said, I believe I can rig up something, he said, to get a drop of fresh water. I said, how Aubrey? What are you talking about? I said. Rig up something to get fresh water? What from? Oh, he said, if I could get an old can, he said, and I’d get the tube that come from the motor, the engine, he said, we got that. Oh yes, I said, we got that. We sove that. We took that off her when we beat her up. I said, yes, that’s okay, I said. Where’d we get an old can? He said, I think I can put that pipe on it and run the salt water through that, he said, the same experience as we did with moonshine. You know. He said, I  runned off a lot of moonshine. I said, yes, b’y you have. But, I said, I never runned off a drop. I don’t know, Aubrey, my son, how to begin. Oh, he said, I knows how to begin it. Oh well, b’y…you thinks you can do it, my son, come on. Anything, I said, we can help we’ll do.

Anyhow I don’t know now, it’s so long, so long ago, where we got the can, but we found a can, some kind of can. We might’ve opened, we might’ve emptied a can of vegetables, something we had in the hole. I don’t know, but we got a can and Aubrey rigged up this can with, with so many turns into the tube. The tube had to have so many turns in order to a, the freshwater come around them turns, and when it did come around them turns and it dropped. You know it wasn’t very fast but it drop, drop, drop, and after you got enough to taste it. I said b’y that’s excellent. You wouldn’t believe it. It was excellent. B’y I never knew that before.

That’s my first experience ever, ever hearing that. And that’s how we had the can latched to the stove and that’s how we got a dab of freshwater to quench our thirst. So, perhaps there’s a lot of people today never heard tell of that and probably they have, but I didn’t at that time. I know I wasn’t very old of course now to understand, to hear about a lot of stuff. I was only at that time, I was 24 years old, first year married, 24.

Alan Rogers: With the fresh water now you could get a cup of tea.

Hedley: Eh?

Alan Rogers: With the fresh water, you could get a cup of tea now.

Hedley: Oh yes, now then when we got a drop of water we could get a cup of tea. Oh was some good cause drinking that, that drink from them bottles oh my, oh my, make’e more thirsty than ever. But oh we were some tickled, tickled to death when we got a mug of tea. Gracious, we said, Aubrey, b’y, that was some, some miracle you performed there.

Alan Rogers: Yeah, that was a blessing.

I heard father say that he got turned from eating pineapple, pineapple chunks on the schooner that time, and he got turned from. He didn’t eat anymore pineapple after that. He got turned from it.

Hedley, you got out to the Grand Banks, but you…, a lot of ice on the schooner wasn’t it, and when you got to the Grand Banks that ice melted off.

Hedley: Oh yes. When we got out in the warm water anyhow it had to be warm because lot of  ice on the boat disappeared in no time. So we had to be in the vicinity of a warmer water in order for that to happen.

Alan Rogers: Now did anyone get hurted on the boat as you drifted out to sea?

Hedley: Hm.

Alan Rogers: Did anyone get hurted?

Hedley: Yeah there were 2 crew members that got hurted, the Captain, Captain Charles and Israel Rogers. They got slightly injured they did with the forward boom. I mean I can’t tell how exactly they got hurted cause you didn’t see everything that was going on, of course, in times like that.

Alan Rogers: Now you had two slightly injured crew members……..of course they were lucky no more got injured because the boom going up and down on the waves. It was quite dangerous. Now how did you chart the boat then? Who charted the boat as you went along?

Hedley: Oh, the mate, oh yes the mate, John Rogers. He used to keep contacters our course and distance as we go. We had a log out and we were 350 miles, the furthest time out.

Alan Rogers: So father charted, did he take the chart and turn it bottom up and mark down the way you were drifting to?

Hedley: Oh yes, he use to do that. Yes the mate use to take that, he, he made a wonderful judgement, good judgement. Yeah, really did.

Alan Rogers: So now after you got there so far off the land did you see any ships in the area? See any ships coming or going?

Hedley: Not one we ever saw. Not one boat we ever saw apart from the two boats that come and picked us up, going to pick us up, but the first one that did come, she didn’t.

Alan Rogers: Now when you were out on the Grand Banks, now out on the Grand Banks there’s what they call the Virgin Rocks. Do you think you were close to those rocks?

Hedley: Oh we had to be because if we, we were running one night, well foggy, couldn’t see one another on the deck but we was running with our foresail up all night, and a, we hove up six times and sound, with the sounding lead. We’d get 17 and down to lowest 10 fathoms of water almost make you believe that you were running ashore some place, but we wasn’t. The mate, see John Rogers, he said no we won’t make no land, he said, we can be sure of running all night regards to making land and he was perfectly right. The next morning, the wind chopped to the western again and we had to let go all again. And we was drifting then all that day and  in early morning now the wind changed, in the early morning and we were drifting away helplessly all that day up til the next night, until that same night two o’clock, we got aboard the Nova Scotia. Now then, when we were coming over the Burgess bank, what we call the Burgess Bank, anyway had to be I suppose according to the depth of the water. The mate said we were 40 miles from land and by the estimation that we were drifting that day and we were picked up that night, he was pretty well on the spot. But we drifted all that day, drifting and part of that night until we were picked up, well we did we drift away 100 miles anyway, it was only 110 miles when we got picked up. So that can tell you he was pretty true.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, with the high waves you had to lash a man to the wheel didn’t you?

Hedley: Yep, we certainly did, otherwise if we hadn’t, if we didn’t lash a man to the wheel, he wouldn’t be there very long. He would be surely washed overboard. So we had, for safety, we lashed a man to the wheel. And when ever we’d take turns to the wheel the same thing would follow. We lashed, we had the rope there, so we lashed the man to the wheel and that’s it. What else could you do? Cause the rudder was suppose to guide the boat, without the rudder on any boat, she would be more abandoned than ever. But with the rudder you could manage to keep her with the wind. So this is why we had to lash the man, in order for our own safety too. To guide the boat along as much as we possibly could.

