Honouring Captain Jackman
This province was populated because of the wealth of our ocean, so therefore we are a sea faring province, stuck out in the North Atlantic in one of the harshest climates in the world.
The sea has swallowed up a lot of our people in the past 500 years that we have been here. A lot have been rescued by the hundreds of what I call heroes, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have gone beyond the call of duty, have put themselves in the face of death to save their fellow man, without a thought of the dangers to themselves.
My favourite hero has always been Captain Bob Bartlett, the feats that he accomplished and the men he saved while getting stuck in the ice on a voyage to the North Pole and how he went and got help and rescued them without losing a person.
My other hero is Captain William Jackman of Renews, whom I found out about much later in life and I guess much by accident.
My only sister, Gwen and her husband, Walter Ryan moved to Labrador city in the early years of that town in fact she received the builders’ award as a person who helped build the town.
I visited her on several occasions and always wondered why the hospital was named Capt. William Jackman, having never heard of him before I wasn’t sure what kind of Captain he was.
I watched my sister and her son Shawn Ryan some years later take their last breath in that hospital, both by cancer; it was by chance I was listening to a documentary on CBC radio about Captain Jackman and the community of Renews.
Shortly after that searching through a book store, going through the book section on Newfoundland books about the sea (always fascinated about the stories of the sea) I came across the book Jackman by Eldon Drodge and the rest is history. A fascinating story of a Sea Captain who did an incredible feat on the Labrador coast at a place called Spotted Island. On the 9th October 1867 Captain Jackman repeatedly plunged in the sea during a hurricane to the relief of the passengers and crew of the schooner the sea skipper, wrecked on the shoals of Spotted Island and saved the lives of 27 people. While not many people know where Spotted Island is located, it’s off the community of Black Tickle, this is a community that has been in the news a lot lately because when the cod collapsed they had lost their way of providing for their family and Black Tickle has been in limbo ever since.
Captain Jackman only got a short time out of life but to me he is my second choice as a hero. To the people who are trying to get a monument for Captain Jackman, you are doing a tremendous thing, too often our heroes of the sea are not kept in our minds and we are doing an injustice both to them and our children who need to be reminded of our history and the people who helped us to survive in this harsh and inhospitable but wonderful land.
Best of luck on your efforts to keep Capt. Jackman’s name alive, you certainly have my support.
(Ret) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett Green Bay South firstname.lastname@example.org