Stow­aways on the Ar­ran

Lo­cal au­thor’s new novel blends history with fic­tion

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON editor@CBN­com­pass.ca

Pa­trick “Pat” Collins was comb­ing through old news­pa­per clip­pings to re­search a story he was work­ing on when he came across an item con­cern­ing Scot­tish stow­aways with a New­found­land con­nec­tion.

From there, Collins delved fur­ther into the story of the Ar­ran, and in less than a year he had his new novel “For­saken Chil­dren” ready for pub­li­ca­tion.

“By far, for me, it was the most ex­cit­ing book to write,” the River­head, Har­bour Grace res­i­dent told The Com­pass.

Ac­cord­ing to Me­mo­rial Univer­sity’s Mar­itime History Archive, the ship left Greenock, Scot­land on April 7, 1868, car­ry­ing coal and oakum. Its des­ti­na­tion was Que­bec. Two stow­aways were found prior to de­par­ture and sent off, with at least seven more found at sea, rang­ing in age from 11 years old to 21.

The boys were not treated well while on board. Some were beaten af­ter they were caught steal­ing food from the ship.

In May, the boys were sent ashore af­ter the ship got caught in ice along the west coast of New­found­land. They were ini­tially walk­ing on ice half­dressed and starv­ing. Some didn’t make it to shore.

Collins’ book al­ter­nates be- tween telling the story of the stow­aways and a fic­tion­al­ized ac­count of the woman who first spot­ted them from the shore, Cather­ine MacIn­nis. She was Scot­tish woman who im­mi­grated to Nova Sco­tia be­fore mov­ing to the Bay St. Ge­orge com­mu­nity of High­lands in New­found­land.

Tonally, the book works as an ad­ven­ture, with plenty of sus­pense­ful mo­ments in­ter­min­gled with more up­lift­ing events.

“Ev­ery­thing about the boys on the Ar­ran is true — how they were saved and so on, what hap­pened to them af­ter­wards and how the courts dealt with them ... The his­tor­i­cal fic­tion part was Cather­ine her­self and her per­sonal life.”

Collins has writ­ten sev­eral books over the last few years, in­clud­ing “Mur­der at Mos­quito Cove: The Mur­der of El­freda Pike, 1870” and “The Spirit of the S.S. Kyle.”

Through some luck, Collins man­aged to track down MacIn­nis’ great-grand­son, Don MacIn­nis. He be­came aware of the tale 15 years ago when de­scen­dants of one of the stow­aways knocked on his door and shared the tale. Now liv­ing in Cor­ner Brook, Don wrote the in­tro­duc­tion to Collins’ book.

“Once I got the (book) done and sent it to him, he was to­tally en­thused,” said Collins. “Writ­ing a story about some­body whose great-grand­mother saved these boys was very thrilling.”

Collins plans to visit western New­found­land later this year to see Sandy Point, a re­set­tled com­mu­nity where the sur­viv­ing boys worked for a few months be­fore mov­ing on.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Lo­cal au­thor Pa­trick Collins is shown here at a book-sign­ing event in 2012.

DRC Pub­lish­ing re­cently re­leased Pa­trick Collins’ new book, “For­saken Chil­dren.”

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