Alan Rogers: A, with your bulwarks broken up, did you rig up any ropes to guide the men on the deck?

Hedley: Oh yes. I know tis a very long time, 50 odd years ago that this happened to me, 1929 and I was 24 years old at that time and now I got a job to, I got to pause and think about all that we did do and try to do so to speak. Yes, we, we I can remember now we had ropes tied from the rigging, yes from the rigging to the after-rigging to the forward rigging, I may say. A couple of ropes strung along for safety there because it was a good safety too. If you happened to get washed over the side you had something to catch hold to. So we had that done.

Alan Rogers: So that was a great thing there. Now did you see any ships when you got carried off the coast, Hedley?

Hedley: No, Allan. We didn’t see any ships at all. None whatsoever, apart from, the first thing we did see in sight was this, was an old coastal steamer that’s what she looked like when she got near us she steamed….anyhow she must have seen us cause she come direct for us. The first thing we saw was the smoke of course, cause you’re going to see that and as she drew nearer we see she was an old tramp thing. Well we didn’t mind that, for that matter we was only too glad she was coming to our safety. Anyhow we said well b’y we got a good chance now to get survived I suppose that one coming, I said that’s what she’s coming for, for to rescue we, nothing else she was coming to us for anyway, I said. Anyhow when she got near enough, she…..her flags. Now we didn’t understand no flags signs of course, we didn’t. But anyhow they, we made them understand that we didn’t, we made a, we motioned to them the mate, poor John, Allan’s father, that we didn’t understand the signs. Anyhow, made them understand enough, they talked in the, I suppose there was somebody aboard talking about the… Indies or something, understood what we want…we were satisfied to be taken off and taken down to Barbados. Now we gladly said yes. Well we talked among ourselves. Well boys we go down to Barbados, I said, well that’s it, we’ll go, I said and they all said well that’s it. We’ll go if she can get us off. Anyhow she, after about a half an hour, she began to make ready a lifeboat. And well we were pretty sure then well she’s going to get us off alright. We were watching you know and finally she hoisted up out of the davies on deck and she swung out over and when she got half way down she swung off, well a nice bit with the swell when she rolled down, in she comes and cracked onto the side and split her in two. Well I said b’y that’s it. She’s beat up, I said and we watched and sure enough. She was beat to a snot. Beat up. Well they took the remains aboard, hoisted it up and that’s all we knew about it. I said, well, certainly not going to get us now. And we kept looking and that’s all we could do of course. Just as they hoisted the lifeboat up on deck, tightened up the…I suppose….all in secure and she still hung around. We talked about that, of course we said what is she hanging around for now if  she’s not going to put a second lifeboat to try and rescue us, I said, what is she hanging around for? Well we didn’t know what to say about it. Not knowing now that she must have been contacting the Nova Scotia….of course, we had no chance to know that.

Alan Rogers: Another boat says you. You thought she was connecting, contacting another boat.

Hedley: Yes

Alan Rogers: Which proved to be the Nova Scotia.

Hedley: Yes. So a couple of hours after she still hung around but seemed like a long time for a boat to be hanging around, we thinking any minute that she’d be going away, of course, like anybody would think.  But she didn’t, after a couple of hours we saw the smoke of another boat in a different direction now. Well, didn’t know if she were coming on our way or not. But she did. She finally come. We made out she was coming in our direction. Now when this one come up alongside, we saw her, it was in the night nevertheless but she had two wonderful search lights. Oh you could see anything……her name, the Nova Scotia, I said. I said, we knew about the Nova Scotia of course before and there was one the Newfoundland of course the sister ship of hers, but this was the Nova Scotia. We knowed she was trading from New York to St. John’s, Newfoundland anyway around there and a, it was not long now before she was come along talking to us, of course we could understand them very well. She was going to put out a light boat to rescue us. Asked how everybody was, oh fine we told them.

Alan Rogers: Now you were happy now, you thought you were going to have rescue right.

Hedley: Now I said, by now, we all felt well, happy, happier than ever now because thinking we were going to get rescued of course, so we did. But we was thinking, thinking first is this going to prove like the old trap boat done, put down a lifeboat, get it broke up and still not get us off. I wonder is that going to happen? I hope not, I said to the boys. They said, na I don’t suppose. And anyway she hoisted up her lifeboat and we keeped watching, eagerly watching every moment seemed an hour. And she finally got it down in the water okay, nothing happened. I said, that’s splendid. So we talked to ourselves about how she comes now…towards us as I already said, she wasn’t making fast progress but, by and by they, well in fact now, they were, when they come to our rescue, aboard the schooner, they were coming with a fair wind because the Nova Scotia was hoved on the windward of  us, and she had us lunned and the life boat had fair wind down to us around ¼ of a mile I would say. She was hove up from us. Anyway when she did get there and come up on the leeward and I thought to myself…coming as near as she possibly could but she keeped over too far, why I said she’ll never get us out keeping that distance away from her regardless of what happens, whether she gets a good knock or not, I said, she’ll never get us out there, I said, we can’t, I said  to the boys, I said  if we want to jump we can’t do it, it’s too far. Ah, boys said don’t take no chances on that, I said well boy that, I said to the boys, I said, they’re here to get us out after a while we got to do something. Anyhow, she was there so long. I was keeping watching, not saying that I was going to jump aboard the boat. Anyhow, after I got a good chance I jumped upon the rail because I was 24 years then you know, you remember that, now I’m 82. I can’t do that now.

Alan Rogers: No, you were smart then.

