Capt. Bob Bartlett mem­o­ra­bilia on ex­hibit

The Compass - - NEWS - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

If 2010 is John Guy’s year, then 2009 be­longed to Capt. Robert A. (Bob) Bartlett.

The cur­rent cel­e­bra­tions in Cupids (orig­i­nally Cu­pers Cove) have over­shad­owed what’s go­ing on at Hawthorne Cot­tage, Cap­tain Bob’s home in neigh­bour­ing Bri­gus.

About 100 vis­i­tors daily have toured the Cupids Legacy Cen­tre since June 14, with a to­tal of 4,000 vis­i­tors in its first two months. By con­trast, the Hawthorne Cot­tage Na­tional His­toric Site in Bri­gus has had about 80 vis­i­tors daily.

Last year’s cel­e­bra­tions in Bri­gus fo­cused on events in the fre­netic life and ca­reer of Cap­tain Bob. The New­found­land nav­i­ga­tor and Arc­tic ex­plorer was touted for his many and var­ied ac­com­plish­ments.

For ex­am­ple, he was ap­plauded for his de­ci­sive lead­er­ship in the doomed Kar­luk Ex­pe­di­tion of 1914.

On a down­side, an­other ex­plorer, Robert E. Peary, re­fused to share with Cap­tain Bob the glory of be­ing the first to reach the geo­graphic North Pole on April 6, 1909. Cap­tain Bob sto­ically ac­cepted the supreme dis­ap­point­ment.

Now that the Cupids cel­e­bra­tions are wind­ing down, with the Cupids Cove Soiree only a me­mory, a trip to Bri­gus may be in or­der.

There are cur­rently on ex­hibit at Hawthorne Cot­tage sev­eral items wor­thy of ob­ser­va­tion, adding to the over­all por­trait of Cap­tain Bob.

The ex­hi­bi­tion in the Green Room fea­tures mod­els of Cap­tain Bob’s most fa­mous ves­sels. Var­rick Cox, a model ship­wright in St. John’s, crafted the schooner Effie M. Mor­ris­sey and the S.S. Roo­sevelt.

“ They have been cre­ated in the same scale, so one can com­pare the rel­a­tive size of the two ships,” said Cather­ine Dempsey, for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the prov­ince’s His­toric Sites As­so­ci­a­tion. “ They ... give us a great look at two ves­sels that helped to open up the Arc­tic.”

An added ap­peal is an orig­i­nal piece of wood from the Mor­ris­sey.

“ The (Schooner) Ernestina-Mor­ris­sey As­so­ci­a­tion (in New Bedford, Mas­sachusetts) were so dis­ap­pointed that the ship was not in good enough con­di­tion to take part in cel­e­brat­ing Bartlett last year and, when go­ing through re­fit, they sent me an orig­i­nal piece of wood that had been taken out dur­ing re­fit,” ex­plained Dempsey.

An­other unique item on ex­hibit is tied to Wheaties, which has been ad­ver­tised as “the break­fast of cham­pi­ons” for over 70 years.

“ The Wheaties card is an­other story,” Dempsey said. “ We have known for years that Cap­tain Bob was fea­tured on the Wheaties box. Un­for­tu­nately, no­body had seen it!”

The box, which hit ce­real shelves around 1935, isn’t even in­cluded in an archival col­lec­tion at Gen­eral Mills, the man­u­fac­turer.

Dempsey went on eBay and typed in “Bartlett” and “ Wheaties.”

To her de­light, the Bartlett trad­ing card ap­peared on the screen. The owner was ask­ing $500. Dempsey of­fered $5, but got the item for $10.

Later, an­other col­lec­tor, Dean Wil­liams, tracked down and pur­chased the whole side of the Wheaties box, which dis­plays sev­eral Bartlett im­ages.

“It’s the Holy Grail of Wheaties boxes,” Dempsey told Deb­bie Han­lon, a St. John’s councillor. Hav­ing a pic­ture on the famed ce­real pack­ag­ing is an in­di­ca­tion of the in­ter­est ex­plor­ers and north­ern ex­pe­di­tions once gar­nered, Dempsey added.

Bartlett mem­o­ra­bilia con­tin­ues to cir­cu­late. Ev­i­dently there is a sec­ond trad­ing card, this one from cig­a­rette pack­ag­ing, as well as ar­ti­facts from peo­ple who per­ished on the Kar­luk.

Eigh­teen-year-old Nakita Ryan, a sum­mer in­ter­preter at Hawthorne Cot­tage, points to a model of the Effie M. Mor­ris­sey, cre­ated by Var­rick F. Cox.

The Wheaties ce­real box with im­ages of Cap­tain Bob Bartlett, the Bri­gus-born ex­plorer.

Left: An orig­i­nal piece of wood from the Effie M. Mor­ris­sey, one of Cap­tain Bob’s most fa­mous ves­sels, on dis­play in Hawthorne Cot­tage’s Green Room. Be­low: A model of the S.S. Roo­sevelt, crafted for Hawthorne Cot­tage by Var­rick F. Cox.

The Wheaties ce­real col­lec­tor’s trad­ing card de­voted to Cap­tain Bob is on ex­hibit in Hawthorne Cot­tage, Bri­gus.

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