The SS Kyle deserves bet­ter

The Compass - - OPINION -

The SS Kyle. It is his­tor­i­cal and nos­tal­gic to many.

It car­ried many peo­ple back and forth, in­clud­ing doc­tors, nurses, rangers, RCMP and clergy. Dr. Wil­fred Gren­fell, and many, many more dig­ni­taries re­lied on the ves­sel.

It car­ried chil­dren back and forth to school in Cartwright, North­west River, and St An­thony, Many of them ages six to 18.

My wife was one of those six-year-old chil­dren; un­su­per­vised, ex­cept for the crew of the Kyle.

The Kyle in her day had mag­nif­i­cence, rich­ness and splen­dor, colour and stately beauty. It’s a shame we let her go with­out recog­ni­tion?

The Kyle, like the fer­ries of to­day, was part of the Trans-Canada High­way be­tween Port aux Basques and North Syd­ney. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, she car­ried pas­sen­gers and ser­vice men and women back and forth across the Gulf. She could eas­ily out­run a Ger- man sub, and she was painted grey over all.

In 1927, when the plane “Old Glory” crashed in the At­lantic, the Kyle lo­cated the wreck­age when other boats failed. She brought in the wing from the plane to St. John’s.

Af­ter liv­ing though First World War and the Sec­ond World War, she should be rec­og­nized. If in an­other coun­try she would be. In Nova Sco­tia, the C.G.S Aca­dia is a his­toric mu­seum; the R.M.S Queen Mary is a mu­seum. There’s the Blue Nose in Nova Sco­tia, The H.M.S Sackville, and why not add the S.S Kyle to them?

On the Labrador Coast and out­port New­found­land, peo­ple would al­ways know when the Kyle was com­ing. They could see the back smoke 10 miles away. Dur­ing the 1960s, Cap­tain Guy Earl and brother Fred had plans made to send the Kyle to Spain with a load of salt fish and then have her con­verted from a coal burner, to bunker “C” oil. Then she would bring back a load of salt, off­set­ting the cost of con­ver­sion. But due to ice dam­age done to her in 1965, this couldn’t hap­pen.

The fact about the ice I will make clear. The Kyle did not run into an ice­berg. I was mas­ter watch on board and the Kyle was struck solid in heavy ice; we could not move. But the ice floe was mov­ing four knots and it pushed the Kyle in on top of the ice­berg which was around in 47 fath­oms of wa­ter.

To­day, she is aban­doned, derelict. If in an­other coun­try she would be re­vised, or some­thing would be done. Fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will know noth­ing about the Kyle or what she meant to New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans. If it was a his­tor­i­cal build­ing it would be re­paired or torn down. Right now it’s a sad sight; some recog­ni­tion should be made to her, even a me­mo­rial. — He­ber McGurk writes from


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