Hedley: I was only 24 years old then I was in me prime of life so I didn’t mind jumping upon the rail. And I made the scramble for the lifeboat and Aubrey Cutler and Marshall Brown, I’m blessed if they came after me, right after me and the three of us landed down in the boat among the sailors. Well I certainly we didn’t know what to say about it then, we got up and we didn’t hardly know how to speak to them. In fact, they didn’t imagine that we were ever going to jump aboard, now this is what they, they, I knew they didn’t, I’m sure they never thought that we were ever going to jump aboard. Now this is what they….I’m sure they didn’t ever thought that we were going to jump aboard to take that, that chance to jump aboard. But it was only a narrow chance to take.  But it got us….well just as well to say…..take a chance on as one way or another. That’s how I took it. I didn’t know, didn’t never think that Aubrey and Marshall was going to come too but seeing how when I made the first attempt, they come too. Yes. They jumped too. Now we were aboard the boat and well, what were we aboard the boat for and the other people aboard the schooner if we didn’t make some effort to try to get them out of, and get them from the boat. And I was looking for, I was staring at the boys aboard the schooner for a few minutes, staring at her you know wondering what to do. And I said to the, I said to the mate now was half now with the tiller hold of course now you understand now a lifeboat there was a man in the after part of the boat with the tiller with the rudder I may say, and he’s steering her, steering the boat as they goes along. Oh it was a large lifeboat…..on a side, a very large boat. And I said well, I said, they made a couple of attempts now while I was looking and other fellas Aubrey and Marshall…were up and not saying anything, cause we didn’t what to say among a crowd of Englishmen now so to speak and a, with their uniforms on, they looked pretty peculiar to we. And now you know I said to, I said to, I couldn’t keep it in no longer, I said, Sir, will you please lend me one of them oars. I said, would you lend me one of the oars eh. I’ll take one of them oars, if you lend it to me will you? Oh, he said, what do you mean? he said, we got a mate aboard this boat. I said, yes sir I know very well you’ve got a mate aboard. I said, I expect two, but if we’re here, I said, to get we out we must make some effort to do it. I said, now we didn’t get out by you people helping us, we jumped, took the mighty chance of jumping, I said, if we’d a went down in the water we’d a been just gone, no more than that. But, I said, we jumped, took the chance so you didn’t actually come alongside for we to get aboard. We jumped well farther probably we would like to jump. We made the effort, we jumped every ounce of strength we had into  us to reach the boat and as God willed, we did. Now then, you give me that oar and I can probably help you a bit. And he did say again, you know we got a mate here, he said, in charge. I said, yes but I know, I said, but I’m so anxious to get that oar, I said, in order to get the crew from that boat. Okay, he said, okay. He told one of the sailors to go, told which one to get me the oar. And he done so after I let him go. Okay he said take the oar. And after I got hold to the oar, I looked at the schooner and now I said to myself she’s making a little too much headway, that’s what it is. I said, we can’t keep up hardly with her, I said. I thought, I said,b’ys, hello aboard b’ys. Lower down the…..of the foresail, I said. Drop ‘em down, let ‘em go down all together…..

I said to, to, to the crew aboard the lifeboat, you know I couldn’t call them by names because I didn’t know them from anybody for all that matter, all I know they were sailors aboard from the Nova Scotia. I said, I said, let’s row up now, I said, let’s row a little bit harder, I said…….the forecastle down, and I said we won’t so much trouble to get upon her headway. I said keep her in a bit now, the man with the … keep her in a bit a small bit farther.

I use to say to him and he obeyed me, of course, and he obeyed me. And when we got handy enough, now b’y, I said, come on there’s a chance. I don’t know which one was the first who got up on the wheelhouse, and we all got our hands out to hold him, you know, as he got aboard….knock on the side of the boat of course. She had to do it of course in order to get him aboard. She had to have a scattered knock. I didn’t mind that so far cause she was strong, a very strong lifeboat.

I don’t know who was the first was as I already said, got out. I don’t know now it’s been so long but anyway we was there something over an hour. Then we had them all out, finally had ‘em all out. And you know I was some glad, some glad. I wasn’t only glad because we were safe ourselves but when I got the boys out with us in the boat well I said, that’s grand.

Now the next  procedure was to try to reach the safer boat, I may say, the Nova Scotia which was hove to about, I would say around ¼ mile upon the windward of us. Well now to get to the Nova Scotia we had to face the wind in the lifeboat which made it a bit harder to get along. I mean to say, the wind was blowing against us, but nevertheless, we keeped rowing hard. I still had the oar, you know, oh yes, I said now I won’t be giving up this oar until they takes it from me. I settled into my mind. Anyway we pulled and pulled, was slow progress but finally we got there. I would say we were a half an hour getting that ¼ mile or more. Yes, cause it was still rough you know, it was rough all the way. No such thing else as anything else only rough.

Alan Rogers: And Hedley this was in the night wasn’t it?

Hedley: Yep

Alan Rogers: That’s what made it harder to see.

Hedley: And of course night is not like the daylight regardless of what, it’s not like the daylight so we still had to exercise careful caution in the night more, more so than you would in the day. Anyhow, anyhow we reached the Nova Scotia and time we reached her side, it was not long before the hooks were coming down for to hook into her, but we didn’t hook into the lights, into the boat first they just hold her, we just hold her, don’t know what we hold her now with to tell the truth, cause you couldn’t hook the hooks into her until we all got out. We were holding up the ladder, the rope, the long rope and ladder as you all know aboard of a boat like that, a rope and ladder and when she rolled down now you had to be, and when rowed down now, you had to be….hold ladder on her way up. So once she was going up, so they made us understand that quite well, and of course we saw that ourselves. We weren’t long getting on for that, cause when the boat was rolling now it was no good to take over the ladder……out now when she stops to go back, grab onto her and go

Now the first two members was lifted from the boat was the slightly injured crew members. Two of them, that was the first two got off.  I said to, to the mate, I said, we’ll have to use the rope, I said on those two people, I said, to help them along. He said, oh yes, he said, okay. And he shouted out to them on the deck and they cast down the rope and we secured the rope around them. Now when the ladder went to go up, they said catch hold, and they catched hold of course. I don’t know who was first now where it was the captain or this man, Israel Rogers, who was slightly injured. I don’t know which one went first but that don’t matter. Anyway, they got them up a whole….they was up on the deck, I can assure you there was enough hands to hold the rope he was never going to go down.  There was surely a big crowd watching over the rail. Oh yes. Well, after we got the two crew, two injured members off, of course, then the other eight of us, of course, we were able to man the ladder and go up ourselves of course, and that’s what we did do. Now when we got on the deck, they were already to help you along, thinking that you was well, partly worn out, say it that way, you’d like to have a help.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, did they take that jolly boat aboard the Nova Scotia?

