The SS Kyle deserves better
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