S.S. Kyle is worth sav­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

I read with dis­may your re­cent ar­ti­cle on the New­found­land icon, the S.S. Kyle (“Sav­ing iconic Kyle sense­less,” July 14, 2015).

As with many preser­va­tion or restora­tion projects, it is ex­pected that some will face the neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes of those who do not share the ide­ol­ogy that yes, some things are worth pre­serv­ing. Here are my thoughts on why the S.S. Kyle should be one of those things.

It is the first of a long line of New­found­land fer­ries, car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers, freight and a doc­tor to oth­er­wise in­ac­ces­si­ble out­ports all around the is­land and to Labrador, tend­ing on the needs of the ill.

The S.S. Kyle also car­ried many of New­found­land’s own troops to WWI and WWII in de­fence of the then colony of New­found­land, later the coun­try of New­found­land un­der Re­spon­si­ble Gov­ern­ment, and to the aid of the Bri­tish Com­mon­wealth dur­ing WWII.

The S.S. Kyle was an im­por­tant part of the lives of many peo­ple of this re­gion. For ex­am­ple, when the Bay Roberts Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, the Bay Roberts 50+ Club and As­cen­sion Col­le­giate con­ducted in­ter­views with se­niors for the “Holdin’ Ground Pro­ject” (which was sup­ported by New Hori­zons Canada), we found that the Kyle had played a piv­otal role in many of their lives. An in­ter­view with Ce­cil Green­land (104 at the time) is avail­able online at http://hold­in­ground­pro­ject.com/in­ter­views.htm.

Many of New­found­land men also sailed on the S.S. Kyle and in­deed moved their en­tire fam­i­lies to Labrador for fish­ing dur­ing the sum­mers.

To say that the S.S. Kyle is not worth sav­ing is an in­sult to all those who have sailed in her and a slap in the face to all who may have lost fam­ily mem­bers on board dur­ing her sail­ings.

The S.S. Kyle car­ried men to and from the an­nual seal hunt, a dan­ger­ous un­der­tak­ing to be sure. It regularly en­dured mi­nor scrapes and bruises on such ex­pe­di­tions un­til that fate­ful hit in 1967, when the ship struck a berg. It left a gash in her above the wa­ter­line and the old girl was able to make it back to port in Har­bour Grace. Dur­ing a vi­o­lent storm, the S.S.

Kyle broke free of its moor­ings. Ev­ery­one says it was not meant for the gallant old girl to go to a watery grave. Ac­cord­ing to sto­ries told by some, it is said that the

Kyle was ac­tu­ally guided to its rest­ing place in River­head by the sea­men’s ghost never to be for­got­ten. My own fa­ther, be­fore he died, swore that the ghost of Cap­tain Guy Earle so guided her to River­head. The il­lus­tri­ous Cap­tain and his brother knew that to re­pair her would be costly, so they de­cided to let her be where she drifted.

If the Town of Har­bour Grace, then Mayor Don Coombs, Bon­av­ista-Trin­ity-Conception MP Fred Mif­flin, and Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Arthur Reid be­lieved in the restora­tion of the Kyle a few years ago, then it should be an on­go­ing pri­or­ity to pre­serve it to­day.

It is my belief and the belief of many oth­ers that through the preser­va­tion of the S.S. Kyle, we can add to the beauty of the area, not to men­tion the Kyle’s be­com­ing a tourist at­trac­tion, a fo­cus on a fes­ti­val for the area and a sense of pride for Conception Bay North towns and in­deed all of New­found­land.

Wanda White writes from Broad Cove

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