Hedley: No, they did not take the jolly boat. But we didn’t know it at that time when we got out, we didn’t know it but that they took her up. But we learned the next day, next morning, we learned then, from, from somebody we were talking to, that they didn’t take the lifeboat. They did not. Anyhow I knew, I can remember what they said. They said, at that time now 50 or 60 years ago, you know it’s not today’s expense. They said she cost in the vicinity of $1000.00. Well what would you get today for $1000.00 in regards of  a lifeboat but in that day no doubt, I dare say that that was the cost of her at that time, yes, $1000.00 alright but anyhow, in any case, they didn’t take her aboard.

Alan Rogers: I imagine it was too rough to get her aboard probably.

Hedley:  I suppose it was too rough to get her aboard. That’s what I imagine.I couldn’t say anything more about that cause I don’t know.

Alan Rogers: What did you do next when you got aboard of the Nova Scotia?

Hedley: Well when we got aboard of the Nova Scotia and they helped us along over the deck, we was taken to the mess hall. The first place, dirty or what not, we had to go for a lunch, a cup of tea and a drink of hot coffee and that’s where they wanted to take us first. Why, of course, that’s where we wanted to go, regardless of how dirty we were because I can assure you when I went into, I went into the mess hall, any of us, all the crew to see how dirty we were, we were almost too ashamed to look at them but we had to put the best side out sitting down to the table now, we were sitting close by one another so, talking to one another, in very low voice and they give us some coffee. And I said to the mate, Allan’s father, I said, poor John, this coffee is really strong. I said, too strong for me I said, b’y I can’t drink it. And the mate you know, he made reference to the, to the waitress that was serving us. He said, this man’s coffee is really strong, he said. Oh she said not too strong you wants something to put the spirit into you. I said I know that’s right, I said, I already got a certain amount of spirit in me now, I said to her. Anyhow they weakened the coffee down a bit and I drinked it okay.

Now the next thing after we got our lunch, you know we were comfortable now to a certain extent, now and they set out to the table after we had our coffee drinking and talking about one stuff or another,  looking around you know, everything was so clean, we were so dirty. Hey, we’ll take you to the washroom now they said now for a bath, eh. I said oh, we said oh yes, that’s okay. And we all went to the washroom and I never saw one man afterwards. Every man must have had one washroom apiece. And I asked them that. I said, b’ys what you got a bath …..everybody got a washroom that’s what it looks like., I said, everybody went to the washroom at one time, I said, and everybody got a bath. There must be a lot of washrooms aboard this boat, I said. Yes, he said, there must be, so we did.

Anyhow, anyhow after we came out of this, they brought, they gave us a clean suit of underwear before we went to the washroom, to put on. Oh yes, a clean suit of underwear to put on, and when we come out then we’d be ready for bed.

Alan Rogers: Some good now to get a good night’s sleep.

Hedley:  They gave us those nightgowns to put on, you know, you understand, those nightgowns you put on. Now it was get into the bed, or bunk whatever you might say and by and by, weren’t in the bed long before, before the nurse or waitress or whatever she was come in. She said, pack of cigarettes, she said, want some cigarettes eh….have a smoke now. Well I said, my dear, I don’t smoke. Sorry to say I don’t smoke. I don’t want any cigarettes, I don’t smoke. That’s okay.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, you never smoked did you.

Hedley: Never

Alan Rogers: That’s good.

Hedley: But all the other fellas, you know b’y, they carried them down but now that’s okay. That’s alright. Boy we wasn’t in the bed long, I don’t think any of us, I believe, was all in a room alone you know, we didn’t  two persons in the room, anything of that kind, oh no.

Anyhow we went off to sleep. All we, all we felt sometimes the boat would row from one side to another, long rolls you know. I said that’s it. That’ll row us off to sleep I said to meself.

Anyhow now we understood that we were supposed to be in St. John’s the next morning at 8 o’clock or thereabouts. Anyhow sometime that morning around 7 o’clock, I suppose, we were,we were called to get up, roused us up now for breakfast. So we got up, come out, we all got our breakfast altogether. And after we had got breakfast you know, we chatted awhile. I said to the boys, I must walk out on the deck, see what, see the goings on now, I said. I walked out on the deck, I said and the other fellas came out too with me, two, three or four of them you know and I looked forward I’d say, forward ahead and I looked forward and I said myself I must go up on the, I must go up on the  second bridge, I would say or down under the captain’s bridge, not the top bridge where the captain was to , but down under , the under bridge……..go higher to look out and see more. When I got part ways up on the bridge, I saw a lady standing up with her arms rested on the guard rails that go around on the front, and I walked up alongside this lady and I give her, and the first I done, was I gave her time of the morning. Good morning, she said. And the second thing she said right away was, were you a member of the crew that got off that boat last night? I said, I am, my dear. Yes one of the crew members, yes. Oh my, she said, what a cruel time you had getting off that boat. We were all up watching, she said. There was no one sleeping, she said, when you people came aboard this boat last night.

I know, I said, I figured that, I said, because there was so many heads, I said, popping over the rail, I said. I don’t think there were too many in bed. I said, I said, they had some sympathy for us, they thought more about us than they did their sleep, really did. She said, Yes, very hard times, she said. I said to her, I said to her again, I said, soon be okay now, we’ll soon be in St. John’s harbour, eh? I said, not too far. No she said no and she chatted away to me, oh I don’t know what she did say now. Then I came down telling the other fellas now, I was talking to a young blond girl, I said, b’y, I said.

Anyhow something after 8, something after 8 o’clock we landed in St John’s, tied up to Harvey’s, Harvey’s Pier, and I can assure you there was some crowd of people there to meet us. Because they already knew the Nova Scotia was bringing in a shipwrecked crew. They already knew that. They told us that when they came down to watch and meet us that morning. Crowded, crowded and oh the shaking of hands, my gracious our arms ached shaking to tell you the truth. We were there I would say an hour on the pier time we got out of it and finally one of the government officials come there and got us together, talking about the shipwrecked crew, one another you know. He said I’ll take you up to, now he actually greeted us and congratulated us and everything, talking about the hard trip that we had. I said yes sir, and I’ll take you up to the store now he said up on Water Street. Now we went up on Water Street and the first store we went into was Whiteway’s. I can remember that Whiteway’s there by Munroe’s. …Whiteway’s store and we all got a garment of clothes. I don’t know if it was one or two now, not too sure I knowed they gave us some clothes anyway, whatever you prefer, outer garments we’ll say, outer clothes. And we weren’t in there all that long so we leave St. John’s again that same evening, that same day, eh! We left St. John’s as we never had too much to do. We were in and we were took care of, all cleaned and dressed and of course there was nothing left to do only just make preparations for the train. And we inquired about the train, what time she would be going out. And they had that all picked up for us. Oh yes, and they told us when she would be going out  and they took us to the train, oh yes they took us to the train we didn’t, didn’t, I didn’t know who it was now I know they took us to the train in a car, a van or something.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, did father and Skipper Charlie have to see customs about insurance?

Hedley: Yes, they did. Now while we were, after we got from the pier, we would say once after the boat docked in, the Nova Scotia docked to the pier, the captain and the mate now, they had, before they went up to the store they had to be taken down to the customs’ officer about insurance and such things as that. They had to talk over that situation, and they were gone over an hour down to that place before they turned up to Whiteway’s where we were. We waited til they come but we knew where they were going to.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, they did not get any insurance, did they.

Hedley: No, as far as I knew they never got, they didn’t get any insurance whatsoever cause I think she were out, out of her insurance before we got in.

Alan Rogers; She was in the insurance when you went out of St. John’s but you were gone long enough, she ran out.

Hedley: Yes we were gone long enough that she was runned out.

Alan Rogers: So you didn’t get any insurance.

Hedley: That’s what they were telling us when they came back. They looked very suspicious if they would get any insurance and they didn’t get any of course.

Alan Rogers: So now then you were ready to board the train and go to Port Blandford wasn’t it?

Hedley: Yep. We boarded the train and our, non-stop til we got to Port Blandford. No, right on to Port Blandford.

Alan Rogers: What the train didn’t stop nowhere?

Hedley: No

Alan Rogers: Imagine so you people had it perfect that time.

Hedley: I think the train made a special trip for we, eh? That’s what they said, they wanted to get us home as soon as possible.

Alan Rogers: You were important people now.

Hedley: Yes at that time now we were important people I would say.

Alan Rogers: Lost sheep returned.

Hedley: No we come to Port Blandford and we wasn’t there long because the Malakoff was already to let go.  She, they knew we were coming on the train and that was quoted from St. John’s, eh.

Alan Rogers:  by wire…

Hedley: The shipwrecked crew was coming on the train to make a trip on the Malakoff to Fair Island. Anyhow, we arrived at Fair Island in the evening, just before sunset, in the late evening anyway. I think there was a light or two lighted on the island. We weren’t aboard the Malakoff very long before we were put ashore. Boats coming from different directions, so happy and glad they was, seemed like, when they saw us come in the tickle, in the harbour, Fair Island Harbour. And to make me more happier than I ever was, it was right on the eve of my first anniversary. Right on the eve of my first anniversary.

Alan Rogers: First anniversary of your marriage right?

Hedley: I think it was the happiest occasion that I ever had since.

Alan Rogers: That was a good time to get home. Good time.

Hedley: Well no doubt now yes, we all had the happy occasion to be with our wives, no question about that. But what I mean, I had the happiest one because it so happened  on my first anniversary, the 17th day of December, 1929. Hard to forget.

Alan Rogers: Now Hedley, while you were out on the ocean, all the families of course were thinking about you but they didn’t give up hope did they?

Hedley: No they did not. They did not give up hope because after we got home they were telling us all the news you know about how they was trying to keep in contact with us.

Alan Rogers: The news them days use to come to the Post office right? The Post Master would write the messages on, in a book here right?

Hedley: Yes, the Post Master would go into the Post Master’s office and written up in a book, on the wall eh? And you had to read the news and this is how you had to get it not like it is today. What you’d see on the news book was written by the Post Master that was it. That’s how it was.

Alan Rogers: I would imagine the Post Office would be filled every day especially by the fishermen of the families.

Hedley: They were telling us when we got in, they were telling us that the Post Office was almost bursting apart, bursting the sides out of her. And it was so cold too, the people really had to rig out to go to the Post Office. The Post Office would be blocked all day in and day out…

Alan Rogers: …expecting to get the news of the schooners.

Hedley: very, very anxiety time. That’s what it was for the crew that were left behind, for the families that was left behind. It was a very anxiety time alright. Yeah it was.

Alan Rogers: That was the same year, 1929, the tidal wave wasn’t it?

Hedley: That was the year the tidal wave. We didn’t know anything about for the tidal wave because as I said we leaved St. John’s we had no chance to know on the water but after we got in, they was telling us what things happened.

Alan Rogers: It was on the South Coast in Burin, some houses were swept away.

Hedley: That’s right up on the Burin, up on the Burin Peninsula, some things happened up there. So then we knew it was the tidal wave. Yeah, it really was.

Alan Rogers: Now Hedley you had three passengers we mentioned their names before.  Now they took an active part aboard the boat steering and doing the things you had to have done.

Hedley: Oh yes. I figured it was , I would say that it was a lucky job that we had them aboard because they helped us out a whole lot, even if we had ten that wasn’t too many to look after stuff at that time, it  wasn’t too many, which if they hadn’t been with us, there’d only been seven of us.

Alan Rogers: And then you had two members slightly injured too so that would have been slight crew then.

Hedley: Yeah with two members slightly injured that made it much more worse, much more worse.

Alan Rogers: One of the passengers was driven off before, wasn’t he?

Hedley: Yes, yes. Israel Horlick, one of those passengers Israel Horlick, now he was, this was his second time to be driven off the coast of Newfoundland in the, in the vessel the Resolute, belonging to Wesleyville. Captain Percy Winsor was in charge. I can well remember about it but I wasn’t very old at that time.

Alan Rogers: So of all the trials and the storms you got back safely and happy of course to be home. Hedley, you spent quite a number of years with the Rogers didn’t you Charlie and John?

Hedley: I spent 35 years, 36, I don’t know which with the Rogers going to the Labrador. I spent 35 or 36, I’m not sure, going with the same family and I was well use to them. And I was going to the Labrador for a very long time. I went to the Labrador when I was only 16 years old. My first trip to the Labrador was from Newtown. Newtown with, by the late …..Winsor from Newtown at that time. He had a small size schooner about 40 tons. That was my first trip to the Labrador and I followed that up then all the way along until I got too old to go down there, until I had to retire. I made some long trips, some often to the Labrador, really did.

Alan Rogers: Hedley: after you left Skipper Charlie and father, you had a schooner your own too for so many summers, didn’t you?

Hedley: Now along with that I was master of my own schooner for five years, a small size schooner, 25 tons in all that was her size. I made five trips to the Labrador in her. So you see my time was occupied on the Labrador fishing.

Alan Rogers: You were always a fisherman.

Hedley: Yes.

Alan Rogers: And of all the times Hedley, you spent a lifetime on the water, never did you experience so rough a time….

Hedley: No

Alan Rogers: …as the time you were driven off.

Hedley: In all my times abroad on the water I never saw anything like the year 1929. Never experienced anything like it since. And I’ve been on the water as I already said, every year to the Labrador. Never seen anything like it since.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, that spring father and Skipper Charlie and who else went up in motorboat to St. John’s?

Hedley: I did.

Alan Rogers: You did.

Hedley: Yep, the Hornet……

Alan Rogers:  How many went up in boat at that time, five or six?

Hedley: Fred Hounsell, me….

Alan Rogers: You…

Hedley: Poor John, Skipper Charlie….

Alan Rogers: Fred Hounsell?

Hedley:  …don’t know whether he was there or he wasn’t, I’m not too sure.

Alan Rogers: You went up in motorboat, didn’t you?

Hedley: Yes, went up in motorboat, yes.

Alan Rogers: And that was the spring of 1930.

Hedley: We stopped in Catalina the first night. Stopped over to Catalina the first night we leaved home.

Alan Rogers: And then Skipper Charlie and father bought the Ironhead….

Hedley: Yes they did.

Alan Rogers:  She was a Lunenberg-type schooner.

Hedley: She was a Lunenberg built yea, the Ironhead.

Alan Rogers: … and coming down from St. John’s

Hedley: That first year we took her, we leaved St. John’s with a motorboat in tow, a large motorboat too, a large boat she was, around

Alan Rogers: That was the boat you went up in, certainly.

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: Right.

Hedley: Yep. Anyhow, when we got down in the vicinity of Trinity Bay, we lost her, the boat. Something give out anyhow, we lost the boat. Anyhow they secured the boat after up to, up there some where  around Bell Island somewhere, that’s where they secured her.

Alan Rogers: She was picked up.

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: Yous never got her back. You never got her.

Hedley: No.

Alan Rogers: She was damaged, I would imagine.

Hedley: No, no we never got her back. No.

Alan Rogers: So that summer you went to Labrador.

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: In the Ironhead? And you fished the Farmyards and while at the Farmyards a big sea came one day and you lost all your traps.

Hedley: Oh yea, now I use to fish the Labrador but now I may say we fished in a very rough place on the Labrador. Perhaps there’s a lot, of course, don’t understand where the Farmyard Island is on the Labrador. It stands out from Cape Harrigan, twelve miles from the mainland, an island called the Farmyards. There are two islands, around two miles apart what we call the Southerly Farmyard Island and the Northerly Farmyard Island. Now this is the, not every year we fished there, not every year but just about all in the 40, 35, 36 years I was going down there. And Allan we saw some rough times because there was no shelter, we had to anchor, to anchor out along what we call the Downs,  now out from the island. You couldn’t go into a small crick, it’s only a little small cove called a crick and you couldn’t moor there cause the schooner was too large and we had to anchor outside. And one time, any wind at all she’d do a lot of rolling, be hard on the legs, very hard. I knew one time that we were there a week’s fishing and we never had too much light up cause it was a good place for fish anyway….on the bank. And that’s why we use to go there of course. Anyhow one week, we had a week’s fishing without any, any let up and Saturday evening came, we just about had to crawl down the forecastle, our legs were very weak because well, of course, reason enough, standing up and the schooner was doing a lot of rolling. It was hard on the legs. Now when come, now in place of a …, in the place of a ..,I was a splitter, I was a splitter. I done a whole lot of splitting.

Alan Rogers: Most of the years you were fishing, you were a splitter, but the first year in the …you were a …

Hedley: Yea, but after that I was a splitter. And so far as the splitting fish is concerned, tis nice exercise for the arms, nice exercise for the arms, but not for the legs, I can assure you, because splitting fish, you had your right hand with the knife hold and your left hand for to grab the other fish after you had this one split, to grab hold to the other fish on the table and haul ‘em towards you, you’d be ready to split again. Time he was split, you grab the other one again. So your arms were getting a lot of exercise but your legs were getting none.

Alan Rogers: So your arms got plenty of exercise after all the years of splitting.

Hedley: I would say. I would say, I’m pretending to be 82, I’m 82 years old, no pretending at all, I’m 82 years old and my arms are very good, so you see what I already said must be the exercising did it.

Alan Rogers: Hedley that summer, the first summer of the Ironhead at the Farmyards, there was a schooner, when that big sea came there, there was a schooner in the crick got lost wasn’t it.

Hedley: Oh yes.

Alan Rogers: Can you tell us about that schooner?

Hedley: He’d been moored up, this small schooner belonging to Jabez Winsor from Wesleyville. She was moored up into this cove what we called a crick.

Alan Rogers: What was the name of that schooner?

Hedley: Eh?

Alan Rogers: The name of the boat?

Hedley: And she was moored up and she was one of the boats that come down from the northern part of the Labrador, way down, and she was called the Nanchu, but I don’t know just how to spell the Nanchu, but that’s what they use to call her. But it was really, really an Eskimo name.

Alan Rogers: Right.

Hedley: She was those boats like this low kind of a boat, not like a schooner-type boat at all. She was moored up there anyway and when this sea come there was nothing left to her, she went down right where she were. Right down in the cove, the crick, whatever you may call. Right down.  Oh yes.

Alan Rogers: So all the men, all the crew went on the island?

Hedley:  All the crew had to be, got ashore on the island and of course, there was no problem at all to reach the island cause it was only a small cove, they could jump out the boat and shuff  ashore just when you like. Anyhow they all, they all got ashore on the island. Anyhow the crew, most of them came home but there was…

Alan Rogers: You people carried them up to Hopedale, was it? Skipper Charlie carried them up to Hopedale…

Hedley: Yea, Skipper Charlie carried them to Hopedale. Yea, we took them into Hopedale to get the mail-boat. At that time, it use to be, I think it was the Caribou, no, no not the Caribou…

Alan Rogers: The Kyle.

Hedley: The Kyle, the Kyle. The old Kyle was running on the Labrador at that time. The Kyle, yep.  And we took the crew to Hopedale to take the boat to come home but part from two, two of the crew, we took two of the crew aboard the Ironhead and fished with us until we came home.

Alan Rogers: That was Ephraim Rogers.

Hedley: Ephraim Rogers.

Alan Rogers: And Israel Ackerman. Now Israel Ackerman is Hedley’s father-in-law.

Hedley: Israel Ackerman was my father-in-law.

Alan Rogers: So Hedley, they fished with you fellas aboard the Ironhead then and your traps were all gone and you went to Double Island…

Hedley: Double Island…

Alan Rogers: …to finish your fishing.

Hedley: We went to Double Island coming from the Farmyards with our chaps torn up and gone. We jigged then until we came home and done well. To Double Island, that’s about 10 miles inside the Farmyards, in towards the mainland still, a place called Double Island.

So I had a wonderful experience on the Labrador. As I said, that’s the… that gave me some exercise otherwise I would be dead probably today, my arms are still good.

Alan Rogers: The young people are not going to do much splitting now though. So Hedley, now you had lost two motorboats, lost all your traps, so what we can sum up and say, you lost the Janie Blackwood and the boat and the punt, and the other motorboat was lost the next, lost that spring coming down from St. John’s…

Hedley: St. John’s right.

Alan Rogers: …but you weren’t discouraged. You kept on at it and you always had a successful, successful fishery. Did well.

Hedley: There was nothing, nothing ever downhearted us whatsoever. We still keep, keeped on as a fisherman at his daily task. We still keeped on. I love fishing, still it was not an easy, easy proper, easy work to do. We seen some nice times, and we saw some rough times, I may say, cause you, and hard times, cause you had to be up night-time, you sometimes you wouldn’t get too much sleep while fishing was concerned, you had to be up in the early, early morning. It was only when it come too rough to haul your fishing gear, that you would get anything, anything like a spell whatsoever. And sometimes when that would come, we were only much too glad. Only much too glad.

Alan Rogers: Sometimes you’d wish Sunday come.

Hedley: But as long as it, it stayed quiet, well you had to try to, to carry on. So much as ever you felt tired, you had to try up to Saturday anyhow. There was no such thing as fishing on Sunday.

Alan Rogers: You didn’t fish on Sunday.

Hedley: No.

Alan Rogers: And of course them days you had to work hard you got no unemployment. Only what you made on the fish that was your earnings for the year.

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: You want to add anything else about the Labrador or anything. Oh I should say, right now Hedley has a hobby, has built a boat, sailing schooner about seven feet long. And if anyone should come to Centreville, I would invite them to go and see your boat.

Hedley: Right now, right now as I quoted before, I’m 82 years old and I’ve been retired now, well ever since I was 65 when I got old age.

Alan Rogers: You’re semi-retired cause you’re still always working.

Hedley: I got old age security pension of course, when I was 65 but since that I’ve built, since we left Fair Island in the 1960’s, I didn’t move my house from Fair Island as the majority did. I built a new house in Centreville as we got it named today, Centreville. And as I just said, when I retired in 65, I built 9 boats since I come in Centreville, nine, not too many but still there’s a bit of work to it. I built nine boats.

Alan Rogers: And…

Hedley: 1985, the last boat I built, speedboats. I built them from 20 feet, 18, and 17. I built nine. Now then to occupy my mind and I was, seem like I wasn’t altogether ready to give up, I, in 1987 in September, I started a model boat just for to pass the time and that’s what I’m doing at the present time now. I figured when I, when I start to do it, I said well if I lives, it’s two years’ work for me, two years and no doubt it will be probably two years, gone over a year now anyhow. I’m still at her, time and again, just little bit by degrees not too fast, and she’s just about seven feet, a couple of inches short of seven feet long, not a real small boat you know and a …yep I’m a …

Alan Rogers: It’s a beautiful boat you got there.

Hedley: So at the present time now this is my occupation, doing this boat for to pass time. And a, I like to be at it you know…seems like there’s enjoyment, have something to get up to everyday. Go out in the store for an hour and come back again and I’ll tell you now I don’t work too hard though because I comes into the basement of the house I got, and I sits down by the store and sometimes I’ll fall asleep and when I wakes up I’ll go back to the store again. So that’s how, that’s how, I’m not too much hurrying up at it.

Alan Rogers: You know 82 years old now. It’s a privilege to be able to do that.

Hedley: You would imagine that I’d be too fast at it now 82 years old, no. Well I thank God for, as far as I’m gone. Thank God for that.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, you and your brother-in-law, Aubrey Cutler, are the only two survivors of the Janie Blackwood.

Hedley: Yep.

Alan Rogers: Well I…

Hedley: Now getting back to the Janie Blackwood again, there are only two survivors left now, myself and Aubrey Cutlet, a brother-in-law of mine. That’s the only two left of the crew, of the 10 there’s two of us left. And I guess that the majority what got drove off at that time in 1929 I would imagine the majority is dead. Yep.

Alan Rogers: Well I want to thank you Hedley for your time and I’m sure I enjoyed your…

Hedley: You’re quite welcome Allan.

Alan Rogers: …company and your experiences on the sea and I wish you have more years to work at your hobbies and good health.

Hedley: Everything is, I went through all that stuff that I know the splitting knife did more fish on the Labrador than any man around..

Alan Rogers: Right.

Hedley: I did. Allan I did, you know.

Alan Rogers: Well your father split some fish I know.

Hedley: Oh my. Poor John, your poor father, my son, we were there to the Farmyards and he hove down the knife one day….and tell a story about that.

Alan Rogers: Hedley, I heard my father say, once when you were a young man with them you were sick and you didn’t think you’d be able to make the trip to the Labrador for the summer. However, they encouraged you to go and you went and it turned out a good thing that you did go because….You tell us about that story now.

Hedley: Yes, now, I’ll relate another story to you now. This is what happened in my young days. One spring, I don’t know what date it was now, but I was still with this man, the late Captain Charles Rogers, oh yes. I went to St. John’s that spring with him for our supplies for the summer for to go down to the Labrador. And while we were up there we were up there  about a couple of weeks, and in the last week we was there one night, one night, it was in the night it happened, something took me in the legs. I woke ‘em up, the crew was in the bunk sleeping. What’s wrong Hedley? Oh b’y, I don’t know I said. Something got hold to my leg, it’s paining somewhat, I said. I can barely move them. Well, they got up, the Captain, Skipper Charlie, he got up, two or three of the other boys got up in the forecastle. I was groaning and moaning. He said, he said to me, Hedley, we’ll have to go to the doctor. Go up and see if we can get the doctor to come down. I said, yes b’y. At that time I can remember Dr Roberts at that time, was in St. John’s, that was the only, most familiar doctor I use to hear tell of, Dr. Roberts. Anyway they went up for to get Dr. Roberts and they got him to come down alright. He come down

The Sea Gallantry Medal

(Officially The Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life at Sea)

An Award for Civil Gallantry at Sea in Great Britain and the Empire. Apart from early occasional awards to civilians, the first official medal for gallantry displayed at sea by civilians was the Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life at Sea (SGM) in silver and bronze awarded to British subjects, or to foreigners serving in British ships. Foreigners who have displayed gallantry in foreign ships in saving the lives of British subjects are eligible for Board of Trade Gold and Silver Medals ‘for Foreign Services’. In all cases these awards are made by the Sovereign on the recommendation of the President of the Board of Trade, or successor. They carry no pecuniary grant: there is as yet no published list of persons who have received them, although awards to British subjects are now notified in The London Gazette. The ribbon and medal are worn on the left breast, and holders are entitled to append the letters SGM after their names. These letters stand for Sea Gallantry Medal.

Here the date in parentheses is the date the announcement appeared in the London Gazette.

Gallantry in Mid-Atlantic

Alfred Hender, Chief Officer, Patrick Craine, Boatswain, Norman Cody, William Heaps, William James Hemmings, George Saunderson, Edward Douglas Thorkilson, Seamen, of the SS Nova Scotia, of Liverpool.

The Newfoundland fishing-schooner Janie E. Blackwood left St John’s on 29th November 1929 for the northern part of the island, but owing to bad weather conditions she was driven out into the Atlantic Ocean.  The vessel continued to encounter severe weather conditions which carried away the boats, and on 12th December 1929 she had become unseaworthy and signals of distress had to be made. At 10.30 pm on that date the SS Nova Scotia observed distress flares on the schooner and proceeded to her assistance. The SS Lord Antrim also stood by to render help if required.

At 11 pm a lifeboat was sent away from the Nova Scotia in charge of Mr A Hender, Chief Officer, manned by the men named. After some difficulty this boat succeeded in reaching the Janie E. Blackwood and took off ten members of the crew. Weather conditions were so severe that the lifeboat could not be recovered. (25.2.30)